Melting ice pushes Norway closer to Asia

The town of Kirkenes in northernmost Norway used to be further away from Asia than virtually any other European port, but it suddenly seems a lot closer due to the global warming.  Melting ice has opened up the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s Arctic coastline, changing international trade patterns in profound ways — even if so farContinue reading “Melting ice pushes Norway closer to Asia”

Soviet Era Hotels Awaiting Capitalist Saviors

A computer rendering showing the Pekin hotel on the Garden Ring in 2017, after a $100 million refurbishment. Hulking, bleakly grey and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing, Soviet-era hotels are ready to be spruced up — if investors will have them. Many Soviet-era hotels in Moscow and other cities have undergone large-scale reconstruction in recent years and are now in the hands of international operators. The advantages of undertakingContinue reading “Soviet Era Hotels Awaiting Capitalist Saviors”

The World’s Largest Money Launderer

PresidentVladimir Putinis continuing his program of “nationalizing the elite,” bringing them further under his control. With this goal in mind, Putin signed two decrees in recent days, one mandating that officials report their incomes and expenses and another requiring that they declare all foreign assets. The laws, which go into force on July 1, will significantly change the rules of the game for the country’s political elite.Continue reading “The World’s Largest Money Launderer”

Junkie Russian Bears

Junkie bears are getting out of their tree by rolling out the barrel – and sniffing aircraft fuel. They have become addicted to fumes in discarded canisters of gasoline and kerosene. The huge creatures inhale deeply before digging a shallow hole and lying back as the effects kick in. The Kronotsky Nature Reserve, South Kamchatka, inContinue reading “Junkie Russian Bears”

Moscow Waiters, Don’t Snatch My Plate!

Save for price, Muscovites should be proud of their developing restaurant scene. But there is one inescapable thing from an expat perspective that drives me crazy about Moscow restaurants: Plate Snatching by Moscow waiters. Plate Snatching is the senseless criminal act of a waiter prematurely snatching a customer’s plate during the dining experience. Moscow waiters have an enshrined compulsive obsessive need to snatch away yourContinue reading “Moscow Waiters, Don’t Snatch My Plate!”

Why Russians Feel So Isolated and Hostile

People who are surprised by certain recurrences in Russian history apparently are not aware that popular culture changes very slowly, if at all. U.S. history is a good example. The U.S. emancipated itself from Britain 250 years ago, forming a republic intended to be unique. Yet even today, our political and legal culture is thoroughly imbued with concepts and values inherited from Britain. Russians are noContinue reading “Why Russians Feel So Isolated and Hostile”

Sacratomatoville Post Top 10 ( Most Popular Blog in 2012)

I find it very difficult to describe Sacratomatoville Post.  Its curious, insightful,warped, sensitive and personal.  This years top ten is curious at best.  Who had the fastest phone network was very important to readers as wsd smoking marijuana.  A LOT of people were fascinated by Charles Hamilton love of teddy bears. 10. Every carrier claims they have the fastestContinue reading “Sacratomatoville Post Top 10 ( Most Popular Blog in 2012)”

What the US Oil Revolution Means for Russia

The optimist will tell you that Russia is no longer a petrostate. Incremental growth is now coming from the consumer sectors, while there is less contribution from the oil-and-gas sector. While the budget clearly does depend on the volume of oil and gas revenues to balance, changes by the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry since the 2008 crisis mean the economy can still grow about 3 percentContinue reading “What the US Oil Revolution Means for Russia”

The Top 10 Russian Internet Brands Out to Conquer the World

The innovative Optimus Popularis keyboard, whose keys can be programed to any function and can even show pictures. It is sold for 31,500 rubles ($968) by Yandex partner design studio Art. Lebedev. In Russia, it’s not Google, but Yandex you tap up for a search query.Mail.ruoutstrips Yahoo!, Amazon is trounced by OZON, and Vkontakte outperforms Facebook. Russian versions of global brandsContinue reading “The Top 10 Russian Internet Brands Out to Conquer the World”

With more smokers per capita than any other country Moscow to ban smoking

Visitors to Moscow’s bars and restaurant will soon enjoy a smoke-free environment, thanks to new rules in the works as part of the city’s ambitious plan for development through 2025. The ban will spread much further than just evenings out, as the development plans also spell out restrictions on smoking in educational and medical institutions, government offices, and on public transportation that will come into force in 2012, Gazeta.ruContinue reading “With more smokers per capita than any other country Moscow to ban smoking”