Russia

Uber, Ebola, and Other Evils: Links You Need To See

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Welcome back to the real world, weekenders. Remember Ebola? There was a panic here in the States because a handful of people, mostly medical professionals, in major American cities had gotten it–Dallas, Manhattan. There are no known cases of Ebola in the US at present. But there are in West Africa. As of December 4, there were more than 17,000 reported cases of Ebola, spread across Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and will likely blast through the CDC’s prediction of petering out at 20,000. But no one’s really talking about it anymore. Let’s talk about it.
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“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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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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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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