Friday, June 30, 2006

Almost forgot: regarding today's game, Mishah's being ambiguous. In his dream tonight, we lost, but there was no score. And yesterday, we won in his dream, 1:0. He wrote me that the only thing that's clear is that it's not gonna be a shameful game.

(Are there adult-looking devices for little kids: a laptop, a cell phone, all kinds of cords, remote control, etc. Black or silver, not all that flowery-pink kind of shit? Marta is not letting me write. She almost crawled for the first time yesterday to get to my cell... By the way, I don't worry about her not crawling: some kids do, others don't, I've been told.)

Have been trying to write about it for way over a month now:

My wonderful friend Tanya, the one I wrote about in that New York Times piece back in 2004, is in New York City now!!!

She's been awarded a scholarship to attend the summer Yiddish language program at NYU - this one, I guess.

I'm so proud of her, and very, very happy.

I've been told that she didn't like NYC at first (she arrived there Sunday), but is getting used to it gradually.

Again, I'm totally proud of her - and hope that she'll love this adventure and will do good in her classes! And will end up loving the city.

By the way, in addition to Yiddish, Tanya studies Arabic, Hebrew, and a few other, European, languages. Which ones, I have to ask - I can never remember them all )))

Someone somewhere wrote that last time he went to see a movie was The Titanic ten years ago.

My immediate inner reaction was, Oh my God, has it been ten years already? I haven't seen The Titanic but I babysitted my friends' 1 1/2-year old while they went to see it; it was also the day I defended my diploma - not that I regret spending the whole long evening with the wonderful little Jesse, but it was definitely the wrong way to celebrate the end of 17 years of all the schools and colleges. But at least I still remember the day now.

Anyway, it hasn't been ten years yet - just eight. Very soon, though, it'll be ten years since I left for the States the second time, to Iowa City. Sometime in mid-August, I guess. Ten years. So sad to think about it, for way too many reasons.



Time flies: it'll soon be three weeks since Marta and I are here. I may briefly go to the city this weekend - I'll probably experience culture shock there.

I'm so used to living here by now that I really envy the people on the upper floors: I wish I could hang my stuff out to dry like they do. I do have a rope outside - the landlady showed it to me - but I can't risk having someone spit on Marta's stuff or something, plus someone was using this rope for their socks and other shit the other day. Inside the apartment, there's so little sun and so much humidity, it takes days for everything to dry.

Yesterday was a day off - the Constitution Day - and it was impossibly crowded here, crowded both with people and cars. And very hot: +30 Celcius in the shade. Today, garbage is everywhere, the five or so containers they put up across the lake from the sanatorium are totally not enough. Ukrainians are not used to taking their garbage with them and disposing of it someplace where it won't harm the environment. However, it's still nowhere near as dirty here as it was outside St. Pete two years ago. The really bad thing about it all, though, is that some shit is burning outside and it affects the air - smells like Moscow's smog, makes me panic.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A dear friend of mine wrote she was so nervous yesterday, she almost ate her TV set.

This line in her email looked especially cute next to her signature line: head of the department at a bank.

***

Mishah's brother cried when he called Mishah yesterday.

***

Mishah has forwarded me a post from a fan forum, by someone from Crimea - here's my loose translation:

HAPPY VICTORY! I've no words... I was as happy (well, not as happy :)) in 1975 and 1986 (and it had nothing to do with our team):).

P.S. Even I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude toward our team in our small town (Yevpatoria), where almost everyone who moved toward or next to us were yelling "Ukraine the champion!" I was even more surprised by the cars and all driving by at ONE o'clock at night with UKRAINIAN flags and yelling "Ukraine the champion!"...

And this is Crimea :)))


***

"Our whole country wants to see Blokhin with his head shaved!" - that was one of the banners at the game yesterday, referring to the promise our couch, Oleg Blokhin, made - to shave all his hair off if Ukraine wins the World Cup.



Molodtsi, khloptsi!!!!!!!!!

