A guide to creative Russia


October 24, 2014

This week’s news; illustrated

Moscow puts up unreadable Latin-letter street signs

Moscow authorities have erected new street signs with street names transliterated into Latin letters around the city, but using a very strange transliteration system. Defying the transliteration systems used by Google Maps, The Moscow Times and The Calvert Journal, the new signs, which were presumably erected to make the Russian capital more easily navigable for foreigners, have baffled many tourists visiting the city. Sochi experienced a different sort of problem earlier this year, with a number of streets translated rather than transliterated, causing some street signs to bear names like Shotgun Street and Blue Dali Street.   


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October 23, 2014

Navalny’s blog blocked on LiveJournal app by media watchdog

The blog of vocal anti-Kremlin opposition activist Alexei Navalny has been blocked on the mobile app of Russian social networking service LiveJournal since yesterday. Attempts to access the blog on the app produces an error message explaining that the page has been blocked according to the decision of the Russian authorities. Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor added Navalny’s blog to a register of banned sites in March this year after accusing it of publishing extremist material, however the blog has been accessible in Russian territory on LiveJournal’s app despite its website ban.

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Melnikov House museum to open to visitors in December

Moscow’s iconic Melnikov House is to open its doors as a museum to the public for a testing phase on 3 December this year, according to a press release published today. Visitors will be given tours of the great avant-garde structure, in which furniture and other personal items belonging to the house’s architect Konstantin Melnikov and his son, the painter Viktor, will be on display. Plans to recreate the interior of the house at the time of Viktor Melnikov’s death in 2006 are currently in the works by museum staff.

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October 22, 2014

Cult online magazine WOS launches revamped website focused on Russia

Russian cult website Weekend OpenSpace (WOS) launched its revamped site yesterday, revealing changes to the name, design and concept of the publication. Although the new site has kept its original acronym, it now stands for the words “Around this vast country”, reflecting the new focus of the website — Russia. In a post published by the editorial team on the website, the team explains the reasons behind WOS’s new direction:

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October 21, 2014

United Russia politician proposes launch of patriotic TV channel for youths

Russia’s International Youth Forum at Lake Selinger, Russia. Photograph: Egor Tsvetkov

United Russia politician Viktor Vodolatskiy has announced plans to launch a government-funded patriotic television channel for young Russians. The idea has gained considerable support from members of the presidential commission for the patriotic, spiritual and moral upbringing of children. Vodolatskiy told Izvestia that the channel is necessary to counterbalance the corrupting influence of today’s television and to promote patriotic values in young people.

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Performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky cuts of earlobe in latest act of protest

Pyotr Pavlensky sitting on the roof of the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow on Sunday

Pyotr Pavlensky, the performance artist and political activist, was removed from the roof of a Moscow psychiatry institution on Sunday after he cut off his right earlobe with a kitchen knife in protest against the politically motivated use of psychiatry in Russia. Staging his performance — entitled Separation — at the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, an institution which became notorious during Soviet times for declaring political dissidents as mentally ill, Pavlensky's performance was a commentary on the resurgence of corrupt psychiatric practices in contemporary Russia.   

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October 17, 2014

Moscow design week, Putin’s tiger and Edward Snowden; news you may have missed

Moscow Design Week opens

Moscow Design Week, an event celebrating the development of culture, design and business in Russia, has opened this week, with events and installations themed around “Innovation to save the planet”. A selection of events, from talks about the media, restaurant design and how to create innovative spaces will run throughout the week, in addition to exhibits of some of the latest in art, culture and furniture design.

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Russia’s first sound art museum opens in Moscow

Still from Nikolay Polissky’s Universal Mind installation

Russia’s media art space Electromuseum has teamed up with online experimental music community SA))_Q-0, to launch Moscow’s first sound-art gallery. The first permanent project of its kind in Russia, the Moscow Sound Art Gallery (MSAG) is both technically and conceptually designed to exhibit works of experimental sound art and new media-related sound technology.

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October 16, 2014

Edward Snowden approached to host Russian TV series about secret services

American whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has been approached by Russia’s nationalist Liberal Democracy Party (LDPR) to host a television programme on secret services and intelligence gathering. The proposed series, to be aired on the party’s own TV channel LDPR-TV, is set to explore many aspects of international intelligence activity. According to LDPR politician Andrei Svintsov, it is hoped that Snowden will bring extensive expertise to the programme.

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October 13, 2014

Opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta given official warning over “extremism”

Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s leading opposition newspapers, has been issued with an official warning from Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor, who has accused the publication of violating the country’s anti-extremism laws. Known for its hard-hitting journalism and biting critique of the Kremlin, Novaya Gazeta is the latest in a rapidly growing pool of independent media publications to be targeted by the watchdog in recent months.

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