Concerns for the safety of Russian lgbt activist Nikolai Alexeyev. "After passing passport control at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, Mr Alekseev’s boarding pass was cancelled and his luggage unloaded from the plane upon a request from Russian authorities. He was taken into custody around 19:00 MSD, and has not yet been released." Text messages stating that he was withdrawing his case before the ECHR and seeking asylum in Belarus are believed to be fake or coerced under torture.
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
A fascinating look at some interesting, and at times mind-boggling, arrays of dials and switches.
RussianFilter: Historical Chronicles with Nikolai Svanidze is an ongoing Russian television documentary series which, starting with 1901, picks out one person per year, every year, of the 100 years of the 20th century in Russia. It's entirely in Russian, of course, but for them as speaks it, it's one fascinating perspective on Russian history, with excellent narration, copious detail, and fascinating interconnections of events, people and places. All of the episodes that are available through Google Video and various other sources, and [more inside]
An Amazing 3D Light Show From Russia (watch in 480p)
"During the 1860s, several photographers based in Moscow and St. Petersburg produced series of cartes-de-visite showing Russian 'types.' These remarkable portraits provide a fascinating record of working-class townspeople, artisans, street vendors and peasants, some staged performing an activity, such as drinking tea or gaming, and some photographed in the performance of their occupation."
How are heatwaves in Russia and flooding in Pakistan related? Both result from a
kinkin the jet stream that has frozen in place. (Previous coverage of the disasters in Russia and Pakistan on the blue.)
'Priceless collection' in Russia was never registered so is therefore worthless and does not officially exist, say developers
In 1926, Nikolai Vavilov founded the world's first modern seedbank, and amassed a collection which today contains over 90% unique varieties of plant, contained in no other collection in existence. For his opposition to Lysenkoism he died in prison, and several of his colleagues famously starved to death instead of eating their specimens during the Siege of Leningrad. Now the Pavlovsk seedbank facility has been seized by the Federal Agency for Public Estate Management, and pending a court ruling will be demolished - contents and all - to build a housing development. The collection cannot be moved in time because it is a working seedbank of living plants.
Russian Satirical Journals of 1905. MeFi's own peacay presents a selection of the amazing images produced after the lifting of censorship in Russia following the 1905 Revolution: "For a few brief months the journals spoke with a great and unprecedented rage that neither arrest nor exile could silence. At first their approach was oblique, their allusions veiled, and they often fell victim to the censor’s pencil. But people had suffered censorship for too long." Much more available at Beinecke, USC, and Wisconsin.
"Tubes of space borscht are on sale in the museum gift shop. “There are white and black tubes. On the white is written: ‘BLONDE.’ On black one: ‘BRUNETTE.’ " Astronauts relate challenges of life in space.
A short drive through hell. NSFW swearing (in Russian).
Kich-Gorodok. Olya Ivanova went to a locality in the Vologda Region of Russia in order to "photograph the inhabitants of dying Russian villages." The results are striking and occasionally reminiscent of Depression-era photographs of America. [more inside]
The ISS Progress 38 cargo carrier was launched to bring supplies to the International Space Station. The unmanned Russian vessel has experienced problems attempting to dock with the station and has now disappeared from view, spinning uncontrollably.
The US Department of Justice has announced arrests in four states of ten alleged members of a “deep-cover” Russian spy ring whose ultimate goal was apparently to infiltrate U.S. policy-making circles. So much for burger diplomacy? [more inside]
Meet Messer Chups, whose main influences seem to be B-movies, sci fi, theremin, surf rock and Vincent Price. [more inside]
Russian President Medvedev is tweeting his trip to the US (English, Russian). So far, no comment on Putin belittling him to the French press. [more inside]
Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
English Russia presents Lord of the Rings character illustrations from the USSR. [more inside]
The professor, his wife, and the secret, savage book reviews on Amazon 'An extraordinary literary "whodunnit" over the identity of a mystery reviewer who savaged works by some of Britain's leading academics on the Amazon website has culminated in a top historian admitting that the culprit was, in fact, his wife.'
The saying "We have been put on Earth to make Kafka come true" has been well known since Soviet times.
At least 35 dead in attacks on the Moscow subway. "Yuri Syomin, the head of the Moscow prosecutor's office, said the attacks had almost certainly been carried out by suicide bombers who boarded the metro at the height of the rush hour." Speculation is rampant as to the source of the attacks, with Ingushetia, Chechnya or Agastarn.
