January 12, 2020

Stampede for Sales and Sweets



Stampede for Sales and Sweets
Watch out for the crowd! James Cridland via Flickr

A supermarket in Kazan was recently swarmed by a stampeding crowd. It formed in response to a sale connected with the store’s closing. Social media reported that people actually began to break in, and there was even a fight over low-priced bananas. The store’s shelves were empty, and those who did manage to find something to buy had to wait in long lines at the registers, witnesses reported via social media.

It was something like a flashback to the Soviet era of lines and empty store shelves.

And yet this isn’t the only stampede in the past few weeks. At the end of December, a stampede of children formed at a theater in Ulan Ude. An actor dressed as Ded Moroz was handing out candy before being practically trampled by children. One witness recommended adding a zombie-apocalypse soundtrack to the video.

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This gripping autobiography plays out against the backdrop of Russia's bloody Civil War, and was one of the first Western eyewitness accounts of life in post-revolutionary Russia. Marooned in Moscow provides a fascinating account of one woman's entry into war-torn Russia in early 1920, first-person impressions of many in the top Soviet leadership, and accounts of the author's increasingly dangerous work as a journalist and spy, to say nothing of her work on behalf of prisoners, her two arrests, and her eventual ten-month-long imprisonment, including in the infamous Lubyanka prison. It is a veritable encyclopedia of life in Russia in the early 1920s.
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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.
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