Monday, July 31, 2006

Had another quick run into the city with Mishah today; took nearly 90 photos at three maidanchyks - Yulia/Pora on Independence Square, Yulia/Pora in the park across the street from the Cabinet of Ministers, and Yanukovych/the Communists in the park near Rada.

Below is the picture of the guys down on Khreshchatyk - the one in the middle is Yulia's supporter, two others may be from Pora, though I'm not sure.

Maybe one day, when my internet isn't this pathetic anymore, I'll post other pictures as well.



***

In general, it all feels a little bit like football: I support one team, and not the other, no doubt about that, but I have nothing against the other team's fans - as long as they behave, of course. And they did behave today. Also, there were not too many of them, compared to Yulia/Pora camps.

But no matter how much I am for that one team, I don't think there should be a new vote. And I also feel that pouring shit on people is wrong: we've got too much of it everywhere anyway. (Man, I should go down to the lake and photograph the trash there again. The new heap is enormous and has been there forever, again.)

***

Regarding Pora's shit, here's a tiny, wonderful blurb about my Friday's translation, by the wonderful David Sasaki:

Russia, Ukraine: Stories About Words - Veronica Khokhlova translates three stories about words: in the first one, they are banned; in the second, they offend; in the third, there aren't enough of them. If that doesn't entice you, where else will you read about a political party that defecates on its defectors?


***

I didn't expect myself to go on for so long here, so here's two more pictures - the first one from Yulia/Pora camp, the second from the Yanukovych/the Communists one, both in the park, on different sides of it, separated by the Mariinsky Palace:



Sunday, July 30, 2006

For those of you waiting for Yushchenko, Mishah saw him yesterday at the antiques market again.

He showed up late, when most were beginning to pack. His guards would've been indistinguishable from the rest of the crowd if it hadn't been for their earpieces; most were so casual, they greeted sellers and the market's guards by shaking hands with them. Yushchenko looked good, better than he did in winter. He looked like an accountant. Gesticulated a lot. People were taking pictures of him from afar; Mishah went there without his camera. No one was throwing eggs at him.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My yesterday's translation for Global Voices, done in a great hurry in the middle of the night. The last episode - the Pora episode - isn't about the Pora I voted for in March; if they had done what they did then, I would've never voted for them.

***

Russia, Ukraine: Stories About Words

Below is the translation of three stories about words: in the first one, they are being banned; in the second, they offend; in the third, there aren't enough of them.

LJ user plushev, a Russian radio journalist, writes (RUS) about the government's attack on the name of the controversial National Bolshevik Party (NBP):

All words, words, words

These people are for some reason afraid of words. [...]

The Federal Registration Service has asked RosOkhranKultury [Russian Culture Protection Department] to punish the mass media that cover NBP. On what grounds? Because when they call NBP a party, these mass media are spreading false information, since NBP isn't registered as a party. According to this logic, those who aren't members of the Writers' Union cannot be called writers. By the way, I still remember that this is exactly how it used to be in the Soviet times. But what's most interesting is that folks at RosOkhranKultury are totally confused themselves:

RosOkhranKultury recommends calling the National Bolshevik Party of the Bolsheviks "the party that calls itself NBP." [...]

So is it a party or not? And is [the RosOkhranKultury representative] spreading false information by calling NBP "a party that calls itself NBP"?

I asked [Eduard] Limonov [leader of NBP] today why there is such a fear of words - maybe he, as a literary master, has an idea. He said that history doesn't know a single case where something ceased to exist after a forcible extraction of the word [its name] from the lexicon.

In fact, everything has been turned upside down. Here's what false information regarding NBP's status is: "NBP party registered by the Ministry of Justice." The rest has been made up, but no one cares, and that's why, beginning today and until the cancellation of this piece of paper, you won't hear the words "NBP party" on the air (including our station, though on others these words are rarely used now anyway). But please be sure that plenty new constructions will be coined (I've offered "non-party NBP" and "the Party That Can't Be Named"). This, of course, is good for the NBP party, which considers itself a party, but which cannot be called a party. Ministry of Justice ([Federal Registration Service] is its department) couldn't have made a better present to Limonov - awesome advertisement.

