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Organization Won't Rename Star Bearing Putin Slur

Published: July 5, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • A certificate showing the adoption of a star named 'Putin-Huilo!'
    Photo: Pale Blue Dot Project

Pale Blue Dot, the organization through which a group of Ukrainian astronomers named a star "Putin-Huilo!," or "Putin is a d*ckhead!," has no plans to rescind the name after discovering its true meaning, the group's founder told The St. Petersburg Times by phone on Friday.

The star, officially designated as KIC 9696936, was adopted through the Pale Blue Dot project, which allows anyone to name a star for a minimum of $10. The proceeds support the research efforts of the White Dwarf Research Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to space research and public education.

"Free speech is now written in the stars," project founder Travis Metcalfe said, pointing out this is not the first time that people have exchanged jabs through their star-naming service.

"We have no plans to censor any of these star adoptions. We appreciate the support for science," Metcalfe added.

The Ukrainian astronomers who named the star drew their inspiration from former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, who used the disparaging term to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin during a disorderly protest outside the Russian Embassy in Kiev in June.

Metcalfe said the group named the star some time ago, but only recently did the meaning of the name come to light.

"It says Putin is a d*ckhead, but in Ukrainian — so we didn't recognize what it actually said. I wasn't familiar with the term huilo," Metcalfe said. The group only realized what it meant after the Ukrainian astronomers began to publicize their exploits online.

Although Pale Blue Dot keeps its own database, it is the International Astronomical Union that keeps the official record of star names.

"We are actually astronomers, so we know that people cannot name stars," Travis Metcalfe told The St. Petersburg Times by phone on Friday, adding "there's lots of companies out there that do this."

The difference between Pale Blue Dot and the many star-naming services is that "we are the ones that are doing it for science," Metcalfe said, noting the proceeds from the project go toward astronomical research.

The "Putin huilo" slogan, popular among football fans in Ukraine, has became a catchphrase in the aftermath of Russia's annexation of Crimea and has been featured in music videos and printed on an array of T-shirts and accessories.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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