General board / Announcements

This is a literal ‘ask me anything’ forum: a place where you can ask me or other readers questions about, well, anything, really. I’ll as open questions too. Of course Russia- and blogging- related questions are preferred, but why not talk about drawing, fiction, movies, insects, language studies or the weather too? Just be sure to follow the rules of common decency and behavior. You can ask me about my personal opinon of Putin or how it feels to live in Cricket-hell, but you can’t ask about obvious personal or compromising information.

Let’s see how long this runs.

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64 comments

  1. “What is the appropriate English translation for “на самом начале нулевых”?”

    Uhm, I think that it should be “в самом начале” of [smth] when talking about time periods… or anything at all. “На самом начале” is un-Russian sounding and stylistically wrong.

    The translation would be “In the very beginning of 2000s”, or, if we are to use the slang definition of the first decade of the millenium. “In the very beginning of The Noughties”

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  2. Mini rant incoming.

    Russians don’t have the concept of the “small talk”. For us the dialog serves only for the exchange of information – not as a social more. Virtually all English teachers on Russia are traditional (very traditional!) and shamelessly Anglophile. Some of this trademark “Britishness” is adopted by them as a way to upgrade their status and stuff. They will tell you that the British are excellent conversationalists who have perfected the art of the Small Talk (yeah, you can hear the capital letters here). Because that’s what the civilized people do. Honestly no idea about the US, but, I assume, the local brand of the Small Talk is also an absolute norm of any social conversation.

    Despite their best efforts I completely lack in the “small-talk” department. AFAIK – virtually all of my acquaintances, friends and relatives have the same issue. Maybe those, who emigrate or go expat in other countries acquire it many years since.

    So, there it is. I heard, that Russians are seen as impolite boors because of this. Oh, and also because we are too direct and don’t pepper our sentences with “please” and “thank you”. Another sign of how we lack in the civilization, I guess – because for us it is not a big deal. It’s, e.g., perfectly acceptable between the friends to say: “Hey, Egor! [Expletive denoting the movement], [expletive denoting the person], for [expletive not actually denoting the quality] beer! Here’s the money”.

    It’s not just that we just too right lipped (this is a stereotype more to do with Finland, really). But when we talk – we talk. And “the talk” covers telling of stories, arguments, debates, discussions, gossip, retelling of something. Important thing here – there shouldn’t be any pauses and “uncomfortable silences”. The Western coping mechanism with them is the aforementioned “small talk”. Well, we seek to prevent them from existing in the first place. If sail pauses are inevitable – change the type of activity. Offer some tea or suggest to have a making break. Probably this will give enough time or reason to continue a conversation in some new direction.

    There. Also – should I write a Part II about the meaning of animals in the slang description of people?

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  3. Meanwhile – for something completely different. LJ community ru-klyukva-ru found a modern Western prose about Russia with unbelievably low concentration of klyukva! It’s a short novel in the “Urban Magic Realism” genre, available absolutely free:

    Freedom is Space for the Spirit by Glen Hirshberg. Nazdorovye!

    It’s well written, the author, obviously, is familiar with Russian realities – both in the “Blessed 90s” and nowadays (militsia is already rebranded as the police, so it’s post 2011). He actually deconstructs all the usual stereotypes about Russia, with “wild bears roaming the streets” being the central one.

    There were only 2 (two) klyukvified/mildly Russophobic moments in the entire tale, and even then you can, arguably, explain them away as the thoughts of the protagonist, not the author himself. The first one:

    “A politsiya official had given a brief press conference and said his force had limited resources and would be devoting them to “more pressing and concrete threats such as Chechen guerillas and homosexuals.””

    Because, OBVIOUSLY, St. Pete’s police spends all of its waking hours fighting off enormous hordes of Chechen “guerillas” (the West is loath to call them Wahhabi terrorists – surely, if they are fighting against Russia, they are the Good Guys!) and executing gays by hundreds – daily! And helds press conferences, basically saying – “We are EVUL! Muricans are right in their stereotypical portrayal of us!”.

    Another episode is when the protagonist “fears” that the police might open fire from their AKSUs at the crowd. OF COURSE! Because modern Russian history is choke full of examples, when the police shot at the protesters with ammunition, as if it was some re-enactment of the “Bloody Sunday” done by Nicholas II. Russia never changes, after all!

