Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Only in Russia Today – Seven Stories Too Strange Not to Be True

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – In 1882, Lady Victoria Fullerton wrote a remarkable book entitled Too Strange Not to Be True in which she described lands and peoples “not our own.”  Her book and its title certainly could be updated to cover the strange things that continue to go on in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin.

            Today, as on many days, a number of such stories surfaced. They are offered here as facets of the Russian condition, small vignettes of life in a country very much “not our own.”

·         Russia’s Senators Vote to Insure Themselves Against a Popular Uprising. Parliamentarians in many countries go to great lengths to provide themselves with far better insurance than their electorates have, but Russia’s senators have taken this to new lengths: they’ve voted to insure themselves against losses in the event of a popular uprising (

·         Russian Actress Advises Reading Dostoyevsky But Favors Rex Stout and Ellery Queen.  Yuliya Mikhalkova, a Russian actress, said on Russian television today that everyone should read the complete works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, arguably Russia’s greatest novelist.  But in making her pitch, she held up a book which she appeared to be reading, containing not his works but rather those of American detective novelists Rex Stout and Ellery Queen (

·         An African Student is Expelled from Russia for Singing in Church. An African student in Russia has been expelled, officials have told her, for singing in church, something that they say her student visa doesn’t allow (

·         When There are No Painkillers, Vodka is Best.  People in Russia’s regions are currently suffering from severe even “catastrophic” shortages of painkillers (здоровье/1121358/bolnaia_tiema_v_rieghionakh_katastrofichieski_nie_khvataiet_obiezbolivaiushchikh). As a result, ever more people there suffering from extreme pain even when they are in hospitals are turning to vodka (

·         A Putin Statue Goes Up But without Putin in It. A village in Kurgan oblast wanted to put up a statue of Vladimir Putin. They had all the attributes of Russian power and clearly intended for a full-size figure of the Kremlin leader to be in the middle of things. But a call came from the Kremlin, and so one of the very first statues honoring Putin has gone up without Putin in it (

·         Russian Orthodox Church Doesn’t Want Toilets in Churches but Officials Insist. Some 700,000 Russian faithful have signed a petition opposing the building of toilets in Orthodox churches, but government officials are insisting that they do so and appear set to override the views of the parishioners and the priesthood (

·         Moscow Patriarchate Says Majority Religious Group is Most Oppressed One.  Stung by US criticism of Russia’s treatment of religious minorities, a senior churchman for the Moscow Patriarchate says that some people pay too much attention to the rights of minorities such as the hard-pressed Jehovah’s Witnesses, and too little to the rights of majorities, in this case, the Russian Orthodox (

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