January 10, 2019

Crooks and Crazies this Russian Christmas


Crooks and Crazies this Russian Christmas
The coldest race in the world. Gavril Sobakin

Baby it’s (Very) Cold Outside

1. Does the thought of running a marathon send a chill down your spine? Does the mention of temperatures below -45º Celsius make your toes curl? Well, imagine doing both at once. This week, runners in Sakha completed the “coldest race in the world,” racing distances of 5, 10, 20, 30 and 42 kilometers while in Oymyakon, which holds the world record for the coldest temperature recorded at an inhabited settlement. At the beginning of the race, temperatures were at -52° Celsius, and as one runner crossed the 39 kilometer mark, they had risen to a positively balmy -48° Celsius. Don’t feel too bad, though, participants were superheroes of all stripes: two world marathon champions, one veteran, and one mother of eight.

Coldest Race in the World
The coldest race in the world. / Gavril Sobakin

2. From crooks to crones: money seized in Russian corruption cases will now go into Russia’s pension fund. The move comes on the heels of a contentious rise in the retirement age, which had the elderly (and the soon-to-be elderly) up on their feet. It’s unclear whether or not this extra padding will make everything right, though: while the estimated gain from this measure is expected to be R1.2 billion by 2024, it takes a whopping R20 billion per day to fund the national pension fund. But hey, a kopek saved is a kopek earned.

3. Season’s greetings, from above! At least two aerial holiday stunts were spotted this holiday season, both meriting a second glance into the Moscow sky. Santa and one of his elves tightroped across a street in Moscow, shouting out holiday greetings and doing the chicken dance. Additionally, Santa-suited skydivers rained down upon the city, passing on their own New Year’s wishes to crowds people. Maybe this means that things will start looking up in 2019.

In Odder News:
Quote of the Week:

“This is a nightmare… I’ll tell the internet about this”

— One babushka speaks disdainfully of the Liberal Democratic Party’s New Year giveaway

Want more where this comes from? Give your inbox the gift of TWERF, our Thursday newsletter on the quirkiest, obscurest, and Russianest of Russian happenings of the week.

Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
Woe From Wit (bilingual)

Woe From Wit (bilingual)

One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

Life Stories: Original Fiction By Russian Authors

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.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  

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.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955