Monday, March 27, 2006

Here's the reason I ended up not voting against them all:

This past Wednesday, on my way back home from a walk, I was passing this new blue building on Lypska, which had been under construction since the late 1980s, when I was spending my wild high school years in this neighborhood, mainly in the house next door.

The blue building was finished a year or so ago, and there were always expensive black cars parked near it, but no signs identifying what company it belonged to. On Wednesday, though, I noticed two flags and two plaques (one in English, the other in Ukrainian) on the building, and stopped to take a picture - because - surprise, surprise! - it was the main office of the Party of Regions headed by Victor Yanukovych.

As you can see, a huge guy, a guard, immediately started walking toward me. He told me it was prohibited to take pictures there - I asked him why - he said, "Because" - I asked him why I couldn't take a picture of a building - he replied, "Devushka, vy sami vsyo prekrasno ponimayete" ("Miss, you know why perfectly well yourself.") - I asked why I couldn't take a picture of a building marked as belonging to the Party of Regions - he didn't give me a convincing answer - I told him he was wrong and that anyone, including tourists, could photograph whatever they wanted in the city - he looked at me as if he knew I wasn't a tourist - and I walked off. Marta was with me, in her stroller, and he kept glancing in her direction as we spoke - incredulous, I guess.

Our conversation was calm, and nothing about him except for his size was too menacing. But it was a disgusting experience, still. Here I am, in my city, and some schmuck is telling me what I can and what I cannot photograph - as if I'm shooting inside his apartment and not in the street. Just imagine what life here would be like if all 147 parties registered in Ukraine (or whatever the number is now) start acting like folks from the Party of Regions.

By the time I reached home, I realized that, just like in 2004, voting against them all wouldn't be enough.


  1. Thanx for all the election updates this past week, both from where you are and over to your northwest.

    Just a note, last fall in Lviv I was temporarily detained and then released in front of the Polish embassy. I Was filming interviews with people waiting in line to apply for Polish visas. I had been given permission by one police man to film the interviews, but as soon as I turned my camera on the embassy building I was approached by the same fellow and two other police, who told me that I could not film the building (nor them, which I gathered was the bigger of their concerns). I protested, asking whether or not they had been in Ukraine during the OR, and didn't they realize that Ukraine was supposed to be developing a friendlier norm for civil society? Eventually I was released, after which I realized that I was being somewhat unfair, in the sense that you can't film or videotape in front of embassies in the US--or at least, you can't do so in front of say, for example, the Saudi embassy. That's bullshit of course. Its even more bullshit not to be able to take pics or film in front of a party's campaign headquarters! Great photos, though. . .glad no harm came to you or your little one. . .

  2. It's odd. These political parties go out of their way to draw attention to themselves with tents, flags and colors, and then they don't want to be photographed, as if they don't want any publicity... The election got quite a bit of air time this morning on NPR.

  3. Obviously the philosophical inheritors of the KGB mentality - this is such a telling anecdote -- just look at the menace on that guy -- he's only sorry he couldn't put you in a "psikhushka" like in the good old days -- or send you to prison or a labor camp for re-education. Ah, the good old days, when thugs like him ruled the day and pushed people around.