Dec 28, 2009
According to Azeri Report (whose tagline happens to be "Because Truth is Freedom") President Aliyev had a birthday on December 24 and to celebrate his birthday, "local executive authorities in Ganja once again descended to new lows in an attempt to earn the approval of the president Ilham Aliyev and his family."
What were these new lows? An enormous cake in the shape of a flower, 48 meters in length to mark the president's 48th birthday, and 11 tons in weight because that's how much a 48 meter long cake weighs. I don't really have a joke ready for this one. I just want to say, that this seems...excessive.
Dec 26, 2009
Yesterday, we were busy opening presents and toasting the death of Nicolae Ceauşescu – broadcast live on Romanian and Bulgarian television, Christmas day, 1989. In commemoration of the very first realityTV show, here’s an amazing interview with the man who shot Ceauşescu.
"I fired 29 cartridges and three rounds. The first one hit Nicolae in the knees."
Dec 24, 2009
Dec 23, 2009
“We believe that this unpleasant incident could have been avoided if the menorah had been placed near a memorial for victims of the Holocaust.”Keep your Judaism to the holocaust and nobody gets hurt.
The EU party may have ended years ago, but hey, Serbia was busy with stuff. Now, four years later, Belgrade is knocking on the door and ready to get it on.
“For the last ten years our main goal has been to bring Serbia into the European Union. Europe, for us, signifies values and tolerance, peace and mutual respect and commitment to lasting democracy,” said FYR President Boris Tadic.
Wait -- ten years? 1999? What happened to the NATO war?
If Tadic's math is correct, then this would represent the first time a country has ever fought a war with the entire NATO alliance while simultaneously trying to enter the EU and join members, um, of the alliance.
Let’s try nine years, Tadic. Because you can’t round in a situation like this.
Dec 22, 2009
So is it just me or is Putin crazy about proving his manliness these days? According to YahooNews, this week he offered to join the national judo team after showing off his martial arts skills to members of the squad.
After bowing, the former KGB spy went onto the mats, throwing squad members half his age and even tackling the chief trainer, Olympic Gold medallist Ezio Gamba.
First of all, I gotta believe those guys took dives. Like the stories about divers attaching fish to Soviet leaders' hooks on various fishing trips. Second, is this about the "love child", Putin?
Yes, rumored mistress of Putin, Alina Kabaeva, gave birth to a son. What did she name him? She named him Dmitry. Oy. So is Alina not Putin's Baby Mama? And is the boy a Medvedevev? Who knows?
All I know is, Putin, we have the pictures of you shirtless walking through the wilderness, shirtless on horseback, pictures of you hunting, and several you tube clips of you judo fighting. We get it. You're a big manly man. Please stop now. It's starting to look desperate.
Borisov on youth crimes:
“When ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ came out, everybody was learning how to rob banks.”Sorry to split hairs here, but Ocean’s Eleven only taught us how to 1) rob a casino; 2) wear a tuxedo properly; and 3) win back the heart of Julia Roberts. A few good tips on robbing a bank would have been useful, however.
Borisov on kidnappers:
“These criminals are impudent, arrogant bastards who cut off people’s fingers.”Amen, Brother Boyko.
Dec 21, 2009
Science has spoken: "Drinking whisky will result in a worse hangover than vodka. The reason might lie in the number of molecules called 'congeners,' which it contains compared to vodka."
In related news, Aleksandr Nemtsov, a professor at the Scientific Research Institute of Psychiatry of the Russian Ministry of Health, just held a press conference to claim that the "alcohol marathon" (excessive drinking over the New Year’s holiday) will cost the life of 300,000 Russians this year.
300,000 deaths? Maybe. But who is going to argue with the Irony of Fate?
Ironiya sudby ili s legkim parom - MyVideo
Dec 18, 2009
"To Spam Facebook is not worth your time."
A little love for the Czech speakers.
Dec 17, 2009
Apparently the international community just took notice of a Tajik government decree that charges privately-owned media for access to public information. The decree was passed in October and put into effect in November.
The media were not consulted about the decree, which was not submitted to parliament and was not the subject of any debate. It concerns “all information in official documents” except state secrets and information involving individual citizens.
