Russia

propaganda

“I’ve Never Felt Like an Outcast”: An Excerpt From ‘Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories’

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As the world gets set for tonight’s Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, it’s important not to lose sight of Russia’s troubling political landscape — and particularly President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on the freedom and safety of its LGBT citizens via a vague ban on “homosexual propaganda” that amounts to nothing less than government-sanctioned homophobia.
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Flavorwire Interview: Masha Gessen on Telling Pussy Riot’s Story and Russia’s War on Gays

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The trial and imprisonment of three members of the activist collective known as Pussy Riot captivated the world. It is a story of the Russian government treating these radical women like dangerous criminals who threatened to shatter the nation’s already-shaky foundation. The spectacle of holding the trio — Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich — in a glass cage while they stood trial for performing a song in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior that begged, “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, chase Putin out, chase Putin out,” seemed, at best, totally absurd to those of us who don’t live in Russia. Yet what people outside of Russia actually know and understand about the whole story remains a bit murky. For instance, as I write this, a number of outlets and people are reporting and tweeting that “Pussy Riot” will be “playing” in Brooklyn at the start of February for an Amnesty International concert.
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Image credit: Sergey Merkurov

Naughty Paintings from a Soviet Erotic Alphabet Book

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Famed Soviet sculptor Sergey Merkurov, best known for his towering monuments honoring leaders like Stalin and the death masks he created (the faces of Leo Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky included), dabbled in the erotic arts. The former director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts made an A to Z picture book of people having sex in impossible positions. It contains multiple references to Greek and Roman mythology, hence the horny satyr that appears throughout. We’re still unsure about the inspiration behind the severed male appendages, some of which have wings. See more of Merkurov’s erotic alphabet, which we spotted on Animal, in our gallery.
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Gorgeous Vintage Magazines Published by Soviet Exiles

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Convenient though they may be, the more e-readers and tablets we collect, the more we appreciate the fine design work and craftsmanship that went into the printed products of old — especially those from other countries, which seem ever strange and fresh to our eyes. This week, Christopher King at MobyLives pointed us towards Russians Without Russia, an archive created by designer Fiodor Sumkin, who has collected and scanned a series of newspapers and magazines published by Soviet exiles in Paris, Berlin, Harbin, and Constantinople in the ’20s and ’30s. A little weird and a lot beautiful, if these don’t have you hunting around for an indie journal instead of that iPad, we don’t know what will. Check out a few of our favorites after the jump, and then head straight over to the Russians Without Russia archive for more.
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10 Essential Russian Films

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A box set containing three early works from Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov arrives on Blu-ray (with two films on DVD) today from Cinema Guild. The masterworks include the poetic Whispering Pages (using Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment as its main inspiration), the aural Stone, and a surreal retelling of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, 1990’s Save and Protect. Sokurov has had a prolific career, admired by everyone from Susan Sontag to Darren Aronofsky. Even Vladimir Putin helped to fund Sokurov’s 2011 Cannes Golden Lion winner, Faust, which was surprising considering the director’s history depicting Russian leaders in a less than flattering light. In celebration of this rare Sokurov release, we wanted to explore other essential Russian films. Here are ten from us. Share what movies you would add to the list, below.
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Two Pussy Riot Members Flee Russia

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After Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison for their punk prayer performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Church, two other members of the Russian feminist punk-rock group have fled the country. “In connection with the search, our two participants have successfully left the country!… Read More

Fascinating Found Photos of the Soviet Union During WWII

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There’s a strange and disconcerting back story to this found album of vintage photographs from the Soviet Union in the 1940s. We see the strife of war, from the ruins of a city on fire to military vehicles rattling down rural roads, all captured from the enemy’s point of view by an anonymous German solider serving under General Heinz Guderian in World War II. We witness villagers curiously, studiously photographed in their rags, mesmerizing pastoral scenes of snow-gusted fields, and a motorcycle speeding down a winding path lined with birch trees — images that are at once stunning and uncomfortable, given their context. Found by English Russia on LiveJournal, check out a small sampling, and see what you think.
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