Ordinary Miracle – Russia’s Fairy-Tale School

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The Secondary School no.5, in Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, may be called “Ordinary Miracle”, but there is certainly nothing ordinary about the way it looks. Unlike most bland communist era schools around the country, this particular learning institution looks like something out of a children’s fairy-tale. And that’s exactly what makes it so popular.

Ordinary Miracle was built 12 years ago, by Sergey Mamaev, one of Russia’s most successful businessmen, who wanted to fulfill his wife Tatiana’s dream of teaching in a school where children actually wanted to go. She just didn’t find all the official-looking buildings used as schools throughout Russia suitable for molding young minds, so she came up with a more appealing design inspired by fairy-tale castles. Construction began in 1998, and in just three years time, the entire complex was completed and opened for business. Parents have to pay a tuition of 2,000 rubles ($61) per month, to have their children educated in this unique setting featuring a state of the art kindergarten, elementary and middle schools, cafeteria, swimming pool, gym and more. Mamaev’s investment in Ordinary Miracle is being praised on Russian sites as an example for other wealthy businessmen.

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Russian Daredevil Is Taking the World by Storm with His Extreme Stunts

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Climbing on high walls, jumping between rooftops, doing handstands on the edge of skyscrapers and bridges, nothing seems too dangerous for Russian parkour enthusiasts Alexander Rusinov. After posting videos of his extreme stunts online, the 19-year-old has become an internet star in Russia and now has his sights set on the rest of Europe.

Hailing from the Russian city of Saratov, Alexander Rusinov started practicing parkour stunts after watching films like Yamakasi and seeing videos of other daredevils on the internet. He started training at children’s playgrounds and in the school gym until about a year ago when he decided to up his game by taking advantage of Saratov’s impressive architecture. He began doing handstands on bridges over the Volga River, hanging from the tall remains of Soviet industrial buildings, jumping between rooftops and climbing walls. He and his friends posted his most amazing feats online, and the world soon took notice. Rusinov quickly developed an impressive following of fellow parkour fans and even did interviews with the media. His fame spread throughout Russia and has recently crossed national borders, with some of his YouTube videos going viral in other European countries.

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Seeing Double – Russian Restaurant Only Hires Sets of Identical Twins as Staff

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A restaurant owner in Moscow promises you will have such a great time in his establishment that you are going to see double, not because of the strong vodka, but because the staff is made up exclusively of identical twin brothers and sisters.

Aptly called Twin Stars, the Russian restaurant employs only twin bartenders and wait staff as a gimmick to attract more customers and prides itself on being the only such restaurant in the world. Alexei Khodorovsky, the owner of Twin Stars, says he was inspired by a 1960s movie where a girl finds herself in a parallel universe and discovers there’s another version of her – her twin. The idea seems fun and both the customers and the twin staff say they’ve enjoyed the experience thus far. “We worked as barmen before this summer in a different establishment. It was an internship for us,” Artyem, who works with his identical brother Roman at the bar, says. We really liked that internship. That’s why we decided this profession suits us and we came here to work.” Finding people like Artyem and Roman was a true challenge. Identical pairs with experience working in a restaurant were very hard to track down, but the effort was worthwhile because as Nika, another member of the unique staff, says “One pair (of twins) is already fun – when there are two, it’s even more fun.”

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Controversial Singer Has Had 13 Different Plastic Surgeries by the Age of 25

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Alyona Piskun is considered a victim of plastic surgery. Although she is only 25 years old, the controversial Russian singer and internet celebrity has completely changed her appearance by going through 13 different cosmetic procedures.

Alyona is one of the most controversial artists in Russia. Her music and performances are viewed by many as obscene, and she has recently gotten in trouble with the law after a scandalous photo-shoot at one of the most sacred places in the country, the Mamayev Kurgan monument. But the most shocking thing about the 25-year old is her addiction to plastic surgery. After going through 13 major cosmetic procedures, including four rhinoplasty surgeries, a mentoplasty (chin defining), blepharoplasty and cheek liposuction, the Russian singer has completely changed her appearance. Comparing photos of her from just three years ago with her most recent one, it’s hard to believe we’re talking about the same person. The only things that give her away are the tattoos.