I called mama, she opened the window and stopped hearing me - there's a huge celebration on Khreshchatyk! Sounded like Maidan!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Being on my own with Marta and having a slow dial-up connection isn't a good combination when it comes to writing. Here're two pictures - and maybe I'll add something later:





P.S. Mish jan, in your dream you saw 1:0 and 7:1, right? And 7:1 is the ratio of Ukrainian bets for our 1:0 victory in today's game, right? And this dream was a few days ago, not today, right? Or have I mixed it all up?

Friday, June 23, 2006

I should probably say something about the so-called Orange Coalition. Instead, I go on and on about some meaningless crap - cops in the middle of nowhere. Well, okay, here goes: I'm glad they've finally agreed on the coalition. Very good for them. It was both hard and easy to imagine a Yushchenko-Yanukovych coalition, and the public reaction to it. Now, back to the real world: all's quiet here - I'm off to bed.

I hate our police.

Half an hour ago, just after 11 pm, someone rang on the door. I had Marta on me, so I decided not to get up, but they persisted, so I went and asked who that was.

They said they were from police and asked for the landlady, calling her by her full name. I didn't open the door, told them she wasn't here. They asked who I was. When I told them I'd call her on her cell, they cursed and left, said they needed to speak to her personally.

I called her anyway, and she said she had no idea why they were looking for her.

I know for sure they were cops: the car they left in was marked as a police car. I couldn't see the license plate number, though.

It feels pretty lousy to be cursed by cops in the middle of the night in somebody else's apartment on the ground floor next to a forest and not far from a cemetery, with a 6-month-old asleep in the bedroom.

I won't be able to fall asleep now, I'm afraid.

Thursday, June 22, 2006



Part of this ruin is visible from our kitchen window - but there's another, inhabited, building that separates us from it; otherwise, if we were closer to it, I wouldn't have agreed to spend my summer here.

There're many buildings like this everywhere in this part of the world, and each one has many human stories attached to it, and I've realized it only now, after our landlady had told me hers.

She was supposed to get a small apartment in that building. She has worked for the sanatorium for more than 20 years now, and the building was being built for the sanatorium employees. Several directors changed since the Soviet Union collapsed, she said, but none is really interested to find the money to finish the construction.

She's lucky her sanatorium is still functioning. Most seem to have been deserted.

It kind of makes me dizzy to think of it: one day, you're the lucky one, with the new apartment looming not on the horizon but almost next door - very lucky, unlike many others. Then you wake up in a different country, and for the next decade you keep waking up with the unfinished building slowly turning into a ruin right outside your window. And your apartment is in that building, never to be yours.

There're two rooms here, it's a very damp place, but in general it's okay, considering its gorgeous location. There used to be four of them living here, but their daughter has moved out. Now it's the landlady, her husband and their 12-year-old son.

And some 20 years ago, when the landlady just began working here, the apartment belonged to an old woman, and the landlady and her daughter (and, possibly, her husband) lived in the room Marta and I are in now, the smaller one (the other room is the TV room). The landlady was very nice to the old woman, and the old woman was very kind to her. She used to take the landlady's 4-year-old daughter for walks, despite being almost blind: "Put on that red dress, then I'll be able to see you," she used to tell the landlady's daughter. When the old woman died, she left the apartment to the landlady - not to her own son and his wife.

***

They have a dacha, by the way. They are at their dacha now, for the whole time we are renting their apartment and using it as our dacha.

***

There's some unfinished construction at the sanatorium, too: right next to the indoor swimming pool, an almost finished brick building that will never be finished. It was supposed to be a gym, I guess - a school-type gym with huge windows.

The ruin is very ugly, and it depresses me a lot - mainly because it reminds me of Beslan, of the school gym there and what they turned it into, and when I think of Beslan now, in my head there're the TV and photo pictures of the gym there, the ones that were broadcast and published, but also I see what I've read in C. J. Chivers' Esquire story, a reconstruction, very scary, an unforgettable read, dreadful scenes attached to the images, seeing for myself, from the inside, what I've been trying to imagine from way outside nearly two years ago.

