Even back in 2008 the Russian Foxtrot B-80 submarine that watches over Amsterdam North’s NDSM harbour was scheduled to be removed, but that never happened. The 90-meter-long submarine built in Riga in 1956 and brought to Amsterdam from Den Helder in 2002 for 56,000 euro by a local architect has been in the harbour since and now belongs to a Belgian company that has been served an ‘enforcement action’ to remove it.
Today, the submarine is considered to be a real risk because it is in poor condition. They were big plans for the B-80, from being a place for fashion shows, being turned into a presentation space and even becoming part of a ship museum, all ideas that fell in the water.
In 2009 the submarine was owned by a Turkish firm that wanted to tow it away in order to have it destroyed, but they were asked by the Dutch government to pay a hefty ‘deposit’ to guarantee that everything would go according to European regulations. The Turks didn’t want to pay the amount, something the Belgians tried to appeal in court as well, but lost. Now the Belgians have to tow it away, but we wonder how this is all going to be enforced.
And yes, the B-80 is a cool thing to look when you take the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station and arrive 10 minutes later at the NDSM harbour.
A multimedia Van Gogh exhibition in Moscow is letting women with high heels in for free and giving 50% off to men named ‘Sergey’ inspired by a music video of the band Leningrad and their song ‘Exponat’, a fact most sources have failed to mentioned altogether. Shame on you all because the video is funny, although yes funnier if you understand Russian like I do. And it’s been viewed 34 million times and counting.
In an attempt to pick the right outfit for a date to a Van Gogh exhibition with an eligible older man, a woman realises what she really needs is a pair of Louboutin high heels. And that goes horribly wrong.
The video features modern Russian humour and has jokes about a very pretty yet insecure woman worried about everything, including her butt. Luckily her mom is there to help her fit into her skinny jeans. And that goes horribly wrong, too.
KoreanDefense writes: “The rebels in eastern Ukraine seemed to have lost the anti-aircraft system they’re using to shoot down planes, so, let’s help them locate it.”
The author uses Twitter, Google Maps and Google Translate to help Russian terrorists, the ones that allegedly shot down civilian flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, locate their missing Buk rocket launcher. A more serious investigation appeared in The Guardian a week ago.
Dutch weblog Nine to Five has been doing its own research into Buk rocket launchers. It appears that Rostec, the company that manufactures these missile systems, is officially headquartered in Amsterdam in a building owned by Renault-Nissan. Rostec and Renault-Nissan work tobether in the car manufacturing business. The reason such a large Russian company has its office in the Netherlands is likely because we are a tax haven.
On Saturday I biked to the Rostec office expecting to find I don’t know what, anything really. A lone protester perhaps or a sign that this is where evil lives. I guess the most dramatic thing about the arms trade is its entirely uninteresting face of respectability. On one end of the planet you have hundreds of innocent people being torn apart in a ball of fire while back home you have marble slabs, sleek halls and a parking lot for visitors that is always empty.
In less than a week your TV set will start displaying the Winter Olympics on most channels and what you will see of the host town (Sochi, Russia) will very likely be a sanitized version.
If you want to see another side of Sochi, you could visit the photo exhibit The Sochi Project by Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra whose photos are provided a with context by Arnold van Bruggen’s texts. The exhibit currently runs in Antwerp, Belgium; Chicago, USA; and Salzburg, Austria. There are also books, websites, posters and so on. In fact, if I can utter a small point of criticism about Hornstra’s and Van Bruggen’s Russian projects, it would be that it is never quite clear what you’ve seen already and what fits where.
Last week I went to the Golden Years photo expo in Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, by the same two artists in which you also get to see photos of The Sochi Project. What struck me the most were the photos of people who proudly posed in their medal-bedecked, Soviet-era uniforms. It wasn’t clear whether they did so out of longing for the old days or because the uniforms were their good clothes or because of reasons I did not fathom, but it seemed a statement regardless. (Shown here is Mikhail Yefremovich Zetunyan, age 88 who lives in a village where 75% of the population was driven out by what I presume were Abkhazian freedom fighters.)
Van Bruggen writes about the impoverished side of Russia: “Here, in the neighbourhoods abandoned by the police, is where the other half live. They are the dark side of the success stories that filled the newspapers after Putin came to power. Maserati dealers in the centre of Moscow do not prove a country’s wealth; look, rather, at its provincial suburbs.”
In addition to a year chocked full of serious cultural activities that feature the Russian-Dutch connection, 24oranges proudly presents some articles you might have missed that have a bit of the Russian soul in them as well:
Yet another Dutch Facebook page has recently made its online entrance, and this time it’s roughly called ‘No king without a beard’ (‘Zonder baard, geen koning’).
Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander soon to be the country’s first king since 1890, will be the only one without a beard if he doesn’t grow one soon.
Besides the fact that beards were trendy for Dutch kings in the 19th century and the fact that beards are totally in at the moment, the photoshopped picture of Willem-Alexander with a beard is quite flattering as it slims down his pudgy face. At 100,000 likes, the page admins will present the RVD (Netherlands Government Information Service) with an official request for the future king to grow a beard.
Amusingly enough Tsar Peter I (aka Peter The Great) of Russia in an attempt to force Russian men to look more European imposed a beard tax in the late 17th, early 18th century: “Peter’s visits to the West (which included the Netherlands) impressed upon him the notion that European customs were often superior to Russian ones. He commanded courtiers and officials to cut off their long beards and wear European clothing. The men who sought to retain their beards were required to pay an annual beard tax of one hundred rubles.”
Mustaches were OK though and it seems that trends change from one century to the next.
UPDATE: Beard tokens, based on the one carried by beard tax payers, are in and you can buy them online (tip: TheBloodTheSweatTheBeards). The Russian inscription ‘Ð´ÐµÐ½ÑŒÐ³Ð¸ Ð²Ð·ÑÑ‚Ñ‹’ literally means ‘money has been taken’, and the letter ‘Ñ’, (‘ya’), the backwards ‘R’ but with an extra leg on this medallion was in fact turned into the backwards ‘R’ when Peter The Great reformed the alphabet in 1917-1918.
A rare Russian sturgeon (Latin: Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) was spotted by a fisherman last week in a West Amsterdam harbour. In Russia the sturgeon is normally found in major rivers such as the Volga.
According to an urban ecologist, the sturgeon either comes from some fish centre or actually swam all the way to Amsterdam from Russia. More sturgeons have been spotted on the Russia-The Netherlands route, so the latter is plausible.
I was lucky enough to see a draft of this booklet thanks to former Amsterdam Weekly Editor-in-Chief Steve Korver a few years back and I’m happy it’s finally out. ’50 years of human space flight’ was written in English by Steve Korver, with photos by film director René Nuijens. They went to Russia in search of all kinds of info on Russia’s Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Russia recently celebrated the 50th birthday of this world-changing event on 12 April 2011.
The Dutch version of British television series Antique Roadshow called Tussen Kunst & Kitsch (‘Between Art & Kitsch’) has landed the most expensive item ever in its 25 year history. The ‘spectacular discovery’ is a brooch by Frenchman René Lalique, which has apparently never been seen publicly (seen here is Dragonfly by René Lalique, as he was also a glass maker) and is said to be worth EUR 100,000. The owner, a woman, has already sold it. The show will air on Wednesday 18 November.
The brooch ended up in her family by way of Saint Petersburg, Russia, as her grandfather fled during the revolution and brought it with him to the Netherlands.