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Let's be clear: Russia is invading Ukraine right now

Russia has invaded Ukraine opening a second front to the south to open a land-bridge between Russia and Crimea. The Southern Front Catastrophe – August 27, 2014 translated from Ukraine has military details. Map of Operations Aug 10-27 (detail Mariupol and detail Lugansk pink/red is separatists). So far it's been a stealth invasion and slow escalation, today Russian troops, armor columns and artillery have openly crossed the border (video). Thousands more Russian troops are amassed. Ukraine has announced a reinstatement of the draft to commence in the Fall, and is demanding EU military assistance. An emergency UN meeting is currently in session (the 24th). Russia claims "No Russian forces are crossing in any point the border of Ukraine."
posted by stbalbach on Aug 28, 2014 - 112 comments

Stirlitz had a thought. He liked it, so he had another one.

A Soviet take on Rambo (brief clip; Rutube) is "unique in its violence and anti-Americanism." A Russian point of view on James Bond remarks that "so widespread was the interest in Bond that an official Soviet spy serial ... was released." But the spy novel / miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring (somewhat digestible in 17 highlights with commentary: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17) is for interesting reasons not a Soviet counterpart to James Bond or Rambo. See also Seventeen Moments fanfic, two pages of jokes about its hero, and how he figures in the present. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Aug 16, 2014 - 9 comments

dermokratiya

Watching The Eclipse - "Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia—and when it began to fade."
In the three months between McFaul’s appointment and his arrival in Moscow, a great deal changed. Putin, feeling betrayed by both the urban middle classes and the West, made it plain that he would go on the offensive against any sign of foreign interference, real or imagined. A raw and resentful anti-Americanism, unknown since the seventies, suffused Kremlin policy and the state-run airwaves. As a new Ambassador, McFaul was hardly ignorant of the chill, but he launched into his work with a characteristic earnestness. “Started with a bang,” he wrote in his official blog. During the next two years, McFaul would be America’s primary witness to the rise of an even harsher form of Putinism—and, often enough, he would be its unwitting target.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 11, 2014 - 44 comments

Snowden granted 3-year stay in Russia.

After several days in legal limbo, the world's most notorious whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has been granted a three-year stay in Russia. This is amid breaking news of Russia's issuing of a menu of its own sanctions against U.S./E.U. countries, et al. The former NSA employee has been stranded in Russia for more than a year. Recently, new leaks by other, as yet unknown whistle-blower(s) other than Snowden have surfaced, according to U.S. authorities. The leaks detail certain "rules" for targeting of people for surveillance (including merely searching for privacy software), as well as details on the kind of activity or relationships which may put innocent people on terrorist watch lists.
posted by fantodstic on Aug 7, 2014 - 54 comments

Fiction and reality intertwine in Russia and Ukraine.

The Sci-Fi Writers' War. "A pro-Western, NATO-backed Ukrainian government faces a stubborn insurgency in the pro-Russian East. Fighting rages around Donetsk, with civilians dying in artillery fire and airstrikes, while Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border. The latest headlines? No, a two-novel series by Russian-Ukrainian science-fiction writer Fedor Berezin: War 2010: The Ukrainian Front and War 2011: Against NATO. In a startling plot twist, Berezin, a 54-year-old former Soviet Army officer and Donetsk native, is now living inside a real-life version of his own story: He is deputy defense minister of the embattled 'Donetsk People’s Republic.'"
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 1, 2014 - 17 comments

Veto bunnies

Who uses their veto in the UN Security Council the most, and what for?
posted by tavegyl on Jul 31, 2014 - 16 comments

an apple a day keeps Putin away

Russia bans apples from Poland due to health regulation violations. Ukrainian cornmeal and McDonalds are also on the hit list. Russia has a pattern of banning the products of countries it has disputes with — under the guise of sanitary violations — in order to impose political pressure. [more inside]
posted by St. Peepsburg on Jul 31, 2014 - 56 comments

Theater Map of Ukraine

"...it's social media that has helped build the public case against Russia" in Ukraine. One example is liveuamap.com, who "gather information from open sources and put it on the [Google] map" using familiar Google Maps markers for a Reds (Pro-Russian) vs Blues (Pro-Ukraine) theater map. Shaded regions indicate the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR; Red), Lugansk People's Republic (LNR; Purple), the MH17 crash site (Yellow), and the MH17 ceasefire zone (green). The posts linked to by each marker include a link to the source via a chain icon at the bottom of the post.
posted by jwells on Jul 23, 2014 - 11 comments

MH17

According to Malaysia Airlines, they have lost contact with flight MH17, in Ukraine, near the Russian border. The plane is reported to have originated in Amsterdam, with 280 passengers and 15 crew members on board. Multiple news organizations are reporting that the plane was shot down in an area where "the Ukrainian government has been fighting pro-Russian rebels."
posted by helloknitty on Jul 17, 2014 - 1192 comments

The crater is large enough for several Mi-8 helicopters to fly into it.

