Russian Happenings

Crowdsourcing Tolstoy
The New Yorker
What can you do with your Russian degree? Participate in a collective proofread of Tolstoy's collected works, that's what!

World Languages Fair

Friday, August 30, 2013
Smail Gallery

Language Fair NastyaMacalester’s first-ever World Languages Fair took place on Friday, August 30, 2013 in the Smail Gallery at Olin Rice. At the Russian Table, Professors Jim von Geldern and Anastasia Kayiatos, our new Lab Instructor Katia Efimenko, and Ruxi Zhang ‘14 chatted with students and parents about the Russian program and the joys of learning Russian language and culture, handed out cards with mini-Russian lessons and treated students to Russian candy and delectable pastries baked by Katia.

Students who showed extra initiative by collecting words in different languages for their World Language Resumes received a stamp with the word “Молодец!” (a term of praise for a job well done). Besides the tasty treats, our table featured Russian books, magazines, postcards, menus, and posters; artwork and material culture including matryoshki, musical instruments, toys, amber, vinyl records and a vintage Soviet dress courtesy of Professor Kayiatos.

Moscow investigates 'pigeon apocalypse'
The Guardian
This piece is on a dark "green" theme--the pigeon apocalypse--and concerns the curious incidence of "zombie" birds falling from the Moscow sky.

Wild Applause, Secretly Choreographed
The New York Times
This article is a light piece about the unique phenomenon of designated clappers in the audience at the Bolshoi Theater

The Literary World’s Most Fascinating Dandies, Past and Present
Flavorwire
Russia's most celebrated poet Alexander Pushkin makes the top-ten list of literary dandies from all over the world, past and present.

The Russia-Syria-U.S. Triangle: Is there a Red Line Here? (panel discussion)

Wendy Weber addresses the audienceOn Tuesday, September 24, Russian Studies teamed up with the departments of History and Political Science to convene a lunchtime panel discussion on the interrelationship among Russia, Syria, and the United States, particularly in response to current events, as the U.S. had recently accepted Russia’s offer to work with the Syrian government to destroy the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, thus narrowly avoiding a military strike that had been dreaded by many all over the world. Carnegie 206 was packed as students and faculty came to hear different perspectives on the crisis in Syria and ideas about what the future may hold for this troubled region. After Julia Chadaga from Russian Studies provided some opening remarks, the audience heard from Alexey Khlebnikov, International Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota;  Peter Weisensel from History; Wendy Weber from Political Science; Wessam El-Meligi from Classics; and Jim von Geldern from International Studies and Russian Studies. We were able to field a few questions from the audience and wished that we could have had much more time for discussion, but we were happy to build on the conversation begun in the previous week with the presentation by Syrian first-year student Farah Al-Haddad and to discuss the crisis in Syria within an international framework, giving the audience a more complex account of the situation than they would get from the mainstream media.

U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms
New York Times
As the U.S. and Russia embark on a plan to seize and ultimately destroy Syria's chemical arsenal, critics of the initiative doubt the feasibility of completing several years' worth of work in a matter of months, while others object to the fact that the process of disarmament has fallen under the control of Russia, a steadfast supporter of the Assad regime and one of Syria's major weapons suppliers.

A Plea for Caution From Russia
New York Times
An Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by Vladimir Putin, in which the Russian president lays out his recommendation about how the US and the world community should handle the Syria crisis. The piece concludes with a critique of President Obama's claim about American exceptionalism in his speech on Tuesday; as Putin writes, "it is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation." In light of Russia's own history of framing itself as unique, exceptional country, an even messianic country, this rhetoric is interesting, to say the least.

Obama Backs Idea for Syria to Cede Control of Arms
New York Times
Putin's proposal that Syria cede control of its chemical weapons in order to avoid a military strike has generated tentative hope among top U.S. officials but also debates about Putin's true motives as he dons the mantle of peacemaker. A number of reader comments to this story raise the perennial question: can we ever really trust the Russians?

Obama meets with gay activist in Russia
CBS News
President Obama meets with grassroots gay activists in Russia to hear their list of demands.

Russian Ambassador to U.S.: Relations Aren't at Cold War Level, Yet
Time Swampland
In the midst of the G20 Summit and Syrian crisis, we're still using the old cold-war barometer to measure the heat between Russia and the US.

Gays in Russia Find No Haven, Despite Support From the West
The New York Times
For all the efforts of the liberal West is gay life in Russia any different on the ground today?

