Photos of daily life in the coldest city on earth

Yakutsk (pop. 269,601), the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Russia, is the coldest city on earth, where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit). Lonely Planet has a galley of photos by Amos Chapple. (Photo here is by Maarten Takens from Flickr) Read the rest

Learn the Russian alphabet in ten minutes

With Putin and Russia in the news more and more thanks to Trump and Steven Seagal, maybe it's high time to learn how to pronounce Russian text. Thanks to the instructor's lovely accent in this ten-minute tutorial, you'll be pronouncing (if not understanding) in short order. Read the rest

Putin grants Russian citizenship to Steven Seagal

Russian premier Vladimir Putin welcomes a new Russian to the motherland: Steven Seagal, the martial artist, ponytail aficionado, and star of countless popular action movies.

"He has made requests about citizenship for a long time and quite persistently," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by news agency RIA Novosti.

Under the Russian constitution, the president has authority over "issues of citizenship of the Russian Federation and the granting of asylum."

That means that Seagal automatically became a Russian citizen as soon as the decree was published, and he doesn't have to officially accept it. There was no immediate known reaction from Seagal.

I made a Steven Seagal movie generator once, but other people have made better ones since. Read the rest

Leading DNS experts say they've found a secret dedicated link between Trump and a giant Russian bank

After the DNC hack, security experts began playing close attention to the security of servers associated with the Trump campaign, on the assumption that if the Democrats had been targeted, the Republicans would be, too. Read the rest

Leaked Kremlin memos reveal plan to destabilize Ukraine

The Kiberkhunta hacker group has dumped 2,000 messages from Putin aide Vladislav Surkov's email, including two documents related to the Kremlin's plans to consolidate their annexation of Ukraine: "Priority Action Plan to Destabilize the Social-Political Situation in Ukraine," and "Concrete Action Plan on the Promotion of the Federal Status of Zakarpattia Oblast." Read the rest

"Russia's Trump" says America must elect Donald Trump or prepare for nuclear war

An ultra-right Russian politician aligned with Vladimir Putin says American voters should elect Donald Trump for president, or prepare for nuclear war. Vladimir Zhirinovsky likes to compare himself to Trump, and is a similarly unrestrained blowhard.

"Americans voting for a president on Nov. 8 must realize that they are voting for peace on Planet Earth if they vote for Trump,” he said. “But if they vote for Hillary it's war. It will be a short movie. There will be Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere."

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Russia abruptly halts nuclear and energy-related research pact with U.S.

Welp, this does not sound good.

Cooperation between the United States and Russia hit a serious new snag today when the government of Donald Trump's personal hero Vladimir Putin put the brakes on an agreement with the United States in nuclear energy.

On Wednesday, Russian officials announced suspension of a nuclear research agreement, and the termination of a another agreement on uranium conversion.

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Left-wing activists across the former USSR launch "September," to rally opposition to far-right movements

September is a new website launched by left-wing groups in Ukraine, Belarus, and other former Soviet states, devoted to finding common cause among activists across the region (the name is a bit of an inside joke about the October, 1917 revolution, embodied in the site's strapline, "It’s not October yet, but it’s close"). Read the rest

Yahoo says hack of 500 million users "state-sponsored," but a security firm calls bullshit

So, that huge hack of 500 million Yahoo user accounts last week that Yahoo blamed on a "state-sponsored actor"? A private internet security firm is calling bullshit on the "state-sponsored" part.

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Michelle Obama's passport leaked in new hack blamed on Russia

An image identified as a scanned copy of U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s passport was published online today by "DC Leaks," along with personal emails associated with a man identified as a “low-level White House staffer who worked with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

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Polar bears hold Russian scientists hostage on tiny Arctic island

A group of Russian scientists have been trapped for two weeks by polar bears at an Arctic island weather station. The scientists face a month-long wait for a rescue.

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Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest

Top Russian anti-corruption official had $120M in cash in his apartment

Dmitry Zakharchenko, the deputy head of the Energy Industry Department of the General Administration of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption, also had €2m in cash. Read the rest

How Hong Kong's vulnerable, reviled refugee community saved Edward Snowden

When Edward Snowden flew to Hong Kong with thumb-drives full of damning US government documents, he assumed his freedom was forfeit: he didn't even make an escape plan. Read the rest

This week in terrifying, mind-boggling password breaches

800,000 usernames and passwords from Brazzers, a giant porn site; 98 million passwords from Rambler.ru ("Russia's Yahoo") and, coming soon, the entire user database for VKontakte/VK.com, Russia's answer to Facebook. Read the rest

White House orders Russia hack investigation, Congress wants to know if Trump is involved

Anonymous U.S. intelligence sources cited by NBC News say the White House has ordered a special intelligence task force to look into Russia's recent hacks of various Democratic political organizations.

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Unsuccessful hack targeted New York Times in Moscow, FBI blames Russia

U.S. officials are investigating online security attacks that targeted reporters at The New York Times in Moscow. A U.S. official said Tuesday that the Times was among various U.S. news organizations targeted. CNN was first to report the story, and the Times has since confirmed and corrected some details.

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