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A Russian Gains Prominence Among Fine Watchmakers

Soviet-era Russia was not a particularly friendly environment for aspiring fine watchmakers. For Konstantin Chaykin, who was born in St. Petersburg in 1975, there was no school where he could learn the craft that he dreamed of pursuing. So he taught himself.
posted by winecork on Jan 28, 2013 - 20 comments

Special Guest Stars

In the bicentennial celebration of the historic Battle of Borodino on September 7th, 1812, that saw the Russian Army, despite heavy losses, withstand the attack of Napoleon’s forces, Orion Art multimedia group held a massive festival at Spasskaya Tower in Red Square, Moscow… complete with guest appearance by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
posted by infini on Jan 2, 2013 - 7 comments

There's a frog in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza

A frog in the milk bucket keeps the fungus away?
posted by curious nu on Dec 19, 2012 - 32 comments

Driving in Russia

Driving in Russia. (SLYT) (warning: contains footage of many many car accidents.)
posted by alms on Dec 14, 2012 - 118 comments

Explaining American Culture

It seems strange, 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, that ordinary Russians would still be hungry for details about how ordinary Americans eat and pay mortgages. But to Mr. Zlobin’s surprise, his book — published this year and marketed as a guide to Russians considering a move abroad — is already in its fifth print run, and his publisher has commissioned a second volume. - MOSCOW JOURNAL, A Hunger for Tales of Life in the American Cul-de-Sac (SLNYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Dec 11, 2012 - 16 comments

In Soviet Middle Earth, Adventure finds you!

The subtitles aren't accurate, but that shouldn't stop your enjoyment of this Russian adaptation of 'The Hobbit'.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 8, 2012 - 18 comments

Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012)

The great Russian animator Fyodor Khitruk passed away on December 3rd at the age of 95. You might know him as the director of the delightful Vinni Puh. (Parts one and two can be seen here with subtitles, for part three see this previous post.) [more inside]
posted by louche mustachio on Dec 7, 2012 - 15 comments

"But lapidary epithets are few./We do not deal in universal rubies."

Vladimir Nabokov reads his poem "An Evening of Russian Poetry." [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Nov 29, 2012 - 11 comments

Mannerheim: General of the Czar, Marshal of Finland [1/9]

Mannerheim: General of the Czar, Marshal of Finland [1/9] (In Russian, with English subtitles) [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Nov 29, 2012 - 8 comments

Imagine a frozen ocean

"Entering into one of the fiercest competitions in existence, I found art."
Sixteen mushers. 120 dogs. An adventure across one of the longest mushing trails in the world: the Beringia, a dog sled race stretching 683 miles across eastern Russia. Twilight on the Tundra [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 28, 2012 - 8 comments

"HAPPINESS FOR EVERYBODY, FREE, AND NO ONE WILL GO AWAY UNSATISFIED!"

Boris Strugatsky passed away Monday, 19 Nov 2012. [more inside]
posted by wobh on Nov 20, 2012 - 22 comments

Chuckchi Jokes

Anyone familiar with the contemporary Russian humorous folklore (jokelore, or in Russian anekdoty) knows that one of the most popular series of such jokes revolves around the Chukchis, the native people of Chukotka, the most remote northeast corner of Russia. These jokes, especially popular in 1990s and 2000s, fit the international genre of ethnic stupidity jokes . . .
posted by jason's_planet on Nov 10, 2012 - 17 comments

Coronet Instructional Films

From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 1, 2012 - 41 comments

"Look 'round thee now on Samarcand, is she not queen of earth?"

In the first years of the Fifteenth Century Henry III of Castile sent Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo as his ambassador to Samarkand. His journey introduced him to giraffes and many other sights unknown to Europeans of the time. Samarkand was then the center of the largest empire in the world, that of Tamerlane the Great (a.k.a Timur), the last of the nomad conquerors. His capital began as a city of the Sogdians, which became an important center of culture and trade, as is recorded in these 7th Century wall paintings. Samarkand was refashioned by Timur and his descendants, the most famous being the astronomer Ulugh Beg, and the Timurid legacy is still visible in Samarkand. After Timur's death, his empire disintegrated, and soon fell into decline, but left enough of a mark to inspire both Christopher Marlowe and Edgar Allan Poe. The Russian Empire conquered Samarkand in 1868, and the city was documented in the early 20th Century in color photograhs by Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii (this one's a favorite) and remained an out of the way place in the Soviet era.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 27, 2012 - 15 comments