    Still – the story offers not a bad glimpse into a modern day to day life in Russia, as seen by a foreigner. Also, rather intriguing plot.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. An article I decided to leave out of the RoRR:
    The US establishment, not the Kremlin, is undermining normalization with Russia

    “Washington has made it official: Russia is the enemy aiming to undermine not only the United States’ role in the international system, but the very political system upon which America is built. The Kremlin has been accused of waging an information war on the West, launching cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee, and releasing confidential materials through Wikileaks with the purpose of discrediting the U.S. political class. After losing the presidential election, Hillary Clinton went as far as to attribute Donald Trump’s victory to the actions of the Kremlin. The US intelligence report on Russia’s alleged hacking of the US electoral system released at the beginning of January served to consolidate this image of Russia as an enemy of the US.

    Russia may indeed have been behind the cyber attacks but not for the reasons it is blamed for. Instead of trying to subvert the US system, it seeks to defend its own. The Kremlin’s goal is to demonstrate that it is capable of defending itself against the US global policy of changing regimes and meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. The United States has a long history of meddling and covert activities in foreign countries since the Cold War. As exposed by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, activities of the US government since the Cold War included special “digital” spying on American and foreign citizens and financial tools for engaging foreign activists and monitoring foreign governments. Washington’s establishment assumes that America defines the rules and boundaries of proper behaviour in international politics, while others simply follow the established rules.”

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  5. Carnegie Moscow Center: The Benefits of Living in Russia’s Hybrid State

    “It’s completely rational for the elites to avoid change, although it betrays their inability to look beyond the horizon. They are not frightened enough by the current stagnation to initiate changes in the system for their own sake. But what they do fear greatly is losing everything all at once by pulling some crumbling brick out of the system, causing the whole construction to come crashing down.”

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    • I finally had time to read these feverent ranting of the perpetually unsatisfied liberast.

      If I’d comment every single place where the “esteemed” authors proves himself a blathering idiot it would be too long. Instead I will focus on one seemingly minor thing:

      “But despite the sometimes uncanny similarities to the late Soviet era, such comparisons are incorrect. Firstly, back then there was colossal demand for change, and a leader appeared who was ready to initiate those changes. There was massive support for reforms, and the overripe public woke up quickly and began to develop ahead of the state…

      …In addition, the conditions of perestroika were unique, and cannot be replicated.”

      Yes, and you know why? Because the driving force bhind the Perestroika was the intelligentsia – an ungrateful mass of educated people, totally dependent on the state and who wished said said dead in the name of abstract Freedom. Abstract Freedom them culled them during the 90s. “Invisible Hand of The Market” (c) and all that jazz. Or, to quote the soulless ginger bastard A. Chubais – “So what if several millions will die? They just failed to fit into market”.

      And they died. In droves. Or emigrated. Or, like the “esteemed author”, chose to take foreign shilling. Thus they become disappearingly small minority. Thus they will never form a desired “liberal” civil society in Russia to enforce “apprpriate” reforms and movements.

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  6. The most demonized man on planet Earth (CCI) (copied from email; there was no link):

    Dear Friends,

    For those of us who have met Vladimir Putin in person, in some cases worked along side him before he was unexpectedly elevated to the presidency in Russia, have a difficult time understanding how to square the person we have met or known with the public face he has been given, particularly in the U.S. mainstream media (MSM) which has spilled over in MSM in countries allied with America’s political elite.

    U.S. newscasters who have never set foot in Russia, who only read slanted teleprompters, give daily sound bites including misinformation about historic happenings such as “26 journalists were murdered who were critics of Putin … for reprisal for their journalism.” Most of those killings were engineered by oligarchs seeking to silence journalists who criticized their ruthless seizures of the USSR’s assets during the Yeltsin years. “Putin ordered Politkovskaya’s murder,” for which there is zero evidence that Putin was involved in any way. Pundits rehearse half truths about Putin repeatedly.

    Has it ever occurred to us that demonization of leaders is the first step taken prior to taking down a country which is not confirming to the expectations of a very narrow circle of people in powerful places––and that Vladimir Putin is not the first, he is just the latest to suffer this fate.

