Russia denies claim it meddled in NATO war games

Russia has denied suggestions that it was responsible for Finland having its GPS signal disrupted during NATO war games.
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Russia ‘launches criminal investigation’ into rocket failure

Russia has launched a criminal investigation over a failed rocket launch to the International Space Station, according to reports.
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OPCW attacks ‘show Russia responsible for Salisbury’

Attempts to hack into the chemical weapons watchdog allegedly made by Russia show Moscow was responsible for the Salisbury novichok attack, a government minister has said.
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UK to create 2,000-strong cyber force to tackle Russia threat

Britain is significantly increasing its ability to wage war in cyberspace with the creation of a new offensive cyber force of up to 2,000 personnel, Sky News understands.
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Russia: Google removes Putin critic’s ads from YouTube

Ads by Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, are removed from YouTube ahead of local elections.
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Facebook Pulls Fake Iran, Russia Pages

Facebook dismantled more than 650 pages, groups and accounts engaged in a coordinated effort to sow political divisions.
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US plans Space Force to counter China and Russia threat

The US has outlined plans to “prepare for the next battlefield” by creating a new “Space Force” to counter the threat of China and Russia.
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Books of The Times: Struggling to Love, Work and Do the Right Thing in Putin’s Russia

In Keith Gessen’s new novel, “A Terrible Country,” a man in New York returns to his hometown of Moscow to care for his grandmother and gets entangled with political activists.
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Follow live: Host Russia faces tough Croatia for spot in semis

Croatia is into its second World Cup semifinal, where it will face England.
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Shock exit as Russia fails to make Eurovision final

Russia has failed to qualify for the Eurovision final for the first time in 20 years after a shock elimination in Thursday’s second semi-final.
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Russia accused of global net hack attacks

Russia is seeking to hijack essential internet hardware, US and UK intelligence agencies allege.
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Russia seeks to block Telegram messaging app

The country’s media regulator is going to court in a bid to get the messaging app blocked in the country.
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Tone-Deaf: How Facebook Misread America’s Mood on Russia

The social-media giant played down allegations Russia exploited its platform during the 2016 elections, deepening perceptions that its leaders are oblivious to public concern about its social impact. The reaction has exacerbated a brewing backlash against many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies.
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House Democrats Release Response to Nunes Memo on Russia Investigation

WASHINGTON — House Democrats released a response to an intelligence memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that refutes claims that the FBI’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interests was politically tainted. The memo was released on Saturday with redactions from the White House. At issue in Nunes’s memo was […]

Variety

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Twitter needs to do a better job of explaining how we got duped by Russia

Twitter needs to do a better job of explaining how we got duped by RussiaTwitter needs to do a better job of explaining how users were duped by Russian bots in the lead up to the 2016 election.



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Russia to offer tourists ISS spacewalks

Russia is planning to offer spacewalks for the first time to paying tourists who travel to the International Space Station (ISS).
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Russia Bets on Shale Oil to Defend Its Spot as Top Producer of Crude

Russia is hoping the Bazhenov shale formation in western Siberia, the largest in the world, will help it defend its title as the world’s top producer of crude oil for decades to come.
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What would cyberwar against Russia look like?

In Dr Strangelove, deterrence is defined as “the art of producing in the mind of the enemy… the fear to attack”. Deterrence only works if the enemy knows about the deterrent.
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Facebook and Twitter to help UK’s Russia inquiry

Facebook and Twitter have said they will assist the UK’s inquiries into Russian interference in the EU referendum.
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‘Russia fake Twitter accounts targeted Brexit vote’

Fake Twitter accounts created by a Russian propaganda unit made a determined, co-ordinated attempt to interfere during the EU referendum, Sky News can reveal.
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‘Bad Rabbit’ ransomware strikes Ukraine and Russia

The new strain of computer-locking malware has hit Russian media websites and an airport in Ukraine.
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British-built satellite launches from Russia

A British-built pollution monitoring satellite was launched into orbit on Friday.
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Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software Into Tool for Spying

The Russian government used a popular antivirus software to secretly search computers around the world for classified U.S. government documents and top-secret information, according to current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.
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Bill Maher Goes Full ‘CSI’ To Connect The Dots Between Donald Trump And Russia

