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19 November 2018

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

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Olympians, Titans, and cats dressed up as sailors

by Alice E.M. Underwood

Olympian Update
A special section during the Rio Olympics

The Games are on! Russians in Rio have already snagged 15 medals (and counting), including in judofencingarchery, and shooting. A violent set of sports, perhaps, but there’s also cycling and gymnastics, with silver for both the men’s andwomen’s teams.

Unfortunately, Russia’s entire paralympic team has been banned on doping allegations. Is Russia at fault for putting “medals over morals,” or is excluding Russia a “grave human rights abuse” – and a sign of Russophobia? 

Phobias and their friends

1. Russophobia is a problem, and it’s going to take at least 2 million rubles to fix it. Russia’s Ministry of Culture is investing in research on de-Russification and Russophobia – in other words, prejudice against Russia in the West and elsewhere. This flawed perception of Russia, say those researching it, stems from Russia’s resurgence on the global stage. But whether the country is summed up as a threat or a haven for bears and vodka, there’s much more to Russia than that.

2. Russia and Turkey are back to being best buds. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a visit to “his dear friend Vladimir” with an eye to mending bonds between their countries. After a shot-down Russian plane on Turkish soil spurred tensions (and tourism dips) between the countries, and in the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey and heightened conflict in Syria, it’s a good time to look for a friend. Still, the internet responded stingingly.

3. Lake Baikal not only looks beautiful: now it will sound inspiring, too, with Leonardo diCaprio and President Putin potentially teaming up to be the voices behind the lake. Putin has yet to confirm whether he’ll pledge his vocal cords to the 3D documentary, to be titled Lake Baikal: The Heart of the World, but DiCaprio has already climbed aboard. Will the Titanic fare better voyaging across the world’s largest lake?

Contested Quotes of the Week

“I understand the people who didn’t congratulate me because the media was full of fake stories about me. […] All athletes should be above politics, but they just watch TV and believe everything they read. I always thought the cold war was long in the past. Why start it again, by using sport?”

—Russian silver-medalist swimmer Yulia Efimova on other athletes’ reactions to her participation in the Olympics, after previously being banned for doping – allegations many Russians see as a Russiaphobic conspiracy.


“You’re shaking your finger ‘No. 1’ and you’ve been caught for drug cheating. I’m not a fan.”

—American gold-medalist swimmer Lilly King on her perception of Efimova.

In Catter News

These cats are part of the crew on a Russian cruise ship. That’s all.

What better way to celebrateInternational Cat Day than an opera medley dedicated to meowsical – er, musical – kitties?

This cat has been a loyal member of this Russian family for 23 years. Except that’s not a cat: it’s a bear. (Or possibly a hoax.)

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.

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