This month, Moscow is offering free subway rides to passengers who can do 30 squats. It’s part Olympic fever, part healthy-lifestyle promotion, via the Wall Street Journal (and be sure to check out the pictures):
Moscow city officials are now offering free rides on the subway to any passenger who does 30 squats before crossing the ticket barrier to enter the metro in an effort to promote physical fitness and sports, according to Russian state media reports.
Each squat will be counted by a special machine marked with the Olympic logo that will be placed next to electronic ticket vending machines.
“We wanted to show that the Olympic Games is not just an international competition that people watch on TV, but that it is also about getting everyone involved in a sporting lifestyle,” Alexander Zhukov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, was quoted by state-run news wire RIA-Novosti as saying.
Gay marriage and gay rights have dominated much of the U.S. news over the past week. In Russia, meanwhile, from the Associated Press:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a measure that stigmatizes gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality. …
The ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values over Western liberalism, which the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against Putin’s rule.
Hefty fines can now be imposed on those who provide information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or hold gay pride rallies.
The Times today published a compelling report of first-hand observations of election fraud in Russia’s recent parliamentary elections. There are mounting protests; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced “serious concerns” about the election and called for a “full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation.”
But what if those first-hand observations were anomalous? What if the outcome for Vladimir Putin‘s United Russia Party, as disappointing as it was for him, truly represents the will of the Russian people? Read More »
Fascinating article from the Houston Chronicle:
The natural gas boom in the U.S. has weakened Russia’s influence on European energy supplies and could keep Iran’s influence in check for years to come, according to a new study from the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
The study, “Shale Gas and U.S. National Security,” says the surge of drilling in shale formations will have an impact on global supply for years to come and limit the need for the U.S. to import liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for at least 20 to 30 years.
That means more LNG shipments from the Middle East will be available for Europe, which has been beholden to Russia for a large portion of its gas, supplied by pipelines.
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, predicts that Russia’s share of the natural-gas market in Western Europe will drop to as little as 13 percent by 2040, down from 27 percent in 2009.
After getting crushed by falling commodity prices two years ago, their ranks cut by 70 percent, Russian billionaires are back and more plentiful than ever. According to a recent study, Russia currently has 114 billionaires, more than the 101 it had in 2007. Read More »
Not if the mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov has his way. According to Simon Shuster at TIME magazine,
For just a few million dollars, the mayor’s office will hire the Russian Air Force to spray a fine chemical mist over the clouds before they reach the capital, forcing them to dump their snow outside the city. Authorities say this will be a boon for Moscow, which is typically covered with a blanket of snow from November to March. Read More »
Photographer Anna Skladmann‘s “Little Adults” portraits feature children of Russia’s Nouveau-Riche who have “been raised to become ‘Elite’ and behave like little adults.” But as Very Short List wonders, with a financial crisis underway, will Russia’s rich kids start behaving more like kids? (Related: Russia moves ahead of De Beers as the world’s largest diamond […] Read More »