Russia
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Russia
To explore the broad topic of Russian culture and history
Curated by Erin Bouma
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Love and Death in Revolution Square 

Like nearly every child growing up in the USSR, I also dreamed of meeting a real, live cosmonaut. Yet my wish came true only a quarter century after the fall of the Soviet Union. Last September, Valentina Tereshkova, the world’s first woman in space, addressed the inaugural gala for the London Science Museum’s exhibition Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age. As Tereshkova came off stage, I seized the moment. Tripping over my words, I told her that for a child growing up in faraway England while his country was falling apart back home, her achievement was one of the few things that kept me proud of my once great motherland. Tereshkova glared at me. “It must have been tough, growing up in England,” she said and walked away, past her charred re-entry capsule encased in glass a few feet away. 


What did I expect? A Soviet person has no time for those who have not suffered. War, displacement, hunger, and forced labor underpin Alexievich’s work like the pulsating ostinato in Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony. “We know how to suffer and talk of suffering,” she wrote in her first book in the series, War’s Unwomanly Face, a collection of testimonies from women about their experiences of what is still known throughout the former Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. “Suffering justifies our hard and bitter life. For us, pain is an art.

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Ex-Soviets Adopt America 

Ex-Soviets Adopt America  | Russia | Scoop.it

Fishman returns to the question of generational transmission he so provocatively pried open in "A Replacement Life."


    THE PLOT of Boris Fishman’s novel goes, more or less, like this: A Soviet-born immigrant in the United States, caught between Russia and America, experiences a crisis of identity stemming from conflicted allegiances to both places and cultures. Romantic entanglements further pull this protagonist in two directions. 

    One love interest is associated with the familiar culture of the immigrant home, from which the main protagonist has been growing somewhat estranged. Kept on a short leash by a Russian family, this supporting character has a rather schematic presence in the novel and doesn’t speak too many lines. The other romantic interest, the American, is far more independent and offers the promise of belatedly discovering America.



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Multilingual Wordsmiths: Jamey Gambrell, In and Out of Russia 

Multilingual Wordsmiths: Jamey Gambrell, In and Out of Russia  | Russia | Scoop.it

"By reading literature in translation, we become citizens of the world."


I loved your translation of Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik — what a brilliant book — and you have just translated his novel The Blizzard to great acclaim — Masha Gessen gave it a terrific review in The New York Times Book Review, and praised your translation — she wrote, “Her translation is as elegant, playful and layered as the original — and never appears labored.” It seems to me The Blizzard has received more praise in this country than Sorokin’s excellent previous novels. Why do you think that might be?


GAMBRELL:  I do think The Blizzard has received more attention than the others. I think it may be because each book he writes is very different from the others. He is a very good writer, but because his style varies so much, it’s taken a number of novels for people to get a sense of him, and for word to get around. 


 Who are some of the other Russian authors you have translated? GAMBRELL:  Marina Tsvetaeva, Aleksander Rodchenko, Tatyana Tolstaya, Joseph Brodsky, a little Chekhov, some others, too.

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Siberian man tracks down great-grandfather's executioners 

Siberian man tracks down great-grandfather's executioners  | Russia | Scoop.it

Denis Karagodin from Siberia, who has spent the last five years trying to find out who executed his great-grandfather during the Stalinist purges has received an apology from a granddaughter of one of the executioners..

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Why Vladimir Putin Hates Us

Why Vladimir Putin Hates Us | Russia | Scoop.it

Russia and its throwback leader are making increasingly aggressive moves against the West—and our leaders still don’t understand why.


To get a flavor of what Putinism’s worldview looks like, simply listen to what Moscow says. It’s easy to find fire-breathing clerics castigating the West and its pushing of feminism and gay rights, which they openly term Satanic. The Russian “think tank” (in reality it’s just a website) Katehon is a Kremlin-approved outlet which offers heavy doses of geopolitics suffused with militant Orthodox nationalism. Significantly, its name comes from the Greek term for “he who resists the Antichrist”—and Katehon makes perfectly clear that the decadent, post-modern West is what they mean. 

