July 06, 2017

Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals


Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals
Tractors and Statues Fit for Presidents

1. If you sow a field of Putin, will you reap the most loyal crops ever? Or get a territorial dispute with the field next door? Italian farmer and artist Dario Gambarin decided to find out, using a tractor to draw a giant portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a field. The 443-foot-wide decoration to his farm comes in advance of this week’s G20 summit. Gambarin, who has also depicted Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and others, says he doesn’t measure fields before he starts his art; it’s all a good eye and knowing your way around a tractor.

2. Special delivery! In early 2016, Kaliningrad got a shipment of about 160,000 gallons of Geminex G30, allegedly an emulsifying agent for cleaning metalwork. Over a year later, those 2,500 barrels of toxic waste are still waiting for a home. In addition to toxic waste, it seems that there’s dirty money involved, not to mention a lack of disposal facility, disappearing owners, and a whole lot of bureaucracy.

3. The Burganov House Museum in Moscow has unveiled a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev shaking hands. It’s not Russia’s only sculpture of American presidents, but it’s the most topical: the sculptor said his piece was motivated by the hope that the countries’ current presidents, too, will find diplomacy possible. Gorbachev similarly expressed hope that today’s “dangerous impasse” in U.S.-Russian relations will soon pass.

In Odder News
  • Satanic ballrooms, bugged emblems, and crazed seals (yes, the animal). The secrets of Spaso House, the U.S. ambassadorial residence in Moscow, are too weird to miss.
  • Is Russia trying to boost alcoholism? Easy answer: no. However, the market is emphasizing wine consumption in a bid to steer drinkers away from vodka and other harder beverages.
  • Lake Baskunchak is 20 km long, 30 cm deep, and provides 80% of Russia's salt. Grab some seasoning and watch the video about it.

Quote of the Week

"Our message to the two presidents: stop and think about it, guys: we don’t want any of the tragic repetitions that have taken place through history, and maybe you'll somehow be able to agree."
—Eduard Lozansky, president of the American University in Moscow, on the message behind the new sculpture of Reagan and Gorbachev.

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.

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.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
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.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

The Life Stories collection is a nice introduction to contemporary Russian fiction: many of the 19 authors featured here have won major Russian literary prizes and/or become bestsellers. These are life-affirming stories of love, family, hope, rebirth, mystery and imagination, masterfully translated by some of the best Russian-English translators working today. The selections reassert the power of Russian literature to affect readers of all cultures in profound and lasting ways. Best of all, 100% of the profits from the sale of this book are going to benefit Russian hospice—not-for-profit care for fellow human beings who are nearing the end of their own life stories.
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.
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 

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
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955