Monday, April 30, 2012

Russian Top 20

As a music lover, sometimes I wonder what's at the top of the music charts in different countries. Here is a link to what is on Russia's top 20. I listened to the tracks on here that were Russian, and number one (Moscow by DJ SMASH feat. Vintage) is really pop-sounding and catchy. The lyrics with translation can be found here.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Russian Studies Spring Extravaganza May 3, 5:30PM

Cuisine of the Caucasus! Say до свидания to Olga Winfrey & Bruce Bradford! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plus ca change...

REDS! Next thing they'll rail against bra burning... oh, wait...
Romney and his surrogates have revealed an ongoing Cold War fixation. Former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman and former Bush administration Ambassador Pierre Prosper, on Thursday derailed Romney messaging in a conference call with reporters by raising the specter of the “Soviet Union” and slamming Obama for not protecting Czechoslovakia — a country that was peacefully dissolved in 1993 and now exists as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Obama is “withdrawing from leading the free world in maintaining stability around the world,”  
One of the worst examples, according to Lehman, is happening at the top of the world.
We’re seeing the Soviets pushing into the Arctic with no response from us. In fact, the only response is to announce the early retirement of the last remaining icebreaker.” 
Prosper warned Obama was abandoning America’s eastern European allies — some of which haven’t existed for decades.
“You know, Russia is another example where we give and Russia gets and we get nothing in return,” Prosper said. “The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, yet Russia does nothing but obstruct us, or efforts in Iran and Syria.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Samizdat: Fighting Censorship (Portfolio IX)

Samizdat: Fighting Censorship

Imagine if you lived in a country where everything you wrote was under scrutiny. All your essays and books would be checked according to the will of the state and censored if they opposed that will. Anything not published or distributed under the explicit approval of the state would be seen as illegal and would render you as a criminal and dissident of the state. This was the daily reality for people living in the Soviet Union from Stalin’s years until the Gorbachev era. Even so, many published and distributed their censored works without state approval, and this action came to be called Samizdat.

Samizdat was a grassroots form of dissidence that started in the Khrushchev Thaw as a sort of outcry against the censorship and oppression of the state. Poetry was perhaps the most popular form of free, “anti-state” expression. In 1958 after a monument to Vladimir Mayakovski was opened in the center of Moscow, many Muscovites especially students began to meet at this place known as the Mayak and to have public readings of poetry. It was until 3 years later that the state cracked down on them and arrested several of the regular attendees. However, the samizdat continued to spread giving rise to a moderate dissident movement throughout the Soviet Union. The samizdat eventually helped to bring about the lifting of censorships through Gorbachev and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russian Weddings

Russian traditional wedding is different from what people are used to in the United States of America, Canada, Mexico or Europe. There are no rehearsals, bridesmaids, and flower girls. The best man and the maid of honor are called “witnesses” or in Russian “svideteli”. The wedding celebration usually lasts for two days (or more) and requires preparation of about 1 to 6 months. The registration of marriage takes place at the department of public services or in Russian - “ZAGS”. Nowadays many couples also choose the church ceremony.

PART 1. Ransom for the bride (VYKUP NEVESTY)

The groom is coming to the bride's home with his closest friends and relatives. To get the bride he has to pay some ransom to the folks on the bride’s side. Everything is played out as a joke and both sides are mostly competing in the sense of humor. After getting the bride, the couple gets out of the house into the car (usually limousine) to go for the marriage registration. On the way from the house to the car groom and his crew also have to deal with the neighbors and kids, who all want coins, candies and free drinks. In return neighbors solute the couple and sprinkle them with coins and rice.

PART 2. Orthodox Marriage Ceremony (VENCHANIE)

If the couple decides to get married in the Russian Orthodox Church, the ceremony is usually 30 to 120 minutes long with all the Russian orthodox traditions taking place. Orthodox marriage ceremony is well described in Tolstoy’s books and other classical literature. I just have to mention that the ceremony is very beautiful and is almost breathtaking both for the couple and the guests.

