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Thursday, March 29, 2018
We have no words. This week’s tragic mall fire in Kemerovo killed over 60 children and adults. We know all Weekly Russia File readers share in our feelings of grief and empathy for their families and loved ones.
1. This man’s as good as his mustache. Or at least, as good as his mustache was. In an update to one of last week’s stories, Communist Party Presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin made good on his word and shaved his mustache. Prior to the election, he had promised blogger Yuri Dud that he would shave his mustache if he got less than 15% of the vote. As the shaving gods would have it, poor Pavel only got 11.7%. Grudinin hemmed and hawed for a while on whether he would carry out the deed (inspiring a mobile game in which you yourself could shave Grudinin’s moustache), but he finally realized he needed to make good on his campaign promise. His upper lip may be shaven, but at least it’s stiff!
2. Russia’s most important election of the year has concluded! No, not the presidential election. This week Russia announced the winners of the nuclear missile system naming contest. The winning names were “Burevestnik” for the cruise missile, “Peresvet” for the laser, and “Poseidon” for the underwater drone. Burevestnik is a Russian name for a bird but literally translates to “the announcer of a storm,” Peresvet was a medieval Russian monk warrior, and hopefully Poseidon is self-explanatory.
3. I spy… no spies. New Zealand got itself into a bit of a pickle this week when it tried to expel Russian spies in response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent that was residing in the UK. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any. The Prime Minister of New Zealand said she wasn’t surprised that New Zealand is not Russia’s top spy destination, given the lack of Russian interests in the island nation. But what with New Zealand’s stunning scenery, that seems like a failure on the part of the FSB.
Russia (along with much of Eastern Europe) said “hello yellow” as an African dust storm reached its southern regions, imbuing the landscape with a lemony tint
If there can be treehuggers, there can be television tower huggers: citizens of Yekaterinburg held a “Hug the Tower” rally in an attempt to stop the demolition of an aging, half-finished TV tower
A slam dunk for Yekaterinburg: American point guard and WNBA retiree Jamierra Faulkner just joined their basketball team (she got citizenship, too!)
“We don't have Russian undeclared intelligence officers here. If we did, we would expel them.”
—Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern
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 Olympics are under way! With them, new moves in Turkish-Russian relations, a Putin-voiced documentary, and the dangerous force of Russiaphobia. Also cats.
This week in Russia saw a whole lot of beatdowns: on international corruption, candy stores, and even Buddha.
A church’s domes caving into the altar. A transgender couple finagles a wedding. A hospital patient shares a room with a corpse. Just another TWERF.
In The Weekly Russia File for March 31: some terrible chess puns, and how to stop traffic.
The opening of the Kremlin, the mysterious ways of the nooscope, Hare Krishnas, and why Michael Phelps decided to defect to the Russian Olympic team.
It's a tough week for transport in Russia, with a tractor parade, a smugglers' road, a bear on the loose, and an unwieldy matryoshka to top it all off.
Performance art turned into meaty meals and politicians turned criminals or corpses. Oh, and Vladimir Putin gets arrested.
Olympics featuring dead goats, world records with feta cheese, blood-red rivers, and how to set up your business in a pit of slime.