Wow! Looking back at our favorite stories from 2018 reminded us just how much happened in Russia this year, both big and small. Thank you to our readers for sticking with us, and we look forward to sharing the journey of 2019 with you. Here is a look back at some of our (and your) favorite stories from 2018:
One Russian grandmother isn't waiting for the cows to come home: she's skating across the deepest lake in the world to get them herself. Lyubov Morekhodova, a 76-year-old woman who lives next to Lake Baikal, skates up to six miles to check on her cows when they've strayed too far from her home. Very poetically, her first name means "Love" and her last name literally means "the one who walks on the sea." Even Gogol couldn't have given her a more appropriate name. [original post]
The adults are trying to appeal to the youths, and, as usually happens in such cases, the result is amusing. A local Russian media company just dropped a new music video, "Oi, come to the ELECTIONS!" The video features singing and dancing pensioners, rapping youth, and uncomfortable-looking cadets, all for the purpose of encouraging young people to vote in the Russian presidential elections, which will take place on March 18. These videos are nonpartisan, but they aren't immune from controversy: one widely-shared advertisement portrays a post-election world in which middle-aged men are asked to enlist, children beg parents for millions of rubles, and families must adopt gay people when their partners dump them. Will it be better at encouraging the youth to vote than it has been at riling them up? Unclear. [original post]
All hail Saint Akinfeyev and his holy foot! On Sunday, Russia narrowly beat out the football heavyweight Spain during a penalty shootout, launching them to the World Cup's Round of Eight. Who do Russians have to thank for this surprising victory? Goalie and captain Igor Akinfeyev, who blocked a Spanish shot with the tip of his cleated foot. As Russians partied like they'd never partied before (and that's saying something), Akinfeyev took on a special status in Russian society. Amid the celebration there were many who came to terms with the last-ditch promises they had made on the condition of Russia beating Spain, and Twitter is littered with evidence of them running through the streets nude, getting tattoos, and even searching for spouses. Thankfully this is all a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, unless, of course, Russia beats Croatia on Saturday. [original post]
With all this tension in the air, the Russian Foreign Ministry is trying a new tack. This week, it posted on its social media pages a photo of Sergey Lavrov (the Foreign Minister of Russia) holding a Russian flag. While the photo may be fairly innocuous, the caption is decidedly not Russian diplomacy as usual. The caption claimed that the photo has healing powers, advises that it be applied to the world's sore spots, and warns that it may cause exorcisms. Although the photo quickly received sneering comments, perhaps this new strategy may break through current roadblocks of foreign diplomacy. After all, laughter is the best medicine. [original post]
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