Thousands of people marched in Moscow on September 21 to call for peace in eastern Ukraine. Other antiwar protests were taking place simultaneously in St. Petersburg and in Ukrainian cities. Moscow police reported that some 5,000 people turned out for the demonstration, but organizers put the number as high as 40,000.

I know this happened last week, but I missed it then. 

The banner in the bottom picture says “No War With Ukraine!”.

(Source.)

Lithuania Feels Squeeze in Sanctions War With Russia

In the sanctions war between Russia and the West, Kasia Jankun’s 80 dairy cows seem to be losing.

The sanctions, which are taking a toll on Russia’s economy, cut both ways. And Ms. Jankun and other small farmers in this Baltic nation of three million people are bearing an overwhelming share of the pain from a Russian ban on European dairy products.

Former Soviet bloc countries that, like Lithuania, are part of the European Union and the NATO military alliance might seem safe from the Russian strong-arming that made Ukraine so vulnerable. But in economic standoffs, it is often the most vulnerable that suffer most.

The loss of the Russian market created an oversupply of milk, which pushed prices in Europe well below the break-even point for farmers like Ms. Jankun, whose 250-acre farm in eastern Lithuania lies at the end of a dirt road in rolling country dappled by groves of pine and alder.

“If nothing changes by spring, at these prices, it’s bankruptcy, ” Ms. Jankun, 50, said recently, as she served visitors thick slices of homemade cheese that she sells at outdoor markets to make up for lost income.

Ukraine's Cryptic, Clever (And Always Insulting) Lexicon Of War

As the separatist conflict simmers in eastern Ukraine, supporters from both camps fight on in another war — a war of words. The result is a torrent of new slurs — often cryptic, at times clever, always insulting.

Here are some of the most common terms:

Banderovtsy, banderlogi

Russian synonyms for ”neo-Nazis,” literally followers of World War II-era Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera.

The “logi” suffix lends an additional pejorative connotation.

From the onset of the pro-European Maidan protests in Kyiv, Russian authorities have repeatedly branded the demonstrators — and more generally any Ukrainians supporting efforts to steer their country out of Moscow’s orbit — “banderovtsy.”

A hero to Ukrainian nationalists, Bandera collaborated with Nazi Germany in a bid to create an independent Ukrainian state. The Nazis subsequently arrested him and his associates. 

He was assassinated in 1959, a killing widely attributed to the Soviet KGB secret services.

Okay read this piece though.

Laika, Belka and Strelka are household names around the world, even today. As the first dogs to reach orbit, they are among the martyrs and the saints of communism. Their fate was the embodiment of a utopian consciousness, the ideal of a society that tried to turn a futuristic fairytale into reality. They endured inhumane tests, either giving their lives and becoming posthumous heroes, or surviving to find themselves the darlings of the nation. The lucky ones lived out their days in the laboratory, where those who had lost their teeth would be fed bits of pre-chewed sausage by their devoted attendants. Some were taken home by the scientists as pets in reward for their loyalty and endurance.

The dogs were simultaneously real and fantastical beings. One day they were strays on the street; the next they were in newspapers and on television, and given heroic names. They also became characters in children’s books. Here, they weren’t presented as sly tricksters, like their folkloric predecessors, but neither were they easily fooled simpletons. They gave a new perspective on the allegory of loyalty. The space dog was not just a trusty companion for a lone hero, but crucially, one for all humanity.

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Ukraine Leader’s Plea Nets Less Than He Wanted

President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine on Thursday implored Congress to provide Ukraine’s soldiers with heavy military equipment as his country seeks to repel what he called a continuing invasion by Russian forces.

But after meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office later in the day, Mr. Poroshenko said he was satisfied with American support that falls short of his request. Asked whether he had gotten what he wanted, Mr. Poroshenko appeared pragmatic.

“I got everything possible,” he said.

Mr. Poroshenko, appearing for the first time before a joint session of Congress earlier in the day, pleaded for America’s help in countering what he called “one of the most cynical acts of treachery in the modern history.” He described Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine as a stab in the back from a once-supportive neighbor.

“Over the last month, Ukrainians have shown that they have the courage to stand up,” Mr. Poroshenko said. “We will never obey or bend to the aggressor. We are ready to fight.”

Ukrainian president offers rebels major concessions to end uprising

Much more at the source.

Forty years ago today the Soviet authorities sent hired thugs, water cannons and a bulldozer to break up an illicit underground art show in Moscow. The result was an international outcry that resulted in a historic change in how art was perceived in the Soviet Union. Joseph Backstein, the doyen of Moscow’s contemporary art scene, shares his memories of the Bulldozer Exhibition and contemplates its lasting significance.

Very interesting.