An enormous hole has appeared (YouTube, 0:34) in Russia's Yamal Peninsula, near the Bovanenkovo natural-gas field. 'We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite. No details yet,' said a spokesman.
posted by theodolite on Jul 16, 2014 - 148 comments

Russian home movies... in Space!

Ирина Плещева: Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev (@Msuraev) youtubes day-to-day events from the International Space Station.
posted by loukasven on Jul 11, 2014 - 2 comments

The Gang Meets Putin

The City Paper looks at a Russian adaptation of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
posted by Lemurrhea on Jul 9, 2014 - 17 comments

Not Safe for Workers of the USSR

Inside the Soviet Union's Secret Erotica Collection (The Moscow Times). "Across from the Kremlin, the country's main library held a pornographic treasure trove." Photogallery. "Legend has it that Soviet henchmen used to come to the archive".
posted by stbalbach on Jun 24, 2014 - 25 comments

We all know things are bad for LGBT people in Russia, right?

In fact, we have no idea. "LGBT organizations declared foreign agents in one fell swoop, gays being blacklisted by banks, employers, and landlords—welcome to the new reality of being LGBT under Putin." [more inside]
posted by FlyingMonkey on Jun 10, 2014 - 34 comments

24 Russian Photographers

New wave: 24 photographers changing the way the world sees Russia
posted by KokuRyu on Jun 10, 2014 - 8 comments

all that is gold does not glitter

Quasi-medieval illustrations from a Russian edition of Lord of the Rings (part 2, part 3, part 4.)
posted by michaelh on Jun 2, 2014 - 36 comments

Hackers disclose how Russia employs professional internet shills

How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America. The documents show instructions provided to the commenters that detail the workload expected of them. On an average working day, the Russians are to post on news articles 50 times. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts publishing at least three posts a day and discussing the news in groups at least twice a day. By the end of the first month, they are expected to have won 500 subscribers and get at least five posts on each item a day. On Twitter, the bloggers are expected to manage 10 accounts with up to 2,000 followers and tweet 50 times a day.
posted by shivohum on Jun 2, 2014 - 39 comments

A day in the life of Everyday Astronaut

In November of 2013, I found myself the lone bidder of a Russian high altitude space suit on an auction website called RRauction. Since then, I’d been scheming how to best use the suit. I have been revisiting my childhood love for space and my obsession was growing stronger and stronger. It was only natural to use this suit to project the inner child in me, still dreaming about space. With that, I present to you: "A day in the life of Everyday Astronaut".

posted by Lexica on Jun 2, 2014 - 13 comments

The twilight of NASA

Use a trampoline. “The cancellation of the space shuttle may be the biggest blunder ever made by the United States,” Kraft said. “It’s fairly obvious that no one in the government thought through what they were about to bring about when they made that decision.”
posted by bitmage on May 19, 2014 - 85 comments

ISS Eviction notice

Russia wants to nix plans to use the ISS after 2020, prohibit the United States from visiting the space station after that date along with preventing the US from using Russia made rocket engines for military launches. NASA says it hasn't received any official word, as US Congress critters begin asking questions
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 15, 2014 - 96 comments

Is Miss Manners available?

Zizek, Slavoj. "Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order?" The Guardian.
posted by ultraversetransit on May 9, 2014 - 17 comments

Drill, Comrade, Drill.

There is a place in Russia called the Kola Penninsula that is just a jump away from both Norway and Finland. At this remote locale, people can visit a crumbling cinder block building in the middle of nowhere that is surround by debris. Amongst this debris is a nondescript metal cap secured with a dozen rusting bolts. Beneath this cap is the deepest hole in the world. [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on May 8, 2014 - 50 comments

A Monstration In St. Petersburg

In Russia today, it's illegal to engage in "homosexual propaganda", and "anti-Russian propaganda" can attract ugly attention. So on May 1, there was a "Monstration" in St Petersburg. Absurd signs and costumes had no prosecutable meaning, but the message was unmistakable. In Novosibirsk, a little further from the Kremlin, the message was more direct. [more inside]
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard on May 2, 2014 - 32 comments

The Ket had seven souls, unlike animals, who had only one.

