The protests began on November 22, after President Viktor Yanukovych reversed course and refused to sign political and trade agreements with the European Union that had been in the works for years after heavy pressure from Moscow to abandon the agreements. Despite a violent police crackdown, protesters vowed to continue blockading streets and occupying public buildings until their central demand is met: the current government, including Yanukovych, must go.
The treaties would have opened the European Union market to Ukrainian companies and could have boosted the Ukrainian GDP by more than six percent over ten years. The country is suffering through an economic depression and lower tariffs and expanded competition could have also lowered prices, "fueling an increase of household consumption of some 12 percent." Ukraine would have also adopted 350 EU laws, codifying what many Ukrainians saw as a "commitment to European standards of governance and social justice." To them, the treaty was a way of diminishing Russia's long-time influence and reversing the trend of persistent economic corruption and sluggishness.
For the sufficiently skilled front-end loader driver, doing a front wheelie with a 20-ton machine is a piece of cake.
Got this from Modern Farmer's selection of "Jaw-Dropping Russian Tractor Videos"; the other one I liked from the list is this guy who souped up his tractor with a car engine and then does donuts in his field.
But Russia's dash cams have also captured many more tender moments -- people hopping out of their cars to help old ladies across the street, looking after little kids who wandered into the street, pushing cars out of snowbanks, etc.
I love the hell out of this video. Russia, you're alright. (via devour)
At around eleven, Filin, feeling tired and eager to see his wife, steered the Mercedes into a parking lot outside his building and headed for his door. The snow was icy and thick. Filin was reaching for the security buzzer when he heard someone behind him call out his name. Then the voice said, "Tebye privet!" -- literally, "Hello to you!," but more abrupt and menacing, as though someone were relaying an ominous greeting from a third party.
Filin turned and saw a man in front of him. He was neither tall nor short. He wore a woolly hat and a scarf wrapped around his face. His right arm was crooked behind him, as if he were concealing something.
A gun, Filin thought, in that flash of confrontation: He's holding a gun and I am dead. Bolt! But, before he could move, his attacker swung his arm out in front of him. In his hand was a glass jar filled with liquid, and he hurled its contents at Filin's face. A security camera in the parking lot fixed the time at 23:07.
The liquid was sulfuric acid -- the "oil of vitriol," as medieval alchemists called it. Depending on the concentration, it can lay waste to human skin as quickly as in a horror movie. Scientists working with sulfuric acid wear protective goggles; even a small amount in the eyes can destroy the cornea and cause permanent blindness.
Filin was in agony. The burning was immediate and severe. His vision turned to black. He could feel the scalding of his face and scalp, the pain intensifying all the time.
Always good to read Remnick on Russia...he was The Washington Post's Moscow correspondent for a few years in the late 1980s.
...beside a stream there was a dwelling. Blackened by time and rain, the hut was piled up on all sides with taiga rubbish-bark, poles, planks. If it hadn't been for a window the size of my backpack pocket, it would have been hard to believe that people lived there. But they did, no doubt about it.... Our arrival had been noticed, as we could see.
The low door creaked, and the figure of a very old man emerged into the light of day, straight out of a fairy tale. Barefoot. Wearing a patched and repatched shirt made of sacking. He wore trousers of the same material, also in patches, and had an uncombed beard. His hair was disheveled. He looked frightened and was very attentive.... We had to say something, so I began: 'Greetings, grandfather! We've come to visit!'
The old man did not reply immediately.... Finally, we heard a soft, uncertain voice: 'Well, since you have traveled this far, you might as well come in.'
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old-the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won't pay unless the offender is found and sued, you'll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the "accident," the offending driver -- often an elderly lady -- is confronted by a crowd of "witnesses," psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.
