Saturday, 29 March 2008


Ainur has already been swooning over this clip - it's an excerpt from the music film "Концерт - фронту" from 1942. Apparently you can still get it on DVD in Russia (together with another film from the same era). In this song, Vasya complains that his girl hasn't written any letters to him, and the others try to cheer him up.

The main reason for why I post it here is that this guy, whom the camera focuses on once in a while during the choir bits, is almost too cute to be true:

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Valéry Inkijinoff

Валерий Иванович Инкижинов, known as Valéry Inkijinoff and various other spellings in the West, was an actor in France and the Soviet Union, of Buryat descent, born in Irkutsk (25 March 1895; we just missed his birthday!).
The image above is from the 1931 movie Le Capitaine Jaune ("The Yellow Captain"). The typically racist title belies the fact that Inkijinoff plays the hero of the story; in a seedy Marseilles pub, he falls in love with Simone D'Al-Al's character (she was a Parisian model of West Indian descent), is falsely accused of murder, goes into hiding with his lover, foils an attempted mutiny, finds the murderer, and all ends well!

Here's a nice collage of his different roles through the years. (Complete filmography in French) In an age when Asian characters in Western movies had a very limited range of mostly villainous roles, Injikinoff's career took an unusual start when he played the hero of a Soviet movie of anti-imperialist rebellion in Mongolia. Storm Over Asia (directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin, 1928) tells the story of a simple herdsman who is mistakenly believed to be the descendant of Genghis Khan. The Western occupying forces (British in the original, White Russian in Western prints of the film) plan to use him as a puppet ruler over the credulous masses. (If you wonder what the Brits were doing in Mongolia, read more about the Siberian Intervention.) However, the hero sees through the imperialist plot and leads the people in revolt in a dramatic finale - see below.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Han Geng and Kola Beldy

Han Geng (Chinese: 韩庚; Korean: 한경; born February 9 1984), a.k.a Han Kyung, is a member of the South Korean boy band Super Junior. He is a citizen of the People's Republic of China, and he is an ethnic Nanai.

As a member of Super Junior, he contributes his knowledge of Chinese martial arts and traditional dances from not less than 56 minority ethnic groups, according to Wikipedia.
Han Geng's puppy is a Siberian Husky, and is called Rider!
Below, a collection of clips from different Korean and Chinese TV shows. Han Geng performs different dancing styles from various regions in China.

The Nanai inhabit an area that is divided between China and Russia at present. They speak a Manchu-Tungusic language. (The connection to Mongolian and Turkic languages by way of a larger Altaic family is not always agreed on.) The Nanai suffered from persecution in Japanese Manchuria. In earlier days, they were known under the alternative ethnonym "Gold" in Russia. Kola Beldy (1929-1993) was a famous Soviet era singer of Nanai heritage. Below, a video clip of his song "Naryan-Mar", courtesy of YouTube user Pustinnik, who has an amazing collection of film clips from Soviet movies and performances - worth a visit!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Cute protester in Lhasa

It has been frustratingly difficult to get much information on what is going on in Tibet right now. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter's web edition presented a short video clip this morning, filmed by Australian tourist Mike Smith in Lhasa. Smith filmed Tibetan rioters attacking Chinese stores and vehicles, and one of the protesters saw him with his camera, and seized the chance and spoke a little bit about the reasons behind the protests. Below are screenshots and full English transcript of DN's Swedish subtitles:

"In Lhasa we have no freedom. The Chinese government tells the whole world that the Tibetans are free."

"But we are not. We don't have any religious freedom."

Oleg Menshikov

I read some news article once, many years ago, about the male celebrities that according to some poll appealed the most to women in Russia. I can't find it anymore, but it somehow tried to make the point that Russian women are more into intellect than looks. But one of the men who ranked the highest (and the only one whose name I actually remember to this day) was Oleg Menshikov, who most certainly has not only intellect but also dashing good looks ...

Menshikov in Брызги шампанского (1988).