Online Catalogue of Japanese Prints

Japanese Prints Online - The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts provides an on-line catalogue for its collection of 18th- and 19th-century Japanese prints, which includes over 600 prints made by Japanese artists between the middle of the 18th century and the turn of the 19th century.
posted by misozaki on Oct 22, 2012 - 4 comments

Mountain of Dinosaurs

"Mountain of Dinosaurs" (1967) A Russian cartoon, directed by Rasa Strautmane. WARNING: things don't end well for the Dinosaurs. [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 16, 2012 - 4 comments

Captain Pronin Superstar!

Captain Pronin! An early '90s Russian parody of '80s American action heroes. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 9, 2012 - 13 comments

The mines were frozen so they did not explode, while we walked for several kilometres along the [mine] fields.

The history of the Russian-Chechen conflict spans two centuries. Images of Chechen enemies were mentioned even in a lullaby by Lermontov that put children to sleep in the 19th century. War correspondents Robert Parsons, Sofie Shehab, Petra Prohazkova and Andrey Babitsky tell about the war they saw with their own eyes in Nino Kirtadze’s film “The Chechen Lullaby”. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Oct 6, 2012 - 7 comments

Real life Gamma World

Imagine a lake so polluted and contaminated that spending just an hour on its shores would result in certain death, and the only way seen fit to deal with it is to fill the entire water body with concrete blocks to keep the toxic soil underneath from moving onshore. That lake is Lake Karachay in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, and it is considered by many to be the most polluted place on the planet.
posted by Chrysostom on Oct 3, 2012 - 31 comments

Pussy Riot in Prison

Although three members of Pussy Riot "have been sentenced to two years each on the absurd charge of 'hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,'" they remain unbowed. In this GQ interview Nadya Tolokonikovoy relates that "prison is a place for ascetic practices," and states "In any case, I'm happy I got two years. For every person with a functioning brain, this verdict is so dumb and cruel that it removes any lingering illusions about Putin's system. It's a verdict on the system."
posted by mr. digits on Oct 2, 2012 - 69 comments

Truck crash landing

Recommended procedures in the event of being propelled through the windshield of your truck, exhibit A. Youtube.
posted by Anything on Sep 27, 2012 - 53 comments

Why do you think it's called a "cold"?

An opinion column: Why do Russians hate ice? (SLNYT)
posted by Nomyte on Sep 25, 2012 - 81 comments

Leaving Moscow

Julia Ioffe - What I Will (and Won't) Miss About Living in Moscow
posted by beisny on Sep 24, 2012 - 34 comments

Moon Dream

Dan Roam reminisces about walking into a Russian bookstore in 1993 and picking up a one-of-a-kind item...
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 23, 2012 - 23 comments

Diamonds may be forever. Their apparent scarcity isn't.

The Russian Institute of Geology and Mineralogy announced an allegedly previously undisclosed 60-mile-wide field of "trillions of carats" of impact diamonds caused by a metor strike into graphite rock in Siberia. The media is reporting that this has been known about since the 70s but undisclosed, but this is misleading. As detailed by Vishnevsky [academic summary PDF], for example, the presence of large amounts of impact diamonds within the impactites was very well known; it is perhaps better to say that the market-distorting sheer yield of the field (around an order of magnitude of increase over known reserves) had not previously been discussed. The diamonds produced by such high temperatures and pressures are around twice as tough as normal diamonds, and the extreme hardness and compartively cheap availibility is likely to hugely widen the usage of industrial diamonds even setting aside the gemstone issues. This does however put the 2011 sale of the Oppenheimer family 40 per cent stake in De Beers in an interesting light, especially as the field at once offers the prospect of huge diamond stones whilst devaluing De Beers' existing stockpile hugely.
posted by jaduncan on Sep 17, 2012 - 50 comments

"A continuous slaughter which could be of no avail either to the French or the Russians."