A local boy killed a kitten and blinded two more a few days ago here. Poked their eyes out. Deliberately. For fun.

I didn't see it. Mishah heard the neighbors discuss it. "Never leave Marta alone outside when this boy's around," he told me, before describing what the boy had done.

The boy's 6 or 7, nothing memorable. When I first noticed him, he didn't want to share his roller skates with another kid - and that other kid called him zhlob, a slightly rude way of telling someone he's greedy (though not the only meaning of the word; it also means 'a redneck').

An older kid tried to kick the boy's ass for the kittens, but a neighbor from the second floor told him to stop, said he was no better himself if he could beat a small, helpless boy.

(Me, I don't think the boy's helpless. I think he should learn what pain feels like, someone's gotta show him, maybe next time he'll think twice.)

He's not from a poor family: his roller skates aren't something many people here would afford.

I looked at him again after Mishah had told me about the kittens and it made me shiver: what is it like for his parents, I thought, to look at their sadist of a son and know that one day he'll end up in jail - because one day kittens won't be enough for him anymore.

I told our landlady about it.

She said the boy's father was a former cop. She used the word ment - and she wasn't saying it tenderly.

She had no doubts that the boy would never end up in jail, even if he deserved it - thanks to his ex-cop dad.

Our ants - our domestic ants - are having a wedding/mating season: hundreds of bastards and their winged bitches are all over the bathtub and on the floor under the hallway lamp.

They forced me to commit a few anticides yesterday.

In the park, there are multitudes of those tiny greenish caterpillars hanging from every single oak tree on those tiny thin threads - they are the quickest creatures I've ever seen: as soon as they touch the surface - any surface - they create a tiny, thin, almost transparent pocket over themselves and go to sleep there, waiting to metamorphose into something. We found one such caterpillar on Mishah's camera last Saturday, and they are also very fond of my umbrella and Marta's stroller.

The stroller is also very popular with little wild spiders: there's a couple nearly invisible webs on it at the end of each walk.

Our domestic spiders seem to prefer my slippers.

***

I'm a city girl, but I'm really enjoying all these encounters with nature - no matter how much I complain.

)))

Monday, June 19, 2006

It's official: my husband's clairvoyant!!!!!!!!!

)))))))))

I'm trying to sms him, but the messages aren't going through - because, I guess, the whole country is sms-ing at this very moment.

We have won with the score from Mishah's tonight's dreams - 4:0. And there was a goal by Kalynychenko (I've just noticed that he's very cute), which they didn't count (there was that triple fall then, right? - one Ukrainian, one Saudi, and the Saudi goalie...) - so this is the explanation for the 1:0 thingy. Ha!

Rebrov's goal was such a beauty - I'm very happy for him, very happy that he's doing great again, after years of obscurity!

A very happy day.

Just for the record: Mishah didn't dream the score for today's game against the Saudis - maybe because he was on the overnight train, not a good setting for a clairvoyant person )))

P.S. There were some 4:0 and 1:0 in his dreams, but he says that's not it.

This place is so quiet during the week, especially when it's as rainy as today, but on weekends crowds arrive to make shashlyk and swim in the lake, and I really wish we knew how to make good shashlyk, too, because the smell of dozens of shashlyks that fills the air on weekends is just totally and unbearably wonderful. Maybe we'll figure it out before the summer's end.

***

All these people at the lake are from Kyiv, and I may even know some of them, but it doesn't feel so when we walk in the forest on weekends: it feels as if we're hundreds miles away from Kyiv.

***



Friday, June 16, 2006

Lots of kids here - very good for a change, after all the Besarabka drunks.

A 10-year-old boy has noted today that I'm taller than Mishah, asked me how old I am, I told him to try to guess, he said I was 20 or so, and for some reason I'm still wondering: for someone his age, 20 is very old or not really? A very nice 11-year-old girl who looks after all the little ones here said her mother's 33. A year older than I am. The boy also asked about our natsionalnost - not sure whether he meant ethnicity, or citizenship, or both. Feels weird.

