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Underground Art Collective Strikes Ukrainian Rebel Stronghold

Viewed from afar, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has a surrealist, absurdist air to it. Weapons and fighters -- colloquially known as "little green men" -- appear seemingly from nowhere and yet from a known source: Russia. Government buildings are occupied. Strange, official stamps are issued. The fighters battling the administration in Kiev make reference to obscure geographical concepts that were thought to have died with the Russian empire. They release rap videos.

And in Donetsk, a stronghold of the separatist movement, graffiti and art installations that mock the pro-Russian fighters have appeared on the city's streets and facades. The art captures the absurdity of the current political situation. One work of graffiti shows Igor Strelkov, a leader of the separatist movement, with a gun to his head. The caption rips off Nike: Just Do It. A wooden cut-out renders a rebel as a hooved, horned devil, as if Bulgakov had come to Donetsk.

On Thursday, the underground artist collective Myrzilka released photographs of their work in Donetsk. Here's that image of Strelkov, being urged toward suicide in the most capitalist of ways.

Here, a cut-out depicts a hooved and horned devil in rebel attire and the insignia of Novorossiya, a geographic term encompassing parts of Ukraine and southwest Russia that Vladimir Putin has invoked to justify his expansionist ambitions in Ukraine. The horned rebel appears next to his bride, who sports a holstered pistol and vacant eyes.

This one features a separatist fighter whose appearance has been likened to Sharik, the main character from writer Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog. Bulgakov's novel was a biting satire of the early years of Communism in the Soviet Union and its central character, Sharik -- who was a dog turned into human form -- was meant to symbolize the new Soviet man. The fighter in question bears a striking resemblance to the main character in a film adaptation of the novel.

According to their website, the collective manufactured the cutouts beforehand and have been putting them up around the city during the early morning hours.

Many of the displays show separatist fighters of the Donetsk People's Republic as skeletons or demons.

One particularly grim display shows the grim reaper -- draped with Donetsk People's Republic symbols -- holding a picture of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 being downed by separatists.

via Myrzilka

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Rogozin to Obama: You Have Unmanly Pets

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is what in Internet-parlance is called a troll. He provokes opponents for no particular reason and pushes outlandish ideas for what seems like mostly his own amusement. Among other things, he’d like to colonize the moon.

And with Russia and the United States battling for the geopolitical future of Ukraine -- will it or won’t it remain within Moscow’s sphere of influence? -- President Barack Obama has become a favorite Rogozin target. On Thursday, he managed to really outdo himself, tweeting out a photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin with a mighty leopard-like creature and Obama with a froofy dog:

Russia, Rogozin would have you believe, is a bastion of male virility and strength. Meanwhile the West is weak, degenerate, and, mostly, gay. The European Union’s ambition to extend its influence into Ukraine, Rogozin argues, is part of a general project to spread secular values.

Putin intends to thwart that project, leopard in tow.

NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images