Monday, February 25, 2013


DreamWorks a company known for Shrek, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda will be building three indoor theme parks in Russia. Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg will be homes to DreamWorks debut theme parks with the first one being scheduled to open in 2015. DreamWorks is partnering with REGIONS Group of companies that is engaged in development and maintaining world class commercial property. The group is ranked as the 4th largest retail property owner in Russia. The project will cost $1 billion and is expected to make a profit after a decade but optimism is high since Russia has a growing entertainment market of 10% a year. Characters of DreamWorks movies are very popular in Russia and are more popular than Disney and Universal characters. Madagascar 3 took $48 million in the Russian box office, the second most successful animate film last year.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

YPOK 7 Blog: Russian Ban of US Adoptions

This last summer the U.S. recently passed the Magnitsky Act, which calls for sanctions against human rights violators in Russia. In what seems to be a retaliation to this law, the Russian parliament has approved a bill that prohibits American’s from adopting Russian children. The law went into effect January 1st, 2013. Is this anti-adoption law what’s best for the children though? Critics say its not because it is denying orphans of an opportunity to escape miserable orphanages with poor living conditions. Also, according to UNICEF there are over 740,000 orphans living in Russia right now. Previously the U.S. has been a significant contributor in providing these children with homes. Over the last twenty years the U.S. has adopted over 60,000 Russian orphans.

This anti-adoption law is formally known as Dima Yakovlev Law. Named in honor of a Russian toddler who was adopted by American’s and later died from being left in a broiling car. Therefor Russian lawmakers are using this law as a way to protect children and encourage adoptions inside Russia. Lawmakers could have a point with this but what about the many kind families in the U.S. desperate for a kid that would give one of these Russian orphans a great home. Is it fair to the kids or should they have the right to choose?
By Whitney Meyers

The Geography and Climate of Russia

Russia, the largest country in the world, is big, very big, comprising roughly 1/6th of the world's land mass and its double the size of the United States. Russia is primarily a northern country which covers mostly north of China and east of Europe. However, it tends to resemble Canada and Alaska more in terms of climate since Russia leans closely to the Arctic. Since Russia is similar to Canada and Alaska, Russia’s climate tends to be based on long winters and short summer. This is possible because Russia’s land mass is close to the sea. However, this also means that the agricultural growing season tends to be short, limiting the types of crops that can be grown.

Most of the land consists of vast plains: steppe to the south, taiga in the center; tundra to the north. This vast Eurasian plain, stretching from the Pacific Coast all the way into Central Europe, is broken only by the Ural Mountains in the middle--mountains that because of their low height have never really been a barrier to travel or invasion. There are mountain ranges along the southern border of Russia. Meaning that Russia’s land possesses mostly every ecosystem ever know, except for the tropical ecosystem. And with such a large variety of ecosystem, Russia even holds a variety of animals known such as the lynx, snow leopard, brown bear and many more.

Sergei Vasiliev and Russian Criminal Tattoos

Sergei Vasiliev
Sergei Vasiliev was born in 1937 in Chelyabinsk, Russia. After graduating from the MVD Academy, Moscow, he became a staff photographer for the newspaper 'Vecherny Chelyabinsk', where he has worked for the past thirty years. At the same time, Vasiliev was also a prison warden. While a fellow worker, Danzig Baldaev, began drawing and cataloguing the designs made by prisoners onto their skin, Vasiliev was given access to take photographs of their body art.

Taken between 1989 and 1993, Sergei Vasiliev’s photographs of Soviet prisoners document the secret code language of criminals in the USSR.
These homemade tattoos, scraped and inked into skin with melted book heels, urine or blood, contained a whole range of coded messages against the Soviet regime and about the prisoners’ individual crimes.

Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Print No.15Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Print No.13
Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia Print No.19
Common Symbols:
A dagger through the neck-prisoner committed murder during his sentence
Bells on feet- time was served in full
Menacles on ankles- sentences were over five years
Roaring tiger- represents convict's aggression
Rose on the shoulder- wearer turned 18 in prison
Dots on fingers- indicate the number of terms served
Tattoos are highly regarded among prisoners, and having a tattoo you did not earn results in severe punishment. At best, it would be removed with sandpaper, glass, a razor, or brick. If the offender refused, he would be raped or killed.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Meteor in Russia

On the 15th February 2012 a big meteor burned up over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, which is east of the Ural mountains. Many people reported the incident and you can see several video recordings that have been uploaded on the internet. The meteor lit up and turned into a great bright fireball in the sky. The sonic boom from the fireball set off car alarms and shattered windows and doors. More than 1200 people were injured.
The Russian president Putin now demands a new early warning system for meteors. Experts say the meteor was to small to be detected.

