Voices from Russia

Sunday, 1 December 2013

1 December 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 11-15 November 2013

00 Sergei Yolkin. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin. 11-15 November 2013. 2013

Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 11-15 November 2013

Sergei Yolkin



In the original Russian text of the cartoon, Yolkin uses the word Милиции (Militsii: literally, “Militia”), the old name for the cops (now, they’re called полиция: politsiya). The former term remains in widespread colloquial use, so, I rendered it as “Cops”, the nearest English analogue.



Sergei Yolkin considers the themes of the week just past… the first snow, the capture of businessman Sergei Polonsky, and MVD Staff Day.

15 November 2013

Sergei Yolkin





Friday, 17 May 2013

Priest Shoots Drunk in Central Russia

01 Kicked Out

The priest was defending his daughter… end of story… he could’ve killed him and got away with it…


On Thursday, the RF MVD reported that a man who shot a drunk in the central Russian city of Yelets turned out to be a local priest who said he’d been defending his daughter. On 30 April, a 25-year-old city resident was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest. Although he refused to cooperate with police, they established that, the day before, the victim and two other young men, who’d been drinking, harassed a girl who was going to church with her father, a clergyman. The three young men and the priest, 53, got into a fight, during which he shot one of the men. The police said that he’d used an illegal weapon… a gas pistol modified to fire live bullets. The cops detained the priest, who said that he’d found the gun. He faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm, which carries a penalty of two to eight years in prison.

16 May 2013



Editor’s Note:

Watch for the priest to get a “slap on the wrist” for using an illegal firearm. To speak plainly, the common folk look up to people like this as “Robin Hoods”… so, the judiciary isn’t gonna dump on him like a ton of bricks. Remember, Russia’s in the midst of one of its periodic “sobriety campaigns”… that means that those who “even the score” against drunken hooligans won’t get the chop. He’ll get a fine… if that. After all, WHO started the brouhaha in the first place? It sure wasn’t the priest…


Saturday, 16 February 2013

16 February 2013. Aftermaths from the Meteorite Strike in the Urals

00 Meteorite Strike. Chelyabinsk. Russia. 16.02.13


Metropolitan Feofan Ashurkov {former Deputy Chairman of the DECR under HH… ruling bishop of Stavropol during the Beslan crisis… another important cleric the konvertsy don’t know about: editor} of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust said in a statement released on Friday that a meteorite strike that injured hundreds of people in Chelyabinsk Oblast on Friday was “the Lord’s message to humanity. From the Scriptures, we know that the Lord often sends people signs and warnings via natural phenomenon. I think that not only for Ural residents, but for the whole of humanity, the meteorite is a reminder that we live in fragile and unpredictable world”. He called on people to support each other and pray to God in thanks for saving the world from a devastating disaster.

Hundreds of people sought medical aid after the meteorite hit Russia early on Friday. Shock waves from the meteorite as it passed through the atmosphere at supersonic speed affected thousands of buildings. Many local residents will have to patch up their broken windows, as temperatures will likely drop as low as -17 degrees (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the region overnight.


Early Friday evening, the MVD said that some 1,000 people, including more than 200 children, were hurt because of falling meteorite fragments during the day, mostly in Chelyabinsk Oblast. However, figures on hospitalisation varied significantly, but most injuries seemed to be relatively light. The majority of those hurt suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorite hit the Earth, smashing windows and causing damage to over 3,000 buildings. In the mid-afternoon, prior to flying to Chelyabinsk Oblast, EMERCOM Minister Vladimir Puchkov told President Putin that “more than 500 people asked for medical help; 112 people, including 80 children, were hospitalised”. At about the same time, the Health Ministry gave comparable figures for injuries, but not hospitalisations, saying some 525 people, including 82 children, were hurt in Chelyabinsk Oblast alone. However, the ministry’s figure for hospitalisations was 34 people, including 12 children. The Health Ministry said two of the injured were in serious condition. By late Friday afternoon, Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich said that the number of victims had gone up to 950, adding that two-thirds of the injuries were minor.