PART 3. Civil Ceremony (ROSPIS' V ZAGSE)

The civil ceremony takes place at the department of public services (“ZAGS”). At the entry to the registration hall the couple is greeted by the guests with bread and salt. Afterwards they are led by the receptionist inside the hall, where the actual ceremony is held. The ceremony is about 15 minutes long and at the end of it the couple exchanges rings, says “I do” and signs the book of registry. Then they are pronounced the man and wife and walk out of the hall to the music of Mendelssohn played by the Russian Wedding Orchestra. The civil ceremony is an official part of the wedding but the real celebration starts afterwards.


After the official part, it is customary for the bride and groom, and some of their close friends and relatives to go on a tour of the historic sites of the city, taking pictures and drinking champagne. In Moscow, popular stops include the Red Square, Grave of the Unknown Soldier and Sparrow Hills near Moscow State University. Usually by the end of the tour many guests are already singing and dancing.

PART 5. Russian Wedding Reception (GULYANKA)

But all of the above is just a prelude to the main celebration – the gala feast! Unlike wedding receptions in the West, Russian wedding receptions are very loud and they last for two days or sometimes even longer. They include a lot of Russian music, singing, dancing, long toasts, and the abundance of food and drinks to go with it. The guests love to sing Russian traditional songs to the sounds of accordion, bayan or garmoshka.


It is offered to the newlyweds by both parents as a symbol of health, prosperity and long life. Both bride and groom must take a bite of the bread and the one that takes the largest bite will be the head of the family!


At the beginning of the reception a relative or close friend makes a wedding toast to the bride and groom. By Russian tradition everyone throws their champagne glasses on the floor and it is considered a good luck if the glasses break when they hit the ground.


The groom should constantly keep his eyes on the bride. If the bride gets out of the groom’s sight, she could be stolen by his friends and the groom will have to pay the ransom.

PART 5. Day number two

Celebration goes on with no less fun than the day before. After some rest more drinking, singing, dancing, and fighting takes place. Never miss the second day of the traditional Russian wedding.

Deanna Wotursky unit 9

Corruption is a global problem, and continues to take on all types of forms on the Individual, System and State levels. Russia just happens to be a leading player in all types of corruption but specifically household and government corruption. According to the article, “Household corruption pervades all public services in Russia; bribes for education total $5.5 billion a year.” Corruption isn’t just a problem for Russia in the political sector but with the people in general to get not only what they deserve from state run programs but what they want. From my own studies of Russia, I feel corruption is at the root of the Russian government and has been beyond the Soviet Era. The article presents the initiatives and strategies that president Medvedev is pursuing on an Individual level. These are realistic goals which are aimed at changing laws on the state level, but he also seems to reject strategies to fight higher levels of corruption in the system. One of the biggest issues facing modern Russia today is corruption. The recent protests in Russia are fueled by the masses that feel the elections are unjust and filled with such corruption. One of the leaders of these protests is a Russian blogger, Alexei Navalny, who writes on corruption in the Kremlin, power ministries, secret police, and the system in general and invites the people of Russia to post anonymously on his site as well. This type of out lash against the Putin regime has put Navalny under arrest many times. The Putin regime is known for its “Managed democracy” meanwhile the young, intelligent, urban crowd in Moscow and St. Petersburg are calling for a more free democracy. These types of protests display a weakened Nation-State. For Example, the party “Just Russia” walked out on Putin’s speech to the Duma earlier in April to show they wouldn’t stand for his “authoritarian” antics. Before the final elections in early March, Putin attempted to legitimize voting by putting surveillance videos in all of the voting booths. He did this because he was accused of ballot stuffing and voting fraud which did ring true in the northern caucuses, especially Chechnya, where voting turnout somehow reached an impossible 107%. The article goes on to discuss Russia’s rankings of corruption on a world scale and the author states that it ranks “143rd in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Index.” This ranking isn’t a very good one for a country that is trended to be a leading empire, especially economically. Medvedev found the “Anticorruption Council and instituting a law requiring government officials and their family members to disclose their holdings.” This is ironic because rejects laws that aim this to the highest authority figures. As Rourke discusses, corruption occurs in lower developed countries more often than economically developed countries, but Russia as and EDC is ranked among LDC’s on the world scale and rather than helping the impoverished, their making the members and the rich wealthier. The household corruption stems from government programs that aren’t satisfying the people’s needs, like the educations sector. People are bribing under paid teachers, schools, and etc. to get students into secondary schools. In all, corruption in Russia has been addressed by Medvedev with the starting of laws and a council. Under the Putin regime, it seems as if there is little hope for an effective government without corruption and fraud as a root in Russia’s foundation. In Russia “corruption pervades all of the public service sectors” and Medvedev is developing even more programs to ease a transition from this pervasive corruption to a more legitimate foundation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Brittany Ooman--unit 9