    I’ve just been made aware of an article by Professor Stephen Cohen, undoubtedly our nation’s finest historian on the US-USSR/Russia relationship. It was written 15 years ago and is as true today as when written––except that the years have brought on endless accusations which lack substance or proof of any kind.

    Usually when people constantly berate others, it’s because it temporarily makes them feel better about themselves. Or they projecting their own “shadow” onto others. How does this square with the demonization of Putin? Let us psychologize ourselves — and see what is really going on here.

    More on this topic to follow, Sharon

    Article: Stop the Pointless Demonization of Putin (2013) – Stephen F. Cohen

    American media coverage of Vladimir Putin, who today began his third term as Russia’s president and 13th year as its leader, has so demonized him that the result may be to endanger U.S. national security.

    For nearly 10 years, mainstream press reporting, editorials and op-ed articles have increasingly portrayed Putin as a czar-like “autocrat,” or alternatively a “KGB thug,” who imposed a “rollback of democratic reforms” under way in Russia when he succeeded Boris Yeltsin as president in 2000. He installed instead a “venal regime” that has permitted “corruptionism,” encouraged the assassination of a “growing number” of journalists and carried out the “killing of political opponents.” Not infrequently, Putin is compared to Saddam Hussein and even Stalin.

    Well-informed opinions, in the West and in Russia, differ considerably as to the pluses and minuses of Putin’s leadership over the years – my own evaluation is somewhere in the middle – but there is no evidence that any of these allegations against him are true, or at least entirely true. Most seem to have originated with Putin’s personal enemies, particularly Yeltsin-era oligarchs who found themselves in foreign exile as a result of his policies – or, in the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in prison. Nonetheless, U.S. media, with little investigation of their own, have woven the allegations into a near-consensus narrative of “Putin’s Russia.”

    Even the epithet commonly applied to Putin is incorrect. The dictionary and political science definition of “autocrat” is a ruler with absolute power, and Putin has hardly been that. There are many examples of his need to mediate, sometimes unsuccessfully, among powerful groups in the ruling political establishment and of his policies being thwarted by Moscow and regional bureaucracies. Moreover, if Putin really were a “cold-blooded, ruthless” autocrat, tens of thousands of protesters would not have appeared in Moscow streets, not far from the Kremlin, following the December presidential election. Nor would they have been officially sanctioned – as were the thousands who gathered yesterday before a small group breached the sanctioned lines and violence ensued – or shown on state television.

    But consider the largest, and historically most damning, accusation against Putin. Russian democratization began in Soviet Russia, under Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1989-91. “De-democratization,” as it is often called, began not under Putin but under Yeltsin, in the period from 1993 to 1996, when the first Russian president used armed force to destroy a popularly elected parliament; enacted a super-presidential constitution; “privatized” the former Soviet state’s richest assets on behalf of a small group of rapacious insiders; turned the national media over to that emerging financial oligarchy; launched a murderous war in the breakaway province of Chechnya; and rigged his own re-election. (On February 20, outgoing president Dmitri Medvedev shocked a small group of visitors by finally admitting that Yeltsin had not actually won that election against the Communist leader Gennadi Zyuganov.) Putin may have only moderated those fateful policies, but he certainly did not initiate them.

    The catastrophic Yeltsin 1990s, which have been largely deleted from the U.S. media narrative, also put other anti-Putin allegations in a different perspective. The corruption rampant in Russia today, from seizures of major private investments to bribes demanded by officials, is a direct outgrowth of the violent and other illicit measures that accompanied “privatization” under Yeltsin. It was then that the “swindlers and thieves” denounced by today’s opposition actually emerged.

    The shadowy practices of that still-only-partially reformed economic system, not Kremlin politics, has led to the assassination of so many Russian journalists, most of them investigative reporters. The numbers, rarely cited by era, are indicative. According to the American Committee to Protect Journalists, 77 Russian journalists have been murdered since 1992 – 41 during Yeltsin’s 8 years in power, 36 during Putin’s 12 years.

    The exceptionally vilifying charge that Putin has been behind the killing of political opponents focuses mainly on two victims – the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot to death in Moscow in 2006; and a reputed KGB defector, Aleksandr Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning in London, also in 2006.