    Then there’s Tsargrad TV, which is Russia’s version of Fox News, if Fox News were run by hardline Russian Orthodox believers. It’s the project of Konstantin Malofeev, a Kremlin-connected hedge funder-turned-religious crusader who wanted to give the country a news outlet that reflected traditional values. Its name is the traditional Slavic term for Constantinople—the Second Rome in Russian Orthodox formulation. A few months back, when Putin visited Mount Athos in Greece, one of Orthodox’s holiest sites, accompanied by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Tsargrad TV gave it wall-to-wall live coverage.

    The anti-Western animus of this ideology would be difficult to overstate. There are rational-sounding complaints—for instance, Russian harping on NATO expansion up to their borders—but much of it boils down to depictions of the post-modern West as Satan’s project designed to subvert traditional religion and family life. 

    These complaints sound a lot like what hardline Muslims say about the West. Just like Islamists, Kremlin ideologists claim that, since the West is spiritually attacking Russia and Orthodoxy with feminist and LGBT propaganda, all of Moscow’s responses—including aggressive military moves—are therefore defensive.

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Commentary: Putin will pay a high price for Trump’s friendship

Commentary: Putin will pay a high price for Trump’s friendship | Russia | Scoop.it
Trump’s victory potentially may pose some difficult choices for Putin. The Russian president remains a flexible politician, and he may gladly accept improved U.S.-Russian relations as a necessary pause to allow his country time to recover from a devastating economic recession. 
    Putin’s popularity, however, is directly linked to his confrontational foreign policy and protectionist measures. Without an external enemy, Putin will have to find other means to rally support for his policies. He won't be able to turn to any economic successes; the Ministry of Economic Development announced in October that Russian living standards won’t rise until 2035. 
    While the Kremlin clearly is smiling, it also has tried to lower expectations regarding what to expect from a Trump presidency. This may be a sound negotiating tactic, but it also might indicate that Putin needs time to re-arrange his priorities, especially if a deal upends the main pillars of his foreign policy, economic strategy, and base of domestic support.
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“Golden Ridicule”: St. Petersburg Street Artist Mocks Officials Who Send Their Children Abroad 

“Golden Ridicule”: St. Petersburg Street Artist Mocks Officials Who Send Their Children Abroad  | Russia | Scoop.it

Hioshi, the pseudonym for an anonymous Russian artist who is known for exhibiting small pieces of art on the streets of Saint Petersburg, debuted an installation earlier this week. “Golden Ridicule (Or, Please Take My Son)” portrays several Russian officials being put through a golden meat grinder...


“The more officials and deputies come up with legislative and regulatory initiatives, the more persistent they are in their desire for their children to move as far away as possible from Russia,” Hioshi told RuNet Echo. The piece, he says, criticizes officials’ pretend patriotism and their artificial animus towards the West. The street artist says he chose a golden meat grinder because it perfectly describes Russian officials’ lives: “Imagine a swamp or quicksand that sucks you down – where there is no bottom, and every move you make, every stir, makes you sink deeper and deeper, together with those around you.” 

     Countless high-ranking Russian officials send their children abroad to be educated: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, United Russia MP Sergey Zheleznyak, former Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin, and numerous others have children who are currently studying in the West. The installation is Hioshi's reaction to a recent piece of draft legislation that would ban official's children from studying overseas. 

    “My installations will hardly change the situation in Russia, or even affect those who are corrupted, very patriotic, or religious – they have locked themselves in a dark closet together with [state television host and propagandist Dmitry] Kiselyov and [MP and anti-LGBTQ campaigner Vitaly] Milonov, hissing towards the West from their cozy comfort zone,” Hioshi says. “But for those who sees through the lies and groundless hatred on state programs, for those who hope desperately for fair elections, I want to send a signal with my art: never say die. There is still life glimmering here; you are not alone.”

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John Bayley - Fools and Wise in Russia

John Bayley - Fools and Wise in Russia | Russia | Scoop.it

John Bayley: Fools and Wise in Russia - "Institute of Fools" by Viktor Nekipelov (Edited & translated by Carynnyk & Maria Horban); "Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky: A Study in the Polyphonic Novel" by Vladislav Krasnov; Stories, Volume IV: 1888–1889 by Anton Chekhov (Translated by Ronald Hingley)


Victor Nekipelov’s "Institute of Fools" is as much as The Oak and the Calf a scrupulous record, a witness to the truth in Soviet Russia – something that takes both books out of the ordinary class of literature. Since both writers are born novelists however, literature comes in again through the back door. "The Oak and the Calf" is, essentially, a character study of a man and his work – Tvardovsky and the magazine Novy Mir, and it becomes a kind of elegy for both. 