But still, why such a fear of words?

***

qopqop: I'm surprised by something else. The readiness of the mass media to follow idiotic orders. Everyone thinks this is idiotic but all are eager to play along. Officials aren't allowed to use the word 'dollar' and here's [German] Gref [Russia's Minister of Economics] looking like a "clown of a federal level" at a government meeting when he says "non-rubles." Idiocy must be ignored simply because of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. Or a lawsuit should be filed. But when even [the Echo of Moscow radio station where LJ user plushev works] obeys, I don't even know what to say.

plushev: If you don't know what to say, don't say anything.

vika_1_2: The Soviet Union also doesn't exist anymore. How are they going to punish for mentioning it? [...]

klober: This is absolute, pure paganism, where words are meanings. Pagan women are not allowed to say the names of male gods and fertility spirits. Children are given names at birth but throughout life they are called something else, in order to deceive evil spirits.


***

LJ user otar (Otar Dovzhenko) writes (UKR) about how a TV journalist-turned-politician hurt the feelings of some of his new parliamentary colleagues by using a synonym of the word "Homo Sovieticus":

When he was introducing a draft (don't remember which) from the parliamentary rostrum, head of the freedom of speech and information committee Andriy Shevchenko [member of Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc, not to be confused with football star Andriy Shevchenko] used the epithet "sovkove" [derivative of "sovok"] to describe some aspect of our television.

This has caused the "Bolsheviks" to protest. Representatives of the three factions took turns demanding that Shevchenko respect other people's views and not offend what they hold sacred.

In particular, a representative of the Party of the Regions noted that "our people were born in the Soviet Union and one shouldn't offend their Motherland."

[...]


***

LJ user lucysd writes (RUS; warning: contains a graphic photo) about how, allegedly, members of the Pora party ran out of words and used feces to punish a young man who claimed at a press conference to have been stood up on a promise to be paid for living in Pora's tent camp at Kyiv's Independence Square:

Contemporary Ukraine: Arguments and Facts

Today [Pora members] poured shit over a guy next to the UNIAN [news agency]. Literally. Out of a pail.

Regardless of whether he deserved it or not, this gesture, imho, expresses very vividly the state of affairs in Ukrainian politics.

[Graphic photo and news story text omitted]

P.S. I've just imagined how [head of Pora] Kaskiv [...] orders Pora soldiers to go inside the tent and come up with a pail of the weapon of contemporary proletariat (or intelligentsia?). [...]

***

b0ris: The weapons befit the war.

aier: Would be nice to do this to all parliamentarians from the Party of the Regions [...], Communist Party and Moroz's Socialist Party - and, ideally, to all who voted for them.

zgollum: I don't see why this shouldn't be done to all parliamentarians in general.

do_: The weapons befit the people, yes.

lucysd: I wouldn't generalize like this :) More like, the weapons befit the army :)

djushes: It'd be interesting to read about it in some English-language media. Any links?

Friday, July 28, 2006

In the New York Times, a piece on Nabatiye, a town in Southern Lebanon, "eight miles north of the Israeli border," now more of a ghost town - Empty Silence, Occasional Rocket Blasts, and Anger in a Bombed-Out Hezbollah Town.

One of the residents quoted in the piece is Jamal Allau, a medical doctor treating Shirin Hamza, a 21-year-old bombing victim, whose "mother, father and brother were killed when the walls collapsed around them from the force of the blast":

“No political questions, O.K.?” said Dr. Jamal Allau.

Dr. Allau, who spoke fluent Russian after years of medical school in Ukraine, said people in the town had been surprised at the bombing of a gas station and parking garage, whose crumpled remains were visible through the window near Ms. Hamza’s hospital bed.