The decree violates international standards as well as Tajikistan's own constitution. Nice.
And it turns out, public information is not cheap. Since the decree took effect, privately-owned media have been charged up to 25 somoni (4 euros) for each page of information. I guess the government needs revenue from something. Information is in fact a commodity.
That’s the message from NATO Secretary Rasmussen to the hardest working man in show business, Sergey Lavrov. If the Kremlin is worried about Afghanistan, Rasmussen has given them a grocery list: send helicopters and provide police training.
CNN: "NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is asking Russia to broaden its presence in Afghanistan with more choppers and expanded police training. 'I have proposed that Russia provide a helicopter package...I hope the Russians will consider my proposal positively.'
Is this the best idea of all time?
Dec 16, 2009
NYTimes: "Rising to power in a generation that first strove to reform the Soviet Union from within but instead wound up presiding over its collapse, Mr. Gaidar began his career in a branch of the Soviet planning bureaucracy...His tenure was brief, lasting until February, 1992, two months into the new Russia. But it was long enough to set in motion the economic reforms that dominated the following two decades."He was 53 years old.
That's what it costs to recognize Abkhazia.
According to the New York Times, yesterday, Nauru, a tiny, destitute Pacific island nation, became the fourth country to establish formal relations with Abkhazia. In return, Nauru has asked Russia for $50 million for “urgent social and economic projects.” Meanwhile the Russian population gets its daily caloric intake from vodka. Money well spent.
Dec 15, 2009
The figures are from Rosstat, and are one of the clearest signs yet that Team Putin might know how to execute a call-in show, but it's having trouble feeding the country better than German POWs.
For anyone who has ever gone hungry, this is quite sad. But sadder still that Russians are no longer free to change the government that feeds them like prisoners.
Here's the full article, if you're day is just going too well.
Dec 14, 2009
Click to enlarge.
Reuters: “In the windswept settlement of Saman-Tepe, festooned with Chinese and Central Asian flags, officials cheered and hugged after the four presidents symbolically turned the pipeline tap, injecting the first gas with a loud humming noise.”By 2013, the pipeline will reach its full capacity of 40 bcm a year – one of several projects which have recently established China as Central Asia's biggest non-Russian Export market.
Suddenly, Russian’s properties on the other side of the board (the CIS, CSTO, the CES and EurAsEC) don’t look so hot. Oh, and how's Baltic Avenue working out for you, Europe?
Dec 11, 2009
CNN: "Gen. Vasily Khristoforov told Interfax in an interview published Monday that previously secret documents show that KGB chief Yuri Andropov, with prior consent from the Soviet Communist Party leadership, ordered a top secret operation to destroy the remains of Hitler, his wife Eva Braun, Nazi Germany's propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels; and Goebbels' entire family."Apparently, Andropov didn't want Hitler's secret gave in Magdeburg to become a place of worship if its location was discovered.
Interesting if it's true. Even more intersting if it's not.
Meet the Samsonadzes. They are a family of yellow-skinned, bug-eyed Georgians who love disco and walk a fine line between plagiarism and the shameless exploitation of someone else’s brand.
According to EurasiaNet: “Shalva Ramishvili, the show's producer and creator, says that his idea was to create a program that is reminiscent of The Simpsons,” but without getting sued by Fox.
The formerly extremist material “accuses Russian Hare Krishnas of selling drugs and weapons and being prepared to kill.”
However, Russian researchers like Galina Kozhevnikova suspect the item has been removed from the Justice Ministry's list “because of United Russia’s involvement in the case.”
Dec 10, 2009
Dec 9, 2009
After promising Muscovites a winter without snow, Mother Nature dumped 13.5 billion cubic meters of the stuff onto the city. Mayor Luzhkov’s response: blame the weathermen.
Moscow Times: "Luzhkov, known for his attempts to control both the rain and the snow, lambasted weather forecasters Tuesday for failing to predict this winter’s first big snowfall, which caused traffic jams that even stunned drivers used to Moscow’s notoriously crowded streets. The mayor 'is extremely dissatisfied with the work of the [city] meteorological office, which was unable to make an exact forecast even on a short-term basis,' said spokesman Sergei Tsoi."Poor Tsoi. He was about to add, "You know, in Stalin's day they'd all be shot," but somehow training and professionalism won out.
