Dimensions of the Universiade

While English Russia presents a photo album of eye candy on display at the 2013 Universiade, taking place in Kazan, slon.ru journalist Vera Kichanova gives us 7 inconvenient truths about the games.

The athletes featured in the English Russia album include Viktoria Yarushkina, Ksenia Ustalova, Maria Kuchina, and Darya Klishina, among others.

And Kichanova’s truths may come as no surprise, but they are still amusing. Most absurd of all is that the medals awarded to competitors have been known to break and crack at the slightest touch.

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Pussy Riot takes on Russia’s oil industry

Lyrics:

Баланда-пропаганда, баланда-пропагандаааааааа!

Практика машинного труда
Страной освоена едва ли успешно.
В пылу производства груба
Бываю все чаще — не знаю, уместно ли.

По трубе текут низовые активисты,
Наполняют ее жизнью – и просят погром!
ГУФСИН, МВД, МЧС и Роснано,
Лукойл, ТНК, Роснефть и Газпром,

Баланда-пропаганда, баланда-пропагандаааааааа!

Добейся регистрации,
Злодеи на вышках,
Нефть на столах,
Сечин с крокодилами,
Как в красной тюрьме.

Искупай рабочего в норвежском фьорде,
Отрежь себе член как герой Депардье,
У тебя президент — как аятолла в Иране,
И церковь у тебя как в ОАЭ.

Чтобы все, как в Катаре,
Злодеи на вышках,
Качать без остатка.
В МИФИ — теология.
Погоны и скважины,
Навальный посажен,
Уго Чавес живой,
Как в красной тюрьме

Злоебучий сексист, оторвись от дырки!

Гомофобный гад, вон из истории!

Мурочку не еби ей —
Она нефть не на то тратит.
В мордовской тишине дней
Готовит салаты и иногда их ест.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova remain in jail.

http://www.rferl.org/content/pussy-riot-video-oil/25047721.html

http://pussy-riot.info/

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So rare that it looks like a swan

Full credit for this post to SB and LP:

lionday

“maybe somehow, some lazy fuck mixed up the лев and лебедь thumbnails…”

http://www.moscowzoo.ru/get.asp?Id=N689

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“Moooove out of the way….”

From SB:

This may be the most epic dash cam clip yet:

http://www.thebiglead.com/index.php/2013/07/01/russian-driver-hits-cows-that-are-having-sex-while-crossing-road-captures-collision-on-dash-cam-video/

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Epic Trolling by Steven Seagal in Russia

Exhibit 1

438px-Soyembika

http://imgur.com/r/funny/tdlh4ZJ

Exhibit 2

http://www.buzzfeed.com/nowthisnews/our-newest-diplomat-steven-seagal-makes-a-mocker-749g

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What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

The end of the marriage between Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin highlighted another more successful, much happier marriage: that between Russian society and social media.

The Twittersphere blossomed with humorous takedowns of the Russian president’s personal life.

Some favorites, Via RFE/RL:

Twitter1

twitter2

twitter3

Let’s take this opportunity to look back on the end of various power couples throughout Russian history, in reverse chronological order:

- Vladimir and Lyudmila

vladimirlyudmila

While the official divorce announcement after 30 years of marriage came in 2013, rumours swirled in 2011 that Lyudmila had been committed to an insane asylum (more likely a rehab facility), and stories of Putin’s relationship with gymnast Alina Kabayeva date to 2000, when the bronze-medal winner returned to Russia after participating in the Sydney Olympics.

- Mikhail and Raisa

mikhail

The Soviet Union’s most famous First Lady, Raisa Gorbacheva had a marriage that did not end in tragedy, outlasting the dissolution of the USSR. As the Daily Mail writes,

Raisa came along in 1985 to change the dour image of Russian women with her broad-cheeked beauty, poise and charisma, the wives of Soviet leaders had been traditionally built for, er, durability rather than delight. Raisa was no lightweight, however. She was a university professor with a sharp business sense who bestrode the world stage so confidently that she became known as the Jackie Kennedy of the Kremlin.

- Alexandra Romanova and Grigory Rasputin

mikhailraisa

The Tsarina’s rumored affair with the mad monk is portrayed in the film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, and this mystical power couple met a tragic end: multiple attempts were made on Rasputin’s life and he only died after being poisoned (cyanide), shot four times, beaten, and finally drowned.

- Ivan the Terrible and Söyembikä

438px-Soyembika

This power couple was not a couple at all; legend has it that the Söyembikä Tower on Kazan’s Baumann Street was built by Ivan the Terrible on request by the Tatar princess. She told him that she would only marry him if he built her a seven-tier tower. Once the tower was built, Söyembikä climbed to the top and jumped to her death, choosing suicide over a forced marriage to the Tsar.

Posted in Characters, History | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Power Broker

putin throne
Source: New Times

It is fitting to learn that, with allegations that “RC Fogle” attempted to recruit an FSB officer to spy on Russia, clandestine intrigue is alive and well in today’s Moscow. It is easy to picture the be-wigged Fogle slipping into a back alley along the embankment, using his compass to make sure he doesn’t accidentally fall into the river or run into a random birch tree.