***



Thursday, June 15, 2006

There are tiny little ants on all window sills here. Instead of - and much better than - cockroaches, I guess, though still pretty annoying.

Folk wisdom, overheard by Mishah on Monday, as we were passing the local cemetery located nearby...

An elderly yet very energetic woman, speaking in Ukrainian to two or three elderly men:

No matter how often you visit him, how much you take care of him, a dead man is a dead man.


She wasn't complaining, nor was she sad. She just stated the facts - maybe even a little too cheerfully.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More photos from the Pushcha Vodytsya apartment - Yulia's iconostase, as Mishah calls it, in the kitchen:





***

We've had a 3 1/2-hour walk today, despite the rain; spent some two hours on a covered bench next to the tennis court at a sanatorium ten minutes away from us. The sanatorium used to belong to the Communist Party's Central Committee and now belongs to the Presidential Administration. We have an arrangement that allows me to pass through the checkpoint, and I'm very happy about it, because it's safe to walk there, and the place's very clean, and there's even a cafe (even though the damned stairs are everywhere and I can't leave Marta alone outside). But the atmosphere at the sanatorium is so Soviet - so 1980s Soviet - it's making me sick. Hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years already; hard to believe we've ever had the Orange Revolution or other such stuff. More on it later.

I know it sounds crazy, but: very often, the night before the game, Mishah dreams the score.

Today, he sent me an sms in the morning, saying that in his dream Ukraine lost 0:5 - with 0:2 in the first half.

I haven't erased this sms - I still have it as proof of Mishah's clairvoyance. And because of Mishah, the score didn't surprise me - even though there was a moment when I shed a tear or two.

We were losing 0:2 in the first half; 0:4 is the game's final score - but there were 5 goals total in our gates.

The Swiss referee deserves to be disqualified and have his ass kicked for his decision to give Vashchuk a red card. Fucking asshole.

Before the totally unfair red card decision, I could still watch the game with a critical eye, and I felt that our team is too slow and Sheva-centric, among other things.

***

And - no coalition again today. But who cares. Gazeta.ru reported that a great number of parliament members couldn't concentrate on work because they had a plane to Germany to catch, to make it for the game.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Our Pushcha Vodytsya neighbors hiding from the rain on Sunday, June 11:



This is a very rainy summer.

Oh, and the really big news is that Marta now has her first tooth - the bottom-center-left one!!!

It appeared yesterday, May 12: first, Mishah let her bite him on the finger, then his mother put a spoon into Marta's mouth and we could hear the sound...

She's such a wonderful little girl, there was no screaming, she was just a little bit more fussy and that's all. Thank God. Hope the rest of them will be as easy for all of us.





So we're having an "authentic experience" renting this apartment that the landlady hadn't bothered to clean up or refresh a little bit, and we've been instructed to tell anyone who'd ask (neighbors, etc.) that we are the relatives "from the North." Internet is amazingly slow here, but I'll be posting a couple photos now and then, to help myself cope with reality.

Pushcha Vodytsya is wonderful - it's been my dream for so many years not to have to spend an hour or more inside a bus, metro, etc., to get to breathe the fresh air and walk in the pine forest, enjoying peace and quiet.

Yesterday, however, there was a drunk in front of our window, and I just couldn't believe it: how did they manage to catch up with me so fast, bastards! But a neighbor said this is the first time something like this has happened here - must be because of the religious holiday the day before.

Anyway, I won't be posting much in the near future but I'll try not to disappear completely.

Hope you're all enjoying the summer!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Dialup's a torture but I'm not complaining - it could've been worse: there could've been no internet here at all.

The air is amazing here. The apartment is hideous. But Mishah has made it survivable and we'll add a few more things tomorrow. The landlady didn't bother to wash the floor and clean the bathroom before we moved in - even though I thought that was my main condition that she had eagerly agreed with.