Nekipelov’s book’ is about the Serbsky Institute, the asylum in Moscow to which dissidents and criminals are sent to be certified, and it is a treasure-house of contemporary Soviet characters, of all kinds and drawn from every walk of life. Both books remind one of Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead, not so much because the title of Dostoevsky’s book about his Siberian prison, but because the characters he depicts have an extraordinary family resemblance to those encountered in Solzhenitsyn’s books, and in Nekipelov’s.

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Recession-hit Russia hoping for growth by end-2016

Recession-hit Russia hoping for growth by end-2016 | Russia | Scoop.it

Russia's economy is still flatlining after more than two years of crisis, figures showed Monday, with Moscow hoping to end 2016 on the mend but with longer-term prospects looking gloomy. The longest crisis since President Vladimir Putin took power 16 years ago -- sparked in late 2014 by falling


The longest crisis since President Vladimir Putin took power 16 years ago -- sparked in late 2014 by falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine -- appears to be gradually relenting. The recession has been accompanied by a surge in prices and has hit Russians' spending power hard, especially for the poorest. 

    Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev last week predicted that fourth-quarter figures would be "visibly" more positive. His ministry predicts a contraction of the economy of 0.6 percent for 2016 as a whole -- it plunged by 3.7 percent in 2015 -- and growth of around one percent in 2017. 

    The central bank said on Monday that it saw barely-there growth of around 0.1 percent in the third quarter -- which would mark the end of the recession -- but stressed this was within the statistical margin of error. It hopes for growth of 0.2 to 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter. 

    More pessimistic experts at Capital Economics said the Rosstat figure "appears to be consistent, by our estimates, with a shallow fall in GDP in quarter-on-quarter terms". They predicted a "return to positive (albeit sluggish) growth by early next year."

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Lost and Found in Translation

Did Putin threaten to castrate a journalist? And why it matters to get it right.


What Putin says really matters. He is the second most powerful person in the world, after China’s President Xi Jingping (and Putin may have more freedom of maneuver than Xi). So it is incumbent on us to get what he says exactly right. 

    In this case, what is the difference between “castration” and “circumcision”? Well, “castration” portrays Putin as a crude thug. “Circumcision” shows him as crude and thuggish, to be sure – but also clever, wily, and manipulative. 

    He is showing off his familiarity with Muslim customs, and at the same time mocking Western notions of political correctness, multiculturalism, and human rights. This makes him a much more dangerous adversary than someone who just shouts crude threats. But it also means that we need to engage with his ideas on a more sophisticated level, and not simply dismiss him as a brute, or a fascist. 

    Certainly, Putin’s appeal as a strong leader is bound up with his performance of masculinity, as explained in Valerie Sperling’s recent book. The fact that Putin brought discussion of genitalia into a Brussels press conference exemplifies this pattern. 

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Putin can’t seem to find a ‘national idea’ for Russians, so he’s proposing a law to do it.

Putin can’t seem to find a ‘national idea’ for Russians, so he’s proposing a law to do it. | Russia | Scoop.it

The Russian president, when he is not fighting a proxy war with the United States in Syria... has a day job that entails keeping together a massive multiethnic country whose 140 million people, 25 years into Russia’s post-Soviet existence, still struggle to find a common message to rally around. And because there is no serious political opposition, internal dissent, no second-guessing — “Vladimir Putin’s only adviser is Vladi­mir Putin,” says Alexei Venediktov, editor in chief of Ekho Moskvy radio — it falls to the Russian leader to address the problem himself. 

    Putin has tried mixing and matching shards of Russia’s fragmented history to create a version his countrymen can embrace while discarding some of the uglier material. He has tried to come up with a “national idea” for them no fewer than three times: After toying with “competitiveness” and “saving people,” earlier this year he told a meeting of regional business leaders that he had settled on “patriotism.” 