I forgot to save my blog entry but i printed it so it is in my portfolio

Russia and Vodka just go together

Russia revives a Polish Vodka company in a business move which would benefit both owners. What's more classic that Russia and Vodka?

Russian scientists seeking white orca

Russian scientists want to embark on a quest to observe the only all-white, adult killer whale ever spotted.

Дом на Трубной

Directed by Boris Barnet in 1928. It's absolutely hilarious.

Fun with Old Cyrillic!

Being without a laptop and thus without a cyrillic keyboard has left me reflecting on the Cyrillic alphabet itself. When I talk to most people, one of the biggest barriers to learning Russian tends to be Cyrillic, which is seen as an impenetrable wall of linguistic impossibility. After reading about the history of the alphabet, I think this assertion is very wrong. If anything, Old Cyrillic (Modern Cyrillic's отец) was a lot tougher.

For example, the phrase "Hello, my name is Stephen." is this in modern Cyrillic:
Привет, Меня зовут Степан.

In Old Cyrillic the phrase would probably be
Пiвѥт, Мѥнѧ зовѹт Стѥан.

It is a little off because some old Cyrillic letters aren't fully coded yet. Also, old Cyrillic had Greek letters and was very fond of the ъ. Today, the influence of old Cyrillic can be seen in the Cyrillic of Ukraine which holds on to the i.

Northern Lights

This video is a time lapse of a really beautiful Aurora Borealis recorded near Murmansk, Russia.
Murmansk is almost as far north in Russia as you can go and sits right in the arctic circle.

The Aurora is caused by electrically charged particles colliding into each other in a magnetic field almost 60 miles above the earth and create a stunningly beautiful display of color. 

Meanwhile in Russia...

So for unit 8 I decided to once again focus on my favorite person in the world.

Vladimir Putin. 

"What is he doing this week?" you ask. Threatening protesters? Crying over an election victory? Flying a plane? Putting out a forest fire? Whale hunting? Riding a horse? Driving a race car? Dominating opponents in Judo?


Something much more cuddly. 

Here we have Vlad swimming with dolphins. How Cute.

Vladimir Putin Cries Too!

This article is about two months old but still pretty relevant.
In this video Vladimir Putin is delivering his victory speech and tears up, which is quite strange and out of character for the Former Prime Minister/Current president (again.)

The article goes on to pose possible reasons for the tears, reasons ranging from his fear of the street protests to his apparent facelift.

Corrine Garwood: Unit 4

I thought this was pretty interesting. It is an article by Olga Zatsepina and Julio on the perception of Moscow University students towards Americans.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Outstanding Senior in the Russian Studies Program: Christine Jacobson

Michael Denner (Director, Russian Studies) and Christine Jacobson, 2012 Outstanding Senior in Russian Studies. Congratulations, Christine!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Unit 9 Blog Post

I thought this video was hilarious. There are several cultural markers that made this even more funnier, so I thought I'd post if for some laughs!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shostakovich Cello Concerto No.1

Greetings, I've just finished a marathon weekend of concerts and recitals( my own senior recital included in that bunch). I thought I would share with you all a recording of the Shostakovich Cello concerto that my wonderful girlfriend Elise played on her senior recital last night! Sadly it is not a recording of her playing the last movement but of an equally great cellist Mischa Maisky. A brief summary on the piece. Like 80% of the 20th century cello music written, this concerto is dedicated to whom I consider the worlds greatest cellist, Mistislav Rostropovich. This last movement brings to close the concerto which contains 4 movements. The last movement is quite manic and psychotic in sound and nature, with the high tessitura of the woodwinds being displayed. Shostakovich was in fact mocking the Stalin regime with this concerto, and this movement contains a parody of one of Stalin's favorite Soviet songs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

я тебя тоже нет (Je t'aime) - Ева Польна

Lyrics in Russian:

Je T'aime...
Je T'aime...