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino, in which Napoleon's armies met Russian troops 75 miles east of Moscow on 7 September 1812. The huge battle, involving quarter of a million troops, was the strongest stand the Imperial Russian Army made against Napoleon's forces, and it resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. Although the Russian army withdrew, the French tactical victory in the Battle of Borodino was a Pyrrhic one, and Napoleon ultimately left Russia in defeat. The battle was reenacted at Borodino last weekend, as is done annually. A cultural symbol of Russian national courage, the Battle of Borodino has been famously commemorated in Russian literature, music, art, and poetry. [more inside]
posted by Westringia F. on Sep 7, 2012 - 26 comments

Pazhitnov Home for Wayward Cubs

When baby bears are orphaned in Russia, it's up to the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Dr. Valentin Pazhitnov to raise them to maturity while realizing they must not become too comfortable with humans. Observe as the cubs discover their natural instincts and dine al fresco and, well, eat some more. Have fun, little guys!
posted by griphus on Aug 27, 2012 - 10 comments

Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg

It is proposed that a memorial to Steve Jobs be erected in St. Petersburg, Russia. The entries are in and you can vote for your favourite online. [more inside]
posted by unliteral on Aug 26, 2012 - 59 comments

Exit wound in a foreign nation.

Ramamba Haru Mamburu! Inhabiting a world somewhere between the desperate raunchy excesses of early Devo (NSFW), the playfully morbid obsessions of TMBG, and the puerile falsettos of Sparks, the Russian novelty/comedy/geek rockers Nogu Svelo! (English site) have been contributing earworms to Russian pop culture for, oh, some twenty years now. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Aug 26, 2012 - 4 comments

Perry Anderson's essays about modern states in The London Review of Books

Perry Anderson's book length three part series on the history of India from the beginnings of its independence movement, through independence and partition into its recent history as a nation-state is the latest in a series of erudite, opinionated and wordy articles in The London Review of Books by the UCLA professor of history and sociology on the modern history of various countries, so far taking in Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, the EU, Russia, Taiwan and France. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 25, 2012 - 6 comments

Ancient Siberian Tattoos

In Siberia, several frozen human burials dating to 2,500 years ago have intact skin with elaborate tattoos. Warning: link contains graphic pictures of dead people.
posted by Rumple on Aug 23, 2012 - 36 comments

“Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!”

Pussy Riot found guilty of anti-religious ‘hooliganism’ for church protest. [NYTimes.com] Previously Previously.
posted by Fizz on Aug 17, 2012 - 182 comments

Using Broad Strokes to Draw Attention to the Fine Details.

The World in 2 Minutes is a series of videos showing the eccentricities, both good and bad, of different countries as told by their youtube videos. [more inside]
posted by quin on Aug 14, 2012 - 19 comments

closing statement

"I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you." - Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 9, 2012 - 66 comments

"Cats are a part of our life, they amuse people, and make a nice atmosphere for us."

The Hermitage Museum sits on the Neva River in St. Petersburg, it houses millions of works of art by the great masters, and since the 18th century, it has been protected by cats. [more inside]
posted by quin on Aug 9, 2012 - 30 comments

Marina Akhmedova amongst the crocodile addicts of Yekaterinburg

Marina Akhmedova amongst the crocodile addicts of Yekaterinburg - published and censored in Russia, translated and mirrored on opendemocracy. "They check intently who is getting how much, and count out the eyedrops. If I ran right now into the middle of the kitchen and bellowed at the top of my voice, they would not turn round. Their world extends only a few metres and has the cooker and its hood at its centre. It is not a world within the world: it is their entire world, a world as narrow as a coffin, but all-encompassing for those who live in it, a world which follows its own laws. In it there are neither saints nor sinners, no thieves or benefactors, only the harsh laws of survival. There is no truth, no certainty about anything, not even that the sun will rise tomorrow. It is a world which arises when people are dicing with death. A supreme, inexorable law instantly appears, an axis around which their universe revolves: it is the right of those as yet still human to play a game they have chosen for themselves."
posted by jcrcarter on Aug 7, 2012 - 25 comments