Communism in Colour: Vivid photographs portray life in the Soviet Union in the final year of the Stalin era
Daily Mail
Experience communist nostalgia in technicolor with these recently-republished pictures from the late-Stalinist Russian popular press.

Russian police seize painting of Vladimir Putin in women’s underwear
The Star
In another troubling sign of increasing government intervention in the arts, Russian police recently confiscated paintings on display in St. Petersburg that depict Vladimir Putin and his second-in-command, Dmitry Medvedev, scantily clad and intimately posed together. This story also raised questions about why gender norms have become such a deeply politicized issue in contemporary Russia.

Flood covers thousands of miles of Russian Far East
Russia Beyond the Headlines
Russia's Far East is experiencing its most severe flooding in recorded history.

The Drive to Blame Russia
The New York Times
This op-ed takes  up the controversial question: why is Russia always to blame in US political rhetoric?

Boycotting Vodka Won’t Help Russia’s Gays
The New York Times
This article examines whether the international boycott of Russian vodka will impact on the treatment of sexual minorities.in Russia.

Russian Athletes Kiss on Winners Podium to Protest Anti-Gay Law
Slate
The following pair of articles describe and evaluate how two to interpret the spectacular kiss shared by two female Russian athletes on in light of the anti-gay legislation. The first interprets it as a positive act of protest.

Russian Runners Say Kiss Was Not A Protest Of Anti-Gay Laws; Call Publicity 'A Sick Fantasy'
Huffpost
The second asserts that it wasn't a protest but a "normal," nonromantic display of affection, claiming that the foreign press is too quick to interpret the scene according to Western cultural norms and political agendas.

Moscow investigates 'pigeon apocalypse'
The Guardian
This piece is on a dark  "green" theme--the pigeon apocalypse--and concerns the curious incidence of "zombie" birds falling from the Moscow sky.

Wild Applause, Secretly Choreographed
The New York Times
This article is a light piece about the unique phenomenon of designated clappers in the audience at the Bolshoi Theater

Why young Russians are leaving the country
Russia Beyond the Headlines
This article investigates the reasons why young Russians are more willing to emigrate than other generations.

Obama cancels meeting with Putin over Snowlen asylum tensions
The Guardian
Barack Obama has canceled a bilateral summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, a dramatic gesture by a U.S. head of state the likes of which has not been seen for decades, in response to Russia's granting a one-year asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden as well as to conflicts over other issues, from Syria to human rights, on which the two leaders cannot see eye to eye.

Kremlin critic goes from jail to trail
New York Times
Three weeks after being convicted of embezzlement on what many say are trumped-up charged, Alexei Navalny, Russia's leading opposition figure, uses a brief window of freedom to run for mayor of Moscow. His campaign slogan, "Change Russia. Start with Moscow," is one more challenge to Vladimir Putin's apparently iron grip over Russia's political system.

Snowden reads Russian literature
The Guardian
As Edward Snowden contemplates staying in Russia, his lawyer advises him to read Dostoevsky and Chekhov.

Pussy Riot Video
New York Times
The women of punk collective Pussy Riot rage against the machine--literally. The lyrics of their new song call Russia's oil industry a 'red prison.' In the video, the women clamber atop drilling equipment to unfurl a banner and shout their words of dissent.

Navalny Convicted
New York Times
Russian blogger and lawyer Aleksei Navalny, a charismatic and influential leader of the political opposition to President Vladimir Putin, has just been sentenced to five years in prison on what many say are fabricated charges.

Women in Soviet Art
vita.mn
Sixty paintings depict the myriad roles of Soviet-era women.nd nonsense.

Syria Talks
New York Times
Kerry Says U.S. and Russia were still working toward holding an international peace conference on Syria and agreed that it should take place “sooner rather than later.”

Edward Snowden in Moscow
The Guardian
Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden is hiding out in Moscow's biggest airport, and has characterized U.S. accusations against Russia as "ravings and nonsense."

Museum to Take Out-of-Towners
Star Tribune
"The Museum of Russian Art has just been selected by the Star Tribune as the best “Museum to Take Out-of-Towners”. Find out about current exhibitions at the museum, including photographs that show Jewish life in the Russian empire and paintings that explore women's experience during the Soviet period.

From Russia to Space
New York Times
Did you know that NASA now requires all its astronauts to learn Russian? In a small town in Russian, Baikonur, astronauts are launched into the sky.