Ты скажешь: "Кому это нужно?
Ведь можно найти любую
Без шансов на мелодрамы..."

А, я ещё молодцом и не видно
Снаружи не острую и не тупую
От этой сердечной раны...

В сердце мое войти можно без разрешения.
Стоя на полпути не прекращай движения!

Каждое слово ловлю, ни для кого не секрет.
Я тебя больше люблю, ты меня больше нет.
Каждое слово люблю, чтобы услышать ответ.
Я тебя очень люблю. Я тебя тоже нет...

Je T'aime...
Я тебя больше люблю...
Je T'aime...
Ты меня больше нет...

Я сделаю всё, как надо.
Сломай меня, если хочешь,
Без страха и без сомнения.

Ты будешь дышать свободно, я рада, -
Спасибо за этот подарок!
Он лучший на День Рождения!

Сердце насквозь пройти можно без сожаления,
Стоя на полпути не прекращай движения!

Каждое слово ловлю, ни для кого не секрет,
Я тебя больше люблю, ты меня больше нет.
Каждое слово ловлю, чтобы услышать ответ.
Я тебя очень люблю. Я тебя тоже нет...

Чтобы услышать ответ,
Каждое слово ловлю...
Mais chaque fois tu repetes:
Je t’aime, Je t’aime, moi non plus

Je T'aime...
Je t’aime, Je t’aime, moi non plus
Je T'aime...
Je t’aime, Je t’aime, moi non plus
Je T'aime...
Je t’aime, Je t’aime, moi non plus

Lyrics in English:

I love you …
I love you …

You say “Who needs this?
However, I could have any girl,
No chance to turn into serious relationship.”

But I’m still young lad and no one could see.
Obviously I’m not sharp or blunt
Because of this heart’s wounds.

Anyone could enter in my heart without permission.
Once in the midway, don’t stop, keep walking!

Every single word I catch, it’s not a secret.
I love you more, you love me no more.
Every single word I like but I hear only the answer
I love you very much. I also don’t … you.

Je T'aime...
I love you more.
Je T'aime...
You love me no more.

I’ll do everything what’s right.
Break me if you want
Without fear or doubt.

You'll breathe easier, I'm glad -
Thank you for this gift!
It’s the best for my birthday!

The heart could pass trough this without regrets.
Once in the midway, don’t stop, keep walking!

Every single word I catch, it’s not a secret.
I love you more, you love me no more.
Every single word I like but I hear only the answer
I love you very much. I also don’t … you.

To hear the answer,
Every single word I catch.
But every time you repeat:
I love you, I love you, me neither

I love you ...
I love you, I love you, me neither
I love you ...
I love you, I love you, me neither
I love you ...
I love you, I love you, me neither

I actually like this song better in Russian than in English. It sounds better, smoother and more lyrical.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Russia's Success: The Soviet Union (Russian Portfolio VIII)

