Российская фехтовальщица на Олимпиаде / A Russian Fencer at the Olympics

Deriglazova with gold medal

Audio content: Russian Olympic champions and their families react to their victories. Includes an example of dialectical language variation.
Visual content: Russian athletes and fans, a few domestic interiors.

(Video embedded below, or available here)

Recently I took a break from Луч света to focus on my research for a little while, but I’ve been keeping track of some good videos and will be posting them over the next few weeks. Here is one more follow-up on Russia’s Olympic appearance. The video focuses most of all on Inna Deriglazova, a 26-year-old fencer who won a gold medal in a closely fought 12-11 victory over a former gold medal champion from Italy. We hear from her, her coach and her family.

This video clip has a few culturally and linguistically interesting aspects. The interviewees, and Inna in particular, come across as role models for the values promoted in official circles and in the state-controlled media — values of decency, graciousness, commitment to family and simple straightforward patriotism. The brief comment at the end from the 19-year-old swimmer Anton Chupkov, a bronze medal winner, also fits into this framework. Note as well the cross around his neck — a fairly common sight amid the post-Soviet revival of the Russian Orthodox Church. The segment ends, however, with a little jab at the U.S. (not included in my transcript): the announcers mention that the Russian swimmer Yuliia Efimova will be competing in the 200-meter breaststroke tonight and that the American swimmer Lilly King did not even qualify for this event. Russian fans are encouraged to gloat over this fact because of what happened after the 100-meter breastroke: King, the gold medal winner, did not congratulate silver medal winner Efimova because of doping suspicions. The International Swimming Federation had in fact banned Efimova from the Rio Olympics because of earlier positive doping tests. The suspension period for these violations was over, but Efimova was excluded because of the stricter criteria being applied to the Russian team because of the nation’s state-supported doping scandal (see the previous blog entry). Efimova subsequently won an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She had to endure boos from the crowd during her races.

From the linguistic point of view, the video provides two interesting examples of atypical speech: a woman speaking a southern dialect and the speech of a young child — see below.

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Допинг-скандал: Кто не поедет в Рио? / The doping scandal: Who won’t be going to Rio?

Elena Isinbaeva, Russian pole vaulter

Audio content: Athletes and sports officials commenting on the exclusion of Russia’s track and field athletes from the Rio Olympics
Video content: leading athletes, coaches, track and field competitions

(Video embedded below)

Russian athletics has been caught up in a doping scandal of enormous proportions for the last year or more. A report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently presented the results of their investigations. According to the report, Russian state agencies including the Federal Security Service (ФСБ, Федеральная служба безопасности) and the Ministry of Sport (Министерство спорта) oversaw the falsification of doping tests for Russian athletes in the years leading up to and including the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Over the course of several years, state agencies worked with the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory to simply reclassify positive tests as negative. Then, after the scheme was discovered, the Moscow laboratory was discredited by international organizations and its head, Grigory Rodchenkov, fled to the US in late 2015 and began sharing additional information about the doping system. The most sensational aspect of the scandal is the plot used to evade doping safeguards at the Sochi Olympics. Apparently there was a small hole in a wall between the secure room that stored athletes’ urine samples and an adjacent room that was outside the secure perimeter. In the middle of the night, Russian anti-doping officials would pass out urine samples to FSB agents in the next room, who would replace the tainted urine with clean samples that had been collected well in advance. Somehow the people involved managed to open and reseal the supposedly tamper-proof urine bottles without leaving a trace. Their efforts seem to have paid off: Russia won more medals than any other nation in the Sochi Olympics. See this article by the New York Times for more information.

After this state-directed doping scheme was revealed, the big question, of course, was whether Russia would be allowed to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In late July 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued its decision: Russians would be allowed to participate, but any athlete who had been caught doping at any time in the past — even if the disqualification period had expired — would not be allowed to participate. Also, the entire Russian track and field team has been disqualified due to an earlier decision by the international federation for that sport. This article by Meduza gives a quick overview of how the decision affects Russia’s Olympic teams in various sports.

So how has Russia responded to this situation? That’s the focus of today’s post,

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Молоко, сыр и красивые телёночки / Milk, Cheese and Cute Baby Calves

Lev, calf, Russian dairy farm

Audio content: Dairy farmers and cheese producers showing off their very impressive operations
Video content: Interesting images of the countryside near Voronezh, large-scale Russian agriculture, dairy cattle, grain fields, milking systems, cheese factories

The video doesn’t allow embedding. Follow the link to watch the video at tvrain.com (no subscription needed)

With oil and other raw material prices weak, TV Rain decided to do a series on components of the Russian economy that are not based on the extraction of natural resources. They found some particularly interesting developments in the agricultural sector. The half-hour segment at the above link explores an impressive dairy cattle and cheese operation called Молвест (Molvest). The company’s operations are centered around the city of Voronezh, several hundred kilometers south of Moscow. Until recently, Molvest was only engaged in dairy processing: they purchased the milk itself from independent suppliers and turned it into finished products. But in 2012, faced with an ongoing milk deficit and unstable prices, the company decided to take a big leap into farming and become fully “vertically integrated.” From that point on, the company would raise the dairy cattle themselves, grow the feed for the cattle themselves, milk the cows themselves, and then turn the milk into cheese and yogurt at their existing processing plants. The result is the enormous and very up-to-date operation you’ll see in the video. Molvest’s decision turned out to be particularly fortuitous in the wake of the sanctions and counter-sanctions that appeared after the Russian annexation of Crimea. Sanctions currently limit the import of cheese into Russia, so there is increased demand for good domestic cheese. But the infrastructure you’ll see in the video is not cheap. The company leaders complain that they have to compete with low-priced products labeled as “cheese” but actually produced using vegetable oils.

