Skandal! Julia Samoylova won't be travelling to Ukraine, having as she had previously visited Crimea without the stamp in her passport. It's thrown the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons, not only Russia are peeved, but there's votes to throw around. The song was the pits, so all round a good result.
Super mega shining star Sergey Lazarev (no ,I've never heard of him before either) will be generic popping to "You are the only One". It's the hot favourite for 2016 and let's just say it's not because of the song, which is banal by the numbers. It can be found here
Grrrr. And I'm not even neighbouring the bloody Russians. The only 2 direct impacts they have on my life is the wholesale gas price and their annual turgid bad taste peace anthem, this time in the svelte shape of Polina Gagarina with "A Million Voices". My, it grates and it's here
The Tomalchevy Twins, two girls from everyone's favourite nation, will be attempting to weedle their way into your 2014 affections with "Shine", another Russian song by the numbers. It's bereft of originality and it's here
The great Eastern power of the ESC is represented by Dina Garipova in 2013 with a mawkish, nauseating, saccharine number called "What If". It could well win, and it's here
Chosen on a wave of popular opinion not seen since Putin voted 50 million times, Buranovskiye Babushki are 6 bewildered and tone-deaf grannies randomly moving to a sub-Russ Abbot effort called "Party for Everybody" in 2012. Horrid and here
I think we should be safe from Moscow 2012. A terrible song called "Get You" which didn't get me, performed by Alexej Vorobjov. But in a weak year, the threat from the Great Russian Bear is even stronger. You too can refuse to underestimate them here

The Tourist Guide says

"With the dissolution of the Soviet Union visitors have a fresh opportunity to explore a vast array of exciting and ancient cultures, from the glittering imperial Russia of St. Petersburg to the timeless village life of Siberia and Irkutsk. One of the most notable features of present day Russia is a renewed celebration of the wealth of its past and its potential for the future. Throwing off the blanket of communist uniformity, Russia today is a nation of enormous diversity and tremendous vitality. It is as if the cultural traditions of a century ago have re-awakened with a newfound strength - ancient cathedrals are being rebuilt and restored, colorful markets hum with activity once again and literature and the arts are quickly regaining the creative renown they enjoyed decades ago. A new Russia is now in full bloom."


From a paragraph written for our US friends...
"Moscow is a peculiar city and it turns out that nearly all Muscovites speak the language you do not know and this language is Russian. When in Moscow, make fun trying to say at last some words in Russian and enjoy this great entertainment. Let you be assured that you are not the only one foreigner in Moscow, your fellow-countrymen are everywhere and many of them consider Moscow their second home. You may meet them in many Moscow bars, restaurants, clubs and, finally (when you've been fleeced for the ignoramuses you are), in the Embassies."

Russian who fell asleep between train tracks had drunk so much vodka he failed to wake up when a 140-tonne cargo train passed over him.
Vladimir Rasimov, 23, passed out and fell between the tracks as he took a short cut home after boozing with pals in a pub in Dmitrievka in the south-east of the country.Train driver Vladimir Slabiy said: "I saw a man lying between the tracks and tried to stop, but it was too late. The train went right over him and I thought he must have been killed.
"But when I got out and checked he was still lying there fast asleep.
"If he had woken up from the noise of the train he would have lifted his head and been hit by the undercarriage and that would have been the end of him. It was lucky he was so drunk."
A Russian man who tried to sit university entrance exams for his sister was caught because his breasts were too big. The young man was not admitted to the entry exam for Moscow State University's journalism department, reports Interfax.
Yasen Zasursky, dean of the journalism department, said security staff paid particular attention to a girl with bright makeup and "especially outstanding feminine features".
A thorough check revealed that the girl was in fact a young man trying to pose as a girl to pass the exam for his sister. The dean said that security were especially suspicious because the applicant's breasts were of "incomparable proportions".
They thought that cheat notes could be hidden inside her clothing. However, it turned out that the breasts were fake. The young man was barred from the entry exam and his sister was also struck off the university entrant list for cheating."
A Russian army commander has received a two-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of beating his junior officers with a dildo.
Captain Damir Ilyasov was also stripped of his rank and removed from his post.
However, his officers defended him at his military court hearing saying he only hit them lightly with the black latex baton.
Ilyasov was brought to trial after a soldier, who was himself charged with desertion, told officials he had run away because of nightly beatings from Ilyasov and his dildo.
Ilyasov had carried out so-called night formations in his unit - waking the soldiers and lining them up to check their uniforms. Those found with untidy uniforms were beaten with the dildo.
The court heard that Ilyasov had bought the penis-shaped "black latex baton" in a sex shop without specifying whether punishing his men was the only reason for the purchase.

to come

A Russian scientist claims to have created remote controlled turtles for spying missions.
Alexei Burikov, head of the biology department at Rostov-on-Don State Pedagogical University, said a human controller could direct the turles through devices fitted to their shells. The device sent vibrations through the shell to the turtle which could be trained to change direction.
The scientist added that a tiny camera fixed to the turtle's shell could relay reconnaissance pictures of an area to a command and control centre. Mr Burikov said turtles could be used to perform a whole range of dangerous operations, from placing bombs in an enemy HQ to depositing high tech recording devices. But the invention could be used for non-military purposes as well, he told Russian media.
"Monitoring could be conducted for both environmental and defence purposes," he said. Turtles could be used to observe other wildlife in a way that no human would ever be able to do, he added."
A Russian couple who tried to avoid buying a train ticket for their daughter by putting her in a suitcase were caught out when the case was stolen.
The parents of the young girl from Vitebsk admitted they had not been paying attention to the case when they stopped off for a "few drinks" after arriving at a Moscow train station, reported Pravda.
Police later found the girl, aged three, wandering the streets lost.
The crooks had taken her out of the case and left her behind - but kept the case.

Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Pasternak, Pushkin, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstoy, Diaghilev, Nureyev, Pavlova, Baryshnikov
Borodin, Glinka, Khacthaturian, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky
Rasputin, Karpov, Eisenstein, Gagarin, Pavlov

Sharapova, Safin, Khabibulin, Khorkina, Sl;utskaya (good name)


Life expectancy

61 men 73 women
Airports 2609
Radios 418 per 1,000 people
Internet Users 183.4 per 10,000 people
Railway Network 56,619 miles
Death Penalty retained and used for ordinary crimes