People in Chelyabinsk, the region hardest hit by the meteorite strike that slammed Russia on Friday morning, have a tough-guy reputation, pumped up in recent years by a popular TV skit show. Twitter feeds in the hours following landfall kept up the image, but admitted some weaknesses too. Twitter user @ma1ice_ma1ice wrote an hour after the celestial body streaked the sky over Chelyabinsk, a city of 1.1 million in the southern Ural Mountains, “Everybody cleared out from our office except one dude. Asked why, he said, I need me some coffee first”. Such stories jostled for online space with messages full of words like “fear,” “panic” and “scared sh*tless,” as well as numerous other expletives, which also abounded in most eyewitness videos posted on YouTube.

User @DANISHPRINCIPLE wrote, “Blinding flash of light, then, a blast like we’re being bombed. Lord, surviving this is unreal. I thought a war’d begun”. Authorities reported no deaths due to the meteorite, but police said by early evening that nearly 1,000 people were hurt, the majority of them injured by glass shattered by the shock wave. @DashkaBulanova wrote, “Yes, I’m home, shaking all over. Horrible panic here, everybody’s leaving the city”. However, the panic was far from universal, @Nastyayas tweeted, “I was asleep, heard the blast, and went back to sleep”. The less-lucky user @R_T_S_ wrote, “That’s some original wake-up call right there, when your door gets blown away by the blast wave”. Some took it better than others did, @caxapoook reported, “We were dancing, suddenly a flash of light and a horrible blast, we run up on stage in a panic, and the teacher’s all calm, ‘Don’t worry, it’s just a meteorite’”. Some were just puzzled, Twitter user @marchenkochk reported, “Me and Anya smoked up and then the blast hit. We were like, what the fuck, and didn’t understand a thing”.

The people of Chelyabinsk, an industrial city plagued by dismal environmental pollution and high crime rates, became Russia’s new stereotypical tough guys after a television skit show called Our Russia went viral in the mid-2000s… it extolled their numerous implausible virtues and over-the-top skills, not unlike the AmericanChuck Norris facts” phenomenon, praising the hyper-tough action hero. A Russian meme claims, “Chelyabinsk people are so hardcore that…”. The variations are many, ranging from “Chelyabinsk postmen are so hardcore that they bite dogs in the arse” to “Chelyabinsk woodpeckers are so hardcore that they drilled two subway stations”. The meteorite predictably triggered a wave of new incarnations of the meme, like “Chelyabinsk rain is so hardcore it’s made of stone”. The meteorite strike also spawned a dozen Russian-language Twitter accounts of its own, all offering more lowbrow humour, with lines like, “Looking to meet earthlings. No Bruce Willises”…  a reference to the Hollywood star’s crusade against space debris in Armageddon.


As Russia assesses the damage from the meteorite shower that rained down on the central region of the country Friday, experts in the USA said that the fragments of space rock could bring a small fortune in hidden treasure to those quick enough to find and scoop them up. Joseph Gutheinz, a specialist on meteorites and a former senior special agent with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said in an interview with RIA-Novosti, “A relatively small piece is worth maybe a few hundred dollars, but a large chunk can be up to 100,000 dollars (3.02 million Roubles. 74,900 Euros. 64,500 UK Pounds) or even more. We literally have meteor shows here in the USA on a regular basis”. As for the meteorite fragments that landed in central Russia on Friday morning injuring hundreds of people and damaging thousands of buildings, Gutheinz said, “I expect people to be out there with metal detectors all over the place. They might even come in from Moscow to search”.