    Not a shred of evidence or an element of logic points to Putin in either case. The editors of Politkovskaya’s newspaper, the devoutly anti-Putin Novaya Gazeta, believe her killing was ordered by Chechen leaders, whose human-rights abuses were one of her special subjects. And there is no conclusive proof even as to whether Litvinenko’s poisoning, despite the media frenzy and rupture in British-Russian relations it caused, was intentional or accidental. (Significantly, Scotland Yard still has not released the necessary autopsy report.)

    In other circumstances, all of this ritualistic Putin-bashing would be merely a cautionary example of media malpractice, an anti-textbook for journalism schools. But it has made Putin’s Russia toxic in Washington, in both political parties and especially in Congress, at a time when U.S. national security requires long-term cooperation with Moscow on vital fronts: from countries and regions such as Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran and the entire Middle East to issues such as nuclear weapons reduction, stopping nuclear proliferation, and preventing terrorism.

    In all of these regards, the relentless demonizing of Putin makes rational U.S. policymaking all the more difficult. Mitt Romney’s recent assertions that Russia is America’s “number one geopolitical foe” and that Moscow has made no “meaningful concessions” seem to reflect widespread ignorance or amnesia. Are U.S. policymakers aware of Putin’s extraordinary assistance to the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan after 9/11, his crucial help in supplying NATO troops now there or his support for harsher sanctions against Iran? Do they know that for these and other “pro-American” concessions he is viewed by many Russian national security officials as an “appeaser?”

    Many years ago, Will Rogers quipped: “Russia is a country that no matter what you say about it, it’s true.” Evidently, it is still true, but it’s no longer funny.

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    • Maybe it was “ничего себе – нeдалеко!”, as in exclamation of disbelief (in particularly sarcastic way) at being misinformed at the proper distance? In this case it means: “short distance, (s)he says!” or “not far away, says you!”, etc.

      E.g.:

      – Oh, the bus stop is nearby. Just 4-5 kms down the highway… through the snow.
      – 5 kms?! In such weather? Yeah, short distance, indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here’s the text copied right from the source document:

        — Я так понимаю, ехать нам недалеко…
        — Ничего себе недалеко!— засмеялся В.П.— Две с лишним тысячи километров!

        In this context, would the translation be the same?

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        • Yeah, pretty much. And example of translation:

          – As I understand, we will have to ride just a short distance…
          – Short distance, you say! – laughed V.P. – It’s more than 2000 kilometres!

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  7. A dog in a fur tophat… a dog in a fur tophat…

    ARRRGHЪ! Memory flashes! The 90s! Now… coming back… to… meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!….

    P.S. I wonder, how “thanks” to the cartoons just like that more people didn’t become diehard anti-monarchists?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “скупердяйничать” – to be greedy, thrifty, stingy, not in the “smart way” (i.e. saving for the future use) but just for the sake of it. Iconic examples of such behavior are Plyushkin from Gogol’s “Dead Souls” and Harpagon from Molière’s “The Miser”. The root of the word comes from “скупость” – miserliness, parsimony. In this particular form – “скупердяйничасть” – the sting of the accusation is somehow removed. To be really accusatory and deriding to someone you’d rather say “скупиться”

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    • “Почему, спрашивается? Да потому!”

      “This begs a question – why? Just because – that’s why!”. Russian language has lots of colloquival sayings and expressions, dealing with the central philosophical question of “why?”. More often than not the question of “why” (“почему”) is answered with “because” (“потому (что)”). Another widespread answer to this vital question, that most of Russians learn at the very tender age is to answer on “почему” with “по-кочану!” (“on a cabbage”, which in Russian slang often means head), with sometimes obligatory addition of “и по кочерыжке!” (“on a cob”, which in Russian slang also, surprisingly, often means head… depends on a person and said person’s intellectual prowess)

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  8. Translation needed for the phrase:

    Сумбур какой-то вместо музыки получается.

    Words I understand, but the order is throwing me off.

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    • Do you know the expression “Сумбур вместо музыки”? After all, you had a Shostakovitch themed entry on your blog! Are “какой-то” (here: “some”) and” “получается” (here: “you get”) threw you off?

