Russia

Photo of the Day

Maria Tchebotareva. Trying to feed her four hungry children during the massive 1932-1933 famine, the peasant mother allegedly stole three pounds of rye from her former field— confiscated by the state as part of collectivization. Soviet authorities sentenced her to ten years in the Gulag. When her sentence expired in 1943, it was arbitrarily extended until the end of the war in 1945. After her release, she was required to live in exile near her Gulag camp north of the Arctic Circle, and she was not able to return home until 1956, after the death of Stalin. Maria Tchebotareva never found her children after her release. Courtesy of the Gulag Museum at Perm-36.

Brutal

Warning, some people may find this story Disturbing.

Have you ever been late to work?

In the Stalin era, a person who arrived late to work three times could be sent to the Gulag for three years.

Have you ever told a joke about a government official?

In the Stalin era, many were sent to the Gulag for up to 25 years for telling an innocent joke about a Communist Party official.

If your family was starving, would you take a few potatoes left in a field after harvest?

In the Stalin era, a person could be sent to the Gulag for up to ten years for such petty theft.

The transportation methods to the Gulags were often even more disturbing and painful than the camps themselves. Most long journeys began at the railroad station. However, prisoners were not loaded onto trains at the station in full public view; they were loaded at sidings down the track, away from public glare. It was done secretively – just as the process of arrest late at night. It was usual for up to sixty or more people to be crammed into one carriage, which was constructed from wooden planks and had a few rows of horizontal boards to sleep on. There was no illumination, and rats and vermin abounded. No matter the weather, the captives were only allowed to wear the clothes they were arrested in.

“The night search, the most degrading procedure, was frequently repeated. “Get up! Get undressed! Hands up! Out into the hall! Line up against the wall.” Naked we were especially frightened. “Among the blind, the one-eyed is king,” and next to them I was still a hero—for the time being. Our hair was undone. What were they looking for? What more could they take away from us? There was something, however: they pulled out all the ties that had been holding up the nuns’ skirts and our underwear.”

Conditions in the camps, for those who survived the trip, were extremely harsh. Prisoners received insufficient clothing and inadequate food rations which made it difficult to endure the severe weather and the long working hours. As a result, the death rate from exhaustion and disease in the camps was enormously high.

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Photo of the Day

Turning women into soldiers .. first step, shaving of their heads, ridding the women of one of their most “impractical” and outwardly feminine features.

Meet Russia’s All-Women Battalion of Death

This WWI Battalion of Women was Tough as Nails

The ‘Women’s Battalions of Death’, as they were known, were all-female combat units formed after the February Revolution in 1917 by the Russian Provisional Government in a last-ditch effort to inspire the mass of war-weary soldiers of the Russian Army to continue fighting in World War I.

They were created from pools of enthusiastic volunteers to lead the way in battle. Already some women had successfully petitioned to join regular military units, and now a number began pressing the new Provisional Government to create special women’s battalions. These women, along with a number of high-ranking members of the Russian government and military administration, believed that female soldiers would have significant propaganda value and that their example would revitalize the weary, demoralized men of the Russian army. Simultaneously, they hoped the presence of women would shame hesitant male soldiers into resuming their combat duties.

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Oh those Russkis…they kill me

I thought Russkis, like Krauts, had  a humour bypass in their genes.

Turns out no.

The Russian Government has poked fun at claims it interfered with the US election days after Vladimir Putin said the accusation was a ‘lie’.

This morning, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted an audio recording of an apparent automated telephone service to aid Russian embassies. Read more »

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Global warming making ice so thick in the Baltic that the icebreaker fleet may have to be upgraded

Yes, it is apparently true, global warming is making the ice thicker in the Baltic.

So thick that the icebreaker fleet needs an upgrade:

Oddly enough, global warming and milder winters have led to more severe ice conditions in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. Today, icebreakers are already struggling to get through towering compacted ice and the problem may become exacerbated in the future, unless more powerful icebreaking vessels step in.   Read more »

Boom! Take that traitor

Excuse me while I just ROTFLMAO:

Russia is considering sending Edward Snowden back to the United States as a ‘gift’ to President Donald Trump, according to a US Intelligence report.