People like him are the ones I feel most sorry for on that side of the conflict: I doubt they ever had time to support the brainless imbeciles and their suicidal/homicidal politics.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lemuel of Deleted By Tomorrow, a Slovak blog, posts a "quote for the day" - which I totally love:

Republicans claim the credit for everything good that happens, such as last year's anti-Syria protests in Lebanon, while Democrats claim the credit for everything bad, like the coup in Venezuela. The idea that the Lebanese and the Venezuelans might have had anything to do with it doesn’t compute.---Harry Hutton

Monday, July 24, 2006

Could someone following Chechnya please explain to me what Akhmed Zakayev meant when he said this in a recent interview (emphasis mine):

But Russia, too, with every year is getting further and further away from ensuring its security. The war has spread all over North Caucasus long ago. This year, two new fronts of the ChRI [Chechen Republic of Ichkeria] Armed Forces were created in Russia itself – the Urals Front and the Volga Front.


What the fuck is he talking about?

Also, is he still based at the London Hilton?

Okay, this is totally silly to translate/explain, but I can't resist posting it: "Nasrallu - na gorshok!" was one of the slogans at the rally by the Israeli embassy in Moscow on Sunday. :)

Norvezhskiy Lesnoy has photos - here.

A blog with volunteer translations of Israeli Russian-language posts - israelnorthblog:

This Journal serves as a compilation of blogs of Russian-speaking residents of northern Israel, translated into English. All of these blogs were started prior to the launch of the current military campaign in Lebanon. The authors describe how the war has been affecting their daily living.


(Simon Hawkin, thank you for the link!)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A quick note: for some reason, I almost take it for granted, but Maidanchyk looks like Yulia's election campaign, totally. Has given me a flashback into late February, not the Orange Revolution of 2004. Is she really counting on a re-vote?



Oh, and yes, I did a quick run to the city yesterday (Kyiv's center, I mean), after almost a month and a half of living in Pushcha Vodytsya.

Leaving Marta was scary and weird; Kyiv's air isn't as bad as I feared, unless you're driving through the industrial district somewhere in Obolon; Maidan is sleepy, but let it stay there, maybe it'll prove useful; I rode back in a super cool black Mercedes, talking about kids with a sweet, Prima-smoking driver (professional driver, that is, not the car's owner), father of two daughters, aged 27 and 17, who, thanks to me, wasn't only making some extra cash, but also had a chance to revisit Pushcha, which he loved.

I'm posting a few more Maidanchyk pictures here. (The term 'Maidanchyk' is borrowed from a friend - and transliterated from Ukrainian, not Russian.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My today's Global Voices translation:

Ukraine: Maidan, Again, Sort Of


Kyiv, Independence Square: "President Kuchma - shame, Yushchenko - the nation's disappointment. Moroz - betrayed the Maidan!" - by Veronica Khokhlova

Nearly two years after the Orange Revolution, there are tents at Kyiv's Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) again. The camp isn't big, and it looks dormant for now, but as Ukrainian politicians continue to keep the country in limbo, this summer's Maidan seems to be waiting to happen. Or not. (After all the broken promises and mismatched alliances of the past four months, it's not realistic to regard anything as a certainty now.) A just-in-case Maidan.

When Oleksandr Moroz, Socialist leader and the newly elected speaker, deserted the so-called Orange Coalition for the so-called Anti-Crisis Coalition, Ukraine's blogosphere reacted with a tiny virtual Maidan of its own: LJ user kotyhoroshko posted phone numbers of all regional offices of the Socialist Party and invited fellow-bloggers to contact them. Below is the translation of the initiative (UKR) and some responses to it:

You have a fantastic opportunity to call the Socialist Party of Ukraine regional headquarters and ask why "Moroz has [betrayed] us." Also, it seems reasonable to ask if they feel comfortable working for the head of the party who has betrayed the Ukrainian people.

[A list of phone numbers and other contact info is omitted from the translation.]

***

viktoza: I called this number: (044) 573-58-97. Told them: I'm Victor ..., I voted for the Socialist Party in this election, and now I do not understand the actions of your faction. We stood together at Maidan against [Yanukovych], and now suddenly you become his allies. I think you've betrayed me.

A Socialist woman replied: "This is what it looks like at first only, that we've betrayed you. In reality, though, you have to know who truly cares about Ukraine. If someone's guilty of what's going on now, it's the president." And then she hung up.