The “Real Time” host broke it down with a bulletin board and lots of yarn.
Comedy
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Twitter Says it Found 201 Russia Accounts That Aimed to Interfere With U.S. Election

Twitter Inc. told Congress that 201 accounts linked to Russians sought to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election by spreading misinformation.
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Facebook Identifies $100,000 in Ad Spending by Fake Accounts With Suspected Ties to Russia

Facebook said it has identified about 500 “inauthentic” accounts responsible for $ 100,000 in advertising spending that it believes have ties to Russia, following a review of ad buying on the site in response to intelligence-community concerns about Russian activity during the 2016 election.
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Burger King launches WhopperCoin crypto-cash in Russia

The virtual cash will be given out when people buy food in Burger King restaurants.
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Russia and China tighten internet controls

Moscow and Beijing are tightening their control over citizens’ use of the internet by prohibiting the use of privacy technologies.
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U.S. and Exxon Spar Over Russia Sanctions Violation

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed a $ 2 million fine on Exxon Mobil Corp. for what it called a “reckless disregard” of U.S. sanctions on Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil giant’s chief executive, a finding the company immediately said it would challenge.
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Stephen Colbert Trolls Donald Trump Jr. With Murky ‘Russia Week’ Intro

“I just want to get out ahead of the story here.”
Comedy
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Russia causing ‘cyber-space mayhem’, says ex-GCHQ boss

The former head of GCHQ says cyber-retaliation “may be necessary” in future.
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Stephen Colbert: Russian Agents ‘Followed Me Everywhere’ In Russia

“Hardcore fans evidently.”
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Russia threatens to ban messaging app

Russia has threatened to block access to Telegram unless the company which runs the messaging app provides information about itself.
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Streetwear Sizzles in Russia Amid a Tepid Men’s Market

MOSCOW — The building that will house the future, larger Kuznetskiy Most 20 store here was last week wrapped in a giant orange banner declaring “стиль” — the Russian word for style.
It’s also a subbrand of Heron Preston, feted here in grand manner by KM20 owner Olga Karput. She also wrangled Off-White’s Virgil Abloh for an event that reflected feverish interest in American designers and the burgeoning luxury streetwear category they represent.
The trendy crowd, mostly men wearing the latest urban labels and collectible sneakers, shattered the stereotype that Russian men are indifferent to trends — and possibly signaled a light at the end of the tunnel for a country that has been mired in the retail doldrums.
“I think style is universal and fashion is small,” mused Preston, whose fall collection was showcased in a pop-up boutique in the raw space, decked out with vodka bars, a DJ booth — and a full-sized bulldozer — for the occasion. “The common thinking is that if you are not into fashion, you are not into style. But style is not only about clothes. It could also be how you ride a bike. My logo was picked because everyone can be connected with style without being in fashion.”
The tensions that have

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Russia refusing to show Ukraine-hosted Eurovision

Russians are breathing a sigh of relief after a state-owned TV station said it would not broadcast next month’s Eurovision Song Contest.
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Eurovision: Ukraine bans Russia over Crimea

Ukraine has banned a Russian singer from entering the country to compete at the Eurovision Song Contest.
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Russia denies Yahoo hack involvement

The Kremlin has denied that Russia’s intelligence agency was involved in a huge hack affecting Yahoo.
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Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly Talk Russia and Putin Before Super Bowl

By the time that Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Donald Trump aired on Sunday, the big news out of the exchange was already well known. That’s because Fox, to their credit, released an excerpt on Saturday in which Trump appeared to equate the “killer” actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin with those of the U.S…. Read more »

Variety

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Trump Transition Team Claims Russia Doesn’t Exist

Following CIA claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team insist that Russia doesn’t actually exist. “This so-called ‘country’ is another ridiculous fabrication concocted by the intelligence community, the liberal media, and elite academics, just like they concocted the Constitution and gravity,” said chief fabulist Marcy Joane Darkhaart. “Certainly President-elect Trump would have heard about a country like ‘Russia’ in his daily intelligence briefings and since he doesn’t go to any of those briefings, there’s nothing for him to hear about, and since he will be President, therefore, ‘Russia’ doesn’t exist. Is that so hard to understand?”