Russia's Wooden Churches - A century after celebrated Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin called for preservation of Russia's decaying wooden churches, architectural photographer Richard Davies revisits the churches to document and raise awareness of these gorgeous historic architectural treasures. [more inside]
"The great Trans Siberian Railway, the pride of Russia, goes across two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities. The joint project of Google and the Russian Railways lets you take a trip along the famous route and see Baikal, Khekhtsirsky range, Barguzin mountains, Yenisei river and many other picturesque places of Russia without leaving your house." [more inside]
Tango With Cows is an exhibition by the Getty Museum of the book art of the Russian avant-garde from 1910 to 1917, which included a performance of sound poetry, all captured on video, both of Futurist poems, other historical sound poems, and contemporary works. Among performers are Christian Bök and Steve McCaffery. The exhibition takes its name from the book of ferro-concrete poems, one of 21 books can be downloaded as PDFs, most are by Alexei Kruchenykh but there are also works by Roman Jakobson, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burliuk, Andrei Kravtsov, Vasily Kamensky and Velimir Khlebnikov. These were all Futurists. [more inside]
SS-N-22 Sunburn is the NATO designation for a Russian-made anti-ship missile that the US Navy (it seems) currently has no defense against. [more inside]
Selections from a handmade military discharge scrap book and comic made by a USSR army recruit, 1984-1986.
Andrey Vinogradov has got the Russian hurdy gurdy you want. . 4,091 views. 2,635 views. 853 views. 5 views.
As a result of epic fraud, lawyer Sergey Magnitsky was falsely imprisoned and died in jail. An incredible story of doing business in a corrupt country.
House of Happiness - photos by Rena Effendi of women in the Ferghana Valley, part of central Asia's ancient Silk Route now known as "the heroin highway" - "a geographical and cultural mishmash where three countries and many ethnicities cluster." More about the photos. (Some photos NSFW) [more inside]
Ahead of the global climate talks, nine photographers from the photo agency NOOR photographed climate stories from around the world. Their goal: to document some of the causes and consequences, from deforestation to changing sea levels, as well as the people whose lives and jobs are part of that carbon culture. Warming threatens lifestyle of Russian herders | Refugees flee drought, war in East Africa | Greenland’s shrinking ice hurts natives [more inside]
Do you know how many time zones there are in the Soviet Union? Eleven. That's Ridiculous. It's not even funny.
During the last week, a senior detective in Novorossiysk, Russia named Alexei Dymovsky had a viral hit on YouTube with a series of videos (in Russian: 1, 2. With English subtitles: 1) complaining about working conditions, accusing officers of corruption, and claiming that he and other police were ordered to stage crimes in order to put innocent people in jail. Dymovsky was promptly fired, but the Russian government has since admitted that parts of the police have been turned into criminal businesses. More here and here.
The strength of post-Soviet math stems from decades of lonely productivity. Russian math.
The Kalinin K-7 was a giant flying fortress that might have redefined aerial combat in the 1930s. The hugely expensive and trouble-prone prototype was scrapped by Stalin and its designer was later executed. Here are some renderings of the planes that might have been, with spacious lounges, battleship-sized cannons, and the ability to defend us from UFOs.
The BBC World Service has put together a special report on the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe (they also have a simpler portal). There is a wealth of material, including TV reports on key events from the BBC archives, interviews, a map timeline, a report on Catholicism's role in the 1989 revolutions, a first-hand report of what it was like to gather news in East Germany during that time and much more.
Welcome to the charming world of Vissarion: the Siberian, vegan, reincarnation of Christ, who also happens to be a Polygamist. When he lost his job as a traffic cop in 1991, Sergei Torop changed his name to Vissarion and began spreading his message about how to attain moral perfection, drive out negative energy, and survive the coming Apocalypse. Today the Community of Vassarion in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia numbers around 10,000, while a further 50,000 follow his teachings in the world beyond. [more inside]
Soyuz rocket rolls to launch pad. A fine photoset of an otherwise routine Russian rocket rollout. I can tell that photographer Bill Ingalls loves rockets. His favs.
September 22, 1939: In the Polish city of Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, in Belarus), "a monumental military parade took place.... What is unusual is that the parade was held not by the Polish army, but by the soviet Red Army and the Nazi German Wehrmacht – together." The excellent blog Poemas del río Wang (which usually features gorgeous illustrations from books) provides historical context, many photos, posters, and cartoons, even a five-minute official German newsreel (the parade takes up the first half). The event itself is a historical footnote, but in Russia, with the "cult of the victory of Soviet people and of the Soviet state in WWII," the very idea of it was anathema and it was denied until last year. [more inside]
Are Peace Negotiations hosted by Russia and France in the cards? Today, President Obama is meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu and the Palestian Authority's Abbas and then hosting a three-way meeting with both leaders. Officially all parties claim they have "low expectations." [more inside]
Russian strategic nuclear forces - an online watchdog of the movements of Russia's nuclear forces. [more inside]
Suvorov’s argument is simple. Stalin cleverly lured Hitler into war by offering to divide Poland. This act, Stalin knew, would prompt Britain and France to declare war on Germany. Stalin expected to pick up the pieces. - Eric Margolis [more inside]