Yet, it is laughable to learn that, if these allegations are true, contemporary American espionage techniques more closely resemble a gmail instruction manual.

Clandestine intrigue is a good backdrop to re-post a review of Fiona Hill and Cliff Gaddy’s newish book, Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, which appeared in The Economist recently. The book characterizes the ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as a man whose mores were shaped by the stuff that Spy vs. Spy fantasies are made of. The result is a man “who could disappear in a crowd of two,’ a man who is an outsider to the social and cultural moments that shaped Russia in the late 1980s, a man who views his portfolio as president like a case officer reviewing a dossier.

But the detailed book also raises many questions. If Putin the ‘operative’ had a symbiotic relationship with patrons in the 1990s (people like Chubais, Kudrin, or supposedly even Berezovsky), can we identify similar symbiotic structures in today’s Russia? Some, for instance, pointed to Vladislav Surkov as an ideological grey cardinal vital to political structure in the Kremlin, but if the grey cardinal is now dispensable, does that mean that Putin, the operative, has created a vacuum around himself? And what comes after Surkov?

http://kommersant.ru/doc/2186518

One of the most important questions raised by Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin is ‘so what?’ So what if he is the chameleon that Hill and Gaddy posit he is? And while initially I was puzzled by the inclusion of Ledeneva’s book Can Russia Modernize? Sistema, Power Networks and Informal Governance alongside Mr. Putin in the Economist review, the question of ‘so what’ bridges these two works, one of biography, and one of sociology.

For Putin is a man, and only a man. And to answer the question ‘so what?’ we must look deeper to where Russia has come from, and where it is headed. Ledeneva’s book puts this in context, beyond the corruption that many view as a hallmark of post-Soviet Russia. Putin has created a sistema in the Kremlin, based on patronage and supplicantism, that shapes the fabric of Russian political and economic life. Sociologists may take this a step further and say that Putin’s rise is due to successful brokerage across multiple networks (siloviki, the St. Petersburg administration, liberals like Kudrin, oligarchs), and an even deeper analysis would ask what further brokerage will look like as post-ideological Russia moves further away from its historical lode stars.

I think the answer lies in two ideas:

(1) Ledenev, in describing sistema, writes:

sistema is complex, anonymous, unpredictable and seemingly irrational, but it serves to glue society together, it contributes to both stability and change

I think that sentence can be replaced by one word: “organic”. Sistema is organic, and that is why its emergence today is so noteworthy. The history of Russia, a land of rich natural beauty, of slippery river embankments, mirthless birches, and winter suns, is a history of the contrast between an organic evolution and human attempts to create a totalizing, inorganic artifice within society. Where the birches give way to skyscrapers, where samogon competes with state-produced spirits, and where rational ideology has struggled with vibrant individualism for centuries.

(2) Further, Ledeneva describes the trajectory of sistema:

the modernisation of sistema should start with the modernisation of the networks it relies on

But, let’s recall, what is the origin of those networks? The ones identified above (siloviki, oligarchs, etc.) emerged directly as a consequence of the Soviet collapse, and the atomization communist-era networks. In other words, these networks are a response to disintegration.

What is the opposite of disintegration? Re-integration. And a growing body of academic work is passing around integration in Eurasia as a buzzword to replace the pathetic graspings of Dmitri Medvedev’s ‘modernization’ (Россия, вперед!), and the beginnings of a new post-Soviet reality.

To me, the most interesting questions are about the pace and the character of this re-integration, and what post-Putin networks will dominate sistema:

http://www.globalaffairs.ru/number/Pragmaticheskoe-evraziistvo-15950

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Moscow Metro Maps

Multiple readers sent around this Atlantic story on The Evolution of Moscow’s Metro Maps, with a link to Artemy Lebedev’s online collection of Moscow Metro memorabilia.

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/05/moscows-subway-maps-through-history/5679/

Below is the first image posted; the map’s heading reads

СХЕМА ЛИНИЙ МОСКОВСКОГО МЕТРОПОЛИТЕНА ИМЕНА Л.М. НАГАНОВИЧА 1-й и 2-й ОЧЕРЕДЕЙ

moscow15

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“блин”

EE0vTx8

http://i.imgur.com/EE0vTx8.jpg

Source LP

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Cancion del dia que se va

On День Победы, a week and a half after labor day, we turn to Lorca for reflection.

¡Que trabajo me cuesta
dejarte marchar, dia!
Te vas lleno de mi,
vuelves sin conocerme.
¡Que trabajo me cuesta
dejar sobre tu pecho
posibles realidades
de imposibles minutos!

En la tarde, un Perseo
te lima las cadenas,
y huyes sobre los montes
hiriendote los pies.
No pueden seducirte
mi carne ni mi llanto,
ni los rios en donde
duermes tu siesta de oro.

Desde Oriente a Occidente
llevo tu luz redonda.
Tu gran luz que sostiene
mi alma, en tension aguda.
Desde Oriente a Occidente,
¡que trabajo me cuesta
llevarte con tus pajaros
y tus brazos de viento¡

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