Youtube video:


Monday, February 18, 2013

Archistoyanie: An Outdoor Art Festival in the Russian Tundra

Each year the small village of Nikola-Lenivets, Russia attracts over 30,000 visitors from all over the world, mostly during the Archistoyanie Festival.  Archistoyanie, which translates to "Architecture standing," has been compared to the annual Burning Man Festival.  Artists who live in the village, as well as other artists who visit from many foreign countries, build sculptures and building-like structures in the vast countryside of this village.  This festival has provided the village with great economic opportunities as artisans manufacture small crafts to sell to the visitors, and other villagers run cafes or rent out places for the visitors to stay.  Admission is 500 Rubles (approximately $17), and this year's festival is July 27th and 28th.  Check out these pics from the festival to see if you might be interested in attending.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Moral Panic in Russia: Banning Subcultures

"Moral panics" are nothing new for attentative Americans. The "explicit lyrics" parental advisory sticker is a byproduct of the days of the 80s, during which existed a "Satanic panic" widespread conspiracy fear against metal and rock as being part of a growing culture of devil-worship. Legislation was often enacted in the face of apparent "satanic ritual abuse", virtually all of which has since been discredited.

Although those days are gone for America, Russia is now coming to terms with new styles of music becoming popular amongst the youth -- and the government is reacting with knee-jerk legislation in the face of tragedies blamed on music.

The State Duma essentially waged war against "dangerous teen trends" and Russian social conservatives have lumped the "emo" and "goth" subcultures -- seedlings of the punk subculture -- as a "threat to national stability." This is largely in reaction to a wave of teen suicides and murders blamed on the subculture, such as the case of Karina Barduchian, who was murdered and cannibalized by two older men who were considered to be "goths."


While legislation to curtail the subcultural appearance, ban relevant music, and regulate international websites has largely failed, this has not stopped politicians from continuing a Russian culture war. The actions of Pussy Riot has further cemented the idea in Russian social conservatives' minds that "punk" music is inherently linked to hooliganism and antisocial behavior.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Маша и Медведь (Masha and the Bear)

Маша и Медведь (Masha and the Bear) is a popular Russian children's television series

that is a modern version of a popular folklore tale about a little girl who is kidnapped and enslaved by a bear while wandering in the forest. In the show however, the tables have been turned and Masha spends the entire show harassing the poor bear.. and now for your watching pleasure, Маша и Медведь!

Aleksandr (Sergeyevich) Pushkin (1799-1837)

The founder of Russian Literature. Born in Moscow, Russia. 
Aleksandr was born in a poor aristocratic family. His father descended from ancient noble family and his mother side, he was the great-great-grandson of a black slave named Abyssinian Dannibal who served under Peter the Great; which signified the fact that the slave brought over to Russia soon became a noble. In his childhood, his education was left to the nursemaids, french tutors and governess--this included the household serfs and his nanny Arina Rodionovna. At the age of 14, he submitted his first poem.

From there, he had written various literature styles--from poetry to verses/stories. Some stories and verses he has written were either translation from the nanny's fantasy story or they were stories detailing everyday lifestyles. This style was also found in his poems such as love, consciousness and politics (even though his friends could not consider him a political person).
For example: Я вас любил.../I loved you once...
Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может
В душе моей угасла не совсем;
Но пусть она вас больше не тревожит;
Я не хочу печалить вас ничем.
Я вас любил безмолвно, безнадежно,
То робостью, то ревностью томим;
Я вас любил так искренно, так нежно,
Как дай вам бог любимой быть другим.
I loved you once: perhaps that love has yet
To die down thoroughly within my soul;
But let it not dismay you any longer;
I have no wish to cause you any sorrow.
I loved you wordlessly, without a hope,
By shyness tortured, or by jealousy.
I loved you with such tenderness and candor
And pray God grants you to be loved that way again.

This poem, as stated in the title is about a lost love or maybe a love he had once with someone--nevertheless, he only wishes that his once important person to be happy and loved by someone else. 