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Crazy Russian Scammers Throw Themselves in Front of Moving Cars

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There are so many Russian dash-cam videos on the internet that you would think 99% of all traffic accidents happen in the Federation or that Russian people are particularly passionate about video blogging every second they spend driving around. But actually, one of the main reasons dash-cams are so popular in Russia  is the high number of people willingly throwing themselves in front of moving vehicles to exploit a weird law that obliges the driver to pay for damages no matter if they are at fault or not.

According to an Al Jazeera report from last year, most people use dash-cams mainly to capture any instances where the corrupt policemen abuse their power for financial gains, and use the footage in court. The other and more bizarre reason is to protect themselves against crazy scammers that will throw themselves in front of cars and hustle the drivers for large sums of money by threatening to call the authorities. Most scammers will jump on to the hoods of slow moving vehicles to ensure they don’t get run over, but as you can see in the video compilation below, accidents have happened. Those who lack the courage to jump in front of cars, simply pretend to get hit by vehicles while holding old laptops or mobile phones and ask for compensation. Drivers trying to convince the judges they were the actual victims without solid evidence usually fail and are forced to pay damages, so dash-cams have become the only sure way of protection.

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Armored Sports – Russia Holds World’s First Ever Tank Biathlon

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Probably bored with the usual sporting event, the Russian Military decided to introduce tanks into the mix as a way of spicing things up. Tank Biathlon is a mechanized sport in which tank crews have to guide their vehicles across an obstacle course and prove their accuracy by shooting various targets, in as little time as possible.

The world’s first ever tank biathlon was held at the Alabino proving ground,Russia, on 2013 August 11–17 and pitted tank crews from several of Russia’s Military Districts against teams from three ex-Soviet countries: Kazakhstan, Armenia and Belarus. All teams competed in T-72Bs tanks, an iconic weapon for all post-Soviet armies, and had to complete three 6,100 meters-long laps across a large racing field while completing different objectives. During the first round, crews had to use the tank’s main gun to hit targets at distances of up to 2,200 meters, which is close to their maximum range, while racing across the field in minimal time. Failure to miss a target cost the teams a 500-meter penalty lap. In the second round, teams had to use the tanks’  7.62mm coaxial machine gun to hit targets imitating anti-tank mortar (RPG) squads and infantry units, placed at distances of between 600 and 700 meters. During the final round, crews had to maneuver their tanks across an obstacle course that included a scarp, ford, minefield, bridge and roadblocks, as fast as possible. Missed or crashed obstacles added a 10-seconds increment to the teams’ final timing. Russia’s team won the competition, followed by Kazakhstan, with Belarus third and Armenia last.

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Russian Powerlifter Has the Face of a Porcelain Doll and the Body of an Amazon

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Yulia Viktorovna Vins, or Julia Vins, as she is known in the online bodybuilding and powerlifting communities, is a 17-year old Russian powerlifter who recently shot to Internet fame after a series of photos showing her doll-like face and impressive physique went viral.

Russia and countries of the former USSR have their share of doll-faced beauties – with Valeria Lukyanova, Anastasia Shpagina and Anzhelika Kenova being the most famous – but none of them have the impressive body of Yulia Vins. The young athlete from Engels, Russia, might have the face of a fragile porcelain doll, but her massive arm and leg muscles are enough to put most men to shame. In a recent interview with a fellow bodybuilding enthusiast, Yulia said she started working out to become stronger and build self-confidence, but had no intention of becoming a professional powerlifter. During the first year, she trained her muscles without following a clear workout program, but eventually decided she needed guidance. She was training at the school gym and the only coach there specialized in powerlifting and weightlifting. Yulia opted for the former, because she wanted her body to develop harmoniously, and in just one year she made extraordinary progress. She is currently preparing for her first official powerlifting competition, in September.