I hope Marta will enjoy her summer here.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mishah had a ticketless ride from Moscow to Kyiv - zaytsem. Yes, this is possible, despite two border-crossings and all. You just pay the provodnik 2,000 rubles (that's something like $70, slightly less than what you pay for first class, SV) and you get an upper bunk in a tiny, two-bunk provodniki's compartment, with three beer-drinking, drunk assholes on the lower bunk, two men and a woman, also ticketless. One asshole ended up sleeping on the floor, on a huge toy rabbit that he had bought from those poor people at one of the stations, poor people who get paid in toys they produce instead of money. Oh, and you don't get a pillow.

"Tak dazhe moldovane uzhe ne yezdyat," said a border control woman with contempt ("Even Moldova folks [gastarbeiters] don't travel like this anymore.")

Mishah barely slept this night, provodnik - whose nickname is Pomidor (Tomato) - didn't sleep at all, his female partner - work partner, that is, provodnitsa - napped on what I first thought were a couple of chairs arranged outside their compartment, but Mishah said, "No, it's too difficult to explain the arrangement, I'll have to draw a scheme." In the morning, provodnitsa and Mishah discussed who had a worse night, he or she.

On Monday, Mishah is going back the same way, ticketless. There are no tickets because it's summer, weekend, holidays weekend in Russia, not enough trains, too many Moscow people coming over here, whatever. No cheap tickets, no expensive tickets. Trying to get tickets a week in advance is too late. An extra train they've introduced for the summer doesn't work for us because of its departure and arrival times.

***

Today, we hope to accomplish the move to Pushcha Vodytsya. I panic inside because even though it's 30 km from where I am now (not in Russia, Don), it's a totally different world - which seems rather underdeveloped. But the air's real good. We'll see, I keep telling myself.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Two unrelated items I ran into yesterday but couldn't post because Blogger wasn't working properly -

from Something In The Way She Moves:

I have difficulty believing that Slava [Vladislav Surkov] is really loyal to anyone but himself. Plus, his connection to Chubais also calls his loyalty to Putin into question.

Post Script to this Post Script: Slava's wife and Chubais' wife are sisters. [...]


And from Finding Karadzic:

I heard there are several Karadzic addresses out there. Though I don't know any of them, I hear that he lived comfortably for a while in Kiev until the Orange Revolution brought uncertainty and American influence.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Crimea: they're a NATO-free zone now.

Most Russian and Ukrainian tourists, however, choose to spend their vacations in the country that's a NATO member: Turkey.

Ukrainian politics: we were expecting the coalition to be announced today.

So the parliament gathered at 10 am - and closed after a few minutes, till June 14.

Fucking assholes. Who needs them at all if this is how they work...

I've never been so busy. I've no time for anything. It feels strange, though, because I'm spending so many hours in the park with Marta, reading, doing nothing - but I end up having no time for anything because for most things I need my computer and internet access. In Pushcha Vodytsya I won't have to walk half an hour to get to the fresh air and then half an hour back home, but I'll also not have fast internet there. Actually, I'm not sure if I'll have it all there. I hope I will. There is a phone there and, hopefully, it'll work with prepaid dial-up cards.

Anyway, I've added a few more photos from Pushcha to the set - still have a bunch left.



No photos of our little big Maya yet - will have to wait till her father (Mishah's brother) feels comfortable to share some. But we've been told she's a beauty )))))))))

Monday, June 05, 2006

This weekend we've been busy trying to rent a summer place - ended up with a little apartment near a wonderful lake in Pushcha Vodytsya, roughly 30 km from Besarabka.

Pushcha Vodytsya would have been impossible in Moscow - so much precious land (and fresh air) wasted, not used to make money, so much stuff deserted, in ruins. Parts of Pushcha remind me of those images I've seen of Pripyat/Chernobyl - and we've only been to Pushcha in sunny weather.

Renting a dacha isn't such an easy thing to do; and it's even harder if you need a dacha with a phone or internet connection - part of the reason we ended up with an apartment instead of a house.

We are hoping to move there next weekend.

***

I've started a photo set - here - with pictures of our three visits to Pushcha: May 28 pictures are already posted, and June 3 and 4 will follow soon.

