Friday, February 26, 2016

Unit 7 Blog Post

The Russian Bear Dog

Also known as Caucasian Ovcharka or Bashan (Karachay) pariy, Caucasian shepherd dogs are strongly-boned, muscular, and even-tempered molesters. Plain dogs have a shorter coat and appear taller as they are more lightly built. Mountain dog types have a heavier coat and are more muscularly built. Caucasian shepherds are large dogs; however, there is no recorded maximum height or weight. The minimum height for females is 64 centimeters (25 in), with a desirable height between 67 and 70 centimeters (26 and 28 in). They weigh at least 50 kilograms (110 lb). The minimum height for males is 68 centimeters (27 in), with a desirable height between 72 and 75 centimetres (28 and 30 in). Males usually weigh between 60 kilograms (132 lb) and 100 kilograms (220 lb), while some large individuals may even reach 120 kg. Softness and vicious temperaments are considered serious faults for the breed. Dogs of this breed are generally healthy and long lived, but hip dysplasia, obesity and occasional heart problems are known to occur. The ears of the Caucasian shepherd are traditionally cropped, although some modern dogs are unaltered as many people believe this practice to be cruel, and as it is no longer considered a necessary attribute for the dog's traditional working conditions. The preferred show-types are the long-coated grey dogs with some white markings. Black or black-and-tan dogs are often not acceptable in the show ring. The Caucasian is rather well lived averaging 10–12 years. It does have some health issues which will terminate their life early. Most bloodlines carry a gene for rear dysplasia. Cancer is also very prevalent. There is a serious issue of inbreeding in this breed creating health concerns.

The Caucasian shepherd is rather intelligent; however, they can be insolent and refuse to listen at times. They also can be fairly aggressive towards people they do not know and with incorrect handling this can be problematic. This can be overcome by proper training.

Unit 6 Blog Post

Russian Architecture
Russian architecture follows a tradition whose roots were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'. After the fall of Kiev, Russian architectural history continued in the principalities of Vladimir-Suzdal, Novgorod, the succeeding states of the Tsardom of Russia, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the modern Russian Federation.
The Mongols looted the country so thoroughly that even capitals (such as Moscow or Tver) could not afford new stone churches for more than half a century. Novgorod and Pskov escaped the Mongol yoke, however, and evolved into successful commercial republics; dozens of medieval churches (from the 12th century and after) have been preserved in these towns.

Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is a mischevious or pernicious mythical woman in Slavic folklore. She can be considered a witch and spends her time within the forest either helping or hindering those that encounter her (most of the time hindering). She is depicted as being an old woman flying around in a mortar, wielding a pestle and living deep inside the woods within her hut, which stands on chicken legs. Her most faous story is the one where she somewhat helps Vasilisa with her troubles, but at a price of course. Ultimately, Baba Yaga is considered an ambiguous figure in Slavic folklore, and is someone you don't want to anger or be on her bad side.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Communists Urging Putin to Stop Healthcare Reforms

In Russia, a group of 50 Communist Party members of parliament, including the head of the Communist Party in the Russian Federation have asked President Putin to halt the current healthcare reforms because market-oriented optimization could allegedly boost mortality rates and lead to violations of basic Human Rights. 

They stated that the current situation of Healthcare in Russia was worsening and that in some areas, people had to be transported dozens of kilometers in order to see a doctor or wait up to 6 weeks for an ultrasound. 

According to official plans, by 2018 the Health Ministry intends to close 11.2 percent of hospitals and 7.2 percent of all clinics and dispensaries. Reports stated that in 2014, mortality rates increased by 2.2% compared to the year before. The MPs blamed the 'failing' healthcare reforms for the increase in mortality and decrease in hospitals across Russia. 

© Kirill Braga

Russian Tea Perfume

As a SPREES student, I am obsessed with Russian tea. Naturally, I wanted to know more about it but when I googled it I did not find the origin story of the tea but I did find Russian tea perfume. This perfume supposedly has notes of mint, black pepper, raspberry, black tea, magnolia, everlasting flower, leather accord, incense, birchwood and labdanum. Below is a link to the site that reviewed it. 