    He has publicly asked legislators to define the “Russian nation” by law, although there is confusion about what that means. “We don’t really know what it’s going to be,” Ildar Gilmutdinov, head of the legislative committee charged with drafting the bill, acknowledged last week. 

     A recent poll published by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center found that 44 percent of respondents to the question said the country had found unity, down from 54 percent a year ago.

    Then there was Friday’s national holiday, the first day of the three-day weekend in November that used to be reserved in Russia for celebrations of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. In 2005, the Kremlin replaced that with National Unity Day, a commemoration of an early 17th-century military victory credited with ending the strife-torn years called the Time of Troubles. It was a way to let Russian people keep their long weekend without the annual reminder that a rabble of commoners can overthrow an autocrat. 

    More recently, Unity Day has evolved into an effort to contain and co-opt nationalist sentiment among ethnic Russians, and head off the chance that any of the country’s 190 or so ethnic minorities will spring the kind of separatist ambitions that led to more than a decade of bloodshed in Chechnya.

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Kremlin ‘Black Budget’ Grows as Official Spending Drops 

Kremlin ‘Black Budget’ Grows as Official Spending Drops  | Russia | Scoop.it

Most classified budget lines go to the military and security, but the actual amounts are not disclosed.


The independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper cites different figures, according to Stratfor. It says fully a third of the 2017 budget is classified as “closed expenditures,” and 70 percent of that is allocated to defense. The so-called black budget is set to increase by 679 billion rubles ($11 billion), while unclassified expenditure will fall by 374 billion rubles, bne Intellinews reports. 

    The proportion of secret budget items in total federal spending rose from a 10th six years ago to a fifth this year. Not all of the reallocations to defense are kept secret. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov recently said that about $2.65 billion of a reserve fund for pensions will be reallocated to the military, prompting the business daily Vedomosti to comment: “The state is essentially reanimating the saying of the 1930s, ‘cannons instead of butter,’ only now it is the butter of the future pensioners who as it is can only count on a very meager pension.”

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Following Steven Seagal's New Citizenship, Gerard Depardieu Remembers His Russian Patriotism

Gerard Depardieu wants you to know that he’s not yet claiming his Russian pension, perhaps unlike a certain aikido master.


Frill added that Depardieu isn’t personally acquainted with the American actor Steven Seagal, who received Russian citizenship on Thursday, following an executive decree by Vladimir Putin. “California, where Steven Seagal is from, is like another world for Gerard,” his agent explained. 

    In May 2015, Depardieu said he was “ready to die for Russia,” the country whose citizenship he adopted in 2013 to avoid France’s higher income taxes. Vladimir Putin personally presented him with his Russian passport at a meeting in Sochi. 

   According to Life, Russian pension officials have declared that Steven Seagal, as a 64-year-old Russian citizen, is also entitled to claim a monthly pension of 5,000 rubles ($78).

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The Russian Soul: Janet Fitch on Eugene Vodolazkin 

The Russian Soul: Janet Fitch on Eugene Vodolazkin  | Russia | Scoop.it

"Laurus" is no seamless dream of Russia's past but a very clever, self-aware contemporary novel that nevertheless holds that dream deep in its heart.


The novel is a treasure house of Russian medieval lore and customs, and Vodolazkin convinces us of the horrors awaiting the unconfessed dead. Not in the hereafter, but simply on earth. What to do with the bodies? They can’t be buried, only “heaped,” as the earth would spit them out again. Unburied, they are unable to find peace and cause poor harvests. If they were buried, people would dig them up when spring frosts harmed the crops. Buried, unburied, becoming exposed, piled, moved around — it was enough to drive even a saint mad. 

    Thus, we understand perfectly why Arseny would forswear his settled life to hit the road and try to redeem Ustina’s soul through prayer and suffering. Thus begins Arseny’s journey as mendicant healer, moving from village to village, indifferently exposing himself to plague, cold, and hunger, nameless and without destination, in the fine tradition of Russian mystics.

