November/December 2017 Current Moscow Time: 22:27:11
24 November 2017


  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Victory Day and cheeky chess pieces

Soldiers, Chessmen, Doctors, Geese

1. May 9th is Russia’s grandest national holiday: the celebration of the Nazi surrender to Soviet forces and the end of World War II, or as Russians call it, the Great Patriotic War. Victory Day is observed with massive military parades on land and in the air – though this year, Moscow’s air show was canceled due to weather. President Vladimir Putin spoke about the importance of unity in defeating the Nazis and the need to expand Russia’s military. The message highlighted Russia’s strength, but some say it could signal further distance between Russia and its neighbors.

2. Finally: a day for archaeology buffs, chess buffs, and numismatics alike to come together in celebration. A chess piece dated to Ivan the Terrible’s reign has been unearthed in Moscow, and it contains a stash of sixteenth-century silver coins. They add up to just a few pennies, but according to experts, that could have bought at least ten geese back in the sixteenth century. Discovered by road workers on Prechistenka Street, the chess piece is a second archaeological find in two months, with the discovery of a sixteenth-century “spy room” in late March.

3. The Russian military may be boosting its presence in the Arctic, what with new, shamrock-shaped military bases and the impressive display of Arctic missiles in this week’s Victory Day parade. But for many people who live in Russia’s Far North year-round, day-to-day concerns are often of higher importance than the shape of the country’s newest and northernmost military base. Here’s the story of the only doctor within many miles, who travels on a homemade vehicle to care for patients across the Arctic.

In Odder News

  • Salt might have different health impacts than previously believed, based on a study of Russian cosmonauts. And they’re the salt of the Earth.
  • The Simpsons have a tricky relationship with Russia: most recently, with the refusal to broadcast an episode featuring Homer playing Pokemon Go in a church. Too close to home.
  • Victory Day is one of Russia’s biggest celebrations. Here are the numbers behind the military transports, decorations, and of course, rain prevention.

Quote of the Week

"The Russian Federation's armed forces are able to stand against any challenge — but to fight terrorism, the consolidation of the entire international community is needed."
—President Vladimir Putin in his Victory Day speech.

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.