Please keep in mind that I tend to shoot all those gloomy places and largely ignore the pretty flowers and pine trees...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Here's my Global Voices translation on the copyright laws and a Russian photographer I really admire - Sergei Maximishin...

***

Russia is notorious for its disregard for copyright laws. According to anti-piracy organizations, it is the second-biggest source of pirated software, music and film in the world. China is the first.

The discussion translated below (RUS) takes on the issue of piracy in a somewhat ironic vein: Sergei Maximishin (LJ user remetalk), an award-winning Russian photographer whose brilliant work appears regularly in many leading publications, discovered that one of his best-known photos - an ambiguous portrait of the Russian president Vladimir Putin - was used without permission on the cover of a book by one of the most controversial Russian politicians, Eduard Limonov, founder of the National-Bolshevik Party. The book's title is "We Don't Need a President Like This: Limonov vs Putin."

The irony is that trying to sue Limonov or his publishers would, in a way, be like casting the first stone: Maximishin admits to having used unlicensed software himself - simply because he, like the multitudes of other Russians, couldn't afford the licensed product.

remetalk:

About theft

limonov\'s book cover

The cover of Limonov's book. I think this picture of mine has already become a folk picture [author unknown; in public domain].

[...]

At Moskva bookstore, [a 1 m-by-60 cm poster] in a golden frame was on sale last summer. I asked: So, are people interested? The seller said: It sells like pasties!

Communists pasted this image onto a cardboard, attached a stick to it, drew Hitler's mustache and an armband with a swastika and carry it around as an [Orthodox Christian banner] at rallies.

And someone sent me a link to the site where the persona is wearing a baseball hat with the McDonald's letter on it and there's a bubble coming out of his mouth with the words, "This cashier's free!"

[...]

fresquete: Isn't it like the highest reward for a creator which his brainchild turns into a public one. :))))) Seriously, though, have you tried to fight [this outrageous behaviour]? And is it possible to fight it at all?

remetalk: This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'll start suing when I buy myself Photoshop for $700. And for now I think that those who steal, don't pay, and those who pay, don't steal.

[...]

kostiki: Two hundred years ago historian Karamzin visited France. Russian emigrants asked him:
- In two words, what is going on at home?
Karamzin didn't even need two words.
- Stealing, - he replied...

P.S. Perhaps if [copyright law is respected], you'd be able to afford not just the licensed Photoshop, but [everything else]?

aka_lacerda: It's not about Photoshop specifically, but about the general situation in the country. As long as every computer has stolen Windows and Photoshop, any other intellectual property will be stolen just as well. They don't realise it yet. And aren't likely to anytime soon.

[...]

onemorepash: The game is called "Find your own way to talk Maximishin into suing Limonov." Photoshop, GIMP, [$]700, [$]300... maybe there are people out there who, for this purpose, are ready to buy Sergei Yakovlevich [Maximishin] Photoshop? :))

bpatuiiika: I can steal it and give it to him as a gift. Then it'd be a "presented" copy [not stolen].

Here's the breakdown at the end of today's show - is Ukraine going to break up?

No - 65%

Yes - 31%

Difficult to say - 4%

(Answers from the beginning of the show and last year are here.

Watching Savik Shuster's show is like watching football - too many emotions, not much substance: she rocks, he sucks - and that's about it. And then I sort of can't wait for the next Friday.

Shuster will be doing a nightly football show during the World Cup, by the way - just like Svoboda Slova, this will be a resurrected, formerly Russian show.

Here's a bit of a background, from a 2002 profile:

Radio Liberty, which never particularly liked Shuster's independent attitude, ended up firing him over a perceived conflict of interest during Gazprom's takeover of NTV from Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST in April 2001. The incident was perhaps the biggest controversy of Shuster's career, costing him a number of friends in political and journalistic circles.

Shuster, who had firmly backed Yevgeny Kiselyov's team of journalists at NTV and fiercely criticized the takeover bid, resumed working as the host of a soccer show on NTV just a few days after Gazprom had seized the station. He had begun producing the show, "The Third Half," a couple of years earlier. Radio Liberty said that, by continuing with the program, Shuster had violated its professional code and policy over conflicts of interests.