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Labeling the Russian Immigrant: Irina Reyn’s “The Imperial Wife” 

Labeling the Russian Immigrant: Irina Reyn’s “The Imperial Wife”  | Russia | Scoop.it

Sasha Senderovich on Irina Reyn's "The Imperial Wife."Irina Reyn’s new novel 

    

    "The Imperial Wife" provocatively addresses a similar constellation of issues in the life of one woman, whose identity is caught between two languages and cultures. A Russian Jew who emigrated with her parents from the Soviet Union to Queens as a child, Tanya Kagan Vandermotter is married to an American of colonial Dutch ancestry and, more recently, Upper East Side parentage. 

    Tanya, who is the head of the Russian art department at Worthington’s, a top New York auction house, is particularly adept at detecting forgeries. She also composes names for untitled paintings when preparing lots for auctions. She performs this task skillfully, identifying the precise words that might capture the imagination of a prospective buyer. 

    Reyn is not new to writing metafictional novels in which questions of immigrant identity come into sharper relief through a focus on literature and art. In "What Happened to Anna K." (2008), Reyn transposed the story of Anna Karenina from imperial Russia to the present-day Bukharan neighborhood of Rego Park, Queens. The adaptation of Tolstoy’s narrative of adultery and transgression from aristocratic Russia to a setting full of Jewish immigrants from Soviet Central Asia produced a rich and poignant reflection on displacement and exile. Reyn is also attuned to the way acculturation is often mediated through social scripts more than individual agency.



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A Brilliant Mind’s Pauses: The Fiction of Russia’s Greatest Poet 

A Brilliant Mind’s Pauses: The Fiction of Russia’s Greatest Poet  | Russia | Scoop.it

Bob Blaisdell praises the prose of Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin.


Even in his lifetime, Pushkin was regarded as Russia’s supreme lyric and narrative poet, and his verse-novel Eugene Onegin remains a European classic. Unfortunately, most translations of his lively, quicksilver poetry have not been successful. He only took up narrative prose on a whim, but, as this collection makes clear, he mastered it gloriously. 

    American readers are more likely to have read Chekhov’s stories than Pushkin’s; after all, Chekhov wrote several hundred, and their sympathy and humor have been admired and imitated by so many 20th-century Anglophone masters. 

    Pushkin completed very few stories, but the five he collected as The Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin (he pretended that a fictional Belkin, not he, had written them) are perhaps the best collection of short fiction in the history of the world. The Captain’s Daughter and Dubrovsky are not novels but novellas — just in terms of length (95 pages and 66, here). But they are two of the greatest novellas ever written, both of them exciting, romantic racehorses of prose.

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Russia's border doesn't end anywhere, Vladimir Putin says 

Russia's border doesn't end anywhere, Vladimir Putin says  | Russia | Scoop.it

President Putin says Russia's border "doesn't end anywhere", to applause at a televised ceremony.


He was asking a nine-year-old boy: "Where does Russia's border end?" The boy had said "at the Bering Strait". Mr Putin then provided his own answer. Mr Putin has pledged to defend ethnic Russians wherever they live. 

    In July 2014, three months after Russian troops annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, he spelled out his doctrine to Russian ambassadors. "I would like to make it clear to all: our country will continue to actively defend the rights of Russians, our compatriots abroad, using the entire range of available means - from political and economic to operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self-defence."

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These maps show how Russia has Europe spooked

These maps show how Russia has Europe spooked | Russia | Scoop.it

The arsenal of cutting-edge missile systems Russia has deployed in Kaliningrad is impressive and scary.


The United States accuses Russia of developing land-based ballistic missiles with a range much greater than allowed by the INF treaty — some military estimates suggest that Russia has tested a missile that could reach major European capitals. The whole point of the INF treaty was to eliminate the threat of rapid nuclear escalation posed by hidden launchers carrying devastating weapons a short flight time. But Moscow denies the allegation and says that it is the United States that is breaking the treaty with illegal intermediate missiles of its own.

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Say goodbye to ‘Americanos’ in Putin’s Russia — at least for now

Say goodbye to ‘Americanos’ in Putin’s Russia — at least for now | Russia | Scoop.it

Patriotic names for Russian drinks are all the rage.


It’s not Lynchburg Lemonade, it's “Saratov Limonad.” You want a Jack Daniels? Order a “Zhora Denisov.” And the cocktail that previously shared the name of the B-52 bomber? It’s a SU-34 strike fighter jet now, bub. These are the drolly patriotic extremes to which one Siberian bar has gone in reaction to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s semi-serious suggestion that ordering an “Americano” — the way Russians refer to American coffee — is politically incorrect in these dire times for U.S.-Russian relations.