Dec 8, 2009
"Imperial regulations from 1879 required that" a soldier's death be registered at “their last residence before heading to the front...In 1914 Baron Manfred von Richthofen, then a cavalry officer with the 1st Lancers, was stationed in Ostrow Wielkopolski (now in Poland) and gave it as his last official address before going to serve on the eastern front.”
So that's where I left the Wii controller!
Everyone relax. Anne Applebaum is fine.
Her car did not blow up. Instead, it just lost power, caught fire and burned to a crisp. The wife of the Polish Foreign Minister (and dare we say, the best-looking Gulag historian since Solzhenitsyn's "tastefully done" cover of GQ) has survived. But no thanks to the Polish fire department:
"Someone called the fire department, which clearly didn't take my car problems very seriously," said Applebaum.The Polish secret service, meanwhile, were a bit more attentive after Radek made a call. Crisis averted. No foul play detected.
This is all well and good but, Anne honey, blonde -- really? You will always be a brunette in our heats.
Dec 7, 2009
BBC: Moldova's parliament has failed in its latest attempt to choose a president, increasing the likelihood of a third general election in less than a year.
Alas, the "Twitter Revolution" is so 2009, but the Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn Revolutions are all still avaliable.
"Russian Military Analysts are reporting to Prime Minister Putin that US President Barack Obama has issued orders to his Northern Command’s (USNORTHCOM) top leader, US Air Force General Gene Renuart, to 'begin immediately' increasing his military forces to 1 million troops by January 30, 2010, in what these reports warn is an expected outbreak of civil war within the United States before the end of winter (Link to story and Russia Today interview)."The pending civil war (or some other biblical cataclysm) even prompted a question to Putin during his call-in show: "Will Russia help the United States after its collapse?" Putin didn’t answer the question.
Now forget for a moment that such stories are intended for domestic Russian consumption. If America really was on the verge of civil war, we're going to rally behind whatever side Oprah supports.
Thou shall not upset Oprah.
Dec 4, 2009
You see, Markov is deeply upset about Turkish-language broadcasts on Bulgarian television. He’s so upset, that Markov publically attempted seppuku in front of the Parliament building yesterday.
That’s right, ritual suicide by disembowelment on account of television. Oddly, Markov somehow managed to miss his stomach -- a miracle given the expance of real estate above his belt -- and police stepped in to stop the insanity before Markov could complete the act.
However, this isn’t his first attempt. Last month, police saved Markov from public self-emollition. That stunt wasn't nearly as cool as an old Rage Against the Machine album might lead you to belive. (Photos here, if you’re interested.) But it did get our attention.
Dec 3, 2009
"Russian professor Evgeny Moskalev of Saint Petersburg Technological University has evolved a technique that allows turning alcohol into powder and packing it in pills. The new technique can solidify any kind of alcohol, including whisky, cognac, wine and beer."Like the nuclear bomb and the snuggie, we can't think of a single downside to this latest gift from science.
What could possibly go wrong with mixing pills and booze?
Q: "Will you run for president in the next election?"
A: "I will think about it, there is still enough time."
Putin was also unconcerned with the apparent gap between his government's "victory in Chechnya" declaration last April, and the worst terrorist attack in years over the weekend. Perversely, the train bombing will probably aid Putin's political ambitions, since the country will now require a return to strong leadership.
Dec 2, 2009
Dec 1, 2009
For the girl who has everthing, how about bathing in an Italian designer shoe?
(Spotted in Moscow by an alert fan of Eternal Remont.)
First, he was arrested in Belarus for being part of an “unregistered Santa Claus organization [and] participating in unsanctioned Santa Claus activities.” Now, the Kremlin-sponsored operators of the Glonass system (Russia’s attempt at GPS) are shamelessly using him for a PR stunt.
CNN: Late last month Moscow celebrated the birthday of Father Frost, the Russian iteration of Santa Claus, with a new-fangled announcement: Father Frost’s retinue would move through the holiday skies aided by Glonass.Since Santa will now be using the Glonass navigation system, Russian children can follow his progress to make sure he delivers the right toys to the right boys and girls.
