On this day in 1980, the legendary bard singer Vladimir Vysotsky died. His legacy lives on in the dozens of Russian rock groups who directly or indirectly pay tribute to him. But it also lives on through his films and poetry (Vysotsky was an actor and poet, too). In one of his poems, Vysotsky commented wryly on the Sino-Soviet split, writing a sardonic “open letter” to the Chinese government from workers in Tambov. Read a translation of his poem from the Sep/Oct 2013 issue of Russian Life.
1. A khinkali by any other name… Long ago, a famous Communist made Georgian cuisine popular in Russia. So it’s ironic that today Communists decry the popularity of Georgian food in Russia. “They spit at us, but we wipe it off,” declared one deputy, referring not just to the current Georgia-Russia spat, but also to the fact that Russians like Georgian food. They propose renaming khachapuri as pyshki (fried dough) and khinkali as pelmeni. Clearly, as one satirist puts it, this will once and for all restore the dignity of “disgraced Russia.”
2. Three, seven, king? In the gamble for Internet fame, one graffitist played their cards right. An intricately illustrated quadriptych at a Kamensk-Uralsky bus stop depicts four Russian politicians as face cards: Putin as the King of Spades, Dmitri Medvedev as the King of Hearts, Patriarch Kirill as the King of Clubs, and spokesman Dmitri Peskov as the King of Diamonds. The impromptu exhibition abruptly ended after four hours, when a resident started erasing Medvedev’s portrait. Nevertheless, viewers retain fond impressions of the drawings. “It’s clear the author meant to say a lot with this,” reflected one resident.
3. An asphalty cross to bear. Yekaterinburg authorities crossed a few wires when they approved a new work of street art — a giant cross in the middle of a main square. But they drew even more wrath when street pavers inadvertently paved over part of the cross. The incident was “a crime against art, culture, and the city,” declared one news editor, while Instagrammers joked that they should start painting crosses over potholes to get them fixed. Fortunately, the artist, though justifiably annoyed, has volunteered to restore the artwork. He bears no grudges against the pavers… or, we might say, he isn’t terribly cross.
In these tough political times, can you be both a Russophile and a Ukrainophile? Katrina Keegan says yes.
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