The catch is to find the right chunk of rock. Size matters, but the value of a meteorite is also based on its rarity, where it came from, and what it’s made of. Chris Palma, a professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University, said in an interview with RIA-Novosti, “The most common is called a stony-iron, and it’s made up of minerals that are pretty common on Earth, so a small piece might be worth 20 bucks. But the composition can tell you something about where it came from, so if it has a composition that suggests it likely came from Mars, the value goes through the roof”. One of the largest sales on record came from a four-pound (1.8-kilogram) moon rock called the Dar al Gani 1058, found in Libya in 1998, sold last year at an auction in the USA for 330,000 USD (10 million Roubles. 247,000 Euros. 213,000 UK Pounds). A 355-pound (161-kilogram) meteorite found in Argentina and believed to have come from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter sold for 93,000 USD (2.8 million Roubles. 70,000 Euros. 60,000 UK Pounds) on eBay in 2006.

Gutheinz said that anyone who finds what they think is a meteorite should have it assessed by an expert, and, in order to sell it, they should first get a certificate that documents the authenticity, noting, “Most of the time, eBay would be a good place to sell, but if you have a large rock you’d want to go to an auction house, and they’re going to want to know where it was, and they would require independent analysis”. For rocks that are larger than a baseball, he added, “People find they get more money by carving it up and selling it in smaller pieces”. Palma said that meteorite fragments aren’t radioactive or dangerous, unless they’ve just landed, when they might be blistering hot.

The lucrative price for meteorites… and the fact that rocks collected from national parks and other public land in the USA are supposed to belong to the federal government… created a thriving black market worldwide. In 1998, as a special agent with NASA, Gutheinz led an undercover sting operation designed to catch people selling phony moon rocks. Instead, Operation Lunar Eclipse led him to a man who had a real moon rock and an asking price of 5 million USD (151 million Roubles. 3.75 million Euros. 3.25 million UK Pounds). He traced it to the Apollo 17 mission to the moon; it was a goodwill gift from then-US President Richard Nixon to Honduras. Eventually, the rock was given back to the government of Honduras.

Gutheinz said that before someone buys a meteorite, a geologist should make a very definitive assessment based on evidence of extreme heat, weight, composition, and other factors. In the USA, Gutheinz added, “Most meteorites are found in ploughed fields or desert environments, all across the farm belt and the prairies in ploughed land, and in Death Valley they’re found a lot because it’s dry, so you don’t have the decay factor, and they stand out against the background”. Palma said that there’s a simple test that’d give amateurs a quick clue to tell if an odd-looking rock is a valuable find from outer space, saying, “If you see a streak of light, and hear the sonic boom, it’s a good giveaway that it landed someplace close to you and it’s worth checking out. The first thing to do is check to see if it’s magnetic. It’s not a guarantee, but most of them are”.

Maria Young


On Saturday, Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich dismissed rumours that locals broke windows themselves in the hope of getting meteorite-related insurance, saying, “It isn’t true… nothing like that happened. That information is a journalistic spoof. No one broke any glass on purpose”. A police source told RIA-Novosti on Friday that several instances had come to light of people in Chelyabinsk Oblast breaking their windows with a view to claiming compensation for damage caused by the meteorite’s powerful shockwave. Similar stories circulated widely in the Russian media after a meteorite slammed into central Russia on Friday, injuring over 1,000 people, and causing damages estimated by local officials at over 1 billion roubles (33.2 million USD. 24.9 million Euros. 21.4 million UK Pounds). On Saturday, Chelyabinsk Oblast EMERCOM reported that the incident damaged over 4,000 buildings, mostly apartment buildings, and that the shockwave broke 200,000 square kilometres (77,220 square miles) of glass.


Officials said that a flaming meteorite streaked across the sky and slammed into central Russia on Friday with a massive boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people in the area. The rare and spectacular phenomenon sparked confusion and panic among residents of the region; but numerous witnesses captured it on video, which quickly spread to television and computer screens around the world. A local teacher in Chelyabinsk Oblast told RIA-Novosti, “Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright. Not like the lights got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual white light”.

