Meet the dogs of Chernobyl

In 1986, a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat, lost its shit. Flaws in the reactor's design caused a steam explosion, resulting in a fire that spewed plumes of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The Soviet government mobilized its armed forces to evacuate  the area surrounding the accident site where the risk to human life was the greatest. Families were forced on to buses and military transports with little more than the clothes on their backs. Without exception, the evacuees were forced to leave the pets behind. There was simply no time, or space, to include them in the rescue. Later the same year, Soviet troops were sent into the 30-mile wide Chernobyl exclusion zone to cull what animals they could find left still alive. Live stock, wildlife and deserted family pets were eliminated.

But they didn't get them all.

Largely free of people for over three decades, the exclusion zone has become something of a haven to a thriving (albeit, irradiated, in some cases) miscellany of wild animals. Most heartening of all, the dogs who survived the '86 cull, bred, increased their numbers exponentially and survived. As work began on a new, permanent include to house the still radioactive ruins of Chernobyl's number four reactor, many of the descendants of the abandoned, domesticated pooches began showing up at the construction site, looking for scraps and refuge from the wolves and other predators that pray on them in the wild. The workers at the Chernobyl site began making a habit to save scraps from their meals for the dogs. Read the rest

Documentary on the DRM-breaking farmers who just want to fix their tractors, even if they have to download bootleg Ukrainian firmware to do it

Motherboard's short documentary, "Tractor Hacking: The Farmers Breaking Big Tech's Repair Monopoly" is an excellent look at the absurd situation created by John Deere's position that you can't own your tractor because you only license the software inside it, meaning that only Deere can fix Deere's tractors, and the centuries-old tradition of farmers fixing their agricultural equipment should end because Deere's shareholders would prefer it that way. Read the rest

Scotland is still a financial secrecy exporter, laundering billions for Russia's crime-bosses and oligarchs

If you're an oligarch in the former Soviet Union, chances are you owe your billions to corruption and even overt criminal activity, and your ability to hang onto that money is entirely contingent on the sufferance of the even-more-corrupt strongmen at the top, like Vladimir Putin -- one wrong move and you may find yourself stripped of your assets (or even assassinated in broad daylight). Read the rest

That "ransomware" attack was really a cyberattack on Ukraine

According to Kaspersky, the Petya ransomware that raced around the world this week wasn't ransomware at all, and there is no way to get back your files after it does its work (that's why it was so easy to shut down the email address the ransomware used to negotiate payments and decryption with victims whose computers had been taken over). Read the rest

Ukraine is Russia's testbed for launching devastating cyberwar attacks with total impunity

Ever since the Ukrainian "Maidan" revolution, the country has been subjected to waves of punishing cyberwar attacks, targeting its power grids, finance ministry, TV networks, election officials, and other critical systems. Read the rest

"Hole Roll": blackout curtains with trompe l'oeil cityscapes cut into them

Hole Roll is (was? the post dates from 2014 and their website is down) a Ukrainian blind company that published some early designs for blackout curtains cut into intricate nighttime cityscapes that let you create the illusion of being in a skyscraper penthouse after dark in the middle of the day in a suburban tract home. (via Colossal) Read the rest

Spill Zone: fast-paced, spooky YA comic about the haunted ruins of Poughkeepsie

In Spill Zone, YA superstar Scott "Uglies" Westerfeld and artist Alex Puvilland tell the spooky, action-packed tale of Addison, one of the few survivors of the mysterious events that destroyed Poughkeepsie, New York, turning it into a spooky, Night-Vale-ish place where mutant animals, floating living corpses, and people trapped in two-dimensional planes live amid strange permanent winds that create funnels of old electronics and medical waste.

Ukrainian MPs caught illegally casting multiple votes in Parliament. Again.

Ukrainian anti-corruption group Chesno has uploaded videos showing five instances in which Ukrainian MPs illegally cast votes in parliament on behalf of their absent colleagues, bringing the total number of such incidents caught by Chesno (which has kept records since Dec 2014) up to 161. Read the rest

Kickstarting Soviet Daughter, a graphic novel memoir of coming of age in Ukraine after the Revolution

Elly from Microcosm publishing writes: "Our next book has been in the works for years, but as we launch our Kickstarter we find it's become terrifyingly current: Soviet Daughter is a rather swashbuckling story of her great-grandmother Lola, who came of age in the Soviet Ukraine, in the wake of the October Revolution." Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on the US election: the net is great at tearing down, terrible at building

Bruce Sterling's characteristically acerbic remarks on the US election gets to a really important point: internet-based movements have been amazing at tearing down corrupt establishment system, but have failed (so far) to create the kinds of stable governance structures that build up something better from the ruins. 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

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

Wolf-themed Russian biker gang is exactly as you expect

It's like something out of Mad Max: a Russian biker gang-cum-militia wearing wolfy helmets, operating in the ruins of Eastern Ukraine. They are "fiercely loyal" to Vladimir Putin and to Christ, but not to families they left behind. Read the rest

Steampunk diving mask

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Tie your shoes the Ukrainian way

The "Ukrainian lacing" method puts a pair of loops in both sets of top eyelets, cross-laces to the bottom, and anchors the laces with a pair of hidden knots, so that you can slip your foot into a "tied" shoe, then tighten it and tie a perfect bow with no loose ends. Read the rest

Caterpillar cosplay/cyberpunk braces

From Ukrainian leatherworker/fetishwear-purveyor/steampunk/fashion designer Bob Basset, a pair of "Caterpillar" arm braces made from "Natural leather, steel furniture." Read the rest

Anatomical bags and accessories from Konstantin Kofta

Kiev-based Konstantin Kofta makes leather bags and accessories that mimic human anatomy, sometimes making it look like there are hands clutching at the wearer, sometimes looking like the wearer's skin has been flayed and used to make the bags. Read the rest

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