Russia's Success: The Soviet Union
            It’s hard for many people especially Westerners to see the Soviet Union as a success story. With millions of people killed during the Stalin Era and so much political repression throughout most of its existence, many people view the Soviet era as a catastrophe for Russian history. However, if we reexamine the ideals of the Russian nation and put them within the context of the Soviet Union, we begin to see something very different.
             Going back through the centuries of the Russian Empire, the Russian people have always strived to gain a sense of identity and security in the world. Beginning after the removal of the Tatar Yoke, the Russian Empire sought to establish itself as a world power that could compete with the countries in Western Europe. Russia unlike most European nations never shared the natural course of development to early modernity. They had none of the prerequisites to bring about a shift to early modernity and so were disadvantaged from the start. But despite their shortcomings, the Russian people made a bold attempt to become an early modern nation through consolidating their power into the hands of the czars. The czars in turn would put tons of resources into establishing a sizable gunpowder military and creating a tightly controlled public sphere. They also would reform their management system to meet the demands for early modernization and takeover their economic sector in order to make it proto-industrial. Needless to say, the Russians managed with some difficulty to become an early modern nation.
            When examining the case of the Soviet Union, we should see it not as a failure of Russians to modernize, but as a continuation of their social-engineered path to prominence. For centuries, the West has been a source of insecurity within the Russian nation, and this feeling of insecurity caused the Russians to advance in a compulsory, state-controlled manner. They had to keep up with Europe, or they would end up being annexed by one of these power-hungry nations. The Soviet Union was another expression of Russia’s traditional pursuit of security and preeminence within the world. Similar to Russia under the czars, the Soviet Union eliminated all opposition groups within its borders and created a mass public sphere that was under strict scrutiny by the government. They nationalized all the labor and land in the lands and transferred much of it into the process of industrialization. They transferred much of their resources to modernizing the military. They created a massive bureaucracy governing all parts of life and ensuring the control of the Party. 
The Soviet path to modernization was littered with violence and death and was certainly not justifiable from an ethical standpoint, but it did achieve the goals it aimed for. The Soviet military could rival if not beat the military might of the U.S. The Soviet culture featured universal education, consumerism, and mass communications. The Soviet economy was industrial, and the political system was firmly entrenched. The Soviet Union ultimately accomplished Russia’s goal of modernization bringing it from a poor, semi-industrial society to an industrial superpower that enjoyed a high standard of living. More importantly though, the Soviet Union provided the Russian people with the sense of security and identity that they had been searching for. It is because of the reasons that one may conclude the Soviet Union was an indubitable success for the Russian nation.
-Anthony McRae

Corrine Garwood Ypok 8

I thought this was really neat to see. A photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, took a series of photos between 1909 and 1912. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in quick succession. He used red, green, and blue filters which allows them to later be projected with filtered lanterns. This allows us to see his photos in color.

