"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
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]
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."
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.
"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
"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)
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.
Rio Wang has posted a fantastic 1892 photo album of Russian army fashions.
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
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.
"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."
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.
"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.
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]
"Hi. Russia may well be associated with hard liquor like Водка, but in this video I will be talking about our traditional soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages." Part 1 [mostly juices] and Part 2 [fizzy drinks]. [more inside]
The first sighting of an all-white male orca (YouTube 1, 2) is reported by Eric Hoyt, Senior Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, UK.
Moscow of 1931 is a collection of hand-tinted lantern slides by Branson DeCou, an American photographer and travelogue lecturer who traveled the world for 30 years before his death in 1941. You can view more of the DeCou corpus online at the Branson Decou Archive at the University of California, Santa Cruz where they've been attempting to sort, preserve, identify and digitize 10,000 DeCou slides received in 1971, a gift referred to the university chancellor by photographer Ansel Adams. [more inside]
Most of us reading on the blue lived through at least a portion of it. Forty-plus years of tension between the world's two superpowers and their allies. That's right: The Cold War. Then, they made a documentary. Aired on CNN in 1998, and never released on DVD, the 24 episode, 20 hour series features tons of archival footage, along with many interviews with individuals directly involved at some of the highest levels. You might not be able to see it on DVD, but you can watch the full series on Youtube, starting with Part 1: Comrades (1917-1945).
Iron Lady lost in Russian translation. [Guardian.co.uk] Speaking to a crowd of supporters, Margaret Thatcher, as played by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, explains what she would do as prime minister: "Crush the working class, crush the scum, the yobs."
Punks Not Dead.... but it can get you killed. Punk rock in oppresive regimes.
Last Sunday, Russia's prime minister Vladimir Putin was shown shedding tears on TV as he was elected to be Russia's president for the next six years amidst a wave of protests. Meanwhile, despite a vast network of web cameras installed at polling stations to prevent vote fraud and independent exit polls showing more than 50% support for Putin, his opponents have decried the elections as a sham, as reports of falsifications, ballot stuffing and 'carousel voting' abound. What will his third term be like, though? in Prospect Magazine, Rachel Polonsky takes an in-depth look at the anti-Putin mood in Russian cities and what it means for his system of power. [more inside]
They screamed and shouted, begging us not to kill them because they had family and kids back home. So what? As if, by contrast, we’d come from an orphanage into this s***hole. We executed them all. Diary of the war in Chechnya. (via) [more inside]
"You’ll be happy with him. He’ll protect you like a stone wall." First time, only for <3. [more inside]
the previously discussed horse_ebooks twitter spambot/oracle creator has been tracked down by gawker
"What we are talking about here are models that reproduce real guns in details. These are acting mechanisms and real copies of guns decreased 4-4.5 times. They could fire if real bullets were used."
He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings "loaner" devices, which he erases before he leaves the US and wipes clean the minute he returns . In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi , never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery , for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, "Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop." - Travel precautions in the age of digital espionage.
Человек с киноаппаратом ("Man with a Movie Camera") is a classic experimental documentary film that was released in 1929. Directed by pioneer Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, this classic, silent documentary film has no story and no actors, and is actually three documentaries in one. Ostensibly it documents 24 hours of life in a single city in the Soviet Union. But it is also a documentary of the filming of that documentary and a depiction of an audience watching that documentary and their responses. "We see the cameraman and the editing of the film, but what we don't see is any of the film itself." [more inside]
In the coldest spot on the earth’s coldest continent, Russian scientists have reached a freshwater lake the size of Lake Ontario after spending a decade drilling through more than two miles of solid ice. Maybe the mountains of madness are underground. Lovecraft would loved to have seen this.
