poemless. a slap in the face of public taste.

April 1, 2010

Let’s Play a Game of “Guess the April Fool’s Story.”

Filed under: Odds & Ends — poemless @ 4:23 PM

Because every day you read the news and pray it’s a joke. Especially you Russia watchers.

1. My arch nemesis, Josh Keating, agrees with me that it is unfair to blame the Kremlin for lack of subway security:

“this seems like an unfair attack — particularly since it’s not really clear from Galpin’s article what Russian authorities should have done to prevent the attack. Sure, you can criticize the Kremlin’s handling of the Caucasian insurgency. But assuming that a certain level of insurgent activity does exist and will continue to, should the government have restricted the movements of people from Dagestan to keep them out of the “heart of the capital”? Individually screened passengers in one of the world’s busiest Metro system? I’ve been subjected to random ID check on the Moscow Metro system and I don’t think it’s a practice that really needs to be increased.” […]

…thanks to the volume of passengers and proximity to urban centers, subways are always going to be a tempting target. As someone who’s commuted by subway in New York, Moscow, and Washington, I can say that compounding the damage by making the system less efficient doesn’t seem like the answer.”

2. My facebook friend, Scott Spires, writes about the popularity of the Russian language in Eastern Europe:

“Further to the west there have recently been signs of a moderate increase in the language’s popularity in the onetime Warsaw Pact countries of Central Europe. According to data from the Czech Education Ministry, Russian language teaching fell to its lowest point in Czech schools in the mid-1990s; by 1997, fewer than 5,000 secondary school students were studying Russian. Since then, the language has seen a greater than fivefold rise in popularity, with over 26,000 students taking it as of the 2009 to 2010 academic year. This is, however, a modest number compared with the communist period, when the language was a compulsory subject. Similar trends can be observed in Hungary and Poland, where there has been an increase in interest in the past several years. According to Hungary’s Ministry of Education and Science, this interest is especially noticeable in higher educational institutions focusing on economics, international relations and law. This suggests that one of the classic reasons for cultivating a language—economic benefit—is starting to play a significant role.

Since the language continues to flourish notwithstanding the lack of official support, it is not surprising that Russophone literary and cultural life is also quite vigorous. Indeed, much of the energy in the contemporary Russian-language cultural scene comes from outside Russia. A few literary examples will suffice. One of the best-known Russian-language writers in Europe today, Andrei Kurkov, comes from Ukraine; the writing team of Garros and Yevdokimov (known for such edgy novels as “Headcrusher,” a brutal satire on corporate life) live and work in Riga, Latvia; one of the best-selling literary writers in Russia, Mikhail Veller, is an Estonian citizen and longtime Tallinn resident.”

3. Internet phenom cat videos, meet Internet phenom Trololo:

4. I’ve found a way to figure out what that Trololo song is saying. Just find out what the cat is saying, and work backward! Fortunately, Google has just launched Google Translate for Animals:

OMG, that is hi-larious… But wait! There’s more!

5. The beautiful, intelligent Anne Applebaum wants to see the bodies of those suicide chicks.

Because there’s no evidence it was them:

“Although police have said they suspect a connection to the Northern Caucasus, they haven’t yet given any specific links, and no groups took immediate responsibility for the attack.”

Except for that Umarov dude. But she’s not against believing things with no evidence, on principle:

“A frightening 1999 bombing campaign across Russia was blamed on Chechen terrorists and thus led to the reopening of the country’s war against Chechnya, which in turn helped bring the current Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to power. In subsequent years, a number of oddities about those 1999 bombs have led many to question whether all of them were really planned in Chechnya and executed by Chechens. Maybe these are conspiracy theories, but a lot of people continue to believe them.”


“Given all that background [Putin’s involvement in 1999 bombings], I do hope the Moscow police will present the public with hard evidence that two Chechen women really were responsible for this truly grotesque attack before blaming the incident on North Caucasian terrorists. … If those explosions had taken place in New York City, I would expect nothing less.”

So I guess she’s a 9-11 Truther too. And you thought she couldn’t get any crazier! Yay!

6. The Moscow bombings were a Chechen thing. In Russia. Totally unrelated to global jihad. They just hate Putin. Or something.

“In the same statement in which Umarov proclaimed the Caucasian Emirate, he also described the United States, Great Britain and Israel as common enemies of Muslims worldwide.”

7. As if to answer my eternal question, “Can a foriegn national join United Russia?” Naomi Campbell joins United Russia.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell is set to become a member of United Russia, a source in the party said Thursday, adding that the party saw her as an asset who could become the faction’s new poster girl.