Trump’s transition team says stories of “Russia” hacking the election are just sour grapes on the part of Democrats and that we should all concentrate our efforts on the war against Eastasia, with whom the United States has always been at war, except when it has never been at war with Eastasia. In the meantime, President-elect Trump continues the laborious process of tweeting responses to every person who has ever said anything negative about him. “He’s currently on Aaron Aklop of Gila Bend, Arizona, who is a real jerk,” says Darkhaart. “By the end of his first 100 days in office, God willing, Trump should be on the D’s.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Happy Fathers Day Dad – World Traveler – Alaska, Egypt, Russia Greeting Card

Happy Fathers Day Dad – World Traveler – Alaska, Egypt, Russia Greeting Card


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Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide

Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide


The Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide: 114 maps, 43 palaces and kremlins, 10 authors and too many vodka toasts to count.
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Inside Allure Russia Editors’ Vacation Makeup Bags

We could chat all day about the beauty products we like to travel with. But in the spirit of sharing, we’re stepping off the podium and giving the experts at Allure Russia the mic. Here, they share the products that they can’t head to the beach without.
The latest from allure.com
Consider these UV-protecting eye creams and concealers the skin-care equivalent of enormous polarized sunglasses, only they’re a touch less noticeable. Used in tandem with your daily sunscreen, these picks help protect the delicate skin around your eyes from sun damage—and the crow’s-feet and dark spots it can cause.
The latest from allure.com
MillionaireMatch.com - the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!
MillionaireMatch.com – the best dating site for sexy, successful singles!

From Russia with Pride: A Memoir

From Russia with Pride: A Memoir


New – “In July 1942, my mother, my little sister and I were sitting on our suitcases and packages, near our house, waiting for a truck to take us to a ship outside the German ring around Leningrad. The city was being evacuated of unnecessary women and hungry children who made no contribution to the city’s defense. There were rumors of an imminent German onslaught. We were to go to Lake Ladoga, to the ships, which crossed the lake under the fire of German planes. From atop our pile of luggage, I

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Importance of Cultural Exchange with Russia during Political Frost

Even during the height of the Cold War with its threat of Nuclear Armageddon, the cultural exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union never ground to a halt. But in the last few years, because of the “boomerang effect of a rancorous legal battle between the Russian government and the Chassidic Jewish group, Chabad” (LA Times 1/17/13), Russia imposed a ban on all art loans to American museums. This legal case is based on Chabad’s decades-long effort to recover religious books and manuscripts that the Russians expropriated after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

2015-06-09-1433890697-7331043-HP_1_Matisse_Danse.jpg

Visiting some major museum exhibitions in Paris this past April, I thought about this unfortunate freeze on art exchange between America and Russia. The traveling exhibition, Keys to a passion, currently on display at Fondation Louis Vuitton, proudly displays one of the most famous paintings by Matisse, La Danse (1909-10), on loan from The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. At the same time, the impressive retrospective of paintings by Pierre Bonnard at Musée d’Orsay displays with particular reverence the largest and most famous triptych by the artist, La Méditerranée (1911), which is also on loan from The Hermitage Museum. The Bonnard exhibition is scheduled to travel to San Francisco next February, but this famous triptych, in all probability, will not be allowed to be included on the American leg of this traveling exhibition.

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With all the above, I was glad to read in The New York Times that last week, Carnegie Hall was the site of a Russia Day concert by the renowned St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. And this weekend, we in Los Angeles are welcoming the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, which is bringing to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion its performance of “Rodin.” Seeing a prior production of this company, one expects this upcoming production to be very theatrical and very emotional in its telling of the dramatic relationship between Rodin and his student and mistress, Camille Claudel.

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A few weeks ago, while reporting about my trip to France, I spoke about a surprise trove of photographs and sculptures by Camille Claudel that I came across at the St. Croix Museum in the city of Poitiers. There I was, in a far-away cozy corner of France, interacting with Camille and Rodin. Now, in Los Angeles, I am looking forward to reconnecting with them again through a Russian ballet company –a good example of how art and culture create welcome connections, in this case, between Russia, France, and America.

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In the last few days, prompted by the opening of the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal published in-depth articles about the state of Russia’s art world.