SoftPanorama / SoftPanorama Switchboard, created by Nikolai Bezroukov, is one of those vast, practical resources with a fun side too. There is the excellent and very useful Classification of Corporate Psychopaths | Coping with the toxic stress in IT environment | Surviving a Bad Performance Review | Information Overload: How Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime | Science, PseudoScience and Society. But then there is the fun side of the site too: Russian Music Oldies on YouTube | economic crisis humor | Songs from Famous Russian Cartoons on Youtube. [more inside]
"I saw bodies of women and children lying on roads, beheaded." At least 260 people were killed last night in a government assault on Homs, the epicenter of the Syrian uprising. This came right before a key UN vote to support the Arab League's plan to have President Bashar al-Assad hand over power to the vice president and hold early elections for a national unity government, which failed this morning with 13 in favor and a double veto by China and Russia. [more inside]
Lego figurines, Kinder surprises and other toys played the role of 'demonstrators'. Police in Siberian city ask prosecutors to investigate legality of protest involving display of toy figures holding miniature placards. "Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests," Andrei Mulintsev, the city's deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. "In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event." [more inside]
The Truck They Couldn't Drown Watch agog as this Rasputin of Russian trucks conspicuously fails to give up the ghost crossing a Siberian river.
Lana Sator sneaked into a Russian military rocket factory, found no guards, and started taking pictures. Some of them are pretty amazing. [source]
Russian Records is an online archive of thousands of 78s issued in Russia, or with Russian themes. Just the labels are a visual feast but there's audio as well. Don't miss the whistlers with orchestral backing.
"In short, the world without the Soviet Union has not become safer, more just or more stable. Instead of a new world order—that is, enough global governance to prevent international affairs from becoming dangerously unpredictable—we have had global turmoil, a world drifting in uncharted waters." -- Mikhail Gorbachev writes about the world after the Cold War in The Nation.
"For the show’s editor, the genre is a new Russian art form, celebrating real-life proletarian characters."
Mother of all TV shows: [Financial Times] Russia’s latest hit, ‘Mother in Law’, makes ‘Big Brother’ look like ‘Sesame Street’.
The other Chelsea. A story from Donetsk [1:28:06].
There were thousands of Russians protesting the widespread ballot stuffing discovered during the elections last sunday. Russian police arrested hundreds of protesters who had gathered in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square, including Alexei Navalny. Protestors raised awareness using Twitter hashtags like #триумфальная (Triumfalnaya), but pro-Kremlin spammers were prepared to drown them out using 2000 automated twitterbots they'd created earlier this year. (related, recently)
"Far From Moscow is a resource designed to promote, catalog, and consider new music from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, together with the Baltic nations (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)." Posts are frequent and extensive and stuffed full of fantastic songs. They also offer a dozen free sampler albums; I'm listening to and loving Apples and the more ambient Forest. [more inside]
Growing up, she was a beloved celebrity in her home country. Thousands of girls were named after her. So was a bestselling perfume. But Josef Stalin's "Little Sparrow," his only daughter, (born Svetlana Stalina) defected to the United States in 1967. Upon arriving in New York, she promptly held a press conference that surprised the world, denouncing her father's regime. Svetlana became a naturalized US citizen, moved to Taliesin West, married an American, changed her name to Lana Peters, then returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, declaring that she had not been free "for one single day" in the U.S., only to once again return to America in 1986. She lived out her remaining days in a small town in Wisconsin. Mrs. Peters passed away from colon cancer on November 22nd, at the age of 85. [more inside]
In 1986,[Vladimir] Horowitz announced that he would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925 to give recitals in Moscow and Leningrad. In the new atmosphere of communication and understanding between the USSR and the USA, these concerts were seen as events of political, as well as musical, significance. [more inside]
Vladimir Putin booed live on Russian TV. Taking a rare evening off from propping up Bashar Assad and threatening to station missiles on EU borders, past and future President - and current Prime Minister - Vladimir Putin relaxed at a mixed martial arts fight last Sunday night at Moscow's Olimpisky Arena. When he stepped into the ring after the bout to address the crowd however, his reception was as hostile as the fight had been. The muzzled Russian media have either ignored the incident or claimed the booing was directed at Jeff "The Snowman" Monson, but thousands of comments on the American's facebook wall tell a different story. [more inside]
Yesterday, Russia's first interplanetary mission in 15 years launched sucessfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It ran into serious problems almost immediately. In jeopardy are a sample return mission from the Martian satellite Phobos, The Planetary Society's Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE), and China's Yinghuo-1 Mars orbiter.
Mars-500, a simulated 520-day mission to Mars (previously and previously), will be completed today at 11:00 CET. Watch live