The Julian Calendar

This Christmas I was talking with my Ukrainian Grandmother and asking her about growing up in a Ukrainian household. One thing that she mentioned was that her family celebrated Christmas late. I looked this up later and saw that Russian Orthodox people celebrated Christmas on January 7 instead of December 25. This is because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the older Julian calendar which is thirteen days behind the newer Gregorian calendar, which everyone else uses. Apparently the Russian Orthodox Church stuck With the Julian calendar to protest the Gregorian calendar-using Bolshevik government who was becoming too involved in church affairs.
Julian calendar

Russo-Japanese War

Although the Russian started losing prestige at the end of the Crimean war in 1848, it was not until the Russo-Japanese War that they truly started to decline in the eyes of the western countries. For some time Russia was a major world power in the western world with strong victories, one even dismantling the Swedish empire in the Great Northern War.  Due to this Tsar Nicholas the second started thought nothing of the newly modernized Japanese army. After negotiations and land disputes went south between the Japanese and Russian empires, Japan declared war and besieged Port Arthur, which was soon taken. Nicholas believed the might of Russia would eventually win; however, after many naval defeats, the he surrendered  with a "humiliating peace". The two powers signed the treaty of Portsmouth with President Theodore Roosevelt as a mediator in Kittery, Maine. This loss was a shock to many in the western world, boosting the prestige of the Japanese Empire while diminishing Russia's. The picture below is the delegates from both countries meeting in Portsmouth,  New Hampshire.

Russian Cowboys and Farming

Because of the drop in oil prices and the restrictions on Western food, agriculture in Russia, specifically Central Russia has expanded a lot over the past couple of years. Something that I found somewhat ironic is the fact that these companies have brought in American cowboys to help them expand farming in Russia, specifically cattle. According to an article in the New York Times, farming in Central Russia is extremely stressful and difficult. The article mentioned that there is even a breathalizer on the ranch. “Working here is hard. Many people cannot stand it, especially the need to stay sober.”

Шашлы́к- Russian Kebaps

As the name suggests, this dish is a form of shish kebab, although the Russian version is served with chunkier portions of lamb, beef, chicken or salmon, and served with an unleavened bread, Russian pickles and a sometimes spicy tomato sauce. 

Top 10 Russian foods: shashlik

  • 1 Leg of lamb (de-boned)
  • 1-2 Large yellow onions, or any sweet onion, Diced.
  • 2-3 Lemons, just the juice.
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons of salt (or more to taste)
  • 2 Minced cloves of garlic
  1. Trim most of the fat from the lamb and wash and dry it. Cube the meat into 1 ½ inch cubes
  2. Place everything listed above in a large mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  
  3. Put everything in a gallon zip bag and put in the fridge overnight.
  4. Pull bag out an hour before you grill. Fire up your grill to HOT.  500+ degrees.
  5. Put the meat on skewers with a little space between each piece so it will brown on all sides. Coat the grill with cooking spray or and oil soaked cloth first to prevent sticking
  6. Depending on the heat, cook for about 5 minutes and then rotate until browned on all sides.
  7. When they’re brown (10-12 minutes over high heat) , use a knife to check if they’re pink (not red) in the center.  
  8. Get a thick metal or ceramic pot and pull the meat off the skewers and put them right in the pot and and immediately cover it to prevent the meat from becoming too dry.
  9. Try to time this as close to the eating time as possible.  
  10. Add a little more salt and pepper to taste  and dig in.

St. Valentine's Day

St. Valentine's Day came to Russia in early 1990's and it's a relatively new holiday. Although it is not observed as a public holiday it is widely celebrated and remains one of the most popular romantic holidays in Russia. Valentine's Day in Russia is a wonderful opportunity to share your true feelings with the loved ones. Any gift that expresses your любо́вь (love) and внима́ние (care) for your sweetheart will be very well received. Flower giving is a common practice in Russia. Giving flowers to acknowledge special occasions and holidays is considered one of the most romantic gestures in Russian culture. Red roses are a symbol of passionate love and romance – they are the most popular flowers on St. Valentine's Day.
Usually a woman would receive цветы́ (flowers) and a box of her favorite chocolates or candy from her boyfriend or husband, and maybe a small romantic gift on Valentine's Day. Романти́ческий у́жин (romantic dinner) is also very popular in Russia on Valentine's Day, whether it's a homemade candlelit dinner or a dinner at a fancy restaurant.
Another popular пода́рок (gift) is a Valentine's Day card with a romantic message inside.