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For Sale: One-of-a-Kind Car COMPLETELY Covered in Canadian Bison Leather

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We’ve featured some outrageous cars on Oddity Central in the past, but this one definitely takes the cake. An automotive enthusiast from Moscow, Russia is selling a unique hot rod that is completely covered in Canadian wood bison leather. And by “completely” I mean interior, exterior and even the engine…

According to the ad posted on Russia’s biggest classifieds website, Avito, the vehicle’s fiberglass body is covered in genuine Canadian bison leather, tanned and artistically etched by a master from the Middle East. The car’s interior, including the dashboard, is also layered with brown bison leather and expensive natural furs. And as if this thing didn’t have way too much leather already, the inside of the hood, as well as the engine and several other parts are also encased in specially treated bison leather than can withstand high temperatures. The seller, known only as “Rustam“, claims the engine and trunk compartment also feature Swarovski crystal inserts.

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Life without Fear – Russia’s Hands-On Approach to Conquering Your Fears

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Life without Fear is an increasingly popular hands-on course that helps people overcome their phobias and anxiety by putting them through a series of extreme trials, including walking on hot coals, sitting on broken glass, swimming in ice-cold water and even eating pieces of burning cotton.

There are people dealing with fears all around the world. In most western countries experts rely on psychology to help patients confront and beat their phobias. Acknowledging your fears, talking about your problems and visualizing yourself overcoming them are some of the most widely used methods, but in Russia, they have a more direct approach. Life without Fear is a two-day course during which participants go through all kind of extreme challenges and facing their greatest fears head on. Created by Valery Bochkarev, a life coach and fire interaction expert, and Alexander Blagov, a personal trainer and martial arts fighter, Life without Fear relies less on theory and lectures and more on direct contact in order to convince people that fear is just an illusion that can easily be overcome. The main idea is to push participants into doing things they never thought themselves able to, whether it be stopping falling knives with their stomach, dancing with balls of fire or breaking wooden poles with their neck.

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Russian Jack Sparrow Builds His Own Black Pearl Pirate Ship

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After seeing the blockbuster movie series “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Alexander Marchenko, a 38-year-old entrepreneur from the small Russian village of Cheryomushki decided to build his very own replica of the Black Pearl pirate ship.

Alexander Marchenko has traveled all over Russia, and is now convinced there is no land more beautiful than his native land of Krasnoyarsk and no people more friendly and welcoming than his fellow locals. Upon returning from his travels a few years ago, he decided to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and build a hotel. He had noticed the other resorts and lodgings in the area all looked the same way, so he tried to come up with something special that would attract visitors. As luck would have it, the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was running at local cinemas, and as soon as Alexander saw Captain Jack Sparrow’s beautiful pirate ship, the Black Pearl, he instantly knew that’s what he wanted his unique hotel to look like. Although he didn’t have any ship building experience, he went online and downloaded photos and schematics of the famous ship to use as guides, and started working on it immediately. It’s been two years, and now, his own Black Pearl is starting to take shape on the Yenisei River.

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This Is How They Harden Kindergarten Children in Siberia

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The kids at the No. 317 kindergarten in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia are making themselves immune to flu viruses and winter colds by walking outside naked at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius and pouring buckets of freezing cold water over their bodies.

Ever since photos and videos of the extreme hardening process were exposed in the media, the Siberian kindergarten has come under fire from parents worried about the children’s well-being. But caretakers like Margarita Filimonova insist the practice is totally safe, as the children are only allowed to go outside in the freezing weather after three years of slow training and medical testing. It might seem extreme, but the staff insist the practice makes the children fitter and improves their health significantly. Kindergarten No. 317 has been hardening its children for the last 13 years, and some of the kids who went here went on to become Olympic champions in various sports. It’s the only institution of its kind in the region which uses this kind of extreme exercises.

