Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sunny Isles Beach

Over winter break I went with my family and my Russian tutor, who is Russian, to Sunny Isles Beach near Miami, which is known for its large population of Russians and Russian-Americans. My tutor goes there every year to stock up on her favorite Russian foods. It’s an area right by the beach with many high rise condominiums and the Trump Towers. Many of the Russians who live in the area are very rich, and own big condos or large mansions. I spent most of my time visiting a strip mall right outside the Trump Towers. This mall had primarily stores with Russian goods and services. There were several small grocery stores full of only Russian foods. Several of the clerks spoke only a few words of English. I also visited a Russian bookstore to see if there were any interesting Russian books I could purchase. I was expecting it to look around and handle the books like at a typical American bookstore. The woman running the shop did not speak English, but made it obvious that we should not touch anything. My Russian tutor’s children were touching the toys in the store, and the owner yelled at them in Russian. The restaurants had many foods from Eastern Europe. I had pelmeni and pierogi.

I was surprised during my trip to the strip mall, as it was very basic, yet I’ve never seen so many expensive cars in one parking lot. Although it wasn’t very impressive looking for such a rich neighborhood, it was still a center for socializing. I saw many Russians just hanging out outside grocery stores talking in Russian with their friends. Sometimes there would be people talking outside sitting at tables overlooking the parking lot. After a day of browsing Russian stores, eating Russian food and listening to the chatter of Russian, I felt as if I was in another country.

one of the shelves at the store with Russian food

Some Russian adds on the wall of the store

Remnants of Soviet Idealism Remain Strong - Garrett Williamson Unit 7

Controversial Stalin monument unveiled in Russia’s Sakha-Yakutiya republic
Published time: May 08, 2013 09:52
Edited time: May 08, 2013 12:12

Russian war veterans in the republic of Sakha-Yakutiya believe that Joseph Stalin’s achievements as military commander of the Soviet Union deserve to immortalized in a bust statue, regardless of the controversy that surrounds the late leader.
The veterans, supported by the local branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, collected money and material for the bust, and a local diamond mining company agreed to place the monument near its office in the republic’s capital, Yakutsk.
Local authorities expressed no objections to the initiative, the office of Yakutsk city Mayor Aysen Nikolayev reported.
At the opening ceremony, Communist Party activists called on the public to judge historic figures by the results of their actions, not by emotion. They also promised to continue the fight for “the free state, free education and equality of the people.”
The push to build the Yakutsk monument to Stalin began about six years ago. At the time, the Communist Party filed a request with regional authorities to build the statue to mark the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution. Former Yakutsk Mayor Yuri Zabolev staunchly opposed the move, vowing there would be no monuments to Stalin in Yakutsk while he was in office.
In May 2012, Nikolayev was elected mayor and Zabolev stepped down. However, the bust of Stalin that was unveiled on Wednesday is actually the second monument to Stalin built in the republic of Yakutia in the 21st century: In 2005, a bust of the Soviet leader was erected on the Victory Square in the town of Mirny.
Controversies around Stalin’s name and personality are constantly raised in Russia, and almost always become widely debated topics among the public and media.
Supporters of Stalin cite the dictator’s role in the early industrial and scientific development of the USSR, as well as the Russian victory in World War II achieved under Stalin’s command. Opponents point to Stalin’s notorious programs of political repression, his apparent disregard for human casualties in economic reform and in war, and his infamous cult of personality that was denounced even by the Soviet Communists soon after the leader’s death.
The most well-known PR stunt by Stalin supporters is likely the ‘Stalin buses’ story – an initiative by several activists who put Stalin’s portraits on St. Petersburg city buses in 2010 to mark the World War II victory anniversary. The event was not sanctioned by authorities, meaning the portraits were placed as advertisements, but it nevertheless sparked heated debate.
In 2011 and 2012, other Russian cities launched their own ‘Stalin buses,’ again drawing widespread attention from bloggers and mass media. However, public interest has apparently dwindled this year, as the buses only appeared in three cities in early February, as the country marked the anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Perm-anent marker: Communists defend Stalin billboards in Urals city
Published time: February 19, 2015 10:21

Some residents of the central Russian city of Perm have asked the authorities to remove 10 billboards with Stalin’s portraits, put up by the Communist Party, claiming the law only allows the medium to be used for commercial advertising.
The billboards, which remain on Perm’s streets, feature the photo of the Soviet dictator together with the famous quote, “Stalin found Russia working with wooden plows and left it equipped with atomic piles,” attributed to Winston Churchill. The Communist Party says on its website that the placement was timed with the 135th anniversary of Stalin’s birth and the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in WWII.
The outdoor campaign started two months ago, but the scandal erupted only in mid-February as some unnamed vigilant citizens reported about it to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service – the state agency that oversees how laws on advertising are observed. The essence of complaints is that billboards can only be used for commercial advertising or promotion of charity projects, while the sites in question do not fall under either category.
Officials told local mass media that they were now trying to establish who ordered the campaign in order to tell them to stop it.
The Perm branch of the Communist Party replied with an emotional statement, accusing their opponents of hypocrisy and noting that all information about the sponsors of the campaign can be found on the billboards themselves, in the regional Communist newspaper and on the party’s website.
The activists also noted that similar campaigns, like the one promoting St. Valentine’s Day, had never caused any objections despite the fact that they also do not advertise any particular product or charity. The Communists’ reply ends with Stalin’s own words: “I know that after my death piles of garbage will be carried to my grave, but the winds of history will swipe it away without any mercy.”
A similar situation took place in the southern Russian city of Voronezh in 2008. Local mayor ordered the removal of 10 billboards with Stalin’s portraits for the same reason just three days after they were put up. Local communists complained to the prosecutor’s office and claimed that the law enforcers had taken their side, but removed the ads anyway, saying that the campaign had already ended, as planned.