The Ket from the Lake Munduiskoye (2008, 30 min.) The Ket people are an indigenous group in central Siberia whose population has numbered less than two thousand during the past century. Although mostly assimilated into the dominant Russian culture at this point, a couple hundred of them are still able to speak the Ket language, the last remaining member of the Yeniseian language group. Recent scholarship has proposed a link between Ket and some Native American language groups.
posted by XMLicious on Apr 16, 2014 - 7 comments

Strangers Among Us

Xenophobic Chill Descends Upon Moscow [NYTimes] “...For now, we have not encountered real aliens. However, the ‘fifth column’ of national traitors in Russia has unfortunately become an incontestable reality.”
posted by the young rope-rider on Apr 13, 2014 - 80 comments

Richard Nixon and Donald Kendall: Pepsi in Russia and South America

It has been said in half-jest that Pepsi was the official soda of the Cold War. Vice President Richard Nixon shared a Pepsi with Soviet Russia's Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, at the opening of the "American National Exhibition" in Moscow on July 24, 1959, after the famous "Kitchen Debate" (CBS newscast on Archive.org; transcript with two photos from the day). But how was it that Pepsi was the only Western soda-pop available there that day? Look to Donald Kendall, a long-time pal of Richard Nixon, who starting out in 1947 selling fountain syrup in New York, and rose through the ranks to be President of Pepsi Cola International by 1957. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 11, 2014 - 13 comments

First and last refuge

We can't create Jurassic Park era (yet) but there is a place on Earth lost to time, a modern proxy of the Pleistocene (35,000 to 12,000 years ago). Other than the mammoth and a few other species, the flora and fauna remain largely unchanged, even the climate is similar to the last ice age (cold and dry). There are wild horses, reindeer, saiga antelopes, argali sheep, wolverines and snow leopards. The Altai and Sayan mountains of western Mongolia and southern Russia (map)... [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 8, 2014 - 2 comments

London Calling

Britain will betray the United States and Ukraine to keep laundering dirty Russian money. "The city has changed. The buses are still dirty, the people are still passive-aggressive, but something about London has changed. You can see signs of it everywhere. The townhouses in the capital’s poshest districts are empty; they have been sold to Russian oligarchs and Qatari princes."
posted by four panels on Mar 8, 2014 - 67 comments

The past is a foreign country, also the present

While you can still follow live events in the Ukraine, with either the compulsively complete live Reddit feed or the constantly updated BBC feed being good choices, there has been increasingly useful analyses of the history and politics of the situation. Yale Professor Timothy Snyder, an expert on the region, wrote a piece in the New York Review of Books describing the roots of the recent uprising, with a great overview of how "people associated with Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Polish, and Jewish culture have died in a revolution that was started by a Muslim." Other history is provided by a detailed explainer by the Guardian, in maps by National Geographic, and the dueling arguments about the roots of the conflict from the the semi-official Russia Today and the US State Department.
posted by blahblahblah on Mar 6, 2014 - 476 comments

The Cold War Revives, Heats-Up

Dozens of armed men in Russian-marked military uniforms occupied an airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region early Friday, Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. But what is so dangerous about Crimea, and what is 'The Budapest Memorandum?'
posted by rosswald on Feb 28, 2014 - 718 comments

I almost became a victim of human trafficking

Writer and sports personality Brittney Cason thought she had been recruited for what seemed like a legitimate network job covering the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Only days before she left, flags started going up.
posted by dry white toast on Feb 26, 2014 - 94 comments

Technology concentrates power.

Our Comrade the Electron. Maciej Cegłowski (previously) delivered a talk at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand on theremin inventor Lev Termen (previously), futurism, the Dutch Golden Age, and the modern surveillance state.
posted by Cash4Lead on Feb 26, 2014 - 14 comments

Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland: Pussy Riot's new song

Pussy Riot's new song and video, "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland", rocks. This video features both Nadia and Masha (just released from jail) performing in public and hugging the Winter Olympics mascot - before being beaten with whips by cossack soldiers. And the song is actually catchy...
posted by colie on Feb 21, 2014 - 34 comments

Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine

Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine (NYRB) An analysis of the Ukrainian revolt by Timothy Snyder, Housum Professor of History at Yale and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He is the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. [more inside]
posted by Golden Eternity on Feb 19, 2014 - 93 comments

No spring can follow past meridian

Figure skater Evgeni Plushenko (wiki) withdrew from the men's individual event at the Olympics in Sochi and announced his retirement from amateur skating (NYT) only days after winning gold in the team event. Plushenko has won medals at four Olympic Games* (2006 gold: Short Program, Free Skating; 2014 gold; 2002: SP, FS, 2010: SP, FS); he has won 17 gold, 8 silver and 2 bronze medals in major competitions in spite of a 2006-2008 hiatus and he holds 10 titles in the Russian Nationals in a career spanning over 17 years. He was famous not only for his technique, but also for his grace and showmanship. [more inside]
posted by ersatz on Feb 14, 2014 - 42 comments

to climb the Shanghai Tower

Vadim Makhorov and Vitaliy Raskalov climb the 632 meter Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world after the Burj Khalifa. The video of their climb, Shanghai Tower (650 meters), is riveting.
posted by gen on Feb 12, 2014 - 40 comments

