Staunton, May 31 – For whatever reasons – possibly including the approach of summer and the absence of major pieces of good news – the Russian media this week has been filled with strange stories that cast light on the nature of Russia under Vladimir Putin. Here are seven which surfaced today:
· Moscow Mulls Dropping GDP as a Measure of Economic Performance. GDP, the most widely used measure of a country’s economic performance and one on which Russia has not been doing well, may soon not be computed by the Russian government. Officials have picked up on Western academic and banking criticism of the measure and so may soon stop issuing even falsified GDP figures (lenta.ru/news/2018/05/31/gross_domestic_product/).
· Tukhachevsky Blamed for Rise of Modern Russian Neo-Paganism. Russian Orthodox activists concerned about the spread of paganism among Russians are placing blame on Mikhail Tukhachevsky, the Soviet military leader who was executed by Stalin. Before his death, the commander called for the Soviet state to promote paganism to “save” itself from Christianity (ruskline.ru/news_rl/2018/05/31/neoyazychestvo_vsegda_pahnet_demonizmom/).
· Water Bottle Shaped Like Soccer Ball a Threat to Life and Limb. Many companies are seeking to cash in on the World Cup craze by offering products ranging from bread shaped like a football to vodka named after the event. But one company has created a public relations disaster for itself. A Russian water company has produced bottles in the shape of a football that when sunlight passes through them act as a lens and can set things on fire (themoscowtimes.com/news/russian-world-cup-themed-water-bottle-ignites-objects-media-reports-61652).
· Blondes Really Do Fare Better in Putin’s Power Vertical. Whether they have more fun or not is an open question, but blonde young women really do fare better in rising through the ranks of the Putin power vertical, according to Komsomolskaya pravda. All four of the female ministers are blondes as are most female spokespersons for government agencies (kp.ru/daily/26836.4/3876663/).
· 40 Regions Lack Hospitals for Children; Half in the Others are in Bad Condition. Thanks to underinvestment in health care over many years and Putin’s “optimization” campaign, 40 regions in the Russian Federation now do not have special hospitals for children. Of the remaining regions that do, half of their hospitals are in substandard condition and some in such bad repair that they should simply be torn down and replaced (forum-msk.org/material/news/14687937.html).
· Russian Man without Hands Accused of Strangling a Policeman. Aslan Iritov, an invalid who has no hands, has been accused by prosecutors in Kabardino-Balkaria of strangling a policeman. Pictures of Iritov showing his lack of hands have gone viral on the Russian net, one more indication of just how hyperbolically absurd Russian jurisprudence can be (enta.ru/articles/2018/05/29/iritov/). Not to be left behind, Moscow police today accused an erotic model of using force against them (https://vz.ru/news/2018/5/31/925574.html).
· Kamchatka Deputy Demands Parking Space for His Horse. Mikhail Puchkovsky, a deputy in the Kamchatka regional parliament, is demanding that officials provide him with “a parking space” for his horse. Either because of rising gas prices or some other reasons, the deputy has decided to dispense with his car and come to work on horseback (kam.kam24.ru/news/main/20180531/59904.html).
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