    Across Russia, purveyors of coffee have taken the hint. Menus across the nation are switching to the name “Russiano,” Igor Bukharov, head of the Russian restaurateurs and hoteliers federation, told the TASS news agency on Friday.  

    But Bar-Restaurant Ogonyok in Yekaterinburg, Russia, has taken the patriotic name craze to a new level. On its new “Premier” menu — the name is an acerbic doff of the cap to Medvedev — American Honey whiskey is now “Sweet Russia,” a Jack and Coke is now a Zhora and Kvass, and other famous cocktails with American place names like Bronx and Manhattan have been relocated to Biryulyovo and Maryina Roscha.

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Meet the new Cold Warriors

Meet the new Cold Warriors | Russia | Scoop.it

Evil Empire-bashing is no longer the preserve of the right.


Think of Russia’s almost pariah status in the international community, of the ease with which the right-thinking liken its actions to those of Hitler’s Germany. And think of Hillary Clinton and her supporters during the US election routinely painting now president-elect Donald Trump as ‘Putin’s puppet’, and accusing Russia of hacking and quasi-rigging the election. 

    So while there are of course still plenty on the right of Western politics (to the extent that a right exists) who cling to the certainties of the old Cold War, it’s the liberals, the left-leaning, the now frayed and frazzled establishment, who seem most keen to fuel the fires of the new Cold War, in an attempt to rediscover some sense of moral purpose. 

    You can see it in the anxious, Putin-fearing response to Trump’s election victory. ‘Some in Europe worry that the Russian president may already be rubbing his hands with glee’, reports NBC. This after all fits the pre-election narrative of Trump as Putin’s grotesque marionette. And now that Trump has been installed, Putin, noted for his ‘aggressive behaviour’, as the New York Times puts it, can continue ‘to try to revive Russian greatness’, with all the chaos and peril that entails. 

    Over and over again, Russia is portrayed as the bringer of global instability, and now the power behind Trump’s throne.

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The World According to Russian Stereotypes 

The World According to Russian Stereotypes  | Russia | Scoop.it

RuNet Echo explores popular stereotypes about foreigners gleaned from autocomplete suggestions generated by the website Yandex, Russia’s most popular Internet search engine.


Remarkably, Russian Internet users’ chief searches for various nationalities appear to mirror significant geopolitical events relevant to Russia. For instance, one of the most common questions Russian Internet users ask about people from different countries is why those people dislike Russians, and this question is most common in searches for information about nations with which Moscow's relations have recently deteriorated. 


Popular Internet searches in regions where Moscow has less invested politically and fewer cultural ties, meanwhile, seem to focus on questions that are physiological, and sometimes outright bizarre, like those about weight and aging.

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An Unbeholden President Trump Takes The Measure of Vladimir Putin

An Unbeholden President Trump Takes The Measure of Vladimir Putin | Russia | Scoop.it

We Americans must hope that what Trump thinks is right is actually right. With his stunning victory, Trump has a clear mandate for domestic policy. His views on international affairs are in the process of being informed. His most immediate challenge will be dealing with Vladimir Putin. If he understands what makes Putin tick, we, NATO, Ukraine and other regions threatened by Russia will be OK. The hysterical reaction of some that Trump will be Putin’s puppet will prove as wrong as Tuesday evening’s polls. If not, Trump loses the right to call himself a master of the art of the deal...


It is a fact that Putin and his inner circle have stolen a large portion of Russia’s wealth. Putin runs Russia as a criminal enterprise in which the right to property is entirely conditional upon the property owner’s loyalty. Putin’s own wealth will never be known. I doubt that Trump would welcome the praise of national thieves like Marcos, Mobutu and Duvalier? Trump is proud he made his fortune. He did not steal it as did Putin. For proof, Trump might wish to consult his treasury officials who follow Russian illegal money flows. Perhaps he could use this information to blackmail Mr. Putin. 