Unfortunately, Glonass no longer has enough satellites to cover the Russian Federation – let along the globe – something which the sponsors failed to mention. In fact, the system is so faulty, that if Santa really used the Glonass system he could just as easily get lost on his way from Tashkent and deliver everyone's toys to Kim Jong Il.
Sorry kids. Blame the Kremlin.
Back in 2007, [then] Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov promised Putin on live national television that Glonass would be fully operational by “mid-2008.” Since that time, Glonass has actually lost satellites – despite the infusion of $500 million in Kremlin funds during 2006-2007 and an additional $2.6 billion in 2008-2009.
So during this Christmas season, our hearts go out to Russia’s children. They are the true victims of the Glonass бардак.
Nov 30, 2009
A cow lies on the ground, slaughtered for the celebrations of the first day of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha in the Rhodope Mountains village of Ribnovo, Bulgaria, 210 km south of Sofia.
(Credit: Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images)
Unlike others who claimed to be following orders, Demjanjuk’s lawyers claim he “had no choice” but to help murder 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland (pictured). As a Ukrainian POW, Demjanjuk was just a prisoner of the same in-humanity.
Oh boy. Time to brush up on famous POWs-turned-collaborators. This one is going to get messy.
Nov 28, 2009
As you all probably already know, on friday night a train traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg derailed killing at least 26 and as many as 39 people. Nearly 200 people were hospitalized. It was revealed today that the derailment was caused by a bomb that was planted on the tracks of the high-speed Moscow-to-St. Petersburg train route. A terrorism investigation has begun.
According to YahooNews, the derailment of the upscale train, which was popular with government officials and business executives, was Russia's deadliest terrorist strike outside the volatile North Caucasus region in years.
There's not much else to say. Our thoughts are with Russia.
Nov 25, 2009
All the way down to the flags in the background. Nice touch.
Feeling cocky, I then did a tasting sample and nearly choked. The gravy was incredibly salty and exceedingly chunky. I added more water, but there was no change. For the next 20 minutes, I kept adding water and stirring. The gravy just kept getting chunkier, tasted horrible and actually began to smoke!If that fails, you could always take some tips from TGI Friday's top chef in Moscow on how to prepare a "traditional American turkey." Wait, TGI Friday's?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Nov 24, 2009
Today, I was chatting with a friend who happens to be vacationing in Russia. (Yes, dear readers, my friends and I are actually fans of Russia, deal with it.) I discovered an interesting fact about Russian pay-as-you-go mobiles...
1. When you purchase a phone, you are required to provide a passport.
2. Foreigners are not given permission to roam on their cell phones.
3. "International access" (making a call from Russia to a number abroad) is not available on pay-a-you-go plans.
I am reluctant to speculate on these measures. But come on. Are we literally trying to prevent foreigners from roaming around Russia to report on what's happening?
In his speech "Forward Russia!", President Medvedev proposed that the country move ahead with rapid modernization. After the golf clapping subsided, Parliamentary Speaker Boris Gryzlov proposed a full throttle reversal away from modernization and back to “Russian conservatism.”
"It means we shall go forward with Russian conservatism," Gryzlov later tried to explain.
For his part, Putin chose to phone it in – saying little of interest aside from a brief shout-out to his new “cash for clunkers” program.
One day at a time, buddy. One day at a time.
According to YahooNews, Adolf Hitler's original Mercedes has been sold to an unidentified Russian billionaire for several million euros. The anonymous billionaire's middleman approached Duesseldorf-based vintage car dealer Michael Froehlich and asked him to track down the dictator's dark-blue 770 K model. Said Froehlich:
"I was really torn. After all this was about the car of a horrible mass murderer."
But then 7 million euros made him stop pondering his moral dilemma and find the car.
For serious, had the billionaire already gold-plated everything in his house? Because what do even do with Hitler's car? Aside from it being weird to want anything that Hitler owned, what do you do with the car? Unless he's going to destroy it and make an awesome youtube video, I'm not sure I understand the point...