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News Analysis: New Russia Sanctions Seen As Burning Slowly

A fresh round of U.S. and European Union sanctions will not inflict immediate economic shock in Russia but could undermine the country’s fiscal stability in the long term if the measures are not rolled back, economists and industry experts say.

The sanctions aimed at punishing the Kremlin for its role in the Ukraine crisis restrict access to Western capital and technology for major companies in Russia’s financial, energy, and defense sectors. 

They will likely accelerate capital outflow from Russia and could lead to recession as borrowing costs for top banks increase and investment in the Russian economy decreases, economist Sergei Guriev told RFE/RL. 

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I’m Lovin’ It (Most of the Time): A Brief History of McDonald’s in Serbia
Russian courts on Wednesday ordered the closure of three McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow for the maximum 90 days allowed by law, including the first location to open in the Soviet Union back in 1990. Officials said the three American culinary outposts were being shuttered for health violations, but the mounting case against McDonald’s in Russia has been widely interpreted as retaliation for Western sanctions. Some media outlets have reported that the more than 430 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia are all due to be inspected soon. Whatever the Big Mac’s fate is in Russia, McDonald’s already has a history of stirring up major controversy in the former Yugoslavia, where the fast food chain has been both loved and loathed, a source of national pride and a detested symbol of US foreign policy. 
In March of 1988, Belgrade, Yugoslavia became the first city in the communist world to open a McDonald’s restaurant. American newspapers were still steeped in quaint Cold War clichés at the time, and ran headlines like “First Big Mac Attack Against Communism!” and “McMarxism?” Nearly half a century after two brothers named Mac n’ Dick opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in California’s Inland Empire, “Mickey D’s” received a heroes’ welcome in communist Yugoslavia. With lines wrapped around the block and police forces brought in for crowd control, the opening of the first McDonald’s in Eastern Europe was by all accounts the most successful restaurant launch in Belgrade history. More than 6,000 people were served on opening day, setting a new record for Europe.
And thus began the long and deeply conflicted relationship between McDonald’s and the people of Belgrade.

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I’m Lovin’ It (Most of the Time): A Brief History of McDonald’s in Serbia

Russian courts on Wednesday ordered the closure of three McDonald’s restaurants in Moscow for the maximum 90 days allowed by law, including the first location to open in the Soviet Union back in 1990. Officials said the three American culinary outposts were being shuttered for health violations, but the mounting case against McDonald’s in Russia has been widely interpreted as retaliation for Western sanctions. Some media outlets have reported that the more than 430 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia are all due to be inspected soon. Whatever the Big Mac’s fate is in Russia, McDonald’s already has a history of stirring up major controversy in the former Yugoslavia, where the fast food chain has been both loved and loathed, a source of national pride and a detested symbol of US foreign policy. 

In March of 1988, Belgrade, Yugoslavia became the first city in the communist world to open a McDonald’s restaurant. American newspapers were still steeped in quaint Cold War clichés at the time, and ran headlines like “First Big Mac Attack Against Communism!” and “McMarxism?” Nearly half a century after two brothers named Mac n’ Dick opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in California’s Inland Empire, “Mickey D’s” received a heroes’ welcome in communist Yugoslavia. With lines wrapped around the block and police forces brought in for crowd control, the opening of the first McDonald’s in Eastern Europe was by all accounts the most successful restaurant launch in Belgrade history. More than 6,000 people were served on opening day, setting a new record for Europe.

And thus began the long and deeply conflicted relationship between McDonald’s and the people of Belgrade.

Continue reading ->

That Time Lenin Played the Theremin

I brought my apparatus and set it up in his large office in the Kremlin. He was not yet there because he was in a meeting. I waited with Fotiva, his secretary, who was a good pianist, a graduate of the conservatory. She said that a little piano would be brought into the office, and that she would accompany me on the music that I would play. So we prepared, and about an hour and a half later Vladimir Il’yich Lenin came with those people with whom he had been in conference in the Kremlin. He was very gracious; I was very pleased to meet him, and then I showed him the signaling system of my instrument, which I played by moving my hands in the air, and which was called at that time the thereminvox. I played a piece [of music]. After I played the piece they applauded, including Vladimir Il’yich [Lenin], who had been watching very attentively during my playing. I played Glinka’s “Skylark”, which he loved very much, and Vladimir Il’yich said, after all this applause, that I should show him, and he would try himself to play it. He stood up, moved to the instrument, stretched his hands out, left and right: right to the pitch and left to the volume. I took his hands from behind and helped him. He started to play “Skylark”. He had a very good ear, and he felt where to move his hands to get the sound: to lower them or to raise them. In the middle of this piece I thought that he could himself, independently, move his hands. So I took my hands off of his, and he completed the whole thing independently, by himself, with great success and with great applause following. He was very happy that he could play on this instrument all by himself.

This whole piece is pretty fascinating.