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Among special installations commissioned for the opening are works by famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and German artist Katharina Grosse. Among the high-profile guests scheduled to appear are a team of curators from MOMA, Metropolitan Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell, LA collector and philanthropist Eli Broad, and movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

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One hopes that all this cultural exchange will bring a degree of understanding that might somewhat defrost the current winter of discontent between Russia and the U.S.

To learn about Edward’s Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can also read The New York Times article about his classes here.

___________

Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward’s charming Russian accent, click here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Arts – The Huffington Post
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Canada tops Russia for 16th world junior title

Arizona Coyotes prospect Max Domi helped lead Canada to its record 16th world junior hockey title and first since 2009, scoring a goal and adding two assists in a 5-4 victory over Russia on Monday night.
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The Other Side of Russia

The Other Side of Russia


Travel to post-Soviet Siberia and the Russian Far East with author Sharon Hudgins as she takes readers on a personal adventure through the Asian side of Russia – an area closed to most Westerners and many Russians prior to the 1990s. Few people have ridden the Trans-Siberian railroad in winter, stood on the frozen surface of Lake Baikal, feasted with the Siberian Buryats, or lived in the ‘high-rise villages’ of Vladivostok and Irkutsk. One of only a handful of American women who have lived and worked in this part of the world, Hudgins debunks many of the myths and misconceptions that surround this ‘other side of Russia’. She depicts the details of everyday life, set within their cultural and historical context – local customs, foods and festivals, as well as urban life, the education system, and the developing market economy in post-Soviet Siberia and the Russian Far East. Hudgins describes the multi-course meals washed down with champagne and vodka, often eaten by candlelight when the electricity failed, the hors d’oeuvres made of sea slugs and roulades of raw horse liver. She finds herself a guest at Christmas parties, New Year’s banquets, Easter dinners and birthday celebrations. Throughout the book, Asian Russia’s natural beauty, thriving cities and proud people shine from the pages, proving that it is not only a land of harsh winters and vast uninhabited spaces, but also a home to millions of Russians citizens who live and work in modern metropolises and enjoy a rich cultural and social life.

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Starlite Kids Russia Flag Hooded Sweatshirt Printed On Russell Jerzees Schoolgear Childrens Top (Cobalt) (7-8 Years)

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Russian Folk-Songs as Sung by the People and Peasant Wedding Ceremonies Customary in Northern and Central Russia

Russian Folk-Songs as Sung by the People and Peasant Wedding Ceremonies Customary in Northern and Central Russia


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Mennonite Foods And Folkways: From South Russia

Mennonite Foods And Folkways: From South Russia


An abundant food tradition developed when Mennonites from eastern Europe settled in the Ukraine.
These people, who had migrated extensively because of religious persecution and economic pressures, blended their flavorful cooking with their new neighbor''s food. The result? Delectable Zwieback and Rollkuchen, Borschts of infinite variety, Peppernuts, and porzelkje.
Here are 400 recipes with easy-to-follow instructions and stories that surround these foods'' making and eating.

A wealth of information (not only recipes) in these almost 500 pages that are sheer pleasure to read. -Provident Book Finder
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Revolution and Reform in Russia and Iran

Revolution and Reform in Russia and Iran


The Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979 are two examples of dramatic, sudden and extraordinary political upheaval that significantly altered the nature of the state and society in the modern age. Here, Ghoncheh Tazmini provides an unprecedented comparative look at these two major revolutions of the twentieth century: their roots, events, impact and subsequent efforts to reform. By doing so, she draws the conclusion that in spite of their differing goals, ideologies and outcomes, these two defining upheavals share an important similarity: both occurred after years of rapid, state-sponsored modernisation efforts carried out against the backdrop of a form of government that bore all the hallmarks of a repressive autocracy. It was this kind of modernisation – a modernisation from above – that the author maintains heavily contributed to the socio-economic discontent and political instability that proved to be the downfall of the Romanov and Pahlavi dynasties. _x000D_ _x000D_ ‘Revolution and Reform in Russia and Iran’ offers a critical exploration of monarchies of Tsar Nicholas II and the Shahs Reza and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and their attempts to implement modernisation from above. It furthermore examines the successful attempts of the revolutionary movements inspired and led by Lenin and the Ayatollah Khomeini to gain control of the state, and the subsequent efforts of these two men to shape both state and society according to their respective ideologies. _x000D_ _x000D_ Although these two experiences of revolution and reform are removed from each other both spatially and temporally, Tazmini highlights their similarities. She furthermore examines the successes and failures of their political elites, stressing the continuity of the dilemma surrounding the all-important issue of modernisation. Thus Tazmini demonstrates how these issues continue to impact the rule of men like Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Mohammad Khatami an

