Friday, May 18, 2018

Five Strange Stories from Russia Where Things that Don’t Happen Do

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 18 – Russia, it has sometimes been observed, is a country where things that don’t happen do. Among the numerous examples of that reality this week are the following:

·         “There are No Gays in Chechnya” Just as There was No Sex in the Soviet Union. Tatiana Moskalkova, the Russian human rights ombudsman, repeated what Chechen and Russian officials have said before – there are no gays in Chechnya – but added a new explanation. There aren’t any because they’ve all gone to the Middle East to fight for ISIS. Her assertion is just as ridiculous as the Soviet-era one that “there is no sex in the USSR” and just as likely to live on in infamy as a result ( and

·         Chechnya Gets ‘Wirder’ Sparking Dissent. As a result of the Russian wars in Chechnya, many are familiar with taips, the religious-based extended family groupsthat form the basis of Chechen identity and often served as the organizing principle for anti-Russian resistance. Now, some schools in Chechnya are seeking to have their pupils identify the wirds, the Sufi subgroups that are the basis of the taips.  But many Chechens object to giving out this information, and it is unclear whether the schools will be able to complete their religious census (

·         16 Word-Long Street Name in Siberian City Creates Problems. The major problem in Russian toponymy is that officials keep changing the names of cities, villages and streets to keep up with political change. But there are other problems with names too: in one Siberian town, there is a street whose name consists of 15 separate words. That has made it difficult for people to give taxi drivers instructions, to register with the authorities, or even to get authorization to build or remodel houses on that short street (

·         Putin Plans to Build a Bridge Stalin Announced Plans for in 1928. Many have suggested that Vladimir Putin is trying to follow in Stalin’s footsteps; but few likely have imagined that he would seek to complete a bridge Stalin first announced the plans for in 1928. The bridge was never completed, but if it now is, it will cross the Ob and allow for the extension of rail and highways into one part of the far north (

·         Bears Eating Russian Geologists Who Aren’t Allowed to Carry Guns. Geologists who act as prospectors for new sources of raw materials in various parts of Russia are suffering from an increasing problem: They are being eaten by bears because under a Russian law inherited from Soviet times, geologists are now allowed to carry guns that could protect themselves even while other Russians are (

No comments:

Post a Comment