10 Things You Should Never do in Russia

Don't come to visit empty-handed
If you're invited over for dinner, or just for a visit, don't come to a Russian house with nothing. What you bring doesn't really matter — a box of chocolates, flowers, or a small toy for a child. Russian hosts prepare for company by cooking their best dishes and buying delicacies that they normally wouldn't for themselves. If, after all this effort, a guest shows up without even a flower, Russians believe he doesn't care.
Don't leave your shoes on in someone's home
Russian apartments are covered in rugs. Often, they're expensive Persian rugs with intricate designs, which aren't cleaned as easily as traditional American carpeting. Besides, Russians walk a lot through dusty streets, instead of just stepping from the car directly into the home. For these reasons, and also because this tradition has gone on for centuries, Russians take off their street shoes when they enter private residencies. The host usually offers a pair of tapochki (slippers); if you go to a party, women usually bring a pair of nice shoes to wear inside. And again, if you fail to take your shoes off, nobody will say anything. But sneak a peek: Are you the only person wearing your snow-covered boots at the dinner table?
Don't joke about the parents
Russians aren't politically correct. Go ahead and tell a joke based on ethnicity, appearance, or gender stereotypes; just steer clear of jokes about somebody's mother or father. You won't be understood.
Don't toast with "Na Zdorov'ye!"
People who don't speak Russian usually think that they know one Russian phrase: a toast, Na Zdorov'ye! Little do they know that Na Zdorov'ye! (for health) is what Russians say when somebody thanks them for a meal. In Polish, indeed, Na Zdorov'ye! or something close to it, is a traditional toast. Russians, on the other hand, like to make up something long and complex, such as, Za druzhbu myezhdu narodami! (To friendship between nations!) If you want a more generic Russian toast, go with Za Vas! (To you!)
Don't take the last shirt
A Russian saying, otdat' poslyednyuyu rubashku (to give away one's last shirt), makes the point that you have to be giving, no matter what the expense for yourself. In Russia, offering guests whatever they want is considered polite. Those wants don't just include food or accommodations; old-school Russians offer you whatever possessions you comment on, like a picture on the wall, a vase, or a sweater.
Now, being offered something doesn't necessarily mean you should take it. Russians aren't offering something because they want to get rid of it; they're offering because they want to do something nice for you. So, unless you feel that plundering their home is a good idea, don't just take things offered to you and leave. Refuse first, and do so a couple of times, because your hosts will insist. And only accept the gift if you really want this special something, but then return the favor and give your hosts something nice, as well.
Don't underdress
Russians dress up on more occasions than Americans do. Even to go for a casual walk, a Russian woman may wear high heels and a nice dress. A hardcore feminist may say women do this because they're victimized and oppressed. But Russian women themselves explain it this way, "We only live once; I want to look and feel my best."
On some occasions, all foreigners, regardless of gender, run the risk of being the most underdressed person in the room. These occasions include dinner parties and trips to the theater. Going to a restaurant is also considered a festive occasion, and you don't want to show up in your jeans and T-shirt, no matter how informal you think the restaurant may be. In any case, checking on the dress code before going out somewhere is a good idea.
Don't go dutch
Here's where Russians differ strikingly from Western Europeans. They don't go Dutch. So, if you ask a lady out, don't expect her to pay for herself, not at a restaurant or anywhere else. You can, of course, suggest that she pay, but that usually rules out the possibility of seeing her again. She may not even have money on her. Unless they expect to run into a maniac and have to escape through the back exit, Russian women wouldn't think of bringing money when going out with a man.
Don't let a woman carry something heavy
This rule may make politically correct people cringe, but Russians believe that a man is physically stronger than a woman. Therefore, they believe a man who watches a woman carry something heavy without helping her is impolite.
Don't overlook the elderly on public transportation
When Russians come to America and ride public transportation, they're very confused to see young people sitting when an elderly person is standing nearby. They don't understand that in America, an elderly person may be offended when offered a seat. In Russia, if you don't offer the elderly and pregnant women a seat on a bus, the entire bus looks at you as if you're a criminal. Women, even (or especially) young ones, are also offered seats on public transportation. But that's optional. Getting up and offering a seat to an elderly person, on the other hand, is a must.
Don't burp in public
Bodily functions are considered extremely impolite in public, even if the sound is especially long and expressive, and the author is proud of it.
Moreover, if the incident happens (we're all human), don't apologize. By apologizing, you acknowledge your authorship, and attract more attention to the fact. Meanwhile, Russians, terrified by what just happened, pretend they didn't notice, or silently blame it on the dog. Obviously, these people are in denial. But if you don't want to be remembered predominantly for this incident, steer clear of natural bodily functions in public.

Viktor Pelevin

In the wasteland that was Post-Soviet Russia after the immediate fall of the Soviet Union, there was confusion. And as those with a love of literature will know, when there is confusion, there are great writers who can synthesize the confusion and chaos into the medium of writing. One such writer was Viktor Pelevin, whose books took the insanity of a collapsing super power and turned them into surreal tales that bend the mind and open the reader to a new reality.

I've linked an interview he gave so you can get a good handle of why he writes and who he is, but I encourage you to find his books and read them (though as students, I don't think you'll have that much time to dedicate to post-modernist Russian literature).

Trouble in politics --hannnah's post

The party who is in opposition to Putin won a small victory when their candidate won a mayoral election. Experts are suggesting that this could mean Putin will have difficulty controlling politics in the time to come. Apparently the independent candidate won despite being denied all sorts of television time and other forms of campaigning.

Letter Never Sent

Made by Kalatazov in between the Cranes are Flying and I am Cuba. Another technically brilliant film from Kalatozov and the always innovative Urusevsky. Here are a couple of short essays on it:

Russian Cuisine

The link is to a "yelp" page for a Russian deli and bakery in Winter Park. It seems to have good reviews, and upon further research, I found that Rachael Ray visited the restaurant for her show. Might be worth trying out!

