December 26, 2019

Best of The Russia File 2019


Best of The Russia File 2019
A hat in a pinch. fedpress.ru

We look back and re-share some of our favorite stories from 2019. They may not be the most noteworthy or newsworthy stories, but we felt they were the most fun.

Our Favorite Stories of 2019

1. A Russian journalist accidentally wore underwear as headwear half the day, and the internet decided it was a fashion statement. She tweeted about how she used the panties to to tie up her hair in the shower, and then, half a work day and two formal meetings later, realized she had forgotten to take them off. In a second tweet she complained that “not one b**** told me,” dismantling the myth that Russian babushki will always correct your clothing choices. (Then again, maybe the babushki approved, since any form of headwear does keep the head warmer.) In comments, however, Russians encouraged her to embrace it, saying that everyone was respecting underwear on the head as a “message to the world,” and “a great person creates fashion trends.”

2. A meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began on a discordant note. After Putin arrived in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi marching band played the Russian national anthem for him. It went all right, until they got to the chorus and… to put it mildly, Putin was definitely trying not to laugh. Fortunately, Russia got its revenge when it gifted the crown prince a falcon that defecated on the carpet. (Actually, according to the Tweeter who posted the video, a bird pooping is a good luck sign in Russia. Then again, we’ll never know if the Saudis believed that or called Putin on his birdcrap.)


The Saudi marching band attempts the Russian national anthem. / saudiatv
 

3. Every spring, when the Amur River in Siberia unfreezes, there’s a risk that big chunks of ice flowing downstream will get stuck and cause floods. The Russian government has devised a clever solution: blow up the ice. Usually, ice explosions start around mid-April, but the Amur is thawing earlier and earlier due to global warming, so this year authorities started clearing the ice on April 3, and finished on April 12. To blow up the ice, workers plant explosives at regular intervals across the river, so the explosion resembles a grand fountain. You could say that winter’s going out with a bang (hope someone warned the fish).


Almost better than fireworks. / Video: Anna Liesowska
 

Five Most Popular Weekly Russia Files of 2019

Data don't lie (unless you force them to)!
Here’s what readers liked best this past year. Click on over, give them a read, and see if you agree.

  1. Black Snow, Brown Bears, and Sore Losers (February 21)
  2. A Dog and a Muscovite Come In from the Cold (March 21)
  3. Naked Facts about Science, Art and Agriculture (March 28)
  4. To and From Russia with Love (October 10)
  5. Victory Over the Past (May 9)
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
Chekhov Bilingual

Chekhov Bilingual

Some of Chekhov's most beloved stories, with English and accented Russian on facing pages throughout. 
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Dostoyevsky Bilingual

Bilingual series of short, lesser known, but highly significant works that show the traditional view of Dostoyevsky as a dour, intense, philosophical writer to be unnecessarily one-sided. 
Tolstoy Bilingual

Tolstoy Bilingual

This compact, yet surprisingly broad look at the life and work of Tolstoy spans from one of his earliest stories to one of his last, looking at works that made him famous and others that made him notorious. 
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  

What is the Weekly Russia File?

It's like a smart, offbeat friend who sends you an email every week with all the stuff you don't want to miss about Russia...*

* indicates required

* Oh, and it also includes:

  • exclusive discount offers,
  • weekly summary of posts on RussianLife.com 

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955