This is how to wish Happy Valentine's Day in Russian:
С Днём Свято́го Валенти́на!

Alexander Scriabin

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Скря́бин

Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist. Scriabin, who was influenced by Frédéric Chopin, composed early works that are characterised by tonal language. Later in his career, independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system, which accorded with his personal brand of mysticism.

Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colors with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale, while his color-coded circle of fifths was also influenced by theosophy. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.

Here is a link to Scriabin's The Poem of Ecstasy
"Here you will find probably the most ecstatic music on earth : Alexander Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy" op. 54 also known as his 4th symphony. It is like a long symphonic poem of about 20 minutes composed on a long (about 8 pages) epic-like poem wich Scriabin wrote himself. It tells the long course of the spirit through the space, liberated from the human body" 

Russian Rock Music

I'm always looking for new music to listen to, so for this blog post I decided to go on YouTube in search of some Russian rock music. Below are some links to videos I came across and enjoyed.

Игорь Акинфеев

Игорь Владимирович Акинфеев

Date of Birth: 8 April 1986
Place of Birth: Vidnoye
Height: 1.88m (6 ft 2 in)
Position: Goalkeeper

Igor Akinfeev is a Russian goalkeeper. He was born in Vidnoye, a small city right next to Moskow. He started playing soccer for CSKA Moscow in 1991 when he was only four years old. He was a goalkeeper since his second practice. Akinfeev played in different youth teams for CSKA Moscow until he signed his first professional contract in 2003. He was only 17 years old when he became the starting goalkeeper for the first team of CSKA Moscow and kept this position ever since. His most important honor was the UEFA-Cup win in 2005, when he was only 19 years old. He played his first game for the Russian national team when he was 18 years and 20 days old. He is the youngest player that ever played for the Russian national team. He is still playing for CSKA Moscow and the Russian national team.

Rudolf Nureyev

Upon Googling for famous Russians, the stellar hat worn by Rudolf Nuruyev caught my attention:

Nureyev, one of the most famous male ballet dancers, fell in love with dancing after watching an opera as a young child. His family fled from Moscow to Ufa, Bashkir during the the USSR occupation. He started dancing at the age of 15 and at 17 was admitted into the Leningrad Ballet School. He toured throughout Russia and Europe, but rejected an offer to become director of the Royal Ballet in England. Later in life, however, he did become ballet director of the Paris Opera.

In short, this guy can dance.

Нарва, Эстония

Narva is the third largest city in Estonia. It is located at the eastern extreme point of Estonia, by the Russian border, on the Narva River which drains Lake Peipus. 
It seems as the history had materialized in Narva in its architectural ensemble, uncommon in beauty and dramatic effect, that integrates the opposites and is unique in the whole Europe: two giants of stone towering in close vicinity to each other two opposite banks (at distance of an arrow flight or that of a musket shot) – the castle of Order of Germanic knights and the Russian fortress of Ivangorod. 
Heavy battles occurred in and around Narva in World War II. The city was damaged in the German invasion of 1941 and by smaller air raids throughout the war, but remained relatively intact until February 1944 However, being at the focus of the Battle of Narva (1944), the city was almost completely leveled. The most devastating action was the bombing of 6 March 1944 by the Soviet Air Force, which destroyed the baroque old town, built during the Swedish rule in the late 17th century.
Not far from the town is the Narva Waterfall, whose spillway capacity is one of the largest in northern Europe. From as early as the beginning of the 19. century it grew to become a favorite recreation place for the Saint-Petersburg aristocracy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Matryoshka (Babushka) Eggs

I thought these eggs were awesome, and they are super easy to make!