[...]

In the Kyiv City Committee, I've been told that all the Orange ones are to blame. If they had nominated Moroz instead of [Poroshenko], everything would've been OK. But she couldn't answer the question about why Moroz was kissing with Yanukovych and Kivalov [head of the Central Election Committee in 2004], the men he used to call bandits.

I told her, "You are traitors all the same, and I won't vote for you anymore." That was the end of our conversation.

[...]

067_33_44_55_6: I don't think it'll work, but I'm writing letters in which I let them know that they can cross me out of the Socialist Party voters list and I'm also wishing them success in further political intriguing.

kotyhoroshko: Letters are being read by their [computer network] administrators. Making phone calls to them, on the other hand, is fun. You'll enjoy it a lot.


Not everyone is feeling so upbeat and being so proactive, however (RUS, LJ user lucysd):

orange juice

I'm reading today's news and feel the world collapsing. The world that we seemed to have created two years ago.

[Victor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine] is in the opposition, Pora lies by the [Parliament's] door, [Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc] is blocking all they can and cannot, but is it going to help in any way?

Yanukovych will be the prime minister. The rest will follow. Kalashnikov [parliamentarian from Victor Yanukovych's Party of the Regions, assaulted a TV crew recently] will head the Freedom of Speech Committee. [Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc] will continue to block everything and everyone.

Russia will lower gas prices for us, potato prices will be lowered focibly, pensioners will get a pension raise that will last one month. Everyone will be happy.

My Russian friends will say gleefully: "We did tell you!"

And NATO isn't taking us anymore, anyway, and no one's relaxing visa regime for Ukrainians.

Finita la comedia.

?

***

yurr: finita.

I'm probably not even going to vote in the next election - there's no use.

And if they lay themselves underneath [Moscow], I'd even think about where to leave for. Because I love this country, but I hate this state.

rgmss: [...] Actually, all this was showing through.

When we were standing and freezing there [at Maidan in 2004], everything was right. But right afterwards it all began to fall apart. When "they" [representatives of the former regime] were all interrogated and then let go... it became clear then.

This country needs [Pinochet]. For five years, no longer... just to purge the ranks.

983: Then all the Medvedchuks [representatives of the former regime] will quickly change their last names to Pinochet. And then they'll purge so much, the only thing left to do would be pray to the photo of Leonid Brezhnev...


And since the situation is ugly enough, there are jokes, of course.

Abdymok translates one - all but the punchline - that he was told during a recent visit to a Ukrainian village:

[...] this is the simplified version. there’s another, infinitely more colorful, one featuring tymoshenko, but too much would be lost in translation.

three famous ukrainian men, volodymyr klichko, andrey shevchenko, and president viktor yushchenko are pushing baby strollers in the park.

klichko starts contemplating the future of his progeny out loud.

“take a look at his jaw and big fists,” klichko says. “he has all the makings of good boxer.”

shevchenko then beckons the men to examine his baby boy, who is thrashing about with his legs. “my son will probably become a world-class soccer player,” he says.

both men turn to the president and ask, “what future awaits your son?”

yushchenko bends over slowly and sticks his head the stroller.

after straightening up, the president turns to the men and replies: “[Obosralsya. Molchit.]”


The punchline goes something like this (RUS):

"He's shat himself and is silent now."

More on yesterday's missionary band: not just their music, but their message was pretty bad, too. Most of it was the usual stuff, but then they put one guy on the "stage" whose path to God had been through sex, drugs, alcohol and plans to kill somebody - everything that the late 1980s and the early 1990s had to offer. Considering that an overwhelming majority of his audience were kids, his story sounded strange. He ended it by implying that God, among other nice things, was an alternative to cheating on your spouses. Again, all the 5-year-olds must've found the sermon very useful.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Oh boy. All of a sudden, this apartment has turned into backstage for some Christian missionaries masquarading as a rock band. Voiceless young guys trying to conceal their voicelessness by making lots of noise with their electric guitars, drums and other equipment, all packed into the wooden gazebo right outside our window. They wanted to use our sockets, but this room happens to be Marta's bedroom, so I didn't let them. Oh, and they are preaching, of course. "We are normal, religious guys." (My normalniye, veruyuschiye rebyata.) Soundwise, it's worse than Khreshchatyk on a weekend. But the kids seem to love it. Songs are in Russian and Ukrainian - and, Jesus, I have to say it again: that guy is so voiceless.

