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Archive for September 2012

WEDNESDAY: Beaks & Tricks

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Weather permitting, Vladimir Putin will fly a hang glider over Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia tomorrow, leading a flock of very rare Arctic cranes (only 20 left in the wild in total) on their seasonal migration.

Hang gliders help changing rare birds’ migration patterns, so that they winter in safer places, e.g. national parks, not their traditional breeding areas, w

here they get killed.

A crane expert told RSN radio that in order to succeed (in other words – to cheat the unsuspecting cranes), Putin will have to wear a white robe, a special helmet and most importantly – a fake beak. A good use for his training in the art of deception.

A few hours later, the same man corrected himself by saying that Putin will only hold the helmet with a beak, but he won’t put them on.

It didn’t take long for an avalanche of jokes to descend on the Russian blogosphere.

One of the first to emerge, was Sergey Yolkin’s cartoon depicting a winged Putin who tells the cranes: “Let’s define our roles straight away. I’ll be the alpha-crane”.

Comedian Mikhail Shats wrote on Facebook: “Cranes will be idiots if one of them doesn’t become Putin’s envoy to Yamal peninsula”.

It was a reference to engineer Igor Kholmanskikh, who – posing as an ordinary labourer at his plant in the Urals during a live broadcast – promised Putin that the workers will come to Moscow and sort opposition protesters out, should the police fail to do so.

As a reward, Kholmanskikh jumped from obscurity into the seat of Putin’s envoy to the Urals, coordinating the work of law-enforcement bodies and the executive in a key region of Russia.

The planned PR stunt is likely to produce the most entertaining images from Russia since Pussy Riot affair. One might suggest it was design detract people’s attention from the ongoing crackdown on the opposition on the eve of the APEC summit in Vladivostok.

Meanwhile, a number of less telegenic stories are unfolding in Russia –

– One of the handful of genuine opposition MPs – Gennady Gudkov – is facing criminal charges
– Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been charged with fraud and is facing a prison sentence
– Arrests continue of participants in May 6 clashes with the police. Most are based on slim evidence, people arrested in June had their detention period prolonged till November
– Other Russia activist Taisia Osipova was sentenced to eight years in prison for selling drugs, which a key prosecution witness admitted were planted in her flat by detectives
– Ultra-nationalist activist have been harassing Pussy Riot supporters, while pro-government media accused them of a ritual double murder in Kazan and anti-church acts of vandalism around the country
– NGO leaders are facing huge fines or imprisonment if they fail to register as foreign agents

And so on.

Written by fullofbias

September 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

WEEKEND: Slow Progress

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One thing I like about Moscow is that in the last 20 yeawasn’t was always slowly improving, despite ugly politics and atrocious traffic.

The annual day of the city celebrated this weekend was an example. It was seemingly outsourced to hipsters, like those who have revamped Gorky Park turning it into one of the best places to be in Moscow. The boulevards got filled up with s

talls representing cool small and medium businesses – from restaurants and bookstores to flower and gift shops. There were stages for alternative bands and little makeshift audiences for lectures and debates. 

It looked at least to some extent as a community effort and not at all as the usual Luzhkov-style festival with horrible music and ridiculous Brezhnev meets Disneyland processions. Looking so inexpensive, it also did not smack of money laundering. One could only wonder what was there the city officials could steal from the money allocated for the festivities. There seemed to be no incentive for them at all.

It goes to show – and I think that there is a general agreement about it in the city – that Sobianin is a better mayor than Luzhkov, or at least he has one very smart deputy who stands behind all these improvements. For Sergey Kapkov, we should thank Roman Abramovich who brought this talented man to Moscow from Nizhny Novgorod via Chukotka.

Of course both Sobianin and Kapkov are in the United Russia, while their effort is aimed at appeasing the westernized Muscovites who showed their disenchantment with Putin’s politics in recent protests.

But it’s more than that. Something good and important might be brewing in this rich cultural broth that is Moscow. The political regime is just some crap floating on the surface.

Written by fullofbias

September 5, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized