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.

Amid Putin’s Crackdown, Sochi Gay Scene Thrives

A man named Ravil catapults onto the dance floor and starts stomping out the lezginka, the arrogant rooster strut of the Chechen national dance.

Ravil’s spontaneous performance is made even more unusual by the fact he’s in one of the two gay clubs in Sochi, the southern Russian town that will host the Winter Olympics amid Vladimir Putin’s harsh crackdown on gays. The morality campaign — centered on a law banning homosexual “propaganda” — has threatened to overshadow the games as it provokes an international outcry.

Paradoxically, Sochi is a far cry from the conservative lifestyle that the president is trying to promote.

At club Mayak, for example, the dancers are as diverse as the city itself: a Muslim who is a former market butcher, an Armenian who owns a strip club in a nearby town, a Ukrainian who loves to sing like Whitney Houston and dress like Adele.

And the men behind Mayak are hopeful that Sochi can remain the exception to the rule as its entrepreneurial, anything-goes crowd prepares to welcome the world. “This is a resort town,” says Andrei Tenichev, the owner. “We have a saying: Money doesn’t smell of anything.”

(There’s a lot more at the source.)

Ukraine and the European Union and Russia.

From the Washington Post:

It’s a momentous choice. Ukraine has the chance to opt for a road that in theory would extend European values of transparency and the rule of law far to the east. Or it can join Russia in a financial and cultural zone that is increasingly defining itself as separate from the West and not answerable to Western norms. As a nation of 46 million, Ukraine would be a significant addition to Putin’s Eurasian Union.

From RT:

The Russian MP said the Ukraine-EU agreement would create a single-sided dependence of Ukraine on the EU as Ukraine will not be able to influence the development of EU directives, but would nevertheless automatically accept them as obligations.

No one offers Ukraine to become a EU member, it is an attempt to tie this country to the European Union for a small price and with little effort, to make this country into an economic appendix. Ukraine is going to lose very seriously from these agreements,” Pushkov explained.

We are practically talking here about establishing a semi-colonial dependence,” the parliamentarian emphasized.

Truthfully, John McCain in wrong Pravda

Sen. John McCain got his wish when his op-ed against Russian President Vladimir Putin was published in Russia news outlet Pravda. The only problem — it may have been the wrong Pravda.

The Arizona Republican published his anti-Putin piece on on Thursday, an English and Russian news website that was founded in 1999.

But McCain said he was hoping to publish in the Communist newspaper Pravda, meaning “truth” in Russian, which was founded in 1912. That publication, after being banned when the Soviet Union collapsed, was rekindled and is still circulated by today’s Russian Communist Party. and the paper are unrelated media outlets, except for the name.

On Thursday, a spokesman for McCain said the senator submitted the op-ed to both publications and hoped both would run it. He denied is the “wrong” Pravda.

On Sunday, McCain told reporters that the Communist one was the Pravda he hoped would publish his piece, but that publication’s editor wrote in a statement that the publication would not accept McCain’s op-ed unless it aligned with their position supporting the Syrian regime, according to CNN.



Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1860-1904. Sexy mother fucker and Russian writer, in that order. I remember when we were studying ‘The Lady with the Little Dog and other stories” in class we had to find a photo of him and I saw this one and very sneakily saved it to my desktop so I could stare at his face a bit more later. What a cutie.


Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1860-1904. Sexy mother fucker and Russian writer, in that order. I remember when we were studying ‘The Lady with the Little Dog and other stories” in class we had to find a photo of him and I saw this one and very sneakily saved it to my desktop so I could stare at his face a bit more later. What a cutie.

Ukraine government presses Europe ambitions, ignores Russia

Ukraine formally gave the go-ahead on Wednesday for landmark trade deals to be signed with the European Union, disregarding pressure from Moscow for Kiev to halt its westward course.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said the agreements, that should be signed at a November summit in Lithuania, raised the prospect of “a European quality of life” for the ex-Soviet republic. But he kept silent over the imprisonment of his predecessor, Yulia Tymoshenko, whose release European envoys have been trying to secure in the run-up to the Vilnius meeting.

The 28-member EU, while pursuing the agreements with Ukraine including participation in a free trade zone, has condemned her trial for abuse-of-office and seven-year jail sentence as politically motivated, and her continued confinement still threatens prospects of a signing in Vilnius.

Russia fears a flood of competitive goods on the Russian market if Ukraine joins an EU free trade zone. It has warned Kiev of retaliatory action and said it will forfeit special partner status if it signs up with the EU.

The pressure has injected new tension into Moscow’s relationship with Ukraine, which has pleaded unsuccessfully for cheaper Russian gas to help its hard-pressed economy.

Azarov said on Wednesday: “Our state is changing radically - and that brings relief to some and concern to others …”

The Struggle Against Religion is the Struggle For Socialism

This poster dates from just prior to the Soviet period, during the Russian Civil War. (~1920) I took a couple screenshots of the details - we can see the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus falling into some kind of industrial container, and the horrified figures are Jehovah (see the tallis and tefillin?), a rosy-faced God, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a squawking bird.

Below them, we can see illuminated letters telling us that they are in Tsarist Heaven. The banner flying out of the smokestacks wish “for the long life of continuous…” 

To be honest, I’m not sure what the final word should be. Anyone know what word beginning with “нед” should go on continuously?


Russian gay parental rights target of new bill

A Russian legislator has proposed a bill that could be used to deny gay parents custody over their children.

The draft bill, published on the State Duma (parliament) website on Thursday, would make the “fact of non-traditional sexual orientation” a basis for denying custody. Other grounds include alcoholism, drug use, and abuse.

The proposal comes in the wake of a bill banning homosexual “propaganda” among minors. Authors of the bill have justified it as a measure aimed at protecting children, and not suppressing the LGBT community.

Alexei Zhuravlev, the author of the new bill, referred to the earlier law, passed in June, and said that homosexual “propaganda” had to be banned not only in the public space “but also in the family.”

Is there a Horrible Homophobia In Russia tumblr I can follow yet? I keep missing new terribleness mixed in among the already existing terribleness. The “Thursday” mentioned isn’t today, it’s LAST Thursday.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.
Facing Fury Over Antigay Law, Stoli Says 'Russian? Not Really'

When a number of prominent Americans, outraged by what they saw as a rising tide of state-sponsored homophobia in Russia, called for a boycott of Stolichnaya vodka this summer, they had no more eager ally against Moscow than Kaspars Zalitis, a gay rights advocate here in Latvia, a Baltic nation with a long and painful experience with Russia’s oppression of minorities.

Then came an awkward surprise: Stolichnaya, Mr. Zalitis discovered, is made not in Russia but here in his hometown, the capital of Latvia, which broke free of Russian subjugation more than two decades ago. “I always thought it was Russian,” he said.

Boycotts have long been a blunt and contentious instrument of protest. But efforts to pressure Russia’s abstemious president, Vladimir V. Putin, into dropping a new law outlawing “homosexual propaganda” by getting Americans to dump vodka have provided particularly fertile ground for complaints of good intentions gone awry.

“They thought Stoli was an easy target,” said Stuart Milk, a gay activist and the nephew of Harvey Milk, the murdered California gay rights pioneer.

This is a pretty interesting article. Personally I feel that this boycott has good goals, but is misguided. If their goal is to raise awareness of the situation for LGBT people in Russia, I guess it’s sort of working, but there’s no way that boycotting vodka is going to seriously impact the Russian economy.