Tetris puzzle video game going strong at 35

The electric puzzle video game “Tetris” turns 35 this year. It was created by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov while he was working as a Soviet computer programmer. Pajitnov says that for fans of the game it’s a “good addiction.” (June 11)

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In Russia, thousands search for remains of Soviet war dead

Every spring, groups go to a hilly area named Sinyavino to the east of Saint Petersburg that saw heavy fighting from 1941 to 1944, as Soviets attempted to break through a Nazi blockade. Thanks to volunteers who carry out regular digs at battlefield sites outside Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) the soldiers will finally be buried, decades after the end of the war.

Today in History for April 25th

Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi born; ‘America’ first used on a world map; U.S. and Soviet troops meet in World War II; The Hubble Space Telescope deployed into orbit; Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald born. (April 25)

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In Azerbaijan, health rhymes with crude oil baths

Ever since Soviet times, people have been flocking to the small Azerbaijani town of Naftalan to immerse themselves in local crude oil, Azerbaijan’s “black gold”, reputed for its therapeutic effect, despite some specialists warning the method has dangerous side-effects.

In hidden mountain air base, Albania stores MiGs for sale

On a barren hillside in northern Albania lies a portal to the country’s communist past: a massive steel door creaks open to reveal a hidden former air base burrowed into the heart of the mountain. Made up of 600 metres of tunnels that once teemed with military life, the secret Gjader air base is now a tomb for dozens of hulking communist-era fighter jets collecting dust in the darkness. Three decades after shedding communism, Albanian is trying to sell off the Soviet and Chinese-made MIG fighter jets, drawing interest from museums and collectors.

Disabled Kazakhs fight for rights amid Paralympics push

Kazakhstan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015 and has claimed improvements in inclusion and access for over 600,000 people registered as disabled, particularly in the last decade. But the overhaul of the Soviet approach to disability that saw handicapped people live in isolation from society has not been fast.

Today in History for March 10th

Highlights of Today in History: Alexander Graham Bell successfully tests telephone; James Earl Ray pleads guilty to MLK assassination; Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko dies; Scarsdale Diet author killed; Odd Couple opens on Broadway. (March 10th)

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In Russia, flower sales bloom for International Women’s Day

In the first week of March, crowds line the narrow petal-covered lanes of Moscow’s Rizhsky flower market. Employers from all over the Russian capital rush to the huge hall to buy flowers for their female employees that they will gift to them on March 8, International Women’s Day. A legacy of the Soviet era, March 8 is widely celebrated in Russia where it is a public holiday.