Police and other officials said that around 1,200 people had been hurt, including more than 200 children, mostly in Chelyabinsk Oblast in the Ural region. According to EMERCOM, by the end of the day, 50 people were in hospital with meteorite-related injuries. Earlier, authorities reported that at least two people were in “serious” condition. The majority of those hurt suffered cuts from broken glass, but Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich said that two-thirds of the injuries were very minor.

The blast was so powerful that 11 of the 45 infrasound stations of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO)’s network designed to track atomic blasts across the planet detected it. Bill Cooke, of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said at a teleconference on Saturday (Moscow time) that the object that exploded above Chelyabinsk was, in fact, a “tiny asteroid” measuring about 15 metres (50 feet) in diameter, weighting 7,000 metric tons (7,716 US tons). According to Cooke, it entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle of about 20 degrees and exploded at the height of about 20-25 kilometres, generating an energy shockwave equal to about 300 kilotons of TNT, or 20 nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The atmosphere absorbed the vast majority of the energy. Later, as new information filtered in from monitoring stations around the world, NASA upped its estimates of the object’s power, mass, and size. An update posted on the NASA site estimates that it released 500 kilotons of energy, that it was 17 metres (56 feet) in diameter before entering the earth’s atmosphere, and that it had a mass of 10,000 tons (11,023 US tons)… making it 30 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

Speaking to journalists on Saturday, EMERCOM Minister Vladimir Puchkov commended the teams working on the ground in the areas affected, saying, “A great deal of work has already been done, and we’re now launching rebuilding work. Power, transport, and communications systems are all working normally”. He also praised Chelyabinsk residents for what he called their restraint, patience, and level-headedness. Also speaking on Saturday, Chelyabinsk Region Governor Mikhail Yurevich said that repair work was well underway; he said that the meteorite strike affected approximately 100,000 residents. Reportedly, background radiation levels remain unchanged. Both EMERCOM and Rosatom confirmed this; it was a concern because the area has a fair number of nuclear facilities.

Reports about whether this was one large meteorite or many smaller ones initially varied, but Roscosmos confirmed by early afternoon that the object was a single meteorite, a report given earlier by EMERCOM. Yelena Smirnykh, deputy head of the EMERCOM press office, said, “Verified information indicates that this was one meteorite, which burned up as it approached Earth and disintegrated into smaller pieces”. Roscosmos stated the meteorite had been moving at a speed of 30 kilometres per second (108,000 kph/18.6 miles per second/67,100 mph). Officials are trying to determine where the fragments landed. None were recovered as of Saturday morning. On Saturday, a spokesman for EMERCOM, Irina Rossius, said that a group of six divers is preparing to plunge into the Chebarkul Lake to search for meteorite fragments. The dive should last about four hours. Earlier in the day, emergency officials in neighbouring Kazakhstan said that they were searching for two unidentified objects that reportedly fell in Aktobe Oblast. However, as they found no meteorite fragments by Friday evening local time, it led to speculation that if meteor fragments had entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Central Asia, they vaporised before making impact.


Click here and here for a photo gallery and here for a special Infographic (please, allow it time to load)

15/16 February 2013








Friday, 15 February 2013

Some 400 Injured in Russian Meteor Shower

00 Meteorite Strike. Chelyabinsk. Russia. 15.02.13


The MVD reported that more than 150 people sought medical help in one of three Russian oblasts hit by a meteorite shower on Friday. It said that dozens of people suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorites smashed windows in numerous buildings across the Chelyabinsk Oblast, but “no-one suffered serious injuries”. On Friday, Russian government officials confirmed that the meteorite shower hit three oblasts of Russia and Kazakhstan. The police are searching for the fallen meteorite pieces and protecting affected buildings from looting. Reports are inconclusive about whether one large meteorite or several smaller ones caused the incident. Residents of three villages in Sverdlovsk Oblast reported witnessing the shower, but nobody there was injured.


