Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Different Tastes for Different States

American students traveling to Russia may be surprised to discover how hard it is to find foods that are popular here. One such that was mentioned in class and perhaps the most disheartening to students seeking to travel to Russia is the unpopularity of American style peanut butter. The blog "An American In Russia" details this.

"Here in Chelyabinsk I am able to find it in a few locations. This is imported peanut butter, but from somewhere in Europe. European cuisine is known as wonderful, but they don’t know crap about making peanut butter. In a pinch it will do though, when you are really desperate you will pay the $5 for the microscopic jars that it comes in; not much bigger than a baby food jar. It’s not quite as good as the worst generic brand in the States, but still worlds better than the local variety...   I was finally able to become a member of Metro (the discount shopping club) back in 2009 and have since that time been able to enjoy having a stock of peanut butter at home. The price is high though, about $11 a jar, but money has no value when you desire peanut butter and have none."


When it comes to fast food, the market was initially sluggish, with only McDonald's making any headway. It was not until the late 2000s that fast food chains such as Papa John's started making headway, however these are only in larger cities such as Moscow. Even then, the recipes are different, and the prices far more expensive.

Andrew Kramer writes for The New York Times, " chains find they can charge higher prices in Russia than in America. The average check at a Russian fast-food outlet — $8.92 according to research by a Wendy’s franchisee here — is significantly higher than the United States average of $6.50.
A large “the works” pizza at Papa John’s in the company’s home base of Louisville, Ky., for example, costs $14, compared with $21.62 for the same pizza in Moscow."

Still, headway and success is not always the story. Popular brands such as Campbell's Soup have given up in Russia, unable to compete with борщ.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Большой Театр

The Bolshoi Theater (Большой театр) has been in the news recently concerning the attack on the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin. The director had acid thrown in his face on January 17 that severely damaged his eyes. Police have charged Pavel Dmitrichenko with two other accomplices for the incident. A renowned theater for opera and ballet the Bolshoi has a prestigious name. The Bolshoi Theater was built in 1776 under Catherine the Great and has been burned down three times. As major reconstruction of the Main Stage was occurring the New Stage was provided and continued the work of the theater. The reconstruction project lasted 6 years and improved the building to have state of the art equipment while still maintaining original aspects of the building. The Main Stage was reopened on October 28, 2011.  The theater is a symbol of Russia and its culture, upholding traditions of Russian music and development of the country’s performing arts.  


Social Networking in Russia


Available in several languages, but popular particularly among Russian-speaking users is the social network service VK. Vkontakte (ВКонтакте) means "InTouch," and it allows users to message contacts publicly or privately, create groups, public pages and events, share and tag images, audio and video, and play browser-based games. As of December 2012, it was the second most visited site in Russia. While not as popular, Facebook is gaining popularity as well.

In recent news, actor Tom Cruise has launched his own page on the website in order to promote his new film "Oblivion." Promotional photographs attracted thousands of followers within hours of the launching. Cruise is expected to visit Moscow on April 11 for the film's premiere. Ukrainian-born actress Olga Kurylenko stars alongside.
For those interested, the trailer is below:



A Florida girl gets her wish...

From Georgia, in Kiev...

Ypok 8 Blog: Russian Nesting Dolls


                Russian nesting dolls, or matryoshkas are a symbol of Russian culture to this day. This wonderful toy was first made and conceived in 1890 by Mamontov in the “Children’s Education” workshop, which is just outside Moscow. The name matryoshka came from the very popular Russian female name Matryona. Matryona is derived from the Latin root meaning mother, ’mater’. These dolls were associated with the word mother because the outermost doll is representative of a healthy mother of a large family (made up of the dolls inside). To this day the nesting dolls are considered to be a symbol of motherhood and fertility. The famous first set of nesting dolls contained both boys and girls, ending with a baby in a diaper.

                After their creation the dolls popularity grew and spread immensely. It wasn’t long before these dolls were appearing in funny forms of Russian politicians and tsars. Each set of dolls is unique and represents a different story or meaning.
Here are some fun pictures of nesting dolls!
"Maidan" Nesting Doll"Christmas Party" Matryoshka"Pigs" Babooshka Doll

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moscow – the city of the super rich

In the middle of the Russian Capital arises a bombastic ensemble of bureaus and luxury apartments. The super rich pump billions into skyscrapers in Moscow-City. The fortune comes from the oil and gas businesses. Soon Moscow's skyline will be Europe's most impressive. From 2006-2007 the apartments prices in Moscow rose a staggering 11%. From the time when they made these statistics (2007) until today Moscow remains the most expensive city in the world!

     Ranking '06              City                       Room price '07      Room price '06           in percent


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Continuing Case of Pussy Riot

The Russian punk band's performance of "Punk Prayer" or "Mother of God send Putin Away" in the Christ the Savior Cathedral has continued to be a hot topic in freedom of speech and political oppression in Russia. The video became notorious for mashing up several flashmob performances of the song, as well as Russian courts demanding its removal from YouTube.
The three convicted and sentenced members.

Some of the band members of Pussy Riot have been handed lengthy sentences for the charge of hooliganism with anti-religious motivations, a charge that continues to be contested by a multitude of human rights organizations, but now with an additional ally: the top of human rights ombudsman of Russia, Vladimir Lukin, who states that the verdicts should be thrown out. 
Human rights ombudsman seeks to overturn Pussy Riot conviction
Lukin, meeting with President Putin on an unrelated matter.

Lukin states that
 the members of the punk group violated only “the internal rules of conduct inside the cathedral” — something that cannot be regarded as a gross disturbance of public order. Furthermore, he states that the prosecution failed to adequately demonstrate that Pussy Riot's actions were motivated by religious hatred, resulting in a wrongful conviction.

Celebrities have also come out in support of Pussy Riot, although these shows of support range from wishes for a lesser punishment to a mocking of the charge itself -- typically, the former is more common, as seen with their latest newfound supporter: the newly crowned Miss Russia, 
Elmira Abdrazakova.