Russia and Sports

In the coming years more news and attention will be drawn to Russia as they will host the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi and World Cup in 2018. This will be the first time Russia will host the Winter Olympic Games and it will be held at Krasnodar, the third largest region in Russia. The games in Sochi will be centered on two areas, a coastal cluster where the skating rinks and other ice sports will take place and at the mountain cluster used for skiing and sliding sports. The mountain cluster region will provide a legacy for the area even after the Olympic Games finish; the venue will host other international competitions and will provide better facilities for future athletes and citizens.

The torch for the Sochi Games has been unveiled and the design is in the shape of a feather. Some say it is reminiscent of the Phoenix which appears in Russian folklore and is said to bring good luck and happiness.  The torch will be used to begin the relay and will travel 123 days and change hands between 14,000 torchbearers.

Yuri Gagarin - First Man in Space

                                               Yuri Gagarin (Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин) - the first man in space.

Yuri Gagarin (1934-68) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. On April 12, 1961 he became the first human being in outer space.

Early life:
Yuri's was the third of four children. His family worked on a collective farm. During World War II their house was occupied by German invaders and two of his brother were deported for slave labour. After the war his family was reunited again.

Career in the Soviet Air Force
In his youth, Yuri became increasingly interested in outer space and planets. During his time at a technical high school he joined the “AeroClub” where learned to fly light aircrafts. After graduation he joined the military flight training in 1955. In 1957 he married and achieved the rank of Lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force. Two years later in 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.

Career in the Soviet space program
Yuri and 19 other pilots were chosen for the Soviet space program in 1960. Because Yuri appeared to be very focused and physically strong he was chosen to be the pilot for the Vostok 1 program. He became the first human to travel in space and orbit the earth. After Vostok 1 he became a worldwide celebrity traveling the world. He visited Italy, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Egypt and Finland and the attention of female fans took toll on his marriage.
He began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. He worked on designs for a reusable spacecraft.
In 1962 he became Lieutenant Colonel and a year later he received the rank of Colonel of the Soviet Air Force. Soviet officials tried to keep him away from any flights, because they were worried of losing their hero in an accident.
Gagarin was backup pilot for his friend Vladimir Komarov who died in a fatal crash. As a result of the Gagarin was banned from any spaceflight participation. Later he was able to re-qualify as a fighter pilot.

On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight he died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. The cause of the crash which killed Gagarin is not 100% certain. Some people think he has been a suspect of a conspiracy.

In honor Yuri Gagarin coins were minted in Russia. 


Russia's Drinking Habits Today

Russian attitudes towards alcohol are slowly changing. Groups of friends can be seen ordering a bottle of wine or a cocktail instead of vodka. Someone who doesn't drink is no longer considered weird, and this change can be attributed to rising car ownership in large cities.

The most common cause of death in Russia is cardio-vascular disease related to alcohol consumption. The second most common cause is accidents, where the victim has usually been hitting the bottle.
Therefore, heavier restrictions on alcohol were introduced in 2009.

1)  In most Russian towns and cities drinks containing more than 15% alcohol may not be sold between 11pm and 8am. Regions can even extend these hours.

2) The most radical step has been taken by Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov, who has restricted alcohol sales to two hours a day, from 8am to 10am.

3) There is a complete ban on TV advertising of vodka and wine, and beer advertising is strictly limited.

4) An excise stamp has been introduced, and no bottle can be sold without one. A minimum price, equivalent to about three euros, has been set for a half litre bottle of vodka.

Many of the anti-alcohol campaigners in Russia are members of nationalist youth organizations. To raise awareness, they organize periodic ‘Russian Runs’, where 50, 100 or even more young people get together for a two to three kilometre run. They use this opportunity to spread their message while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Super Bowl in Russia?!

YPOK 6 Blog
By Whitney Meyers
For most Russians the word football is usually associated with what Americans call soccer.  Therefore, while most of us here in America will be celebrating the biggest football game of the year on Sunday, those in Russia will probably be sleeping.  However, what about the American’s traveling in Russia right now as well as the few Russian football fans? Well thankfully, believe it or not, there are a few places in Russia where Super Bowl parties will be hosted. Due to time zone differences though, the party won’t start off until about 4 a.m.
The Moscow Times “contacted numerous sports bars and diners” to find out who was showing the game. Most popular, will be the Starlite Diner, which will start live coverage of the game at 3:30 am. Not only will the game be showed but in the spirit of Super Bowl, the Diner is also offering a “two for one” special. The Starlite Diner along with a few other bars and diners in Russia were reported to be hosting parties.
So, if you’re an American football fan in Russia this year, have no fear because you will be able to see the game! Just at four in the morning…