Pussy Riot

What Does Pussy Riot Mean Now? "With all eyes on Russia, two members of the country’s most notorious band of shit-stirrers are free after nearly two years of political imprisonment and enjoying the rock-star treatment during their first trip to the U.S. But the group’s unlikely journey from art-school project to international icons shows just how rotten Russia has become and how much the mission has changed."
posted by homunculus on Feb 7, 2014 - 57 comments

Inside the Iron Closet: What It's Like to Be Gay in Putin's Russia

"Putin needs external enemies and internal enemies. The external enemies are the U.S. and Europe. Internal enemies, they had to think about. The ethnic topic is dangerous. Two wars in the Caucasus, a third one, nobody knows how it would end. Jews? After Hitler, it's not kosher. We—" she waves a hand at herself and Zhenya—"are the ideal. We are everywhere. We don't look different, but we are. It's our turn. Just our turn." A GQ reporter visited Russia to speak to gay rights activists, and also to their enemies (some of whom, warning, describe committing acts of violence). Previously.
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 4, 2014 - 22 comments

Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask.
posted by oceanjesse on Jan 31, 2014 - 68 comments

Why did he buy the Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks?

Alexander II was known as the liberator of serfs, because under his rule, in 1861, serfs were granted the freedom to marry without having to gain consent, to own property, and to own businesses. In 1862, Alexander II signed off on the ethnic cleansing of Circassians that began as a simple resettlement, and led to (by official Tsarist documents, more by other accounts) over 400,000 deaths. Circassians in fact protest the 2014 Olympics in Sochi being that it was the supposed site of their final expulsion. [more inside]
posted by oceanjesse on Jan 29, 2014 - 8 comments

Баллада о солдате

In 1959, MOSFILM released "Ballad of a Soldier," made during the Khrushchev Thaw . It chronicles a young soldier, Alyosha, and his six-day trip home from the front during World War II, which "sweeps you, with feeling, into the physical and psychological world of Russians at war."
And it is on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 18, 2014 - 2 comments

"Felled by your gun, felled by your gun ...."

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Soviet Sniper
"Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper credited with 309 kills—and an advocate for women's rights. On a U.S. tour in 1942, she found a friend in the first lady." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 12, 2014 - 31 comments

The Somalis have cheekily declared themselves African champions for 2013

Bandy is a game similar to ice hockey, but played with a ball instead of a puck. Somalia is set to enter its first ever team into the World Bandy Championships, comprised entirely of Somali refugees living in Borlaenge, Sweden where almost 10% of the population hails from war-torn Somalia. [more inside]
posted by Mezentian on Jan 8, 2014 - 11 comments

"To my friends, everything; to my enemies, the law."

When he was arrested in Siberia in 2003, billionaire oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was "the Bad Bad Leroy Brown of Russia...In a nation of mobsters, he is king, a stone-cold ruthless genius." [more inside]
posted by Snarl Furillo on Dec 29, 2013 - 30 comments

Canada's Siberian Expedition to Counter Bolshevism, 1919

On a wooded hillside outside Vladivostok, Russia, fourteen Canadians found their final resting place in 1919. Five others died at sea. They were ordinary folk who had enlisted in the closing days of the Great War for service in an unlikely theatre — Siberia. Consisting of 4,209 men and one woman, Canada's Siberian Expedition mobilized alongside a dozen Allied armies in a bid to defeat Lenin’s Bolsheviks. The mission failed — in the face of a robust partisan insurgency, divided Allied strategies, and heated domestic opposition.
This is their story, including over 2,000 photographs and images. Also available in French and Russian.
posted by Rumple on Dec 23, 2013 - 32 comments

The Voice of Russia

Via decree, Russian president Vladimir Putin has abolished the country's state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, as well as the state-owned Voice of Russia radio station, effective immediately. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 9, 2013 - 47 comments

Instant Potemkin village

Suzdal awaited the Emperor's arrival... So the ancient Russian town had to acquire a duly imperial lustre, somehow, anyhow. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Nov 22, 2013 - 6 comments

one of the fastest decimations of an animal population in world history

The Most Senseless Environmental Crime of the 20th Century [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 13, 2013 - 41 comments

PLUTONIUM MOUNTAIN

From 1949 onwards, the closed city of Semipalatinsk (now Semey, Kazakhstan) was the test site for 456 nuclear devices. The test site was known as "The Polygon." Testing was stopped in 1989, but the long term effects remained. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 6, 2013 - 11 comments

WWI in Color

World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2013 - 60 comments

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