About Background reading section

This section was intended as a collection of materials that capture and convey the spirit of the place. Not anything specific like travel guides. I don’t know if saying “something closer to the core of things than mere facts” will do as an explanation. Most of you probably view facts as the ultimate reality. Those who don’t are generally clumsy in their thinking. I want to believe I’m neither, and intend this small collection of sources for those of my ilk. Page view counter tells me that there aren’t many of these. If you happned to notice and appreciate the Backgroun reading category, drop me a line. Rants, raves, and an occasional thought is intended for the same audience as Background reading. While at it, check out Slice of life.

Russian citizenship via business or marriage

russian-citizenshipWas pointed to this review of the advantages of getting the Russian citizenship and steps in the process described at nomadcapitalist.com. In all these years I’ve only had one client who went through it in the relatively liberal 2000s, and it took him a year of full-time work, and by the time he got his permanent residence he came to hate the country and returned to the States in disgust with Russia. Still, I get this question once in a while, and reading this article may be a good place to start.

The Venedict Yerofeev museum in Kirovsk

Venedict Yerofeyev (1938, Kandalaksha – 1990, Moscow) left us his Moscow to Petushki (Moscow to the End of the Line), a poignant satirical account of Soviet life in the 60s. This museum, occupying one large room in the Kirovsk City Library, is not very well known despite its web site and an article by the museum’s keeper Evgeny Shtal’. Exhibits are period articles, photos, documents from family archives, and paintings on the book’s theme. Below are a few photos of the museum.

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Hight treason charge

nooseA certain woman called Svetlana Davydova from the Smolensk region west of Moscow was charged with high treason recently because, having noticed that the army barracks in her town have become nearly empty and having overheard a telephone conversation by one of the army men to the effect that they are being sent on a plaincloths mission, she called the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow and reported that the Russian troops may be heading to Eastern Ukraine. Now she is in the Lefortovo prison in Moscow facing 12-20 years of prison. Full story here.

No, it doesn’t take much to be charged as a spy in this land. Or to end up under piracy charges, as the Arctic Sunrise did.

What’s most disappointing is the amount and strength of approval for the charge in the public discussion of the situation, eg. here.

Guess for you foreign travellers the moral of the story is to watch that you stay from the “off limits to foreigners” zones.

Epiphany bathing

In reality this custom is more of a fashion than manifestation of any deep religious conviction. Orthodox priests, or the more progressive part thereof, keep on explaining the flock that ice-hole bathing has no connection to the essence of Epiphany. This year however, when the head priest of the Kandalaksha church (site taken down April 2015) refused to participate in organizing ice bathing, there was a burst of indignation on the part of the congregation..

But this one was in Murmansk, in Semenovskoe Lake below the landmark monument to the “defender of the Arctic”.

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The essence of Kandalaksha captured on canvas

al_ovchinnikovaAn artist who managed to put the city’s charming chaos on canvas has finally come around. It is Alexandra Ovchinnikova, a St. Petersburg painter who combines realism, impressionism, and folk art motives in her work.

It is a great pleasure for me to present a sample of her art related to Kandalaksha.


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Another American in the deep Russian countryside

26631_originalSomewhere near Bryansk, close to the Belarus border, lives and has apparently found herself an perfectly sane American woman. She could make a case study – a reare one with a positive outcome – of interest to someone contemplating a move here.

Her blog Under the Stork’s Nest >>

Vasily Lozhkin

no_smilingAren’t these three cute? OK, you would not want to encounter them in real life but when glued to canvas and posing no real danger they invoke a smile. Vasily Lozhkin is into cats, bearded axe-wielding muzhiks, and stern babushkas, often seen in a manner that suggests familiarity with delirium tremens. But this artist has a way of seeing things ugly and scary in a gentle light-hearted way. Lozhkin’s vision may be oposite to that of Shul’zhenko while Nikolay Kopeikin is somewhere in-between.[hide-this-part morelink=”A few of his paintings”]cat-grass-rainbow





And this is Vasily Lozhkin himself, and his site is vasya-lozhkin.ru

And this is Vasily Lozhkin himself, and his site is vasya-lozhkin.ru


Russian songs and music online

www.freemuzichka.com – Clean interface, easy to use, lots of stuff banned banned from pubic performance after the introuction of new “language purity” laws.

iplayer.fm – Higher quality and reliability but lots and lots of confusing advertising makes it hard to figure out how to search.

Thomas W. Knox The Boy Travellers in the Russian Empire, 1887

thomas_w_knoxWhat a delight and a powerful 5pm pick-me-upper!

Full scan on archive.org >>

A summary in the blog of the Russian in Children’s Book Museum:
Part 1 ~ Part 2

The emphasis is on the practicalities of travel, knowing the difficulties and dangers of Russian roads, and staying safe.

Adding to Pasha’s corner > Backgroun reading.