Deanna Wotursky unit 8

In Ivankiad, I learned Vladimir Voinovich is the uncompromising protagonist in constant dispute with the antagonist, Ivanko. The way in which society works and the economy, is governed by the bureaucracy. In the Ivankiad, it shows how important people within the bureaucracy govern society with their own type of corrupted rules. Voinovich as the main character is motivated by this injustice of bureaucratic corruption. Meanwhile Ivanko is motivated by his bureaucratic position, as a man of stature he is epitomized by others as a wealthy man with an American attitude. Ivanko’s stature puts Voinovich in predicaments that show how corrupt the system was in favor of important people, and how little sympathy they had for others.
The main character, Voinovich is motivated to get the vacant apartment that he is promised earlier. This sheer determination is also fueled by his rival’s determination to acquire the empty apartment as well. While Voinovich is legally going through all the steps to acquire the apartment, Ivanko is using his stature in society as a bureaucrat to get the decision making people on his side. He gets everyone, but the public attorney’s office on his side to win over the apartment. Ivanko as a member of the housing cooperative was able to exude fear through threats and types of coercion into the other chairmen to vote in his favor. Ecspecially Turnagov, the head of the housing cooperative and top decision maker who also fights in favor of Ivanko.
Acting morally wasn’t operating well on Voinovich’s side, while his rival’s unmoral actions were getting him results. I learned Ivanko’s corrupt actions were normal in Soviet society at this time because he was able to coerce many committees to wane off his enemy. Ivanko’s status and stature also showed how the economy worked in bureaucratic favor. The people in the housing cooperative often spoke of Ivanko’s wealth and western material things. This type of talk also gave greater determination for Voinovich because American ways in the superior Soviet Union were taught to be inferior. This type of exceptionalism was clear in the Ivankiad, when talking about Ivanko and his western things.
On one hand we have a Vladimir Voinovich who is a “middle class” man with a baby on the way and all he wants is the apartment promised to him. He does this by going from the housing cooperative to the borough head and beyond. He was the exception to the rule in his victory of the apartment. In other living situations, with people of a lower stature I am afraid wouldn’t have gotten so lucky. On the other hand, Ivanko a prominent man in society who has done much for his country uses his power to attempt to just throw away the structure of the system to get what he wants.
In all, the soviet bureaucracy was corrupt but still had a legal system to keep some of these elites in check. The economy of the Soviet Union shaped society in not only where the people of the state lived, but their behavior as well. Voinovich sought out justice and received it with patience, but without his struggle he wouldn’t have prevailed. Then again, this is Russia and it lives by its own rules!

South Korean and Russian Scientists bid to clone mammoth

Feels like only yesterday that Dolly the sheep was cloned.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Clockwork Orange

Although the story itself has nothing to do with Russia, the main character and his peers speak a sort of "Russified English" slang, known as Nadsat (which itself comes from the suffix -teen in numbers: тринадцать). For example: malenky means small, and a droog is a friend. A lot of words in the book are of Russian derivation, and the author doesn't provide a key. So, if you don't know any Russian (as I didn't when I read this book), it takes a couple of chapters before you're able to figure out what the hell everyone is talking about.

Although it is very disturbing, it is a very good book.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Move Over, Gugarin

Interestingly enough, some leaked papers on Russia's space plans have surfaced on the internet.

According to the article...

"The ambitious list includes multiple permanent research stations on Mars, probes exploring Venus and Jupiter, and a manned Moon landing.

The first stage of the project, targeted for 2020, would replace Russia’s Soyuz rockets — currently used to carry payloads to the International Space Station — with larger Angara rockets. They’ll launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which is currently under construction and slated to open in 2018.

By 2030, Russia hopes to send both robot rovers and human Cosmonauts to the Moon.

The document also includes ideas about space stations that could succeed the ISS when it runs out of funding in 2020."

America is looking pretty lack-luster right now. But anyway, a fabulous Russian pun:

- Which Marxist always had a bad case of diarrhea?

- Trotsky! (I'm so sorry.)