50 g (=1.7 oz)cooked ham
2red sweet peppers
12black peppercorns
salt, pepper

  1. Hard boil the eggs, cool them using cold water and remove the shells. Cut the flat end off and carefully remove the yolk. Put egg yolks in a bowl and mash with a folk.
  2. Clean onions and mushrooms. Chop finely. Save a couple of longer mushroom pieces to make matryoshka’s hair later.
  3. Clean red pepper, remove seeds and membranes. Save 6 big pieces for matryoshkas’ headscarves and 6 small pieces to make the lips. Chop the rest finely.
  4. Chop cooked ham finely.
  5. Melt butter in a preheated pan. Sauté onions, mushrooms, red pepper and cooked ham until tender.
  6. Add into the bowl with mashed egg yolks and mix well together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Carefully stuff the mixture into the egg whites. Don’t let the “skins” tear!
  8. Place stuffed eggs on a plate and decorate as matryoshkas. Use black peppercorns as eyes, big red pepper pieces as headscarves, small red pepper pieces as lips and mushroom pieces as hair.

A New Cold War, or Not?

So on February 13th, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in an interview at the Munich Security Conference that he believed NATO's recent military actions are reminiscent of the Cold War. Calling the policies, "unfriendly and opaque", the Prime Minister believes that his country is unfairly being considered a "terrible threat", especially due to their annexation of Crimea, as well as their support to certain separatist groups in Ukraine. Questions have also been raised as to whether or not Russia's involvement in Syria is even useful, or whether or not they are just simply propping up Assad's regime.

NATO, of course, takes the stance that they are a defensive alliance which is once again coming together against a nation which, "has once again decided it will use force to change internationally-recognized borders". Many analysts are hearkening the war in Syria to a 'proxy war' between the USA and Russia, much as it was during the Cold War.

In my opinion, there is no real way to determine whether or not this is an actual cold war, with the information currently available. The situation involves many different factors and groups, and is simply too complex to fully comprehend without extensive research and study.

Below is the interview with Prime Minister Medvedev, if anyone would like to watch.


Второй год. Сегодня в лингафонном кабинете... Unit 8 Week 1.

Линк на сегодняшний урок. Давайте послушаем!

At the tables, we're going to work on the Eternal Russian Question... No no, not life and death or marinated herring... Какой предлог, какой падеж? What preposition, what case?


For Where? utterances, we use в (+ prepositional case; enclosed spaces mostly, в Москве) на (+ prepositional case; can you do it in the bathroom? and literally "on", на уроке) или у (genitive case, only people; у Ивана means "at Ivans").

For Whither? utterances, we use в (+ accusative; same set of enclosed places, в Москву) на (+ accusative; same set of events, open spaces, "on", Мы идем на урок) and к (+ dative; going to someone's house, к Ивану).

Today, we learn how to indicate motion away, Whence? utterances.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Momentous Meetings

This historic occasion was first brought to my attention by our good friend Rebecca Shaffer! So this is the gist. For the first time since the schism of 1050 AD, the pope, leader of “western Christianity’s” Catholicism, and the patriarch of the “eastern Christianity’s” Russian Orthodoxy, have met. It’s pretty huge.
Reports say that the two leaders met in an airport in a private room with interpreters. The full extent of what was discussed is not known, but the leaders emerged with admonishments for peace in the Middle East and a call for an end to the persecution of Christians there.
While the moment has become highly politicized, with several different theories as to the extent of maneuvering going on here, it is easy to miss the gravity of this move. If nothing else, it is a move away from violence and towards unity, and that is something that everyone can respect. Check the article for more info!

How Russians Perceive Putin’s Reputation

In The United States

          The Russian Insider conducted a poll to see how Russian’s think about Putin’s reputation in America. Around 80% of Americans lack confidence in Putin and doubt his policies. Journalist William Dunkerley interviewed professionals from different fields about their views and personal experiences. Around two thirds of the participants sensed Putin’s negative image abroad. Although the majority seems to know about the distrust, many do not care about the American views on Putin. Some even think that the negative images are some sort of propaganda against Russia. VERY INTERESTING!


Work Cited 

Dunkerley, William. "REPORT: How Russians Perceive Putin's Reputation in US -- Are They Right?" Russian Insider, 9 Dec. 2015 23 Feb. 2016.