A great deal has changed in Russia since the Soviet times, but recently a man has been discovered who may be unaware of any of it. When court enforcement officers in St. Petersburg came to evict a couple of residents who, according to their neighbours, had turned their apartment into a garbage dump, behind the door was an elderly man who could only produce his Soviet passport as identification.
The man, born 1939, lived there with his wife who suffered from a mental illness, and was initially reported to have not had been outside for 25 years. The couple were taken to hospitals.
A 40 weeks pregnant woman had one hell of a fishing trip, after she had decided to accompany her husband and relatives to a lake amidst dense marshy forest in Yakutia. When she went into labor, her husband and sister tried to take her to a hospital, but their offroader got stuck in a swamp.
The spot was unreachable on any vehicle, the Russian Ministry of Health reports, so emergency responders had to force-march there for miles after the stranded group had managed to get a signal. The physicians were able to help the bleeding woman, while armed police officers protected them from rutting brown bears circling around.
AT vehicles, sent to the rescue one by one got stuck in the swamp, so the responders had to carry the mother and her newborn daughter to a highway, where they were picked up and rushed to a hospital. Both are doing well.
The first long-awaited meeting between the two presidents has, naturally, received a lot of attention in the Russian media. Even before it started, Russian media outlets tried to decipher the hidden meanings behind Putin and Trump’s body language, trying to determine who won the non-verbal power contest. Fortunately, Putin seems to have been prepared for the Trump handshake that has become somewhat of a meme.
“What did Trump and Putin talk about after all? (Spoiler: hell if we know)” — this headline summarizes most of what Russian media can, or rather can’t, tell about the actual exchange. Some nuggets of information, though, filtered through the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. He claims that, during a lengthy debate, Putin successfully refuted allegations of Russian involvement in the U.S. elections, and Trump does not intend to bring the issue up again.
With no details released about Ukraine, Russian media now warily await what Trump’s new man in Kiev, Kurk Volker, is going to tell Poroshenko.
Russian computer stores report severe shortages of videocards that nearly doubled in price in the last two months. Some customers purchase 200, 300 or even 600 of them. The demand for videocards has almost tripled recently and now exceeds supply, distributors tell Vedomosti.
A surge in gaming activity? Not really. Rather, the demand is linked to a hike in bitcoin rate to dollar, from $1,000 in March to $3,000 in June, along with other cheaper cryptocurrencies like Etherium and Lightcoin. Emitting (“mining”) such coins requires a machine capable of performing certain computations, best done with top-of-the-line videocards.
Since the computations get harder with every new coin, Russian miners, whose numbers are growing rapidly, pool their resources together. The viability of the business model ultimately comes down to the cost of power, so people rent videocards in mining centers set up in such regions as the Irkutsk Oblast, where energy costs less than one rouble (1.6 US cents) per kilowatt-hour.
“Parliament is no place for discussions” is an infamous misquote ascribed to the Russian statesman Boris Gryzlov. Although he never actually said that, the State Duma (the lower house of Parliament) under the new leadership of Vyacheslav Volodin is still perceived by many as an approval machine for the laws proposed by the Kremlin.
Volodin, however, brought in some visible change concerning discipline. Instead of habitually looking at their smartphones in a half-empty Duma during sessions, MPs now queue up to elevators and the canteen due to new penalties for absenteeism and being late, New Year’s corporate parties and ridiculous, attention-grabbing law proposals have been banned, and sessions now run late into the evening.
Deputies’ seats in post-90s Russia have sometimes been seen as the icing on the cake for successful businesspersons, granting immunity and other privileges while solidifying one’s place in the Russian elite. Now, it seems that Volodin actually expects deputies to work just as any other employee. This has already led to the first MPs, such as the billionaire Skorobogatko, giving up their seats.
A massive street reconstruction project in Moscow, besides clogging up the center of Moscow, continues to bring new archaeological findings to light.
Archaeologists, unrecognizable in their green construction vests and hard hats, have taken out an iron cube that was identified as a 17th century coin forger’s tool. Another curious sample is a Stone Age flint cutter dated 5th to 3rd millennium B.C.
Other finds, like the foundations of four medieval churches demolished during the Soviet period, are more monumental and harder to “museumify,” as they lie below what would soon once again be busy streets. For example, a newly-uncovered underground “secret room” used in the 16th century to listen to the enemy outside of the city’s walls may be once again be filled with sand for conservation.