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      • Oh shoot – it’s “muddle instead of music”, isn’t it?
        The Noise of Time was an English-language book by an Enlish writer. I didn’t connect the two until just now. This is why you don’t attempt translations at 10 in the evening 😦
        And yes, the placement of получается was part of what threw me off.

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  9. Translation needed for “человечина”.

    В самые угюмые ночи длительных зим [он] не брезговал и человечиной.

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    • “Человечина” – here means “human’s meat”. Similar to:

      “Крольчатина” – rabbit’s meat
      “Зайяатина” – hare’s meat
      “Говядина” – cow’s meat.
      “Курятина” – chicken’s meat.
      “Буженина” – “cold-boiled pork”

      BUT!

      “Свинина” – “pork’s meat”.

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    • “загладиться”? Honestly, that’s the first time I’m seeing/hearing such word. There is a term заглЯдеться on something – to look on something for a long time paying no heed to either time or what’s going on around. There is “загладить” – to make smth uneven and/pr crumpled – flat, and roughless. At the same time – “загладить вину” means “to atone [for one’s guilt]”

      “Пообтесаться” – to get used to the new envirnment and new collective of the people to fit in. Literally means “to get oneself hewed [like a stone]”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • 1) полумнимый – from “мнимый”, meaning false, alleged, pretencious, not real, made up, imaginary, putative. “Полу” – means “half”. Depends on context.

      2) “немнемогеничный”. That’s the first time I see such a word! Made up word, by all appearances. “Не-” means “Non-/Un-” – that’s the only thing I’m 100% sure. “Мнемогеничность” is not a term, AFAIK. “Mnemos” is the common Greek derived root for the “Memory”, plus “Genesis” – “Origin”.

      Is it some new and very pretentious way to say “forgettable”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The full sentence:

        Позже он понял, что полумнимый и немнемогеничый одноклассник, он же средний гробовщик и керосинщик – её любовник.

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        • Yup – pretentious neologism detected (oh, modern Russian prose!). Why, just, why? Why use ill-fitting in this situation “полумнимый” instead of “незаметный”, and go for… honestly, no idea what for… to use “немнемогеничый” instead of “незапоминающийся” or even “заурядный”? And the “bonus info”, describing this “lover-hero” as “average undertaker and “keroseneer” (uhm, the novel takes place in early XX c.?), actually, more poignantly describes the object of this fellow thirst – some kind of stereotypical St. Pete’s “филологесса”.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Just what are you reading, J.T.?! The number of neologisms is OVER 9000 already! I’;; try to answer all of the questions in one post:

      1) “Тре-” and “Восьми-” relates to “three” and “eight”. Some “Inception” like stuff is happening there, if you have “eight-fold [deep] sense”. That’s a quantitative upgrade from just ordinary “double-entendre“.

      2) “треплевское творчество” – too suble and over the top pretentious. Refers to the “Seagull” play by Chekhov, where one certain K.G. Treplyov was one of the main characters, a son of an actor and actress, who styles himself a “modern playwright”… a quinissential useless pretentious kreakl early XX c. style.

      3) ущемленный – infringed, restrained.

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        • “Close to Zero (Околоноля) by Nathan Dubovitsky.”

          Oooooooooh!

          Points about “modern Russian lit” and “too pretentious” confirmed. They tend to sound like a Holy Book for some sort of sect. Which they – the creative class – are.

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          • The writing does seem pretentious at times… But remember – I’m in academia. I’m used to reading pretentious s**t all the time.

            How’s the expose coming along? 🙂

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    • стопудовая – literally: somethingweighting 100 puds, from the old Russian measure of weight “пуд”, which equals 16.3 kg (about 40 pounds). In moder slang thoughs “стопудово(е)” refers to something reliable, “100 percent true”.

      As fortheAutumn being “rusty” – well, the colour of the leaves can make you think so.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Translation needed for раскрутить.
    A character begs (?) to another character:

    Раскрути меня, Егор. О, раскрути!

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    • “Раскрутка” – yet another slang term, aka “to spin”. Here it means “to promote”, “to make famous”, “to tell about [me] to anyone”.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Context of the word suka in the following sentence?

    Стану модным, как Кирилл, сука, Серебряников, как Северянин в древности.

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