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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

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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