The transcript below covers two segments. In the first, we visit the barn that houses newborn calves. When Molvest first entered the dairy cattle industry in 2012, the company imported a special breed from France that produces milk with protein and fat levels that are ideal for cheese production. The animals were very expensive and Molvest aspired to raise the cattle for themselves as soon as possible. They seem to have succeeded — you’ll see that many native Russian cows are being born every day on their farms. In the second featured segment, the TV Rain journalist visits the site where cows are milked by means of a fast and space-efficient system known as a “carousel.” The dairy cows walk into a stall on a moving carousel, and by the time they’ve traveled the whole circle the milking is done.

Language notes: You’ll see a couple words more than once. “Малыш” = “baby, little one.” “Корм” = “feed” (for animals) — recall the verb “кормить” = “to feed.” And a young cow, i.e a calf, is a “телёнок.” This is already a diminutive form, but if you want to make it even more diminutive-affectionate you can say “телёночек,” a form you’ll see in the transcript. Also, words for animal young tend to have atypical plural forms ending in -ата; “calves” is “телята.”

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Москвичи об экономическом кризисе / Muscovians on the Economic Crisis

Audio content: People in Moscow describing how how the economic crisis has affected them
Visual content: Various Russian citizens on the streets of Moscow

Through most of the 2000s the dollar-to-ruble exchange rate hovered around 30 rubles per dollar. Today the rate is 65 rubles to the dollar — which at least is an improvement on the high of 82 rubles attained in January 2016. The drastic devaluation of the ruble is one of the most visible aspects of Russia’s current “economic crisis,” the result of a combination of factors including the sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the worldwide drop in the price of oil. Of course, some are affected by the crisis more than others — see my earlier post on those who made the unfortunate decision to acquire mortgages denominated in dollars. Overall, life goes on. Goods imported from abroad, including raw materials and supplies that Russian businesses need, are now much more expensive, which hurts employment. In response, the government has been encouraging local industry to develop domestically produced replacements for foreign products – a phenomenon referred to with the neologism “импортозамещение” (“import replacement”). The ever-adaptable Телеканал Дождь (TV Rain) launched a new travel series called Ездим дома (“let’s travel at home”), encouraging its listeners to make the best of the fact that trips abroad are now much more expensive than they used to be. At least Russia itself offers an incredible expanse for exploration! The government seems to have avoided drastic cuts to the budget so far. In fact, from the domestic perspective, the devaluation of the ruble partially balances out the drop in oil prices, since the price of a barrel of oil is denominated in dollars, which can now be exchanged for many more rubles than previously. You’ll see many of these themes reflected in the video above, in which people respond to a question about how the crisis has hurt them. Some are quite concerned while others view the situation in a light-hearted way. Certainly, Russia’s tumultuous recent history has given citizens plenty of practice at adapting to the latest turns of fate.

The key part of the video is embedded above. The entire program is here (access for Дождь subscribers only).

 

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RUSSIAN TRANSCRIPT

The video, of course, has subtitles, but the transcript below includes more of the conversational particles that the speakers use.

Вопрос: Что для вас самое болезненное в текущем кризисе?

Девушка: Кошелёк чувствует.

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Пасхальный Благодатный огонь / The Easter Holy Fire

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media / holy fire in Jerusalem

Audio content: Orthodox believers discussing their experiences and feelings as they meet the Easter “Holy Fire” at a Moscow airport
Visual content: Liturgical candle lighting and lanterns

Easter in the Eastern Orthodox Church doesn’t arrive until May 1 this year. (The date is calculated according to the phases of the moon, and also tends to fall later in the year because the Orthodox Church operates on the Julian calendar.) That means that Orthodox believers are still in the middle of the Великий пост (Great Fast or Lent), the 40-day period that involves the denial of certain worldly pleasures in preparation for the joyous celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

One event that Orthodox believers can look forward to is the yearly arrival of the “Благодатный огонь.” This phrase can be translated as “Holy Fire” but actually indicates something along the lines of “the fire that provides abundant blessings.” This fire appears on the evening of Holy Saturday, the night before Easter, at the храм Гроба Господня (Church of the Lord’s Tomb) in Jerusalem. This church is located at the site where Jesus is thought to have been buried after his crucifixion and where he subsequently rose from the dead. Many believers assert that the fire arises miraculously each year, although there has long been disagreement on this point even among members of the Church. In any case, the fire is distributed from the inner sanctum out to the worshipers in the church; it is also transported on special airline flights from Jerusalem to multiple centers of Orthodox belief around the world.

In the below videos we see

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