Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 15:53:14
22 September 2018


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Michael Phelps, Russia's swimming champ

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Olympian Update 
A special section during the Rio Olympics

In the biggest turn of the Olympics, Michael Phelps now swims for Russia!

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Okay, no. Still, despite the Blagoveshchensk banner featuring Phelps’s new and improved swimming cap, Russia has yet to snag a swimming medal – though the medal count of 41 (and counting) now covers a tight silver in women’s wrestling, a medal in every color for gymnast Aliya Mustafina, and a particularly violent boxing match. With three days left in the Olympics, can Russia maintain its fourth-place ranking in the medal count?

New Decrees and Nooscopes

1. You visit the Kremlin, you get the onion domes, the tsars’ bodily remains, and more golden artifacts than you can shake a Fabergé egg at. But there’s plenty more that’s been off-limits for centuries, and a new decree is now opening up more such public spaces in the Kremlin. President Putin approved a list of new routes and spots to visit, including an archaeological dig, an old cathedral, and possibly a new museum. Not a bad way to spend a vacation.

2. Anton Vaino says he can use a “nooscope” to measure unseen things that impact the economy, and most folks can’t make heads or tails of it. So why is he replacing one of Putin’s top dudes? After Sergei Ivanov, head of the presidential administration, was unexpectedly replaced by Vaino, the bureaucrat’s academic past has been unearthed, nooscope and all. Maybe it will help explain the spate of replacements hitting Putin’s old guard.

3. The governor of Novosibirsk has signed a law prohibiting migrants from working in 16 professions. If you were planning on moving to Novosibirsk to become a teacher, taxi driver, or accountant, you’re out of luck. No hunting and breeding of wild animals either, and believe it or not, no work as an interpreter. The authorities describe the decision as a move to “ensure national security” as well as increase employment opportunities for Russian citizens. We can only hope Novosibirsk doesn’t run out of interpreters for wild animals.  

Quote of the Week

“The market is a manifestation of life. The brightest manifestations of life occur in its condensation: in certain points, certain lines, certain spatial-temporal formations.”

—The intro to “The Capitalization of the Future,” an article on economic theory (sort of) by Anton Vaino, the Kremlin’s new chief of staff.

In Odder News

  • Andrei Tarkovsky, renowned for his dark and complex film directing, also dabbled in Polaroids. And auctioneers are going crazy about it.
  • A Hare Krishna follower has been detained for illegal missionary work under the new anti-terrorist law. Maybe his voice was just off-key?
  • How to make the best of flooded streets? By wakeboarding through central Moscow, of course.
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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.

The spy who stayed out in the cold
The spy who stayed out in the cold

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Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob
Blogging Bears, Ivan the Terrible Rapper, and a Blob

A polar bear travels the world, a historian serves up the Rhyme of Troubles, the Kremlin gets a new alien, and Presidents Putin and Trump get along by the skin of their teeth. 

Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics
Buddha in a blizzard, tsar in the tropics

A Buddhist monastery in the mountains fights one millionaire, and Kiribati's islands welcome another one. There's also exorcism, the Facebook of 1917, and general happiness. 

The Kremlin on Ice
The Kremlin on Ice

Convicts carve up the Kremlin, an assassin wins a prize, and governors drop like flies. Actually, that all sounds a lot worse than what happened. Find out for yourself. 

100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away...
100 Years Ago, In a Monarchy Far, Far Away

Exactly 100 years ago, on February 23, 1917, the Russian Revolution began. And once you've learned about that, there's space, WWII reenactments, and a portal back to medieval times. 

Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll
Cats, droids, and acrobatic rock & roll

A friendly robot graces the metro and a politically charged (and financed) dance studio gets footloose thanks to the youngest Putin. Also, happy World Cat Day!

Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs
Say no to discrimination, ducks, and hugs

International Women's Day was celebrated by marches, flowers, and flash mobs. In other news, Russia and China are BFFs, and Prime Minister Medvedev likes ducks.