May/June 2012

Features in this Issue

Extreme Russia

Roofing and spelunking underground passages are so 2011. So says 22-year-old Vadim Makhorov, whose photos from atop vertiginous towers, about crumbling Soviet-era factories, and inside tunnels of working metro systems have wowed internet users and made his blog one of the most popular in Siberia.

Victor Tsoy

No rock musician has had such a profound, lasting effect on Russian culture as Victor Tsoy.

Japan's White Russian Hurler

There is not a single Russian-born player in the American Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet if the tide of history had flowed just a bit differently, Victor Starffin might well have ended up in Cooperstown alongside Ruth, Gehrig, Killebrew and Mays.

Secrets of the Northern Wind

The Russian North is rich in superstition and mysticism. Monsters... UFOs... shape-shifters... dwarves living underground... There seems no end to the stories.

Cinema in the Round

Before IMAX, before 3-D movies, there was Cinema in the Round. Come with us on a visit to the world’s longest functioning cinema of its type, where films are shown simultaneously on 11 massive screens.

Departments and More

  • 4

    Commanding Heights

    This issue’s lead story almost made me sick. I’m not a fan of high places, and some of Vadim Makhorov’s thrill-seeking photos made me feel a bit vertiginous and queasy. They are that good.

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 7

    Cycle of Violence

    The public is outraged by a police abuse scandal in Kazan. How far does it stretch, and why is the Kremlin not following up with serious reforms?

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 16

    Peace Be With You

    This issue's Trends section deals with the division of Russian society over the Pussy Riot scandal. Discourse has been, shall we say, less than civil.

  • 19
    Russian Calendar

    Izmail Ivanovich Sreznevsky

    A pathbreaking scientific investigator of Slavic linguistics, Sreznevsky nonetheless helped fan the flames of nationalism and pan-Slavism.

  • 19
    Survival Russian

    Just Between Us

    A consideration of less than politesse descriptions of the other sex - what men say about women and what women say about men, when they are each speaking to those of their own gender...

  • 19

    Nixon Visits Moscow

    In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first sitting president to visit the Soviet Union. Another decade of Brezhnevian decline was to follow...

  • 23
    Russian Calendar

    Yevgeny Vakhtangov

    A noted actor, writer and director, Yevgeny Vakhtangov led a very strange and extraordinary life indeed.

  • 27
    Language Learning

    Victor Tsoy - Interview and Lyrics

    This issue's Uchites insert offers a glossed interview with rock legend Victor Tsoy, plus a gloss of the lyrics from one of his most famous songs.
  • 60

    A Magic Tablecloth

    One of the most vivid images in Russian fairytales is that of the skatert-samobranka, a self-spreading (and self-cleaning) tablecloth. We consider this magical mystery and offer a recipe for delightful pirozhki.

  • 62
    Under Review

    A Wealth of Literature

    Our review shelves were overloaded this month, necessitating more and shorter reviews. There is both great fiction (Scar, by the Dyachenkos; The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf & Petrov; The Time of Women, by Elena Chizhova; 50 Writers) and non-fiction including two Putin-focused histories and a remarkable look inside Soviet era labor camps.

  • 64
    Post Script

    Painting Hidden Worlds

    A visit with Maria Kachanova, a young icon painter striving to create works of art in keeping with this centuries long tradition.

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.

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