February 01, 2018

Fights, Oversight, and Voting Rights


Fights, Oversight, and Voting Rights
Warm Weather Brings Hot Tempers

1. Sometimes the best way to have a serious debate is with good old-fashioned fisticuffs. Two prominent Russian journalists got their brawl on during a live radio show while discussing the question, “Is Stalinism a disease that needs to be treated?” One answered with a vehement no and accused the other of “spitting on” Stalin’s victims, and then the fists started flying. The original discussion topic was inspired by the Ministry of Culture’s recent decision to ban the movie The Death of Stalin from Russian theaters for its disrespectful portrayal of Russians. Clearly, Stalin controversy is just as catching as this year’s flu – not to mention as likely to knock you out.

2. It’s 2018, but getting your rubles is starting to feel a little bit like 1984. The private Russian bank Alfa-Bank announced that it will begin tracking the emotions of its customers through special cameras. These cameras will capture and analyze the emotions of the clients and then give service scores to staff. Big Brother – er, Alfa-Bank – claims this will help customers avoid surveys and phone calls. That part doesn’t sound so bad, but let’s hope they can read an “I’m creeped out” face for folks who didn’t sign up for Candid Camera.

3. When they say everyone has a right to vote, they mean every ONE. The Russian diplomatic mission in Pyongyang, North Korea, will be opening a polling station on March 18 for the one and only permanent Russian resident of North Korea, Vladimir Li, to take part in the presidential election. For his part, Mr. Li will be traveling 100 miles from his city of Wonsan to fulfill his democratic duties. And you thought finding your way to the local elementary school to vote was a chore.

In Odder News
  • Two baby bear cubs were rescued in the Tver region, and they are now in the paws-ession of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. As you might imagine, it's unbearably cute.
     
  • A man fished two pike with multiple horns out of the the River Irtysh. What’s the catch with this catch? Pike aren’t supposed to have horns.
  • Unusually warm temperatures across Russia (so, above freezing) are presenting Russians with a strange weather phenomenon: rain.
Quote of the Week

“Is it possible for God’s temple to be built without permission? This is decided from above.”

—Andrei Khobets, a local government official in St. Petersburg, in response to questions about why a new Orthodox church was being built without all of the proper permits.

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

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.
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.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
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.  
The Moscow Eccentric

The Moscow Eccentric

Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
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.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Marooned in Moscow

Marooned in Moscow

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.

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