It's Paratrooper's Day and Russia is draining all of its fountains

It's Paratrooper's Day in Russia and Russia is draining all of its fountains. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Aug 3, 2012 - 31 comments

urban skiing

Urban skiing, courtesy of Finnish crew Nipwitz. Like skate videos with snow, ambient soundtrack, and a pinch of travelogue. Here is Murmanst Oblast and Sarajevo.
posted by oneirodynia on Jul 27, 2012 - 13 comments

Russia and Syria

"The Western observer tends to split the Russian press into two camps: evil statists and martyrs. But for their part, members of the Russian press are convinced of their superiority over their Western colleagues, at least when it comes to Syria. Russian journalists aren’t under the illusion that they are more objective than their Western counterparts, but they are convinced of their ability to convey a more realistic, complex picture of the events in Syria." - The New Republic: In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
posted by beisny on Jul 24, 2012 - 34 comments

Dictatorship in Belarus

"Mr. Lukashenko has steadily turned Belarus into something akin to a prison colony. The possibility of ending up in prison is a constant risk for millions, and a check on even their most mundane daily routines." - Europe’s Last Dictatorship (SLNYTIMES)
posted by beisny on Jul 17, 2012 - 21 comments

Russian Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot is a free-floating (except when jailed) band of punk rockers and activists in Russia. Their punk protest issues include LGBT and gender rights, as well as opposition to Putin and the government. They’re usually anonymous, and they change their assumed and actual names and personnel on a whim. They perform in balaclavas that hide their features, and wear bright-colored tights and plain, skimpy dresses, so anyone can easily don Pussy Riot gear. Hair, makeup, even gender — doesn’t matter. This is not rock star territory. Men can be members of Pussy Riot; so can anyone on the spectrum. They do not perform in clubs or theaters or at music events. Every performance is a guerrilla one. Vice interviews Pussy Riot (before the arrests). Salon reports on the recent detention of three members. Amnesty International page.
posted by infini on Jul 14, 2012 - 28 comments

I do my little turn on the catwalk...

Rio Wang has posted a fantastic 1892 photo album of Russian army fashions.
posted by gman on Jun 30, 2012 - 23 comments

The Club of 100 Year Ladies

English Russia often chooses odd subjects but the ladies in this article have lived sadly sweet lives through some of the most intense and difficult years in an intense and difficult place. It was originally published in Russian Esquire if you prefer the Russian language version
posted by Isadorady on Jun 13, 2012 - 19 comments

Are you Bazhenov?

Exxon mobil has signed a development agreement with the Kremlin-majority-owned Rosneft to develop the Bazhenov oil shale reserves in Siberia (PDF), which are estimated to hold 2 million million barrels of oil equivalent -- that's about 64 years of current consumption.
posted by seanmpuckett on Jun 11, 2012 - 39 comments

Gingerbread House

"There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls. It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.” Tor.com brings us some short horror/fairy tale fiction from Leigh Bardugo, "The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale."
posted by The Whelk on Jun 8, 2012 - 29 comments

The FBI has a "Do Not Contact" List?

The Feynman Files. For the first time, FBI records for Dr Richard Feynman have been released to the public. They document the Bureau's apparent obsession in the 1950's with outing him as a communist sympathizer, and include notations from several background checks as well as interviews with his colleagues, friends and acquaintances.
posted by zarq on Jun 6, 2012 - 43 comments

RIP Эдуард Анатольевич Хиль

Eduard Anatolyevich Khil, aka Mr. Trololo, has died at the age of 77. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Jun 4, 2012 - 50 comments

Russian Skywalking

"Skywalking" Russky Island Bridge. Three Russian teenagers climb up the 300 meter Bridge to Russky Island without any safety equipment. Apparently this is part of a trend calling 'skywalking'. WARNING: Sweaty palms may damage computer.
posted by Corduroy on May 20, 2012 - 39 comments

Kazakhstan and Beyond!

In Pictures: Star City and the Baikonur Cosmodrome
posted by Artw on May 17, 2012 - 24 comments

Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Strategy, Force Structure and Posture

The nuclear-disarmament group Global Zero just released a report proposing a ten-year plan for the United States and Russia to reduce their arsenals below 900 warheads each, well below the New START treaty limits of 1,550 deployed warheads each by 2018. Implementation is unlikely in an election year. [more inside]
posted by haltingproblemsolved on May 16, 2012 - 17 comments

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