Pogroms...Unit 7

Pogroms were a persecution of the Jewish population in Russia during the late 19th and early 20th century. However, pogroms have recently been expanded to encompass Hinduism, Islam as well as nationalities. Pogroms are not like the holocaust, but rather a specific event that is meant for persecution of a race or nationality. Pogroms became famous during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, just as Russia began to see major changes being instilled. Those pogroms ranged from 2 to over 2000 killed per pogrom. In 1909, 30,000 Armenians were slaughtered for trying to stage a coup. From 1983 to present, pogroms have been used by other nations to target and exterminate groups that disrupt government or go against organized religion. Other pogroms, such as the mlawa pogrom, are used to instill terror in minority group. Historians have recently found out that pogroms may have been used as far back as the year 38, by Rome and in the years 1066, following the fall of Al-andalous and Granada, 1068 to persecute people of the Rhine and countless other times to terrorize outlier populations. Pogroms have been in use since early times, however, the Russians were the ones that made pogroms infamous to Jewish populations. A pogroms primary objective is not to commit genocide, but rather to instill fear and force a population into submission.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Piroshki are almost like Russian empanadas. They are kneaded dough filled with meat and other flavors. Interestingly enough, this kind of dish is popular in many cultures. Piroshki can be found in most of Asia, not just in Russia. They are popular in both Japan and Mongolia. Also, other countries have very similar foods with different names. These products exist in Finland, Greece, Latvia, and others. It is clear to see that Russia has made its mark on the surrounding nations.,%2B%2B113-001.jpg

A recipe from the following website is below:


Original recipe makes 35 to 40 piroshki Change Servings
  • PREP
    1 hr 30 mins
  • COOK
    20 mins
    2 hrs


  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until evenly browned; drain. Stir in the onion and cook with the beef until translucent. Sprinkle in salt, pepper and dill weed to taste. Allow to cool before using.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water and place in a warm location until frothy, about 10 to 15 minutes. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and gently whisk in the eggs, oil, sugar and salt. Remove from heat.
  3. Place half the flour in a large mixing bowl and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Then add the yeast solution alternately with the remaining flour, stirring after each addition. Mix well. Knead until the dough forms a ball and does not stick to the bowl. (Note: Start with the 4 cups of flour. You may need to add more, a little at a time, as you knead the dough). Cover the bowl with a clean cloth. Set in a warm location and allow to rise until doubled in volume.
  4. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Pinch off pieces approximately the size of golf balls. Roll the pieces into disks about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter.
  5. Fill center of each disk with a heaping tablespoon of the cooled meat mixture. Fold disks over the mixture and firmly pinch edges to seal. Arrange on a flat surface and allow to sit approximately 10 minutes.
  6. In an large, heavy skillet or deep fryer, heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Deep fry the piroshki in batches until golden brown on one side; gently turn and fry the other side. Remove and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Russian Pancakes!!

Blini – The Russian Pancakes

Russian blini
Blini are thin pancakes made of yeast dough. They are the main component of Russian board at Shrovetide, served as a symbol of Sun and Spring. Blini are also popular throughout a year, being served with different fillings and topped with sour cream or butter. The Russian word for blini is блины and alternative spellings include blintzes, bliny and blinchiki. When talking about a single pancake the singular form блин is used – blin, blintz, or blintze. Below is the recipe for cooking delicious Russian blini.


  • 3 cups wheat flour
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 0.5 lbs. butter
  • sour cream


1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup of warm milk.
2. Add another 2.5 cup of milk.
3. Add salt, eggs, butter, 3 cups of flour and mix until the mixture is smooth.
4. Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place.
5. When the batter becomes bubbly, begin to bake blini on a pre-heated pan. Try not to disturb the batter as you bake blini.
6. Spread the blini with melted butter.