The hail of meteor pieces that hit Russia on Friday fell in an area with a cluster of major nuclear facilities, including the largest Russian nuclear fuel-processing plant, but officials said early on that none suffered any damage and that they detected no radioactive contamination. In a statement released within hours of the strike, which damaged factories, schools, and residential buildings, Rosatom, the state nuclear agency, said, “All of Rosatom’s facilities in the Urals region are working normally. They’ve suffered no consequences from the meteorite shower”. The most well-known facility in the area, located in hard-hit Chelyabinsk Oblast, is the Mayak nuclear-fuel processing plant, where a major accident in 1957 caused some of the worst nuclear contamination in the USSR’s history, second, perhaps, only to the infamous Chernobyl reactor accident. Local officials said that they had noticed no contamination there.


The MVD reported that the number of people who sought medical help across three Russian oblasts hit by a meteorite shower on Friday climbed to over 400. Officials said that hundreds suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorites smashed windows in numerous buildings across Chelyabinsk Oblast. An MVD spokesman said, “The condition of at least three [people] is considered serious”. The shower hit at least six cities in three centrally-located Russian oblasts. On Friday, Russian government officials confirmed that the shower also affected some areas of neighbouring Kazakhstan.


On Friday morning, Russian officials said that falling meteorite particles and the shock waves and sonic booms caused by them damaged buildings across Chelyabinsk Oblast. The MVD reported that a roof and wall partly collapsed at a zinc factory in Chelyabinsk Oblast after a shock wave from a meteorite struck it. The officials didn’t specify which factory it was. In an online statement, the oblast authorities said that the factory continued working normally despite the damage. South Ural State University cancelled classes for at least two days due to damage to its buildings. A university spokesman told RIA-Novosti, “The roof didn’t collapse, but the damage is quite significant. The windows are broken; some of them were blown in with their frames”. She also added that some ceiling tiles also fell down. EMERCOM reported that windows were also broken at least a dozen schools and three hospitals. The roof of a Chelyabinsk ice rink also suffered damage.

Chelyabinsk municipal authorities reported that at least 454 residential buildings had their gas supply cut off in central Chelyabinsk as of 16.30 local time Friday afternoon after protective safety systems were activated, but they reported no damage to gas pipelines. Energy supplier Inter RAO reported that the Yuzhnouralskaya district power station had 10 percent of its windows broken, but there was no effect on its operations. Rosatom, the state nuclear agency, said that its facilities across the affected regions were functioning normally. The Defence Ministry also said that none of its property was damaged. In Chelyabinsk Oblast alone, hundreds of people were injured, mainly due to cuts from flying glass. People in at least three Russian oblasts (Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Tyumen), as well as those in the northern area of neighbouring Kazakhstan, witnessed the meteorite shower early on Friday morning.


Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich said in a statement posted on his website that a meteorite that injured scores of people in central Russia when it fell to earth early on Friday plunged into a lake in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, noting, “The meteorite that passed over Chelyabinsk Oblast fell into a body of water 1 kilometre (2/3 mile) from the city of Chebarkul”. Almost 500 people were injured when fragments from what EMERCOM said was a single meteorite fell across central Russia. Most people were hurt by shattering glass. Five people are in hospital, an MVD spokesman described the condition of three of them as “serious”. Roscosmos confirmed that the object was a meteorite and said that it was moving at “around 30 kilometres per second (108,000 kph/18.6 miles per second/67,100 mph) at a low trajectory”.