Fuck politics.



I walked around Gorenka today, a village next to Pushcha Vodytsya. Felt like I'm in Turkey, very foreign and very curious. Took some pictures, but am not gonna bother posting most of them: my internet is too slow.



It was fun and crazy to realize that the local language here isn't Turkish, that it's a mix of Russian and Ukrainian, and I actually know it. (A very hot day today, too, and I never wear hats.) I stopped and chatted with one woman about her goats, asked another one for directions and had a few more tiny interactions. The local people are very friendly.



Only once did it all feel familiar: I was walking down a narrow path behind the houses, and all the green things around me were totally amazing, hard to tell which of them were growing by themselves and which were grown by the villagers, magnificent, and not a single person around. It gave me a flashback to the months spent in a village as a child.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My tonight's translation for Global Voices:

Israeli Women Blog the War, in Russian

The Israeli blogosphere has a Russian-language corner: quite vocal, it is populated mainly by those who emigrated from the former Soviet states in the past few decades.

Below is a selection of posts about the war, written by Israeli women, in Russian.

LJ user gollitely (Lena Lagutina, Jerusalem) - July 14, 2006:

Real

A dear childhood friend [LJ user] dzogaba, who specializes in making reality shows for television, has sent me an SMS, asking: "Are you having a war over there? For real?" So I'm sitting here and thinking how to respond. Meanwhile, my friends, shabat shalom from Jerusalem to all! For real.


LJ user pepel (Yelena Pepel) - July 19, 2006:

On girls and bombs

Very moving discussions are taking place in LJ regarding the photos of the girls signing missiles with "To Nasrullah from Israel with Love." Incredible discussions, cave mentality, along the lines of "and you drink the blood of Christian infants [...]." Seemingly normal people are fighting each other on both sides of the barricade.

But do you know that in Israel there is such an army profession as a military clown? It's a person who entertains children in bomb shelters. And there's also such a branch of child psychology as the psychology of stress. And a child on whose house fall Katyushas, who hears sirens ten times a day and has a class on "how to hide from missiles" at school, is taken to paint missiles, by psychologists. The missiles, which, by the way, aren't going to be used to bomb a specific Nasrullah - because these are artillery missiles. But children don't care. This is therapy. It'll just help them stutter less and sleep better at night - yes, until the first siren, but still - and not to hide under the table for 20 hours each day as the children of Sderot do.

By the way, they changed the missile alert code in Israel ("the scarlet dawn" - "shachar adom"), because of a request from a 4-year-old girl called Shachar (Dawn). The army has changed the missile alert code because a 4-year-old Shachar gets teased at the kindergarten - they call her name "a bad sign."

Everyone has, of course, forgotten about bombs with flowers and words written in chalk: "On to Berlin!" Even though it's our - our common - history textbooks.

God willing, you won't find out what a war in your house is - the house that you have nowhere to go from. Nowhere to go because you don't have thousands of kilometers for retreat. And, God willing, YOUR army will listen to little girls' requests. And there'll be a profession of a military clown in your army. [...]


LJ user sestra-milo (A Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Nahariya and Haifa, originally from Ismail, Odesa region, Ukraine) - July 17, 2006:

A police car drove by, I went to the window to listen in. With crackles and coughs, in two languages (Russian is already like a state language!), they've allowed everyone to leave the shelters. And right at that very moment, there was an explosion.


LJ user sestra-milo - July 19, 2006:

We're being bombed, send me a repairman!

Yesterday after the bombing, my satellite TV switched off. I called the tech support department.

- Hi, my TV's not working.
- How did it happen?
- We were being bombed, a missile hit a building next door, and now the TV picture is gone.

