July 06, 2017

Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals


Toxic Waste, Putin Farms, & Crazy Seals
Tractors and Statues Fit for Presidents

1. If you sow a field of Putin, will you reap the most loyal crops ever? Or get a territorial dispute with the field next door? Italian farmer and artist Dario Gambarin decided to find out, using a tractor to draw a giant portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a field. The 443-foot-wide decoration to his farm comes in advance of this week’s G20 summit. Gambarin, who has also depicted Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and others, says he doesn’t measure fields before he starts his art; it’s all a good eye and knowing your way around a tractor.

2. Special delivery! In early 2016, Kaliningrad got a shipment of about 160,000 gallons of Geminex G30, allegedly an emulsifying agent for cleaning metalwork. Over a year later, those 2,500 barrels of toxic waste are still waiting for a home. In addition to toxic waste, it seems that there’s dirty money involved, not to mention a lack of disposal facility, disappearing owners, and a whole lot of bureaucracy.

3. The Burganov House Museum in Moscow has unveiled a statue of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev shaking hands. It’s not Russia’s only sculpture of American presidents, but it’s the most topical: the sculptor said his piece was motivated by the hope that the countries’ current presidents, too, will find diplomacy possible. Gorbachev similarly expressed hope that today’s “dangerous impasse” in U.S.-Russian relations will soon pass.

In Odder News
  • Satanic ballrooms, bugged emblems, and crazed seals (yes, the animal). The secrets of Spaso House, the U.S. ambassadorial residence in Moscow, are too weird to miss.
  • Is Russia trying to boost alcoholism? Easy answer: no. However, the market is emphasizing wine consumption in a bid to steer drinkers away from vodka and other harder beverages.
  • Lake Baskunchak is 20 km long, 30 cm deep, and provides 80% of Russia's salt. Grab some seasoning and watch the video about it.

Quote of the Week

"Our message to the two presidents: stop and think about it, guys: we don’t want any of the tragic repetitions that have taken place through history, and maybe you'll somehow be able to agree."
—Eduard Lozansky, president of the American University in Moscow, on the message behind the new sculpture of Reagan and Gorbachev.

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Some of Our Books

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
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.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
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.
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
Okudzhava Bilingual

Okudzhava Bilingual

Poems, songs and autobiographical sketches by Bulat Okudzhava, the king of the Russian bards. 
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.
The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

The Little Humpbacked Horse (bilingual)

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

Steppe / Степь (bilingual)

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Tolstoy Bilingual

Tolstoy Bilingual

This compact, yet surprisingly broad look at the life and work of Tolstoy spans from one of his earliest stories to one of his last, looking at works that made him famous and others that made him notorious. 
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.

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