Nov/Dec 2018 Current Moscow Time: 21:32:16
14 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.

Siberia's natural wonders meet the Duma elections
Siberia's natural wonders meet the Duma elections

This week brings you not just news, but also striking images of the latest discoveries in natural rock formations and mammoth hunting in Siberia. Also, election season. 

Bears, boycotts, and busting rhymes
Bears, boycotts, and busting rhymes

Election aftermath, polar bear attacks, why drivers are against Russia's version of Uber, and maybe even a state secret or two. 

Tanker, toddler, marketer, spy
Tanker, toddler, marketer, spy

Spy gadgets get culinary, Putin parks a tank, and a tyke takes on the wilderness. All that, and the spirit of adventure. 

Liquor machines and lullaby missiles
Liquor machines and lullaby missiles

Patriotic tectonic plates, the threat of airborne Internet, a possible return to the Gulag, and some problems without solutions.  

Solzhenitsyn, Alf, and raccoons all around
Solzhenitsyn, Alf, and raccoons all around

A disturbing attack on a renowned author, and a lighthearted nod to an unlikely TV hero. Plus Russian military expansion, raccoons' domestic expansion, and more unlikely art. 

Can a Martian invasion fix Russia-Europe relations?
Can a Martian invasion fix Russia-Europe relations?

It's a busy week for technology, what with a Mars lander, more secure Internet, electric cars (in unlikely places), and enough counterfeit money to fill an ATM.

How to name your baby (and not get arrested)
How to name your baby (and not get arrested)

Baby BOCh rVF 260602 may have to change his name. Plus, Russia's protest potential, the shrinking middle class, and dabbling with Shamanism. 

False history and forensic literature
False history and forensic literature

Fighting falsified Russian history, righting incorrect Bulgakovian history, and piecing together just what – and how unified – is the Russian nation.