Festive Cheer From Lossi 36: some of the funniest news from 20207 min read

 In Blog, Caucasus, Central Asia, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia
Let us face it, for many of us 2020 has been a monster of a year, one that seemed devoid of much of the joy and light that makes life enjoyable; much like a member of Brezhnev’s politburo. However, if you dig a little deeper this year has been full of hilarity, amusement, and heart-warming stories. Now the year is drawing to a close, and we face a holidays season deprived of many of the traditions and events to which we so look forward, Lossi 36 will bring a bit of festive cheer by taking you on a journey through the funniest and most bizarre stories from our regions.

Not to be outdone by the impressive, but controversial giant squirrel unveiled two years ago by city authorities in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the President of Turkmenistan decided this was the year to celebrate man’s best friend, erecting a statue of his favourite breed; the Alabay dog. Now this is not just any old statue, it is a 6m high, gold statue, complete with LED screens displaying video of the breed. Someone has obviously been a very good boy this year.

Statues across the region have not been immune to the pandemic either. In Saint Petersburg, the statue of fictional conman and popular hero Ostap Bender was seen to be wearing a mask. Bender, who was killed off by authors Ilf and Petrov in their 1928 novel ‘The Twelve Chairs’, before miraculously returning to life in the sequel, was sensibly keen to stave off death a second time!

Unexpected political office, shapeshifting journalists, and a gun-toting Rudolph

In a year where many have found finding a new job very tough, spare a thought for Marina Udgodskaya, who had quite the opposite problem. Marina found herself the accidental landslide victor in the election for Mayor in the Russian town of Povalikhino. Lacking the legally required two candidates, Marina was asked by her boss to stand as a token candidate in opposition to himself. The good people of Povalikhino obviously felt change was needed, and now Marina finds herself with a burgeoning political career.

From an accidental career move to an accidental invasion, yes you did read that correctly. How can a country accidentally invade another you may ask? Well in June this year that is exactly what Poland did to the Czech Republic. Thankfully the ‘misunderstanding’ was cleared up quickly, with ‘no hard feelings’ according to Czech Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zuzana Štíchová. Cartographically challenged Polish troops were not the only problem facing Czechs. In November, a hunter reported to police that a deer stole his rifle, karma maybe, but warning folks Dasher, Dancer etc. may be armed and dangerous this year!

Winter is often the time for telling ghost stories or mysteries, so let us move to Lithuania for the mystery of the shape-shifting journalist. The sudden shift to working from home and the world of Zoom has caused many an embarrassing moment for us all, some though become sources of national hilarity. Lithuanian MP Petras Gražulis, whilst on a zoom call with his parliamentary colleagues, accidentally switched from displaying text, to his own camera. MP’s looked on in bemusement as Gražulis was seemingly accompanied by a younger, semi-naked man, who appeared to help him with his equipment.

This raised a few eyebrows as Gražulis is known for his highly controversial and virulently homophobic opinions. Gražulis initially explained the mysterious man was his son, but then bizarrely changed his story, claiming the man to be journalist Andrius Tapinas. Though the mystery man and the journalist share no resemblance, Gražulis claimed that Tapinas can easily change his appearance and stated, ‘he haunts me everywhere, so it’s not surprising that he was there’. A mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes or a statement worthy of a nasally enlarged Pinocchio?

Naked chefs, Santa’s naughty list, and a lady in red

This year has taken its toll on the economy, none more so than in tourism and hospitality, but some restaurateurs in Russia were not taking government enforced closures lying down… or clothed. Chefs and owners from across the country stripped on social media to highlight the plight of their industry in a way that also provided some light relief from the endless gloom of Corona. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your opinion, there were some well-placed napkins, pepper grinders, and saucepans to save their blushes. Let us hope 2021 brings a return to better business for them and safer attire for the kitchen!

In Hungary, Santa’s work schedule has also had to change with the times and he is now conducting Christmas visits via zoom. How Santa feels about slipping down a bandwidth rather than a chimney is unknown. At least he can now mute Rudolph. Although the newly tech savvy Santa may have a few more people on his naughty list after Fidesz MEP and supporter of laws discriminating against LGBT persons, József Szájer, was found escaping from a gay orgy during a lockdown raid by Belgian police. Whilst his political career may be in tatters, any 59-year-old who can shimmy down a drainpipe in his birthday suit may find employment as a very special form of Santa.

Another potential addition to the naughty list comes in the form of a pilot from Russian budget airline Pobeda, who appeared to follow a rather unusual flightpath, essentially drawing a giant phallus in the skies en-route to Yekaterinburg.

If those two were red-faced that is nothing compared to Zorica Rebernik, Bosnia’s so called Lady in Red. The 68-year-old from the town of Breze, near Tuszla, has had an obsession with the colour red since her teenage years, making herself a local celebrity in the process. Dressing entirely in red, with red hair, red house and even consuming red-dyed food, Zorica has continued to bring a dash of colour to 2020, brightening up the otherwise grey mood. Whether she is related to the mysterious Man in Red or is indeed the inspiration for Chris de Burgh have yet to be ascertained.

Extraterrestrial visitors, museum-worthy derrières, and happy holidays from Lossi 36

Santa may not be alone in the skies above Romania this year. A mysterious metal monolith, almost identical to the one found in Utah earlier in the year, was discovered near the picturesque city of Piatra Neamt. Has ET decided to visit Western Moldavia? If so, who can blame him, the city is often considered one of the most picturesque in Romania.

From the extra-terrestrial to more earthly pleasures, museums across the world have been taking part in a competition to find the best… umm… rear in their collection. Lithuania’s M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art submitted Meila Kairiūkštytė-Balkus’s work ‘Elena I’ to the competition which has been trending on Twitter and Instagram under #BestMuseumBum since it was started by the Yorkshire Museum in June. Some good material to inspire museum visits in 2021 or indeed provide motivation for the inevitable return to gym squats.

2020 has seen the great shift to the online world, with business, learning and socialising all being conducted through the laptop camera. We have all felt the pain of dodgy Wi-Fi and elderly relatives unable to work out how to turn the camera on… or worse… off! However, few have had to go to the extremes of Alexei Dudoladov, who has been forced to climb to the top of a birch tree in his remote Siberian home to access his online classes. Let us hope Alexei got a better Wi-Fi connection for Christmas, or at least a safety harness. Either way we applaud you Alexei for your dedication to learning!

In such Alexei’s daily climb of the tree is a perfect metaphor, on which to end this article. 2020 has been an arduous climb; often it has seemed as though there is no end to the present situation, the ascent to the top more and more tiring. However, the wonders of human endeavour have once again disproved the odds; as 2021 dawns in a few weeks, we will begin to see the roll out of the vaccine and a return to normality. So, wherever you are, from Berlin to Bishkek, Tallinn to Tirana, we wish you very happy holidays, and the very best start to 2021.

Featured image: 2020 / Amanda Sonesson
Recommended Posts