Trump has called the whistleblower a ‘spy’ and a ‘traitor’ who deserves to be executed.

A Snowden handover is an attempt for Russia President Vladimir Putin to ‘curry favor’ with Trump, a senior US official with knowledge of sensitive Russian intelligence information told NBC News on Friday.

Snowden’s ACLU lawyer, Ben Wizner, said he was unaware of any plan to extradite his client.

‘Team Snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern’, Wizner said.

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Putin nailed it in his response to Malevolent Obama’s “Kitchen diplomacy”

While Obama is doing all he can to create problems for America and Donald Trump on his way out the Russian bear that he did his best to poke with a stick has calmly put him in his place. Obama blaming Russia for the hacking when he has provided zero evidence of their guilt is very un-presidential behaviour.

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Photo of the Day

Saparmurat Niyazov is depicted on the 10,000 Manat Banknote.

Saparmurat Niyazov is depicted on the 10,000 Manat Banknote.

Serdar Turkmenbashi The Great

World’s Craziest Dictator

He renamed a month after him; banned recorded music, video games and beards!

If you think Saddam Hussein was fond of himself, just visit Turkmenbashi’s country. There’s a poster or a statue of him in nearly every public space.

In 1991, after the fall of Communism and the USSR, Turkmenistan found itself independent for the first time in a hundred years. The new president, Saparmurat Niyazov, was the obvious successor – he’d been the Communist Party’s puppet governor since 1985. But easing a country of five million people into a new era of self-sufficiency and autonomy was not the highest item on Niyazov’s agenda. He was more concerned that decades of Soviet control had left Turkmenistan with no national identity. So, in 1993, Niyazov took it upon himself to create the country in a new image: his own.

He was not only a brutal dictator, but also a dictator who ran his country like it was his own private Disney World. The country, Turkmenistan, is a former Soviet republic sitting strategically between Iran and Afghanistan. And the man who ran it is Saparmurat Niyazov.

He’s known by his citizens, and by decree, as “Serdar Turkmenbashi” – which means “Great Leader of all Turkmen.”

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Phil Quin on Trump’s proposed appointments

Phil Quin comments on Donald Trump’s proposed appointments and gives, for a lefty, some reasoned advice:

US President-elect Donald Trump is said to be considering one of his most vocal internal critics, Mitt Romney, as Secretary of State.

Howls of outrage, left and right, predictably ensued since the the GOP’s 2012 nominee – a mainstream Republican from Central Casting – berated Trump mercilessly in the lead-up to the recent election. He couldn’t even bring himself to vote for him.

And yet, at this turbulent moment, as Trump installs one far-right figure after another to his cabinet, accusations of hypocrisy against Trump and Romney – fair game in the normal course of events – should be set aside.

Trump would be wise to offer the Secretary of State post; Romney should accept it; and the Senate should rush to confirm him before the wildly erratic President-in-waiting changes his mind. Here’s why.

While no doubt Mitt Romney retains his view, expressed as recently as August, that Trump is a “con man” and “fake” who threatens to bring “trickle-down racism, trickle-down bigotry, trickle-down misogyny” to America, the stakes are too high to allow politics as usual to get in the way of what would be a profoundly reassuring appointment.

Romney at the State Department would go quite some way to quelling fears among US allies, in particular NATO, that the Trump presidency is set to redraw the geopolitical map in terrifying and unpredictable ways.

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Robbie Williams comes good…first time ever

The Russians are attacking Robbie Williams for his latest video.

It was not reports from the war in Syria or the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that outraged Russians at the weekend, but a new music video by Robbie Williams.

Released to accompany the song Party Like a Russian, from his new album, Heavy Entertainment Show, the video outraged viewers for its crude stereotyping of Russian culture, with some tabloids suggesting the singer would never be able to perform in Russia again.   Read more »

God loves a trier, and so does Helen. But I repeat myself

John Key and Helen Clark

John Key and Helen Clark

If Helen Clark is to become the next United Nations Secretary-General, it’s the Russians she needs most to convince she’s right for the job.

In Vientiane, Laos, on Thursday Prime Minister John Key will again advocate on her behalf when he meets his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia has already said it wants the next UN head to be from Eastern Europe, following rotation.

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