Thursday, June 15, 2017
1. Monday was Russia Day, the nationwide celebration of state sovereignty featuring parades, events, and, well, protests. Moscow’s festivities included a historical reenactment festival, complete with Soviet troops, Vikings, and archaic torture devices for family fun. Meanwhile, anti-corruption activists gathered across the country in protests organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny – himself detained before arriving at the protest. By varying accounts, dozens or hundreds of people were arrested by riot police. Whether they had a worse day than the Viking whose ship got trampled is hard to say.
2. 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.
3. “Cryptocurrency can’t buy me love” just isn’t as catchy as The Beatles’ original tune about money. It may not buy love, but cryptocurrency – digital, encrypted forms of currency that exist outside of “normal” economies – can do more than you’d think. One farmer created such a currency called the kolion, which has helped him fund his farm. At first, this was a legal risk, but in an about-face in late April, Russia announced that it will legalize and regulate cryptocurrencies. With their apparent growing role in the Russian economy, it doesn’t look like cryptocurrencies will buy the farm anytime soon.
"This is the same kind of tool as a tractor. Only it is a hundred times more powerful and more efficient."
—Mikhail Shlyapnikov, a farmer who has invented a new cryptocurrency called the kolion, on the increasing value and popularity of his currency.
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