"There was nothing like this in the contract," Shuster said Wednesday. "I began doing 'The Third Half' in 1998, and there was no conflict of interest. It emerged only during the conflict between Gusinsky and Jordan. After the night of the takeover, of course, my decision to do soccer [on NTV] was perceived in a purely political way."

Ukrainian politicians - just as any other politicians - are such dimwits.

I know I contradict myself - I've just said that Khakamada rocked - but I couldn't help it as I listened to some guy from the Party of the Regions talking about NATO and the language non-issue.

(To be fair, Khakamada's an idiot, too, the way they blew it in 2003.)

Savik Shuster has just admitted that it took him the whole day today to figure out what happened in Dnipropetrovsk ))) The way he explained it was amusing and helpful - but as soon as he was done explaining, it all grew very confusing again.

Khakamada rocks; watching the show is such a pleasure; I think I said it before here - someone should be hired to translate the transcripts into English.

Friday, June 02, 2006

That fucker Kuryanovich - a Russian patriot from Zhirinovsky's faction - is live from Moscow now.

He says he is absolutely prepared for an armed fight to make Crimea part of Russia. Someone should grab his sorry ass right now, get him out of his fancy suit and send him off to the Russian army.

The reaction in the studio is sweet, as always: 13 percent support the schmuck, the rest are pretty united against him. Very cute. Even the Communist switched into Ukrainian - which Kuryanovich claims he doesn't understand.

What a circus.

Those who've gathered in Feodosiya around the Svoboda Slova journalist for a live broadcast are so preoccupied with their own anger, it's no wonder so many people - both Russians and Ukrainians - prefer to spend their vacations in Turkey, not in Crimea.

Savik Shuster's show today is on "language separatism" and "NATO-free zones."

Irina Khakamada is in the studio, looking good again, not very sick as she did last time I saw her (don't remember when it was, though).

This eternal, useless question: Is Ukraine going to break up?

On Nov. 11, 2005, the audience answered this way at a show with a similar topic:

No - 55%
Yes - 37%
Difficult to say - 8%

And here's today's breakdown:

No - 48%
Yes - 40%
Difficult to say - 12%

Have to share this - nothing to do with politics or news, though...

There's a new pop singer here called Marta, she's awful, with hair dyed jet black and very little voice - very, very upsetting.

But maybe by the time I start watching TV regularly, she'll be gone and forgotten.

Oy. I haven't watched TV since last Friday, I guess - because I only watch Savik Shuster now - and I haven't been following the news in general lately, so now I'm kind of shocked to realize that there's so much going on, some really crazy stuff.

While we are experiencing a St. Petersburg kind of summer, they tell me it's 38C (100F) in Crimea. Must be a mistake. And the locals, instead of turning Crimea into a more tourist-friendly place, are protesting the presence of what they think are NATO troops (RFE/RL):

Feodosiya residents have blockaded the port, protesting what they see as an unwelcome NATO intrusion into Ukrainian territory.

The U.S. cargo ship "Advantage" anchored in Feodosiya on May 27, bringing what Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko described as U.S. "technical aid." Seamen offloaded construction materials to build barracks for Ukrainian sailors at a training range near the town of Staryy Krym, not far from Feodosiya.

Two days later, Feodosiya residents, mobilized by local chapters of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, the Natalya Vitrenko Bloc, as well as the Russian Community of Crimea, began to picket the port. Displaying anti-NATO slogans written in Russian, they are continuing to block the U.S. cargo from getting to its destination. The BBC reported that several hundred people were present at the demonstration.


Here's a clarification from the U.S. embassy:

On June 1, a commercially chartered airplane arrived at the Simferopol airport, bringing a group of U.S. Marine reservists who are part of a construction and engineering unit invited to Ukraine by the Ukrainian government to assist with upgrading the Ukrainian training facility at Staryy Krym. They joined their colleagues who arrived on May 27 aboard the Advantage, a commercial cargo ship that, at the invitation of the Ukrainian government, entered the Crimean port of Feodosiya in Crimea and unloaded materials and equipment for the construction project.

