The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
1. The Russian landscape has statues to literary figures, past rulers, and now, the inventor of one of history’s most murderous weapons. The seven-meter, $538,000 monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, went up in Moscow on Tuesday. Here’s what ordinary Russians attending had to say about the unveiling, with opinions ranging from praise of the hero who brought Russia many victories, to lamenting that people weren’t asked their thoughts in advance, to a lone protester who was detained for his anti-militarist views.
2. There are the heroes who win wars, and then there are the ones who prevent wars. The latter usually get less attention, as was the case with Stanislav Petrov. While an officer at a nuclear early-warning center in 1983, Petrov received data suggesting a U.S. missile launch and correctly interpreted it as a false alarm. His decision possibly averted nuclear disaster, but was kept secret for a decade. In a second instance of belated recognition, which his family attributes to his gentlemanly modesty, Petrov died in May but is only now being memorialized for an act that saved millions of lives.
3. More movie mayhem (missed last week’s horrors? Dive back in time): a new comedy-drama about the death of Joseph Stalin might be purged. The Russian Culture Ministry has requested an advance copy of the film for review, saying they’ll ban the satirical film if it seems likely to offend some Russians’ feelings. Russian Orthodox extremists have threatened movie theaters based on the movie Mathilde, which they decry for its portrayal of Nikolai II, and officials fear a similar response by Russian communists to the film about Stalin. Plus, it could be a Western attempt to “blacken Russian history,” one official worries.
"I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan….Twenty-three minutes later I realised that nothing had happened. If there had been a real strike, then I would already know about it. It was such a relief."
—Stanislov Petrov on his crisis-averting decision not to report what looked like a US missile launch in 1983. It was later concluded that reflecting sunlight had been identified as the engines of the missiles.
Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.
Tractors for Putin, toxic waste for Kaliningrad, and Reagan and Gorbachev for their modern-day counterparts. Also sweet wine, state secrets, and salt.
The scandal around the Bolshoi's latest ballet, remembering an Internet icon, and pro-Putin pensioners, with a dash of PhotoShop of daredevilry.
Getting flak for getting hitched, how fidget spinners foster political dissidence, and a new set of wheels around Russia. Plus dandy pigeons and the best totalitarian tourism.
President Putin visits human rights activists and curious kids, and a famous author falls to pieces. Plus Ivan the Terrible, a terrible auction purchase, and 10 fantastic bridges.
Pranksters solve energy security with pig manure, paratroopers get rowdy, and presidential grants yield surprise winners. Plus, Russia's deadliest plants and getting stuck in an elevator.
Beachgoers bathe in potable sludge, Russians weigh in on replacements for sanctioned food, and the Kremlin revamps funerals. Plus, Putin goes fishing.
A not-quite lake makes a splash, zombies on public transit, and problems memorializing history's tragedies. But on the bright side, shirtless men and hippos.
Elections are the new dinner and a movie. Plus, Moscow's heading east, rap battles get a bad rap, and pickles and melons galore.