Thursday, March 30, 2017
1. Yup, this is where we are now. The scandal surrounding the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 US election has now escalated to a pretty widespread if not trending Twitter hashtag #russiagate, and there is no shortage of conspiracy theories or trumped up charges (be it on the left or the right), or doomsday scenarios surrounding the scandal to keep one up at night (if the nuclear war threats don’t). But, as you might expect, there is also some pretty good humor and cartoonage (and more cartoonage).
2. In the biggest anti-government demonstrations in five years, thousands of Russians across the country turned up last Sunday for spontaneous walkabouts, at the urging of opposition politician Alexei Navalny (seen above in a Twitter photo, on the metro with sneakers). It began in early March, when Navalny produced a video documenting corruption centered on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (who, as it happened, was on a ski holiday this Sunday). The video went viral, and on Sunday demonstrators chanted against corruption with duck, sneaker, and green dye symbols. Navalny was one of the hundreds arrested, and was sentenced to 15 days in prison for leading an unsanctioned protest. In not unrelated news, on Monday, truckers staged a nationwide antitax strike.
3. Exactly 150 years ago today (yup, it’s a sesquicentennial), in 1867, the US Congress approved the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $74 million. Nicknamed by opponents at the time as Seward’s Folly (after Secretary of State William Seward), it was a crucial move in stemming British expansion in the region. And, just as with France and the Louisiana Purchase a sesquicentennial before, Russia sought the deal largely because they knew they could not defend such a far-flung imperial outpost in the face American expansion. Alaska did not become a state until 1959. We have re-posted a piece from our online archive about how it all got started (when Russia discovered America in 1741, that is). A wide range of sesquicentennial events are planned in Alaska this year.
Quote of the Week
"On paper it is a wonderful country;
on ice it is what is generally called a big thing.”
—Alaska Purchase humbug and New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, a few weeks after the purchase.
The robots may be coming for our jobs, our cars, and our thermostats, but don't expect them to be replacing translators any time soon. We ran two difficult graphs of text through two leading online translation engines to see what we would get. It was not pretty, people. Or, put another way, only the translations by people were pretty...
Top photo: The Siberian Times
Which would you rather: be trapped in the Arctic or accused of treason? Okay, not a fun game. But a worthwhile read about the latest in Russian news.
This week was full of wins for Russia: a famous photographer, everyone who watched Putin's call-in, and lawmakers making it harder to get foreign aid. So, a loss for Russians getting foreign aid.
Or, whatever the Russian version of margaritas, mariachis, and misunderstood military history might involve.
Victory Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the end of WWII, was celebrated this Monday. Here are the ups, downs, and nonsequiturs of the occasion.
Russia's physics-defying display at Eurovision. Bullying via dairy products. Plus some saucy presidential pecking – on the lips.
Politicians are people just like us. They get millions of Instagram responses for a lost pet and do folkdances in front of world leaders. Just a day in the life.
Sir Elton John's much-vaunted visit with Putin, Eurovision for kids, setting doors on fire, and other great performances – all in one little week.
The British are out to get Russian values and Russian naval vessels alike this week. Scroll down enough and there's also a cat pic.