Voices from Russia

Sunday, 22 November 2015

22 November 2015. Animal Funnies… Meanwhile, in Siberia…

00 suirrel 221115


What kind of “nuts” is Belich Belichovich referring to? Well… that depends on the state of your mind, dear reader… just sayin’…



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Look at the Word of the Year

00 Vera Mukhina. Worker and Kolkhoz Woman. fireworks. 10.02.13


Make some popcorn, pull out a six-pack, put on your team scarves, and settle in for the exciting countdown to the competition. That’s right; it’s time for the annual Слово Года 2013 (Word of the Year, 2013) contest. Well, I’m excited. It’s always a good opportunity to learn some new words and check out the Russian linguistic zeitgeist. Whilst Russia’s still voting for its word of the year, the Oxford dictionary already announced its winner… “selfie”, a photo taken of oneself and posted on a social network. This was widely reported in the Russian media, where I learned that in Russian, a “selfie” is “лук”. This was presumably from the English word “look” and not the native Russian word for an onion.

Russian also has the sub-category of лифтолук… a photo of oneself taken in an elevator, preferably, with lots of mirrors. One advocate of the лифтолук explains helpfully… Чем еще заниматься в лифте, оставшись наедине с собой? Можно, конечно, просто накрасить губы или смотреть в потолок, слушая музыку, но гораздо же веселее сделать лифтолук (What else are you going to do in an elevator by yourself? Of course, you could put on lipstick or look at the ceiling while you listen to music, but it’s much more fun to take a selfie). Whilst I continue to ponder how much this woman can do in an elevator, I’ve been following the voting for one website’s Russian word of the year. As usual, the country’s political life heavily bulks in the nominated words. For example, among the nominations is the verb размандатить, which means to strip an RF Gosduma deputy of his seat… to “undeputise” him, as it were. This verb even has an adjectival form… Размандаченный депутат Гудков может стать помощником Миронова (Gudkov, expelled from the Duma, might become an aide to Mironov).

The list of nominated words also reflects the political and social mudslinging in 2013 and offers new ways to insult your opponents. The right-wing coined the word креакл from the first letters of the phrase креативный класс (creative class), the phrase most commonly used to describe the white-collar liberal middle class. However, креакл is decidedly pejorative, and became downright insulting after a blogger described креакл in the style of the Animal Kingdom… Из интернета креаклы выползают редко (The “kreakl” rarely crawls out of its internet burrow). The creative class retaliated, in a way, with the insult православнутый, a term that describes fanatical Orthodox Christians whose religious zeal far exceeds their real knowledge of Orthodox dogma or history. The suffix –утый is associated with other words like тронутый (touched in the head) or чокнутый (nutty). О репрессиях, которым Сталин подвергал верующих, православнутые предпочитают не знать (Pseudo-Orthodox fanatics prefer not to know about the Stalinist repression of churchgoers). Another adjective with the same ending, майданутый, made a roaring comeback from its first appearance in 2004. It’s from майдан (square) and means democratic pro-Western Ukrainian demonstrators who came out of the square during the Orange Revolution. As far as I can tell, connotation depends on the speaker.

My reaction to all this is another nominated word of the year… печалька, which describes a minor cause for dismay, often with humour. Я не успела проголосовать за слово года. Какая печалька! (I didn’t get a chance to vote for the word of the year. What a bummer!)

13 December 2013

Michele Berdy

Moscow Times



Friday, 18 October 2013

18 October 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 16-20 September 2013

00 Sergei Yolkin. Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin. 16-20 September 2013. 2013

Events of the Week in Cartoons by Sergei Yolkin: 16-20 September 2013

Sergei Yolkin



The “Lake” Co-op is a real estate scandal involving Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways, a close friend of Vladimir Putin. It involves a chi-chi upscale dacha settlement for siloviki in Priozersky Raion of Leningrad Oblast. All of the owners are big wigs in the government and business. Of course, Yakunin’s spinning the situation like mad, but some of the mud’s sticking, especially, after Navalny picked up the story.

Yolkin uses one of his patented plays on words in the McCain entry. И это чистая правда.ru can mean, “That’s really in Pravda.ru”, or, “That’s absolutely true”… you pays your money and you takes your pick.



Sergei Yolkin ogles the revelations of the week: an article by John McCain in the online edition of Pravda.Ru , Putin’s possible candidacy in the 2018 Russian presidential election, and the story behind the creation of the Cooperative Озеро (Ozero: Lake) by Vladimir Yakunin.

20 September 2013

Sergei Yolkin



Saturday, 27 October 2012

27 October 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. It’s a Première, Mr Bond!

It’s a Première, Mr Bond!

Sergei Yolkin



Mars Winery in Russia makes a wine known as Портвейн 777 (Portvein 777: Port Wine 777). Trust me, it makes Thunderchicken and Night Train look good… no foolin’. It’s the tipple of choice of students and other such impecunious sorts… but not of drunkards, who prefer vodka. In colloquial Russian, it’s known as “Three Axes” due to the shape of the “sevens”. In other words, don’t confuse the “top shelf” 007 with the “rotgut bum wine” 777, y’hear. It’s yet another complex Yolkin play on words, this time, from Russian pop culture.



The latest “James Bond”, Daniel Craig, starred in the new film 007: Coordinates Skyfall, which is now out in Russian cinemas.

25 October 2012

Sergei Yolkin



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