Thursday, September 15, 2016
Sink your tusks in
1. There’s a treasure hunt on in Yakutia, and X marks the fossilized woolly mammoth. In the hunt for ancient ivory, illegal tuskers spend their summers carving, spraying, and finagling excavations of Siberian permafrost, avoiding police patrols and having some casual drunken fights amid the labor of looking for priceless white gold. Follow Amos Chapple on a powerful photo journey documenting the hunt.
2. Is that a backdrop from an old Star Trek set? Nope—it’s the natural world’s latest wonder: towering granite formations in a part of Russia so remote they’re believed never to have been spotted before. The formations spout from the ground in almost inaccessible part of northern Yakutia (a few thousand miles north of the tuskers). After they were spotted by air, wildlife photographer Sergey Karpukhin crowdfunded a snowmobile journey to the site and returned with the first pics of Russia’s answer to Stonehenge.
3. Elections for Russia's parliament, known as the Duma, take place tomorrow. It may be predictable that United Russia will score pretty high, given the state’s low tolerance for opposition candidates and continued popularity, but the elections will be legitimate, analysts say. Some Russians don’t need to read the analysis: they’ve voted for the same candidates for years. So where’s the excitement? In the campaign ads, which add a spark (and some sweet scything) to this electoral party.
In Odder News
Quote of the Week
“I know it's bad, but what can I do? No work, lots of kids.”
—A man who spends his summers in the difficult, often futile labor of hunting mammoth tusks in the hopes of striking it rich. Only 20-30% of tuskers find enough to make a profit.
Russian Cultural Literacy
What do this year’s Duma elections really mean for Russian politics and Russian society at large? Sure, the ruling party’s win is predictable, but with post-Crimea patriotism, a tighter focus on traditional values, and the aftermath of the 2012 protests shaping political change of recent years, this round of elections may have more to it than meets the eye. But don’t take our word for it: get down-and-dirty on the Duma with this in-depth analysis.
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.
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.