Maybe it's just that Russian women have a better different taste in looks than 'Westerners'. When I was in Russia, I remember how it struck me that there were so many nice-looking guys in Russian advertisements everywhere - something that I'd never experienced in any other countries I had visited.


During the filming of Лестница, 1989.

Menshikov was born in Serpukhov in the vicinity of Moscow. Soon, the family moved to Moscow, and settled down in a two-room apartment in a 'Chruschev' apartment block. Early on, they noticed that Oleg had a great interest in music and a certain gift for acting, and so they got him a violin and let him visit a music school. Oleg was never the brightest kid in class, but "the sharp narcissism of his nature never allowed him to get poorer results than the others", according to classmate Larisa Chesnokova. He also enjoyed seeing plays and operettas with his friends, twice a week even. By the time he had finished 10th class, he was certain that he wanted to become a performer. After finishing music school, he entered the M. S. Schepkin Higher Institute of Theatre.

Sporting a fur hat in his youth.

Since his gradution from the institute, Menshikov has performed in numerous plays and films. Some of the most well-known internationally might be Burnt by the Sun (1994), Prisoner of the Mountains (1996), and East-West (1999). Even Nikita Mikhalkov's rather bizarre and pathetic The Barber of Siberia (1998) is okay to watch, because Menshikov, though he is a 38 year old guy acting in the role of a cadet in his early twenties, is ... well, good-looking.

As Irina writes in her Cozy Corner, "Since late 80-s O. Menshikov has become sex symbol of Russian movie. His ironical smile, clever eyes, nervous movements fascinated almost every woman's heart."

In The Barber of Siberia.

In 2006, Menshikov also starred as Doctor Zhivago in the Russian-produced TV series that many Russians had long been waiting for, having been irritated by daffodils and thermometers in people's mouths for far too long. Certainly, while there were some things that could be improved in David Lean's 1965 movie, Yuri Zhivago must be played by someone with cute button eyes, like Omar Sharif. Lucky they got Oleg Menshikov.

Above - saving a lamb, and below - in bed, in Полоса препятствий (1984).

All photos are from Oleg Menshikov's official website.

Monday, 17 March 2008

We're in the Red Army now

The Red Army brought together numerous ethnicities of the Soviet Union, sometimes in unexpected ways.

These photos were originally found on various discussion forums about Soviet military life.

Apparently the horse is wearing a traditional Kyrgyz hat...
More pictures of cute soldiers here.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Dashi Namdakov

Dashi Namdakov is a Buryat artist. Primarily a sculptor, he is also a skilled graphic artist, and has worked as production designer for the Genghis Khan movie Mongol. (See his homepage, Dashi-Art, for numerous examples of his powerful and undulating mythological figures.)

"My Grandpa was a very gifted story-teller. He knew a lot of legends and stories about Buryats. And I remember them with my bones, inwardly. This feeling is very strong and more on subconscious level. I would like to understand Buryat and Buddhist tradition rationally, yet, I believe, something within me knows it better than I do. My teacher at the Art School was Lev Golovnitsky, a very fine and good Russian sculptor. And he helped me to appreciate and understand the art of sculpture and world tradition. And I am a student of Michelangelo and Bourdelle, Bruegel and Old Japanese art. And I am also myself." (

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Cute Hockey Players

Ak Bars Kazan is a Russian Super League team from the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The white snow leopard, Aq Bars in Tatar, is the emblem of the team and the republic.
Here are some cute Tatar and Russian players from the team and the junior league.

Aslan Raisov and Andrei Zubarev

Danis Zaripov and a model of the Qul Sharif mosque in Kazan, displayed inside Qul Sharif (more from the same photoshoot at

Finally, Pavel Popkov... and, just for fun, Jukka Hentunen from Finland!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Aygul - Sharayna

We can't get enough of Kazakh music videos. This hot little number by singer Aygul (moon flower!) features a nameless but extremely hunky actor in the smouldering summer countryside. Something about the song reminds me disturbingly of Finland, however...