On This Day Sergei Ozhegov Was Born

On this day in 1900 Sergei Ozhegov, the writer of one of the first Russian dictionaries, was born. Born in Kamennoe village in the Tver region, Ozhegov is celebrated for his “Dictionary of the Russian Language,” which remains the most widely used reference for the Russian language today, especially for writers, journalists and interpreters. The…

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Russia’s Love Affair With India

When Ponnuchamy Jeevanantham first came to Moscow from Tamil Nadu in southern India in 1987 to study agriculture at the Peoples’ Friendship University he was dismayed by how mild Russian food was compared to Indian cuisine.  “You couldn’t find any spices,” he said. “There were bay leaves, black pepper and maybe some chilli powder —…

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Mongolia Welcomes Putin With Military Pomp, Vivid Performances

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday referred to relations between Russia and Mongolia as “brotherly” during his visit to Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. And just as brothers do, Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga welcomed his Russian counterpart with an elaborate ceremony before negotiations began. The country’s State Honor Guard and an orchestra lined up to welcome Putin at…

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Sailing Into the Past in Lipetsk

Flags flutter above linen tents, musicians play ancient melodies on old musical instruments, craftsmen peddle their wares… This might look like the film set for the latest television series, but it’s actually a historical reenactment festival called Ladeinoye Pole that has been held every year since 2007 in the Lipetsk region, about 500 kilometers to…

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Dmitri Shostakovich, Football Fanatic

Dmitri Shostakovich was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated and prolific composers, whose symphonies, concerti, string quartets and dozens of other works became the musical backdrop for several generations of Soviet citizens. A slim man in thick glasses, Shostakovich was fastidious, diffident, and orderly, the very image of an intellectual composer. But Dmitri Shostakovich…

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Russia’s Good Year at the Awards

Despite concerns over censorship, the film and performing arts in Russia remain largely free of government interference. While the government can certainly impact the film industry and theater through funding and sometimes, with film, by withholding screening permits, there are many independent companies that can produce whatever they want. Now that the awards season for…

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Fabergé and the Link of Times

No object is as synonymous with Romanov Russia as a Fabergé imperial Easter egg. Each of the fifty eggs commissioned by the last Russian tsars is intricate, flawless, and unique. Gleaming and glittering behind bullet-proof glass in well-fortified museums, they are vibrant talismans of the lost sepia-colored world of the Romanovs. Of the fifty imperial…

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‘It’s Only a Joke, Comrade!’

Saturation There is no doubt that many Soviet citizens venerated Stalin, but in political humour we can hear many others sharing critical opinions about him and his Cult on a day-to-day basis that rapidly presents us with a very different, more complex image. Let’s consider two  anekdoty which turned up numerous times in the archival…

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80 Years Strong: The VDNKh Experience

The VDNKh park has had a long history as one of Moscow’s main exhibition spaces. Constructed in the 1930s, it was first known as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition before it was renamed in 1959 as the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy, or Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva. Today, VDNKh is home to a number…

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