My three children once were among the coddled offspring of Park Slope, Brooklyn. But when I became a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, my wife and I decided that we wanted to immerse them in life abroad. No international schools where the instruction is in English. Ours would go to a local one, with real Russians. When we told friends in Brooklyn of our plans, they tended to say things like, Wow, you're so brave. But we knew what they were really thinking: What are you, crazy? It was bad enough that we were abandoning beloved Park Slope, with its brownstones and organic coffee bars, for a country still often seen in the American imagination as callous and forbidding. To throw our kids into a Russian school -- that seemed like child abuse.
When I came to photograph Eva, she was at home with her two nannies, one British and one Russian. She had planned everything in advance: the dress she had chosen hung already perfectly ironed and pressed with matching tights and shoes carefully next to it. I felt that I had been hired by Eva to do this shoot rather than the other way around. She was experienced and knowledgeable as she showed me the rooms we were allowed to photograph. She placed herself carefully on the edge of a couch, stood in front of her favorite painting, and posed in her parents' library. At the end of this photo session she was exhausted and lay down on the sofa. Finally I was able to take the only photograph that I had composed myself.
He says each power station, costing $400m, can supply electricity and heating for communities of up to 45,000 people and can stay on location for 12 years before needing to be serviced back in St Petersburg.
And while initially they will be positioned next to Arctic bases along the North coast, there are plans for floating nuclear power stations to be taken out to sea near large gas rigs.
"We can guarantee the safety of our units one hundred per cent, all risks are absolutely ruled out," says Mr Zavyalov.
Yeah, what could possibly go wrong? (via @polarben)
A Russian man has come forward with his collection of CPUs, which could be the largest in the world. The collection consists of vintage Soviet CPUs, as well as several newer models. I'm a little out of my comfort zone with this one, and it's completely possible this is a hoax. If so, it's worth it just for the picture of the dude in a muscle shirt displaying his collection. Click through and tell me it's not.
Nikolai Sutyagin decided to build himself a home befitting the owner of a lumber and construction company. This resident of Archanglesk, Russia, built a regular Izba, or wooden country dwelling, that was the standard two stories, because anything higher is considered a fire hazard by law. Once complete, he began to add to the roof bit by bit, using leftover lumber from his company. Eventually his home teetered at an unbelievable 12-15 stories, tall enough to view the White Sea from the top. Though Nikolai ran into some trouble with an embezzling employee and jail time for beating up said employee, he and his family are rumored to still dwell in the timber tower, which looks like something out of an Edward Gorey etching.
Not that Pasha doesn't take his role seriously. As he sees it, his job, or that of any face control expert, is necessary because Russia is filled with "people who have just made their first million and think they deserve to be in the club, that they should get everything they want." This, of course, is a problem. "But in fact they're just a bunch of miners and day laborers," Pasha said. "They don't have respect or culture."
It's new fun in some Russian cities, to jump from the bridge with the rope in a big group, when there is no water under the bridge but raw firm ice, also they use to jump at that same moment when the train is going thru the bridge -- just imagine what the machinist could think when he sees a bunch of people standing on the rails just before the moving train, so he probably starts slowing down and then all those people jump out of the bridge...
In recent years, Putin has insured that nearly all power in Russia is Presidential. The legislature, the State Duma, is only marginally more independent than the Supreme Soviet was under Leonid Brezhnev. The governors of Russia's more than eighty regions are no longer elected, as they were under Yeltsin; since a Presidential decree in 2004, they have all been appointed by the Kremlin. Putin even appoints the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The federal television networks, by far the main instrument of news and information in Russia, are neo-Soviet in their absolute obeisance to Kremlin power.
Kremlin Inc. is from the New Yorker a few weeks ago, but it's still very worth reading. The article details the current political situation in Russia and how in many ways, the press, business, and the political process are less free and open than under the Soviet regime. "'I don't know of a single case in the past six years when the Duma voted against any Presidential initiative,' Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the last liberal legislators willing to speak critically and publicly, told me. 'I also don't know of any case where the Duma adopted an initiative that came from the regions. One man makes all the rules in Russia now, and the Duma has become like a new Supreme Soviet.'"