Moscow’s “renovation” plans. Why many residents are unhappy.

I’ve been asked several times over the last month what’s the big fuss about the proposed plans to knock down several thousand of Moscow’s outdated (mostly from the 1950s and 1960s) buildings. Here is an article, in English, summarizing what’s wrong with mayor Sobyanin’s project. And here is another one from The Moscow Times explaining why scores of Muscovites are not that happy about the authorities’ big plans.

Alexandra is now a member of a “foreign agent” organization

A few days ago, on April 20 2017, the Ministry of Justice declared the Kola Ecological Center, of which my mate Alexandra is a member, a “foreign agent” for receiving foreign financing and being engaged in political activity.

Its “political activity” appears to be taking part in public hearings where government officials were present.

The “foreign agent” status means, in addition to a serious stigma, a significant increase in the amount of reporting paperwork the NGO has to do.

The Kola Ecological Center is behind the eco-trails east of Kandalaksha and near Kolvitsa. They also orchestrated the construction of a WW2 memorial in Kolvitsa. These are the sort of things that stand out in their work, not attempting to influence Russian government officials using foreign funds.

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?

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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..

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