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Jul. 26 2010 — 4:24 am | 243 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

Harley Freedomson

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides Ha...

This Saturday found Vladimir Putin in Sevastopol, a city made famous by Tolstoy and the fact that this Ukrainian Black Sea port has a large Russian population that once spoke openly of seceding.

The press has mentioned this historic visit because, at a press conference there, Putin confirmed that he had, in fact, met with the 10 Russian spies deported from the U.S., and even sang patriotic songs with them. (The cause of their downfall, the premier said, was “treachery” and, as we know, “traitors always end badly…either from drinking, or drugs” they end up, he said, “in the gutter.” He also sympathized with how hard spying is: “Just imagine: you have to acquire the fluency of a native. You have to think in [the language], speak in it, and do that which has been assigned in the interests of your homeland.” He added that the 10 Illegals will have “bright futures” in Russia and will work in high-level positions.)

Anyway. The visit, I would argue, was important in the world-historical sense for a different reason: Putin attended an international biker convention.

He rode in like a conquering knight on a three-wheeler Harley Davidson, dressed in black and sporting black gloves. The Russian Prime Minister tore up the chalky dust before taking the stage and expounding on why he loves bikes.  You guessed it. FREEDOM.

“The important thing,” he said, “is that the bike gives its owner a sweet feeling of freedom. And that’s why we can say, without any exaggeration, without any tenousness, straightly and bravely, that the bike is a symbol of freedom.”

Opposition leaders, I hope you were listening: bikes.

via Gazeta.ru, Thompson Reuters

Jul. 23 2010 — 6:07 am | 837 views | 0 recommendations | 45 comments

Today in Russian decadance

Picture taken on July 22, 2010 show Miss Russi...

Image by AFP via @daylife

On this hot Moscow Friday, I bring you two jewels of Russian decadence:

One. Miss Russia, known also by her mortal name Irina Antonenko, will soon depart for Las Vegas to represent her country in the Miss Universe competition. In her suitcase is a custom-designed dress embroidered in gold, becrusted with sapphires and amethysts, and, yes, trimmed in sable fur. It is supposed to resemble the old tsars’ crown, ye olde Monomakh’s Cap. Total cost? $60,000.

Two. Roads in Russia are a disaster, but building them is a shitshow of corruption that makes you want to bring in a Soprano-backed construction crew to do it on the cheap. The best metaphor to date comes from Russian Esquire, which did a calculation based on the most corrupt corner of Russia, Sochi, where preparations for the 2014 Olympics are already under way. Because 30 miles of roadway in Sochi will set you back some $8 billion, Esquire did various estimates on what road surfaces could account for that cost.

The options are as follows:

  • 6.37 cm of oysters
  • 21.9 cm of foie gras
  • 9 cm of Louis Vuitton handbags
  • 4.7 cm of fur coats
  • 13.85 cm of Hennessy
  • 6 cm of black truffles

And now you know.

via LifeNews.ru, Esquire.ru

Jul. 14 2010 — 7:37 am | 66 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments


Courtesy of my buddy Mike Schwirtz, we have this little ditty because it’s too damn hot in Moscow to think of a proper blog post:

Jul. 13 2010 — 12:47 pm | 465 views | 0 recommendations | 29 comments

Your spy fix for the week

Just when I hoped it was over, the scandal returns with the detainment of the 12th spy in the US.

The 23-year-old’s name is as yet unknown and, though his American visa was nullified on June 26 (one day before the arrest of the others), he was not charged with anything. This, I’m thinking, may be a nod to Moscow that this is will not spin into a sequel of Chapmangate.

In the meantime, here’s what the rest are up to:

Igor Sutyagin, the weapons researcher accused of spying for the US and handed over by the Russians on Friday, is patiently waiting in the boonies of England for a residency permit which is apparently on its way. The essentially irrelevant liberal Russian opposition party Yabloko has invited Sutyagin to join its ranks, but said his application would be examined the same as anyone else’s. Heads were scratched.

One of the Russians swapped to America is said to be coming back to Russia, which Russia has not forbidden, because he has a country house up in the Tver region.

The Illegals, meanwhile, are hanging out in Yasenevo, on the southwestern outskirts of Moscow, where the SVR has a compound. They are not allowed to leave the territory — though family is allowed to visit — while they spend the next couple of weeks being grilled by SVR officers on how they fucked up so badly. “Treachery,” writes Moskovsky Komsomolets, which first reported the story, “is not out of the question.”

According to Interfax, the Illegals will be swallowed up by the witness protection program, which will change their names.

It is unclear, however, if Anna “Of Disputed Hotness” Chapman (above) will participate. There are reports that she is answering emails and phone calls, and is even willing to talk to reporters — for a fee. (This, of course, would be in violation of the deal struck with the Americans that bars her from profiting from her story.) Britain has revoked her citizenship, foiling her plans to pick where she left off in London.

Meanwhile, in her hometown of Volgograd, she is a hero. There is already talk of putting her on the ballot for the State Duma and the town has announced a contest to write a song in her honor.

Jul. 6 2010 — 11:21 am | 227 views | 0 recommendations | 7 comments

Breakfast of champions

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 20:  Russian President Dm...

Dima and Mutko.

In case you’re sick of the spy scandal, here’s a blast from the past: the Russian collapse at the Vancouver Olympics.

Remember that? Well, in case you forgot Russia’s inability to live up to its Olympic dreams (successfully done by the Russian paralympians a couple weeks later), the Russian Treasury released its audit of the Russian national team’s performance on Friday. And boy is it stunning.

Some highlights:

  • Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko spent $1400 a night on his hotel room, for 20 nights (regulations cap hotels at $130)
  • Mutko had a fantastical 97 breakfasts during his 20 day stay
  • Tickets to Russian supporters were sold at 11 times their face value
  • Awarding equipment contracts to bogus firms that were based right inside the Sports Ministry. These firms jacked up their “prices” by as much as 66%
  • Shelling out money for events that had no time, place, or description
  • Paying for extra — and unnecessary — people to come to Vancouver with the Russian delegation (people like skater Evgeny Pluschenko’s wife) but not paying for other people, like two coaches on the bobsledding team
  • And my favorite: Many athletes were trained by high school sports coaches

While people are calling for Mutko’s head, last night’s meeting of the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian Parliament) to discuss the audit’s findings didn’t even result in a wrist slap. In fact, Mutko’s name wasn’t even mentioned.

via NewsRU.ru

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