The girl on the other end of the line begins to stutter. Together, we try to push on various buttons, but the TV is not reacting, the screen is still static.

- Could you send a repairman? - I ask tenderly.

The girl falls silent.

[...]

In yesterday's attack on Nahariya, by the entrance to a shelter, a Russian guy was killed, my acquaintances' friend, I've read an interview with them. His face seems familiar. I should call them, but I can no longer look at the phone - over ten phone calls since morning.

[...]

Three families left the building next door yesterday. I was watching them pack their suitcases from the balcony. The father was carrying the luggage, in no hurry, the mother was running very fast, covering herself with a bag. Then they led the kids out - an infant, a girl of 7 or so and a boy of about 13. Behind them ran an old mama. It looked especially wild with some man walking his dog in the background.

Only two families are left in the neighboring building - one of them is the family of Lebanese refugees with four children. These ones definitely have no place to go.

[...]

Ira and Andrey came for a visit yesterday, and I was drinking vodka with them, for the first time in many years, and I felt good. If I had known that vodka helps to relax so well, I would've been drunk every evening.

But I still didn't manage to get enough sleep: I woke from an explosion at 4 am.

When I was showing them the apartment, we heard a siren and headed for the shelter. Only later did I realize that I'm no longer in Haifa, that we don't have sirens, and the sound was coming out of the stupid TV.

Today at work, there was a siren without explosions and explosions without a siren.

[...]

LJ user nitsa - July 18, 2006:

I'm sitting on the balcony, looking gloomily in the direction of the Lebanese border. Danya takes a seat next to me.

[...]

The Gadyukins (a [...] nickname [referring to a poisonous snake] of the neighbors downstairs, with whom we've had a rich history of [bad] relationship) are listening to the damn music again.

- Well, what can we do? They are fighting stress with music. These are difficult times.
- But they're difficult for us, too, and you have a headache!
- You have a headache? - asks a worried voice from the balkony below us.
- Yes, - Danya and I reply in unison, [startled].
- I'll turn it off now... You should have told me... It's just that I'm off to milium tomorrow... So I've relaxed.
- Oh, then leave the music on! - I tell him, leaning forward over the balcony rail. - You do have to relax! You're going ... to Gaza, aren't you?
- To Gaza. It's time to pack for me anyways...

A multitude of useless thoughts rush through my head...

- I'm sorry for your dog... We lost our cat in December, - I say (it's hard to find something more idiotic to say).
- I know, - he says softly. - We have the same vet doctor.

- So! - He's looking at [Danya]. - You haven't been hitting the ball for so long, we are feeling somewhat uneasy!

[Danya] is embarrassed.

- Do play your ball, - [the neighbor] says. - But not too much. They found my mama has Hepatitis C, she needs to rest a lot, and she works hard...
- Let her get well, - I say, with the most genuine feeling.

Let his mother get well. Let him be all right. Even if we fight over idiotic trifles.

LJ user mishkofefer (Shushka, originally from Tver and Moscow) - July 18, 2006:

At last, my sister has moved in with us. She didn't want to leave but when a missile fell just one house away from her, I managed to talk her into [moving]. It turned out to be not so easy to leave Haifa - no trains or buses, the price for cabs has gone up three times. [...] My mother keeps watching the news in all accessible languages, and yesterday I happened to watch the [Russian state-run channel] ORT news, too. Reminded me of my [Soviet] pioneer childhood, around 1980, "the Israeli aggression in Lebanon." They are showing Beirut in ruins, are talking about evacuation of the Russian citizens. Not a word on the shelling of Israel, nothing on the fact that there are hundreds times more of the Russian citizens here. [...]


LJ user pilka (Lena, Haifa) - July 17, 2006:

This is Lena-Pilka speaking, from the frontline Haifa.

And you thought I wouldn't write anymore?

Dream on!

Everyone here is migrating south, following the birds. On my way to work in the morning I saw some guys walking furtively with suitcases. I thought, damn, they've robbed someone! Wanted to call my husband, but looked closer and recognized our neighbors [...].

The sirens wailed 4-5 times today. We didn't hear the first time, though, and went to the dining hall. And were surprised by how few people there were at the hospital.