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Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide

Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide


The Lonely Planet Russia Travel Guide: 114 maps, 43 palaces and kremlins, 10 authors and too many vodka toasts to count.
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Panty Protests In Russia And Kazakhstan Sparked By Lace Lingerie Ban

MOSCOW (AP) — A trade ban on lacy lingerie has Russian consumers and their neighbors with their knickers in a twist.

The ban will outlaw any underwear containing less than 6 percent cotton from being imported, made, or sold in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. And it has struck a chord in societies where La Perla and Victoria’s Secret are panty paradises compared to Soviet-era cotton underwear, which was often about as flattering and shapely as drapery. On Sunday, 30 women protesters in Kazakhstan were arrested and thrown into police vans while wearing lace underwear on their heads and shouting “Freedom to panties!”

The ban in those three countries was first outlined in 2010 by the Eurasian Economic Commission, which regulates the customs union, and it won’t go into effect until July 1. But a consumer outcry against it already is reaching a fever pitch.

Photographs comparing sexy modern underwear to outdated, Soviet goods began spreading on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday, as women and men alike railed against the prospective changes.

“As a rule, lacy underwear … is literally snatched off the shelves,” said Alisa Sapardiyeva, the manager of a lingerie store in Moscow, DD-Shop, as she flicked through her colorful wares. “If you take that away again, the buyer is going to be the one who suffers the most.”

According to the Russian Textile Businesses Union, more than $ 4 billion worth of underwear is sold in Russia annually, and 80 percent of the goods sold are foreign made. Analysts have estimated that 90 percent of products would disappear from shelves, if the ban goes into effect this summer as planned.

The Eurasian Economic Commission declined to comment Monday, saying it was preparing to issue a statement about the underwear ban.

While consumer outrage may force customs union officials to compromise, many see the underwear ban as yet another example of the misguided economic policies that have become a trademark of many post-Soviet countries.

Sunday’s panty protest in Kazakhstan followed a larger demonstration the day before against a 19 percent devaluation of the country’s currency, the tenge.

Other people laughed off the panty ban, seeing it as yet another attempt to add regulations and controls to an already byzantine bureaucracy in the three countries.

“I think (the girls)… will still have the opportunity to wear it (synthetic underwear) whether you can buy it in Russia or not,” said 22-year-old Muscovite Trifon Gadzhikasimov, noting that most of his friends travel abroad regularly. “I think this is just another silly law that shows the ineffectiveness of our government.”

___

Vitnija Saldava in Moscow contributed to this report.
Style – The Huffington Post
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Russia Today: A Short Interview with Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812’s David Abeles

It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to witness Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 in person. You’re sort of crashing the party just by turning up on their set. Don’t expect anything you’ve ever seen before. The satirical opera — as if that’s a thing — is chock full of jokes but also emotional and inspiring moments. Put plainly, It isn’t your traditional dinner theater. I sought to get some additional insights from David Abeles, who stars as Pierre:

What a wild and wonderful experience. Show doesn’t really do it justice. What drew you to it initially?

Abeles: I think my first experience was similar to most of our audience members’. I knew almost nothing going in and was just swept away. I’d never seen anything like it. Dave Malloy’s score and libretto is so rich, complex and truthful, and Rachel Chavkin’s direction and staging is engaging and playful, I was transported. Also, I just love the depth and humanity of Pierre, so the chance to dive into this gift of a role was obviously a big draw.

For the role of Pierre, you largely lurk in the shadows and come into your own in the latter portion of the play. Why’s that so effective?

Abeles: Well, without giving too much away…Pierre is very much in the throes of a powerful existential crisis throughout much of our show, and it’s not really until the latter portion of the play that events beyond his control basically propel him into action and into taking account of the things he finds important and meaningful. I would hope the most affecting thing about this long arc is seeing Pierre go through such a whirlwind of inner turmoil – and finally surprise himself with a newfound outlook and a newfound humanity.

