December 26, 2019

Best of The Russia File 2019

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

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)

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