The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
1. The rumor mill is doing pirouettes after a new ballet about Soviet dancer Rudolf Nureyev (who? Find out) was canceled three days before opening at the Bolshoi Ballet. The official line is that the ballet “isn’t ready,” so it’s been postponed to next year. Director Kirill Serebrennikov and the ballet’s performers claim otherwise, some citing pressure from on high due to depictions of Nureyev’s homosexuality, which could violate Russia’s “gay propaganda” law. It wouldn’t be ballet without a touch of scandal.
2. Russia’s answer to Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and at least 50 journalists, Anton Nosik died on Saturday of a heart attack at 51. The Internet media pioneer, entrepreneur, and blogger known as the “godfather of Russian media,” Nosik founded several of Russia’s largest news sites, including Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru, and Newsru.com. Though he made controversial statements about Syria and against the government’s crackdowns on internet freedoms, he was respected across much of Russian society. Journalists, opposition activists, and politicians alike paid their respects at his funeral on Tuesday.
3. Social Justice. Putin’s Troops. Crazy grannies. Whatever you call them, this group of elderly folks is a force to be reckoned with. Whether it’s raiding Alexei Navalny’s presidential campaign office in Krasnodar, posting pro-Kremlin video blogs, or making a senior-friendly anti-opposition rap video, these pro-Putinist senior citizens have a message and they’re making it viral. A new report finds the former politician behind the “grannies” and traces the path from Social Justice, his official organization, to today’s grantastic stunts.
“Even our clash with Navalny wasn’t sanctioned by anyone. It turns out to have been a real breakthrough, judging by how much everyone liked it. But we decide what to do on our own. We never ask anyone.”
—Marat Dinayev, founder of the charity “Social Justice” and the force behind the “granny activism” that targeted Alexei Navalny, on the independent nature of his organization's work.
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.