You demonstrate a rare talent for both theatrics and music, playing several different instruments along with the band during the show. Is it hard to stay in character and do it all at once?

Abeles: Actually, I think it’s the opposite – I find it easier to stay in character while playing the instruments. And I think this is especially true with the accordion, which I did have to learn for the show. I think Dave’s writing for the accordion is just right for Pierre and feels so fitting – it just feels like an instrument Pierre might play. Since I’ve played music from a young age, and have been in several actor/musician productions, I’m gratefully pretty comfortable behind an instrument and I love discovering the extra layers it can provide to exploring the character and the storytelling.

The choreography and staging takes up so much space I’d argue that the audience is really sitting on the stage. How does that make your job harder, and what’s the effect for the show overall?

Abeles: I think it’s one of the most brilliant and, equally, challenging aspects of the piece. It’s a strange dichotomy because although the scope and the emotions are very heightened, the audience is all around you and close enough to touch at all times. So, the playing of the material has to have the urgency of life and death stakes, along with the nuance of playing moments naturalistically. For me, it’s absolutely thrilling to have an audience so close that they are literally a part of the scene being played – we get to truly share the experience and it’s hugely rewarding.

This show is set 200 years ago in Moscow. Are there any universal lessons you hope the audience takes away?

Abeles: There are many – and I hope each person is able to glean something personally meaningful from the show. I do, however, love a Tolstoy quotation that I believe is still posted outside of our tent: “We are asleep until we fall in love!”
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Pussy Riot Member Maria Alyokhina Released From Jail In Russia Under Amnesty Deal

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Pussy Riot punk band member Maria Alyokhina walked free from jail on Monday, immediately dismissing the Kremlin’s amnesty that granted her early release as a stunt that would not change her attitude to President Vladimir Putin.

Alyokhina, 25, one of two women serving two-year sentences for a profanity-laced protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in 2012, was released under the amnesty the president has said would show the Russian state is humane.

They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their “punk prayer” criticising Putin’s ties to the Church, and had been due for release in March.

Alyokhina echoed critics who said the amnesty proposed by Putin was far too narrow and appeared aimed at deflecting criticism over human rights before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

“I do not think it is a humanitarian act, I think it is a PR stunt,” she said by telephone in comments to the Russian Internet and TV channel Dozhd. “My attitude to the president has not changed.”

In addition to the amnesty, Putin unexpectedly pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian former oil tycoon who is widely seen by Kremlin critics and Western politicians as a political prisoner.

Khodorkovsky, who was freed after more than a decade in jail and flown to Germany, said Putin is seeking to improve Russia’s image while also showing that he is confident in his grip on power after weathering large opposition protests and winning a third term last year.

Putin wants to send “a signal to society and the world that he feels secure and is not afraid”, Khodorkovsky said in an interview with he Russian magazine the New Times.

Lawyers say the amnesty will also enable 30 people arrested in Russia after a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling to avoid trial on hooliganism charges, removing another irritant in ties with the West.

Putin said the amnesty was not drafted with the Greenpeace activists or Pussy Riot in mind. Looking confident and relaxed during an annual news conference last week, he described Pussy Riot’s protest as disgraceful, saying it “went beyond all boundaries”.

Human rights activists have said the amnesty is far too limited, estimating will free fewer than 1,500 convicts, a small fraction of the nearly 700,000 Russians behind bars.

“I’M NOT AFRAID”

Alyokhina, bundled in a thick green prison jacket and with her long curly hair loose, smiled as she left detention in the company of her lawyer and told Reuters she was feeling well.

She said that had it have been possible for her to refuse the amnesty, she would done so out of solidarity for those still in jail and that she now planned to lobby for prisoners rights.

“I was keen to reject this amnesty, but the prison had received an order that is why I was brought here,” she told Reuters.

“I would like now to deal with the issue of prison, I would like to engage in human rights … I’m not afraid of anything anymore – believe me.”

Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, who is also due to be freed under the amnesty, which covered inmates convicted of hooliganism and mothers of young children, was awaiting her release outside a jail in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.

A third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released last year when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

Tolokonnikova’s father Andrei told Reuters last week he sees his daughter’s planned release not an act of mercy but “an absolutely cynical game” of public relations ahead of the Olympics. (Additional reporting and writing Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Alison Williams)

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