Doping vs Olympics

The XXXI Olympic Games are in full effect — and Russia is heavily underrepresented. Out of each 10 russian sportsmans more than 1 are disqualified. Why? Because of probable doping consumption.

If you didn’t heard, there were a series of doping scandals, related with Russia, last 2 years. I can’t remember all the details, but the general idea is simple: western sports investigators revealed massive violations in the process of doping-tests in Russia. Russian sports officials with help of the FSB (Федеральная Служба Безопасности — Federal Security Service, main successor of the legendary KGB) allegedly concealed positive doping-probes of russian athletes.

Investigation continues today, but the results are massive already — both in Russia and outside of it. There are dismissals of officials, there are disqualifyings of athletes, and there are serious damage to the image of russian sport worldwide caused.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is a Master of Sport of Russia on judo and sambo (soviet martial art combat sport), and many times champion of them.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is a Master of Sport of Russia on judo and sambo (soviet martial art combat sport), and many times champion of them.

So… Rio’2016 is the first Olympics without many russian sportsmans for many years. But if one wonder, here in Russia not every one agrees with decision of international sports committees on Russia. Ordinary citizens agree that there is a problem with doping in professional sport, but… But most of them believes that the scandalous results of investigation were somehow cooked up. Why? Because of everlasting hate that USA has for Russia. Cold war is not ended. And now is the Olympics turn.

One said that Russian athletes consume doping? OK. But don’t say that americans did not! (The picture here says: “muesli” on the left and “steroids” on the right).

Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova.

Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova.

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Dacha: thirst for land

Every russian knows what is “dacha”, but it is really hard to explain what does that mean for us to foreigner. There is no simple english equialent for this russian term – and not because of language differences, but because of differences in cultures.

Dacha, typically, is a small house outside of a town (built by owner himself or inherited from older relatives). And when I say small, I mean real small: usually, such a house even has no rooms – just one common space, where a family can live for a several days or weeks. A pair of beds, kitchen table and simple kitchenware, plus a traditional brick oven (to heat a house and, rarely, to cook on). Ordinary russians live in a flat, but spend summer weekends and vacations on a dachas.

But dacha is not just a house. As a rule, not an exception, dacha implies a stead of land, comparatively big to a western lawn-pieces. Here you have another popular russian term: sotka (from russian word “sto” – one hundred). It means 100 square meters, and typical dacha has 7-10 sotka’s of land with it – for growing vegetables, berries, etc (to conservate for a winter).

Dacha is not suitable for living in a winter (cause we have really harsh winters), but summer-time pleasure (and part spring, part autumn) and costliness of owning a full-value-house make us to keep dachas alive.

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Money, money

Money, money

Happiness is not in money, happiness is in amount of them. This is a joke, but – as it is supposed – with a great portion of truth. For russian people money was, is and (for several generations, I think) will be one of the most important parts of their life. And don’t count this as platitude.

You see, in Soviet Union we were trying to build communism/socialsm, the world without money. Do you know the main principle of communism? From everybody according to his ability, to everybody according to his needs. This phrase by Karl Marx was included in Soviet Constitution and was being there for 60+ years!

So for a start the Soviet Union put in control everybody’s wage. Everyone’s salary was determined by government. This was a fantastically inadequate idea:  irrespective of one’s quality of work, his or her salary was always the same (plus or minus). I think this was one of the main reason of Soviet Union’ falling.

Then new Russia came: freedom, democracy, capitalism. But as we say, habit is the second nature. And 60-years habit of paying next to nothing can not be overthrown in an hour. So yes, working for private companies one can get paid pretty good today. But nearly all government jobsites – medical care, education, and so on – are unquestionably underpaid. My wife, working fulltime for one of the most popular state universities in Russia, earns 5000 roubles a month (less than 200 USD). This is ridiculously low. One can barely live with this. But she likes her work, and I can do nothing.

So… Doing your best in Russia does not automatically mean that you will be compensated fairly. But what one will get when get paid? I’ll show you.

These are the money of modern Russia. Coins are in denomination of 1, 5, 10, 50 copeeks and 1, 2, 5, 10 roubles. Cash are 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000 roubles. Plastic cards are in wide used here, but mostly debet cards, not credit (typical russian has still no credit history and banks don’t trust us enough to grant easy credits).

P.S. I am selling small numismatic sets of russian hard cash. See “Souvenirs from Russia“.

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