Nov/Dec 2018 Current Moscow Time: 13:12:03
15 November 2018


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


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Royal(ish) Weddings and Toys for the Opposition

by Alice E.M. Underwood
Unions, Mergers, and Spinning Tales

1. Weddings are happy occasions for celebrating love, bringing together family, and, in the case of a judge’s daughter’s wedding last week in Krasnodar, getting mired in controversy involving pop star performances, Bentleys, and shady money. Responding to accusations that the family blew $2 million of possibly ill-gotten gains on the wedding,  Judge Elena Khakhaleva, the mother of the bride, called the allegations “barefaced pressure” on her family based on her rulings against powerful people. Others allege that the judge has snatched farming land for herself and reached unjust verdicts. Who knew tying the knot could get so tangled?

2. Those fidget spinners everyone’s playing with aren’t just the latest fad in toys. According to Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, they’re hazardous to children’s health. And beyond that, the spinner toys are the opposition’s devilish plan to win the hearts and minds of Russian youth. According to a Rossiya 24 news segment on the dastardly links between the popular toy and the opposition, YouTube channels that include videos about fidget spinners as well as politics may be using the toys to seduce a “potential protest audience.” Well, that’s one way to spin it.

3. In a win for Russian ride-sharing, Yandex.Taxi and Uber have merged services in Russia and surrounding countries. The deal looks a lot better for Yandex, whose shares rose 25% after the news broke that Yandex will invest $100 million to Uber’s $225 million in the new company and control 59.3% of it. Customers can order rides through either app, but drivers will be moved onto a new platform filtering orders from both Uber and Yandex.Taxi. Looks like a lot of people are getting taken for a ride, but luckily, they want to.

In Odder News 
  • In Omsk, even the pigeons wear raincoats. Luckily, the residents also take the time to help out a bird in need.

  • The strictest vacation of your life: holidays in North Korea and why Russians are into it.
  • Here’s a roundup of Russia’s richest women in government. Note: the judge who threw her daughter a $2-million wedding isn’t one of them.
Quote of the Week

“This is not just a feast at a time of plague. This is a spit in the face. In all our faces!”
—Lawyer Sergei Zhorin, who attended Khakhaleva’s daughter’s wedding and subsequently posted footage of the wedding to draw attention to the expense.

Quote #2. Because why not?

“These toys are popular not only among high school and college students. More than once, they’ve been spotted in the hands of representatives of the non-systemic opposition.”
—Alexey Kazakov, the host of the news program “Vesti,” on the report that fidget spinner toys are a new tactic by members of the opposition.

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.

Olympians, Titans, and cats dressed up as sailors
Olympians, Titans, and cats dressed up as sailors

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. 

A kick in the face of public taste
A kick in the face of public taste

This week in Russia saw a whole lot of beatdowns: on international corruption, candy stores, and even Buddha. 

Architecture and unexquisite corpses
Architecture and unexquisite corpses

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.

Chess, Traffic and Briefcases
Chess, Traffic and Briefcases

In The Weekly Russia File for March 31: some terrible chess puns, and how to stop traffic.

Michael Phelps, Russia's swimming champ
Michael Phelps, Russia's swimming champ

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. 

Tractors, smugglers, and the matryoshka from hell
Tractors, smugglers, and the matryoshka from hell

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.

Corruption, Kalashnikovs, and cultured meats
Corruption, Kalashnikovs, and cultured meats

Performance art turned into meaty meals and politicians turned criminals or corpses. Oh, and Vladimir Putin gets arrested. 

Nomads, salad stampedes, and serious swamp business
Nomads, salad stampedes, and serious swamp business

Olympics featuring dead goats, world records with feta cheese, blood-red rivers, and how to set up your business in a pit of slime.