There are currently approximately 200 reservists in Crimea. All have civilian jobs in the U.S. To maintain their proficiency, they leave these jobs for three weeks each year to fulfill their military commitment. Once this annual obligation is met they return to their civilian jobs in the U.S. The reservists who arrived this week are not involved in any military training exercise.

The construction unit is scheduled to build sanitary facilities and other basic amenities for use by the Ukrainian military. In addition to the materials they brought with them they plan to buy additional materials on the local market in Crimea, boosting the local economy. Any enhancements that are constructed as part of the visit would remain at the disposal of government of Ukraine for use by Ukrainian military units.

The reservists who arrived this week are anxious to begin the assistance work they were invited here to do. The U.S. Embassy is continuing to work with the Ukrainian government to clear the construction equipment from the port and to defuse tension caused by protests in Crimea.


There was also a fight at Dnipropetrovsk Regional Administration: pretty picturesque. The newly-elected folks are trying to choose the speaker.

(There was something else, but I have to get back to motherhood - Marta's hungry and sleepy! Sorry for being so anti-climactic.)

This is what the presidential administration looked like today - the sky was dramatic in a St. Petersburg kind of way, and, if you think about it, the weather has been sort of too cold lately, in a typically St. Pete way as well:

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Marta at 6 months:







I know she's grown, but a lot more strongly I feel that she is the same child I held a month ago, and three months ago, and back in December.

Do we really want to be in the EU? Or - would they ever want to have us?

The beatroot reports:

Passive drinking?

If you thought that the EU health police were content with ‘passive smoking’ as an authoritarian tool to stop us doing bad things to ourselves, then get ready for the great new concept ready to burst out of the corridors of power in Brussels.

A new term is about to enter the Euro-political lexicon: ‘passive drinking’. The idea was first mooted at the First Meeting of Alcohol Policy Network, Warsaw, June 15-16 2004.

[...]

So what has the EU got up its sleeve to counter this new ‘danger’? Well, they plan shorter drinking hours in pubs, higher taxes on alcohol, etc, to force us to change our naughty ways.

The isolated EU elite– desperate to appear relevant after the French and Dutch stuck two fingers up at them in last year’s constitution referenda - is now moving further in on people’s personal behaviour in its attempt to connect with us.

It seems to think we appreciate being treated like children.

Is the time that far off when we don’t just have smoke-free pubs but alcohol-free pubs as well?

There must be a huge traffic jam outside my window - the cars have been honking for, like, five minutes non-stop. But I can't see anything because of the chestnuts: there's so much green outside, it feels as if we live in the park, and it's easy to ignore the noise and forget about the shitty backyard for a while. Some chestnuts, though, are dying, and next year the green wall will be thinner. (When I was little, the trees barely reached the level our windows are at; now they must be taller than the fifth floor.)

I've taken the liberty to clean up the comments a bit.

The Ranger posted his sweet greetings on the post about the ceiling in our doctor's office - and I moved them to where they belonged, to the post with the announcement of Marta's "birthday."

Thank you so much, the Ranger!

Then I deleted an anonymous reader's comment that sounded too sour for a birthday greeting:

7:51 AM, June 01, 2006

Kyiv... Is her future really best served in Kyiv?


My answer is - inshaallah, she'll do great wherever she is, so please don't spoil the fun.

Marta is half a year old today - 6 months!!!

It's the middle of the night now and I'll have a real "birthday" picture later, but for now here's a May 31 picture of Marta chewing on her crib's bar )))

We went to the children's clinic again today, but Marta had low-grade fever, so we left without getting her second DTaP shot.

I've finally managed to take a picture of the ceiling in our doctor's room. It's shocking for the first few months - but then you get used to it and in a while I won't even notice it, I'm afraid.



(I repeat: this is the room where they bring newborns and other kids every day, where they undress and examine them. And this is the very center of Kyiv.)