Orientation and Recommendations

I’m taking a break from adding new posts as it’s been harder to find suitable material. The 40+ existing posts continue to be useful and relevant — I generally tried to pick topics that would retain their interest for some time as a glimpse into (more or less) contemporary Russian life. Below I’ve highlighted posts that I think are particularly engaging and useful for language learners and instructors. I also fixed a couple broken links, so everything should be in working order. In addition, I updated the “More Online Russian Language Resources” page, and the Dictionaries page remains a good guide for language learners who haven’t yet discovered how helpful it is to consult a real, human-created bilingual dictionary!

So, click through for some immensely useful orientation and recommendations… and note that the full list of contents is always available from the main menu above.

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Weekly Review: Spring Is in the Air

Here’s another short post on a few interesting elements in last week’s Russian news. The reports I saw made it very clear that spring is here!

Spring Cleaning: Десятки тысяч жителей России провели первый из трех длинных выходных за трудом на свежем воздухе

This was a very positive report from Channel One on volunteer clean-up days in parks across Russia. They even made brooms double as selfie sticks! I also noticed that several minutes later they reported on some small anti-Putin protests that happened that same day. Presumably they expect viewers to draw the desired conclusion about what kind of civic engagement is best.

Victory Parade Prep: На Красной площади пройдет первая совместная репетиция пеших расчетов и механизированной колонны
Handing out St. George Ribbons: По всей России стартовала акция «Георгиевская ленточка»

Another sign of spring is of course the early May holidays. Preparations are underway for WWII Victory Day (День победы) on May 9. Channel One had a reporter show off some military technology that will be featured in the parade. Another report displayed people handing out the orange-and-black Ribbons of St. George (Георгиевская ленточка). The ribbon was originally a component of a WWI and WWII military decoration and is now a common popular symbol of national pride.

Victory Day Parade: One of my earliest posts featured the popular “Immortal Regiment” parade that happens on May 9th — a remarkable phenomenon of contemporary Russia. It’s a great resource for learners or instructors.


Note to subscribers and visitors

Dear subscribers and visitors:

I was dismayed to realize that the video of the mortgage borrowers (the post from two weeks ago) was behind a paywall at телеканал Дождь. I’ve contacted them to try to work something out for the future. I would post the video files directly on my page, but I want to respect their copyright. Unlike Первый канал, Дождь doesn’t offer the option to embed their videos on my page. In the meantime, you can get ten days of free access if you click on the button “Бесплатно на 10 дней.” Or you could subscribe — it’s only about $6.00 / month, and they could use the support!

Getting things started

It is just over a week since I first registered the domain name and I’m enjoying the new role of webmaster. Last weekend I figured out how to work with WordPress, refreshed my Photoshop skills, and came up with a working design for the site. Now that the design is more or less established, it’s time to add content. I’ll probably put up several posts to get things rolling, and after that aim for a pace of about one new post a week.  Since I’ve been collecting media clips for a couple of years, I have a substantial reservoir of options to draw from, so some posts will pull out the best components of my personal “archive” while others will reference the latest twists and turns of life in Russia. I have no doubt that the Russian world will continue to produce fascinating new material for this site.

My goal for each post is to have a link to video, a time reference for the most interesting parts of the video, a short transcript of the most useful passages and a corresonding English translation. The translations will follow the Russian syntax fairly closely and as a result may sometimes read awkwardly; the priority is to assist those who are working with the Russian original. I’ll also provide some brief context for each clip. Readers should keep in mind that I am a cultural scholar, not a political scientist or sociologist, so my commentary will be that of a reasonably informed person rather than that of an in-depth scholar. (My “real” research actually concerns nineteenth-century Russian aesthetics!) I’d also like to point out that various browser add-ons exist that make it possible to download Internet video, which can be handy if you want to use something in class or save it for later offline use.

I’m wondering how the “politics” of this project will play out. My two main video sources are the federal Первый канал / Channel One and the Moscow-based independent channel Дождь / TV Rain, which is the only major television outlet that gives a voice to the political opposition. As I navigate between those two sources, will I be able to keep the site “fair and balanced”? Is that even possible? Probably not–but I’ll do what I can to present multiple perspectives on Russia, temper the negative with the positive, and avoid egregious sins against the truth.

Up until now my Russian current events collections have lived on my isolated hard drive, occasionally shared with small groups of students in class. I’m excited now to launch this project into the worldwide web, and I hope that it will be of use to my colleagues and to Russian language learners everywhere.