Nov/Dec 2018 Current Moscow Time: 09:29:43
14 December 2018


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Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Best of 2017

by Alice E.M. Underwood

For our final TWERF of 2017, we look back and re-share some of our favorite stories from 2017. They may not be the most note-worthy or news-worthy stories, but we felt they were the most fun.

Because that is what TWERF is about: looking at the "lighter-side" of all things Russian (Lord knows the darker side has been well covered by others this year), to capture some of the odder, lesser-known bits of news seeping out of matyushka-Rus. We like to think that we've built something of an iconoclastic corner on offbeatedness (yes, we realize that is not a word). We may trip over the line sometimes into dark or un-PC humor, and we're sorry if we offend. We are trying our best to behave ourselves. Really.

TWERF's Three Favorite Stories of 2017

1. When you hear the words “mammoth hotel,” you might just think “really big.” But in a proposed development on the coast of Lake Baikal, a hotel will be built in the shape of a wooly mammoth skull. According to officials in the Republic of Buryatia, the “ethnic and historical flavor” of the structure will attract more tourists and boost investment in the region. Nature lovers who know the unique beauty of Baikal might disagree. Still, chances are you haven’t been to many hotel conferences hosted inside the enormous skull of an extinct animal.

2. Let them eat cheesecake—all 40,000 of them! Some cities' founding days mean fireworks and looking back at history. In Stavropol, it meant a 4.2-ton dessertIn honor of its 240th anniversary, Stavropol played host to the baking and consuming of the world’s largest cheesecake. The 2.3-meter confection earnedits spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, and thousands of Stavropol residents lined up to get a taste.

3. Many folks dream of traveling the globe. Apparently, so do polar bears. This bear-faced tourist has been from Tonga to Thailand, Ethiopia to Ecuador, but it’s his permanent habitat on Instagram that helped him taste the honey of fame. The man behind the mask is Elnar Mansurov, a Perm resident who has gained attention as a travel expert – and not just for his unconventional facewear, but also for his tipsabout traveling with bearly any money. If a bear can do it, anything’s pawsible.

Five Most Popular TWERFs of 2017

Here's what readers liked best this past year. Click on over, give them a read and see if you agree.

  1. Russia Youth Then and Now (May 25)
  2. The Biggest Cheesecake, The Artsiest Robot, and The Spaciest Station (September 28)
  3. Spying for Russia and Flying for Russia (October 5)
  4. Eating, Drinking, and Putin's New Look (August 10)
  5. Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals (July 6)
Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!
Icebergs and tigers and starships, oh my!

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. 

Prizes, spies, and kasha for all
Prizes, spies, and kasha for all

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. 

A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo
A Very Russki Cinco de Mayo

Or, whatever the Russian version of margaritas, mariachis, and misunderstood military history might involve.

Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories
Baby bears, cats in debt, and other fuzzy victories

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.

Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles
Catchy beats and milk-soaked scuffles

Russia's physics-defying display at Eurovision. Bullying via dairy products. Plus some saucy presidential pecking – on the lips. 

Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats
Dancing diplomats and dictators' cats

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.

Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin
Elton John Crocodile Rocks the Kremlin

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.

Russians don't need principles. Just submarines
Russians don't need principles. Just submarines

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.