 We Americans must hope that what Trump thinks is right is actually right. With his stunning victory, Trump has a clear mandate for domestic policy. His views on international affairs are in the process of being formed. His most immediate challenge will be dealing with Vladimir Putin. If he understands what makes Putin tick, we, NATO, Ukraine and other regions threatened by Russia will be OK. He must resist the advice of the many “experts” in the west who peddle the Russian line that we are to blame for everything that is wrong in our relations. The hysterical reaction of some that Trump will be Putin’s puppet will prove as wrong as Tuesday evening’s polls. If not, Trump loses the right to call himself a master of the art of the deal.

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A Tale of Two Statues

Putin’s loyalty to his subordinates most sharply distinguishes him from the popular idea of the Russian ruler, who is supposed to be kind to ordinary folk but tough on elites, an executioner of generals but a father to the soldiers.


Russia is preoccupied with two new statues. Both are of medieval monarchs, but the messages they convey are very different. On November 4, a monument to the tenth-century Russian King Vladimir the Great was erected near the Kremlin in a not so subtle tribute to the country’s current ruler. 

    Meanwhile, a new equestrian statue of Ivan the Terrible installed in the city of Oryol, southwest of Moscow, is a much less welcome apparition for Russia’s current ruler. The monument to Vladimir, who is known for converting to Christianity and for ruling the territory comprising both modern Ukraine and Russia, honors his namesake and the current proprietor of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin.

    Its construction is an obvious act of homage by the elites to their current boss; Putin has floated the idea of Russia as a separate Orthodox civilization, and the statue was erected in front of the Kremlin’s Borovitskaya Tower, where Putin and other officials enter the building. 

    By contrast, the monument to Ivan the Terrible is an act of veneration of Stalin by proxy and is in line with plans by local mayors, governors, and Communist Party activists to put up Stalin memorials across Russia—a campaign that is causing the Kremlin quite a headache. In contemporary Russia, outright approbation of Stalin is still frowned upon. 

    But a memorial to Ivan the Terrible is an indirect and safe way to celebrate the Soviet dictator’s still popularly endorsed propensity for sacrificing the top echelons of the ruling class. At the unveiling of the new statue in Oryol, the regional governor, Vadim Potomsky, and the minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky, put it succinctly if incorrectly: Ivan was a man who killed only a few thousand people—and only members of the elite.

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Russians Up in Arms Over Movie on Last Tsar’s Love Affair 

Morality police have dubbed "Matilda" unpatriotic, pornographic, and hurtful to the feelings of believers. 


An upcoming movie about tsar Nicholas II’s love affair with ballerina Matilde Kshesinskaya has been riling Russians ahead of its release. So far, the movie trailer, which shows passionate love scenes between the two, has attracted a slew of criticism for the way it depicted one of Russia’s most well-known historical figures.

    Representatives of the monarchist civic movement “Tsar’s Cross” have been trying to ban the movie, which they see as a threat to national security, anti-Russian, and anti-religious, “Tsar’s Cross” coordinator Aleksandr Porozhniakov said, according to life.ru. 

     “We sent a collective request to Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky asking him not to allow a movie like that in Russian cinemas, because it carries anti-Russian propaganda, as well as being a threat to national security. The movie is absolutely false from an historical point of view, and sacrilegious for Orthodox believers,” Porozhniakov said. 

     He also accused the movie of furthering “propaganda against the emperor,” which led to the “Russian Holocaust” almost a century ago, and “tragic and terrible consequences.”

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Russia Tightens Screws Further on Civil Society 

Russia Tightens Screws Further on Civil Society  | Russia | Scoop.it

Politically charged trial of Ukrainian library head begins, while Amnesty International office in Moscow is in lockdown.


The head of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow has gone on trial for “inciting ethnic hatred and humiliating human dignity” in a case seen as telltale for the state of Russian-Ukrainian relations, the BBC writes. 

    Library director Natalia Sharina, 59, was detained in October 2015 and placed under house arrest after police said they found books by banned Ukrainian ultranationalist author Dmytro Korchynsky and other prohibited literature on the shelves. Sharina and other library staff accused police of planting the books. 

    As the trial began yesterday, the prosecutor said Sharina acquired and made available to the public a long list of Ukrainian publications that are either prohibited or which the prosecutor said experts had deemed ‘degrading’ to Russians,” the BBC says. 

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