“She is a young, sexy, intelligent woman who has shown how the new Russia can attract the best in the world,” said the source, who asked for his name not to be used because he was not authorized to speak to the press despite working in the United Russia press office.

“Once she modernized the fashion world, now she is part of the modernization of Russia,” the source said.

8. Continuing their quest for world domination via the checkbook, Russia has purchased another foreign town.

The city of Vitebsk, a city in Belarus, near the border with Russia and the previous capital of the Vitebsk Oblast, has been given over to the Russian Federation today in exchange for the canceling of a part of the current gas debt owed to the Russian giant Gazprom.

“As of 8:00am this morning, Minsk time, the city of Vitebsk is no longer a part of the Republic of Belarus” Thus the news was given to the presidential press corps by the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Gregorovich Lukashenka. “I liked Vitebsk. It was a very nice city and it had the Slavonic Bazaar in the summer. But really, business is business and when we found out that Russia wanted it, well, it was just a natural trade over- good for both sides. And besides, they weren’t really paying so much in taxes anyway.”

This move comes hot on the heels of an earlier purchase of a town in Latvia.

Bonus: The Week in Facebook!

Happy April Fools Day!



  1. Read the first paragraph of Annie’s latest. First response, WTF? Then I skipped the rest, and from that skimming I realized I wasn’t missing anything.

    More importantly, why is Keating your arch nemesis?

    Comment by Sean — April 1, 2010 @ 5:16 PM | Reply

    • 1. My reasoning is that if we have to live in a world with Anne (or Latynina, etc.) we might as well appreciate the entertainment value.

      2. I don’t actually think he’s villain material. But it is actually rare that I’d agree with him about anything. It would have been less interesting to write, “Someone who usually doesn’t see things my way, Josh Keating, agrees with me that it is unfair to blame the Kremlin for lack of subway security.”

      Comment by poemless — April 1, 2010 @ 5:24 PM | Reply

      • Yeah it’s totally unfair to blame Russia for the lack of metro security. Anyone who’s ever ridden it during rush hour would know that. Too many people.

        Much agreed on the entertainment value of Annie Appledumb.

        Comment by Sean — April 1, 2010 @ 5:31 PM | Reply

  2. […] Go here to see the original: Let's Play a Game of “Guess the April Fool's Story.” « poemless. a … […]

    Pingback by Let's Play a Game of “Guess the April Fool's Story.” « poemless. a … | Breakings New — April 1, 2010 @ 6:49 PM | Reply

  3. Too bad the Naomi Campbell story was a Moscow Times’ April Fools joke.

    Comment by Sean — April 2, 2010 @ 2:44 AM | Reply

    • I know – and it was a bummer to see my suspicions confirmed.

      Josh is taking his gullibility way too hard. First off, considering who is in United Russia, news that Naomi Campbell joined hardly raises any red flags. Secondly, The Moscow Times’s reporting is so consistently crap that fake news hardly raises any red flags. That’s the problem with Russian news on April Fools Day. You get so used to 1) insane things actually happening on a daily basis in Russia, and 2) terrible journalism on a daily basis about Russia, so there’s no real way to detect an April Fool’s joke. For example, I presume the “Been Had” story is a joke, but a Russian company really did buy the town in Latvia. The only tip off about the Vitebsk story is that the outlet is called “Been Had.”

      Also, my brother totally bought the Translate for Animals story. Hahaha!

      Comment by poemless — April 2, 2010 @ 10:16 AM | Reply

  4. Thanks for “propping” me, but I’m wondering: is it really April-foolsworthy to imagine that Russian language is growing in popularity in some former commie countries?

    Comment by Scowspi — April 2, 2010 @ 1:24 PM | Reply

    • Yes?

      I remember when I was in Estonia in the 1990’s 1) having to sit through an official lecture at a university about the importance of the Estonian language and evilness of Russian and 2) being advised to not speak Russian. Which was mad, because I don’t know any Estonian. And everyone knew Russian. I mean, I spoke it anyway because I had to communicate, but I had to be very apologetic and sensitive about it.

      Comment by poemless — April 2, 2010 @ 1:49 PM | Reply

      • Thanks for clarifying. I’ve run into that attitude, but I’ve also run into the opposite – and (as I tried to bring across in my article) as Russia gets richer, I expect the positive attitude to get stronger.

        (BTW, I was in Estonia in 2004, and found that plenty of people still didn’t know English but did know Russian – and they were not all local Russophones.)

        Comment by Scowspi — April 2, 2010 @ 2:06 PM | Reply

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