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Siberian Doctors Use Sticks to Literally Beat Drug Addiction

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There’s a new way to beat your addiction, but it hurts, a lot. Psychologists at a Siberian drug clinic are using corporal punishment to help drug, alcohol and even sex addicts get their lives back. The bizarre treatment involves lashing patients’ buttocks with sticks and canes.

“We cane the patients on the buttocks with a clear and definite medical purpose – it is not some warped sado-masochistic activity,” Professor Marina Chukhrova told The Siberian Times. Apparently, there are some sound scientific principles behind these beatings. Chukhrova and fellow practitioner Dr German Pilipenko claim addicts suffer from a lack of endorphins, known as the “happiness hormones”, and the excruciating pain stimulates their brains to release endorphins into the body, making them feel better about themselves without having to use any other stimulants. “The caning counteracts a lack of enthusiasm for life which is often behind addictions, suicidal tendencies and psychosomatic disorders,” Pilipenko says. He admits their technique gets a lot of skepticism from fellow doctors, but insists the pain acts as an injection against stress.

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Party Like There’s No Tomorrow – Russian Revelers Pay $1,000 to Celebrate Apocalypse in Soviet Era Bunker

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A Cold War bunker in Moscow designed to protect Soviet leaders in case of nuclear attacks will host the ultimate doomsday party. Revelers willing to part with $1,000 will be able to celebrate the coming of the Apocalypse in a safe environment that can withstand nuclear catastrophes and earthquakes.

Sure, $1,000 isn’t cheap, but with the world coming to an end, you might as well spend your life savings partying, right? That’s what the administrators of Bunker 42, in Moscow, are hoping, anyway. The shelter located 65 meters underground has been decorated especially for this special end-of-the-world party, after receiving a large number of requests from Russians looking for a chance to survive the impending doom. According to senior bunker guide Alexei Pavlovsky, the idea behind the event is pretty simple:  : A lot of many people would feel much calmer if they could spend this critical day surrounded by maximum comfort and safety. And who are we to say no?” Can’t argue with that, now can you?

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Russian Journalist Holds Promise to Literally Eat His Words after Prediction Proves Wrong

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Vyacheslav Ledovsky, a journalist from the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, surprised a lot of people when he decided to hold true to the promise he made two years ago, to eat his own article should his prediction about work on local infrastructure prove wrong.

Ledovsky, a writer for The Builder newspaper, wrote an article in 2010 entitled “Promises are made to be broken”, in which he expressed serious doubts about the promises made by Krasnoyarsk region governor Lev Kuznetsov regarding a plan to start the construction of a fourth bridge over the Yenisei River, before 2015. The journalist was so convinced Kuznetzov wouldn’t keep his promise that he in turn assured his readers he would eat his article should work on the bridge begin before the announced deadline. Much to Vyacheslav’s surprise, construction on the fourth bridge began in September of 2012, forcing him to make a decision – either eat the newspaper article like he said he would or look for excuses and possibly have his reputation tarnished.

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Russian Company Sells Apocalypse Survival Kits

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December 21st is less than a month away, but don’t despair, there’s hope for you yet. A Siberian company has started selling end-of-the-world survival kits containing must-have items like a bottle of vodka and a notepad and a pencil.

Just in case you can’t make it to the French town or Bugarach, or buy an apocalypse-proof Atlantis pod, you can still take your shot at surviving the end of the world, by getting one of the survival kits offered by a very resourceful Russian company. It’s not likely to keep you alive for long, but at least you tried, right? For a mere 890 rubles ($28), you get a med kit (complete with heart medication), soap, some candles and matches, a can of fish, a pack of buckwheat, a bottle of vodka, a notepad and pencil, and a rope. Although I can think of a few uses for the rope, in case of a natural disaster, some might see it as a means to an end for those less optimistic of their survival chances. The kit also includes  a blank ID card, to be filled by the buyer, in case their original ID card gets demagnetized during the apocalypse, an instruction card with rules to various games to pass the time, in case you get stuck somewhere with friends and family, waiting for the end of the world to pass you by.

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