The site is back up. Thank you all for your patience.

hackerDamn hackers had inserted their crap into, and it took the tech support heroes a few days to take the malicious code out. I’ve had an eventful week too that included a trip to Chupa for a three-day conference, during which I made several discoveries that could be of interest to potential travellers to this remote corner of the world, and a series of reports to share these with you is coming up.

Yet another report of a criminal charge for “fictional registration”

registrationB-port reports yet another host in Nickel busted for providing “fictional registration” to foreigners. According to Article 322.3 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, “fictional registration” is registration without intent to provide living space. At one point, years ago, it was a common $25-50 service available to foreign travellers!

Double axe murder in Luvenga

axe-murder-luvengaRumours have reached me that New Year celebration in Luvenga, 14km east from Kandalaksha along the South coast of the peninsula, resulted in two dead bodies, reduced to this sorry state in the evening of Jan. 1 by means of an axe.

It is usual and typical for this sort of things to happen during long holidays.

Details, if available, will be shared with humanity later.

Accessing Russian sites from within Russia

censorshipThis can’t be done with ever increasing frequency. The reason is the strengthening activity of controlling authorities. If you have difficulty accessing a site, either Russian or foreign, from within Russia, try or  The latter appears to be more reliable but does not always show images. The former,, may occasionally fail but it does not distort sites.

Piles of rotten salmon near Murmansk


Photo from

Bloger51 reports of several truckloads of dead fish dumped near the village of Molochny just south of Murmansk. Barentsobserver offers an English summary of the story. In a nutshell, there appears to be mass sickness and death of salmon in the rivers of Kola Peninsula. The problem – fungal infection Saprolegniasis that developes in fish with weakened immunity – seems to trace to artificial salmon breeding operations that, as expected, deny the allegation and are forced to dispose of dead fish discreetly, thus the dump. The site is said to stink and attract bears that are intensely looking for food to put on fat before their winter hybernation.(Based on unconfirmed stories and hearsay.)

“Foreign agents”

welcome_to_russiaThere’s been a lot of talk recently about Russian NGO’s being given the “foreign agent” status by our prohibition-absessed government. A few of you appeared puzzled as to what the fuss is all about. I’m thus compelled to say a few words to clarify the issue.

The essence of this law, passed in July 2012, is that any NGO that both engages in “political activity” and receives money from abroad is to be branded “foreign agent”. So far such organizations as the Liberal Mission Foundation, a historical and civil rights society Memorial, and the Belonna Foundation in Murmansk, along with 60+ other groups, have been given the label.

What are the consequences of receiving this status?

more >>

May 23 ban on the sale of alcohol

sobrietyYou won’t be able to buy any type of booze, including beer, the whole of May 23, 2015 because it’s the “end of school” day.

Stock up, or get ready to spend the day unanesthetized.

Help me help this fine young BLIND fellow, a mathematician, a programmer, and a religious history expert, find a job

Introducing Dimitry Lapa, a translator, a religious history expert, and a programmer. He has greatly helped Alexandra by consulting her for her article on British church history, and I’m trying to return the favour. Here is a summary based on his resume and our correspondence:

Education: Two degrees, one is mathematician-programmer, and another religious studies.

Native Russian, fluent professional English, some German.

Over 100 publications.

But he is out of work. He is blind.

Above: Dimitry in London

It is Alexandra’s and mine idea to tell the world about him. Please read the text below that consists of fragments of his resume and correspondence with Alexandra. Just read and make a note there is such a person. Who is not asking money from anyone nor shouting around about his situation. He is just a well-qualified expert who wants to find a job to make a living. Perhaps one of you happens to be in a position to help, thus..

more >>

Russia vs. Finland

Went to Rovanijemi, Finland, for a couple of days recently. Travelled about the same distance over Finland as over Russia, about 170km in each country. What a stark contrast between Russia, with its rough roads and miles of empty land, and Finland, with freshly painted country houses, clean towns, abandant cafes, hotels and motels of all sorts, and numerous filling stations!

Is there a pattern where Russia annexes its neighbours’ land to turn it into a desert? Below, in gray, is the area annexed from Finland in the 1939-1940 “Winter War” and turned into wasteland.

Wish I had a way of making a living other than enticing travellers to this land that deserves full boycott.

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.