The European Space Agency (ESA) said that the meteorite that hit the Urals on Friday morning was not debris from the 2012 DA14 asteroid, which is due to pass close by the Earth later the same day. ESA said on its official Twitter that its experts confirmed that there’s no link between the meteorite and the asteroid, but provided no details of its analysis. The 2012 DA14, which is roughly 50 metres (165 feet) in diameter, will pass 27,000 kilometres (16,800 miles) from Earth… closer than satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which is 36,000 kilometres (22,400 miles). The 2012 DA14 flyby will take place at 19.24 UTC (11.24 PST 14.24 EST 23.24 MSK 06.24 16 February AEST), about 16 hours after the meteorite incident in Chelyabinsk Oblast which left at least 400 injured, mostly from glass broken by the shock wave as the meteorite flew past. Numerous media reports linked the asteroid to the meteor. Tatiana Bordovitsina, an astronomy professor at Tomsk State University in western Siberia, told RIA-Novosti two hours before the ESA statement that the meteorite could’ve been debris preceding the asteroid, but she said that we needed a more thorough examination of the incident. NASA confirmed that 2012 DA14 isn’t on a collision course with the planet, but said that if the asteroid hit the Earth, the resulting explosion would be 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that obliterated Hiroshima in 1945.


On Friday, health officials confirmed that a hail of meteorite fragments injured hundreds of people in central Russia. Various officials said that as of mid-day MSK, as many as 725 people, including up to 159 children, sought medical assistance in hard-hit Chelyabinsk Oblast because of the strikes. Figures on hospitalisation in the oblast varied significantly, from 34 to 112, with several reported to be in “serious” condition. Most people were hurt by shattering glass. President Vladimir Putin ordered EMERCOM officials to provide “immediate” assistance to the people affected by the meteorite. Gas supplies were cut off to hundreds of homes in Chelyabinsk as a safety precaution, and some 3,000 buildings were reported to have been damaged. The government mobilised an estimated 20,000 emergency response workers. Reportedly, background radiation levels remain unchanged. Both EMERCOM and Rosatom confirmed this, as the area has a fair number of nuclear facilities.

Reports about whether this was one large meteorite or many smaller ones initially varied, but Roscosmos confirmed by early afternoon that the object was a single meteorite, a report given earlier by EMERCOM. Yelena Smirnykh, deputy head of the EMERCOM press office, said, “Verified information indicates that this was one meteorite, which burned up as it approached Earth and disintegrated into smaller pieces”. Roscosmos stated that the meteorite fragments were moving at a speed of 30 kilometres per second.

A teacher in Chelyabinsk Oblast told RIA-Novosti, “All the city’s residents saw blinding flashes, very bright ones. Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright. Not like the lights got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual white light”. Officials are trying to determine where the fragments landed. The governor of Chelyabinsk Oblast said that one had fallen in a lake in his oblast, whilst others were reported in Tyumen, Kurgan, and Sverdlovsk Oblasts as well. Police said an eight-metre-wide (26-feet-wide) crater was discovered near the Chelyabinsk lake. They reported that the radiation levels around the crater were normal.

Emergency officials in west Kazakhstan said that they were searching for two unidentified objects that fell in Aktobe Oblast. The European Space Agency (ESA) said that there was no link between the meteorite and the DA14 asteroid, which is due to pass close by the Earth later on Friday. NASA also said that there was no connection because the asteroid and the “Russian meteorite” are on “very different paths”. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in Krasnoyarsk Krai in Siberia, called the meteorite “a symbol of the forum”, saying, “I hope that there’ll be no serious consequences, but it’s a demonstration that it isn’t only the economy that’s vulnerable, but our planet as well”.


On Friday, nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, long known for his flamboyance and outrageous remarks, said that meteorite fragments hadn’t rained down on Russia in the morning, but that the light flashes and tremors in several oblasts resulted from American weapons tests. Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, told journalists several hours after EMERCOM began issuing statements on the incident, which injured hundreds and damaged scores of buildings, “Those aren’t meteors falling, it’s the Americans testing new weapons”. He also said that US Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to warn Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the “provocation” on Monday, but couldn’t reach him… a reference to US State Department comments earlier this week that Kerry had spent several days trying to speak to Lavrov by phone to discuss North Korea and Syria. Zhirinovsky went on to say, “Outer space has its own laws. Nothing will ever fall out there. If [something] falls, it’s people doing that. People who’re instigators of wars, provocateurs”.


Click here and here for a video; click here for a photo gallery

15 February 2013










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