Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ten ‘Only in Russia’ Stories for the Week

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 2 – The Russian media constantly reports amazing things, some of which are amazing in and of themselves and some of which say a great deal about the state of that country and what sets it apart from the rest of the world.  Ten such stories which appeared in the last few days deserve mention at least in passing:

1.      In Russia, it is now big news that pollsters are now reporting bad news, something most of them avoided doing until recently (

2.      A Russian singer from Bashkortostan says that Orthodox church hymns shaped the USSR national anthem (

3.      The recent spate of telephone bomb threats has had at least one positive consequence: the mangers of an office building have evicted a Russian troll farm to avoid being subject to such “attacks” in the future (

4.      United Russia, the party of power that does everything it can to promote memories of World War II, has announced that it wants to tear down a war memorial because fixing it up would be “too expensive” (

5.      China has Now Purchased Moscow’s historic Pekin Restaurant. A Chinese firm now owns one of the most prominent landmarks in the Russian capital, the Pekin Restaurant ( Of course, this is not just a Russian story: China has purchased the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as well.  But more seriously, Russians are likely to be alarmed by this and by the fact that Chinese men are increasingly turning to Russian women to serve as surrogate mothers for their children (

6.      Despite all the problems it has had with drunken passengers, Aeroflot has announced that it will bring back free alcohol for economy class passengers, likely making its unfriendly skies even less friendly in the process (

7.      In Chelyabinsk, a man earlier convicted of cannibalism has been working as a doctor under false papers (

8.      A Russian man who has won awards for his appearance in pornography films made abroad has declared that despite all that he remains a deeply committed Russian patriot (

9.      Russia’s top government investigators say they will now look into the deaths 60 years ago of the Dyatlov party. Some wits have suggested that this proclivity for avoiding investigations of more recent deaths in favor of looking into at cases like this one in which all the possible accused have passed from the scene should lead Moscow to investigate much earlier unsolved cases like “who killed the dynosaurs?” ( and

10.  And finally, a Siberian village has decided to try to save itself by celebrating the GULAG and thus attracting attention and visitors. The residents say they aren’t Stalinists but just committed capitalists who want to make some money (

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