Tips for Serving Blini

1. Serve the blini hot, topped with a spoonful of sour cream.
2. You may also serve the blini with red or black caviar instead of sour cream. But really you should use sour cream :D

Unit 7, Raspberry Vatrushka Buns

Raspberry Vatrushka Buns Recipe


  1. Sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of warm milk in a small bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar; stir to dissolve. Let stand until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam, about 5 minutes.
  2. Combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1/4 cup warm milk in a large bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix well to form a sticky dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and cover the plastic-wrapped bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for until doubled, 2 hours or more.
  3. Beat butter, egg yolk, and 2 tablespoons caster sugar with an electric mixer until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter mixture to the dough; pour in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until the dough is no longer sticky and feels smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and top it with the towel. Let the dough rise again for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Return the dough to a floured work surface. Press down lightly with your hands to deflate it, and use a knife to cut the dough into 8 pieces.
  7. Shape each piece into a ball and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Place two glasses on the baking sheet to hold up the towel, and arrange the towel over the rolls to prevent them from drying out. Let rise for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the towel and glasses. Dip the bottom of a 2-inch glass or jar in flour and press down in the center of each bun to form a hollow. Fill the buns with the raspberries. Brush the beaten egg white on the edges of the buns and sprinkle each bun with about 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven until the buns are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Easter in Russia



Easter is one of the most important Russian holidays. According to the Orthodox calendar, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Easter in April or May. Russians celebrate Easter with decorated eggs and special foods. The egg tradition dates back to ancient times when people thought of eggs as fertility symbols. On Easter, kulich (Easter bread) and pashka, as well as eggs and meat are served. Often times, Russians have their food blessed by the church before the Easter meal. A tradition that occurs on Easter in Russia are the cracking of the the eggs with nails as a reminder of Jesus. Easter service is held Saturday evening and best attended mass of the year.




Work cited:
Profile: Andrei Gennadyevich Kirilenko - Russian National Team and CSKA Moscow Forward

<<Андрей Геннадьевич Кириленко>>
SF6' 9", 235 lbs
Born: Feb 18, 1981 (Age: 34)
Drafted: 1999-> 1st Rnd, 24th by UTAH
College: None
Experience: 12 years

In 2001, Kirilenko joined the Utah Jazz of the NBA, who drafted him in 1999. He became the first Russian player selected in the first round of a draft and the youngest European player drafted. He made the NBA All-Rookie First Team after his first season, was an NBA All-Defensive Team pick three times and played in the 2004 All-Star Game. In 2012, he led CSKA Moscow to the Euroleague Final, being named the competition's MVP, while earning an All-Euroleague first team selection. He also won the Euroleague Defensive Player of the Year award the same year.


Kirilenko is nicknamed "AK-47", in reference to both his initials and jersey number, and the AK-47 rifle. Coincidentally, Kirilenko was born in the city of Izhevsk, in the former Soviet Union (now Russia), where the weapon was first manufactured

блокада Ленинграда

    The siege of Leningrad was one of the longest and bloodiest battles in all of recorded history. The battle lasted for approximately 987 days (2 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days) spanning from September 8th 1941 to January 27th 1943. The then soviet union suffered nearly 3.5 million casualties and starvation driven cannibalism before the siege was lifted.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Russian Matryoshka Doll

The existence of the first matryoshka doll was recorded in Moscow during the 1890s, and was carved by Vasily Zvyozdochkin. These brightly decorated wooden dolls also go by the name of nesting dolls, as well as babushka dolls. The most commonly seen nesting dolls are decorated to resemble a young woman in traditional dress, wearing an elaborate head scarf. Traditionally, each wooden doll appears nearly identical to that of its larger version, and there can be many layers of dolls within dolls. The first doll had only eight layers, but today this number varies greatly. The nesting doll is one of the most recognizable Russian objects, and is very popular not only among the Russians themselves but also to tourists. These matryoshka dolls were historically given to young women as a gift from their beloved ones, but became wildly popular in the 1900s after winning a bronze medal at the World Exhibition in Paris. 

Russian Superstition

Russian Superstition
So I recently watched this movie called “Deadly Code.” It’s on Netflix, and it’s definitely worth a watch! It was about Serbian gangsters and their own code of morals and respect. It also delved into Russian tattoo culture, and the culture in general as well. The only lame thing is that they don’t actually speak по-русски, they just speak with an accent. Which yeah, is lame and annoying, but look, it’s free if ya got Netflix, so go check it out.
            This movie brings me to my post; in the movie the дедушка gives all sorts of wisdom to the boys, but a lot of it is from superstitions I found very interesting. So I combed the Internet looking for some, and found quite a few! While not as interesting as in the movie, these are still pretty righteous. Some of note:
o   Don’t give money hand to hand, because there’s a belief that it can transfer negative energy.
o   Walking with an empty bucket is considered a bad omen.
o   Don’t take anything out of the house at night. It’s bad. Stop. Don’t.
Anyway, this can help us if we go abroad. Let’s dodge those awkward situations as a team eh?

Pictures at an Exhibition

One of the most notable Russian compositions is known as Pictures at an Exhibition and was composed by Modest Mussorgsky (Моде́ст Петро́вич Му́соргский) as a memory to a dear friend Victor Hartmann. Hartmann was involved in the fields of painting and architecture, and when he died in 1974, Mussorgsky created Pictures at and Exhibition as a programatic composition illustrating walking into a museum and looking at ten paintings. The composition opens with a "Promenade" which returns several times throughout the piece, and this is supposed to symbolize an artist strolling through the art gallery. 

This piece was originally for piano solo, but very few people actually performed it. Instead, many composers tried orchestrating it for other instruments. Eventually, French composer Ravel wrote Pictures at an Exhibition for full orchestra- and even a saxophone. This is the version of Pictures at an Exhibition most well known.