And my husband was at home and kept running to the shelter with the little one periodically. [...]

He says: He's running with the stroller during yet another siren alert, and suddenly - an explosion, a "boom" real close, the windows begin to shake. He thinks: "Well, the little one probably has poops up to her ears in the diaper." But looks and sees that the kid is sitting and clapping her hands and laughing, like: "Bravo! [...]" She liked it, you know.

[...]

Anyway, all's okay. Thank you to all for your support, and don't worry!

I'm off to watch the third Terminator with my husband. Life continues.

[...]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In the New Yorker, something I wouldn't have read before I had Marta - something that's made me cry a little now...

Daniel Raeburn writes about the birth of his daughter, after his wife’s previous pregnancy ended in stillbirth.

[...]

“Stand up, Dad,” a voice commanded. “It’s a girl.”

The doctor was holding a baby upside down by its ankles. The baby hung there, as blue as a blueberry and covered in fluids. She wriggled. Someone snipped the coil connecting her to Rebekah’s exposed gray bowels and blood jumped from the nub. The blue baby spluttered. She choked and turned as pink as a piece of candy. She changed from an internal organ into a human being. She cried. Then I cried.

[...]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A friend in St. Pete has sent me these photos from the opposition's attempt to hold a rally during the G8 Summit:







The protesters tried to go down Nevskiy Prospekt, but, without any obvious reason, were stopped by the police pretty soon - and some were beaten up pretty badly. A few minutes (and arrests) later, the police let the rally move on.

(It's like they are sending a message: "Hey, look! Here're some idiots who think they can pull off a Maidan kind of thing. They can keep marching all they want - but only after a few asses have been kicked to ensure that no one else has the guts to join them along the way.")

The guy in the first photo was "basically senseless from a head blow." The other two photos are from the end of the rally, when the opposition "tried their hand at a maidanchik" in a small park.

"Ideologically incoherent" is how my friend described the rally: a bunch of Kasparov's "Westernizers," plus Limonov's National Bolsheviks, plus those babushki and dedushki (Anpilov's, I guess), with their terrible/ridiculous slogans ("Death to the Destroyers of the Soviet Union," "Stalin: A Real Man").

Many of these people consider Putin too liberal. Many are filled with nothing but hatred. If they are the only alternative to Putin - then, well, I hope Putin stays. And if this is how other people feel, too, then it's no wonder Putin continues to be Russia's president. What Garry Kasparov thinks he's doing with these people is a mystery to me.

Last year, I saw them all at two separate gatherings: on May 9 and by the courthouse where Khodorkovsky was being tried. Things must have changed since if they're now pretending to have joined forces.

"A sad and confused show," my friend wrote.

And: "The G8 crowd didn't even pay attention, and went on with the public stroking of VVP."

***

Sitting here in the crazy Ukraine and commenting on the Russia madness is way fun, of course. A joke I read a few days ago seems appropriate:

Mental asylum patients sit by the TV and watch the news. One of them jumps up and exclaims happily after each piece: "I'm so glad I'm here at the hospital! So glad I'm here and not there!"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

By the way, a year ago Mishah and I got married!!!

From Kazbek Misikov's testimony at hearing #18:

- How do you think it became possible for the terrorists to reach the school without having encountered any obstacles?
- I asked them. That Ali, he was more communicative during the first day, he was the Colonel's deputy. I asked him: "How did you get here?" He said: "No problems here. We paid money at each checkpoint. They didn't search us." I wasn't the only one who heard it.
- And what's your opinion on this?
- What do you think my opinion is? My opinion is that many more people should be sitting next to him [Nurpashi Kulaev]. But they are wearing uniforms.

Norbert Strade, the Denmark-based moderator of the chechnya-sl mailing list, issued this warning regarding C.J. Chivers' text on Beslan, The School, which appeared in the June 2006 issue of Esquire:

Btw., the story needs to be read with a good critical sense. In the part already published, the version given by Chris Chivers differs strongly from the protocols of the Kulayev case. E.g., either the central witness, Mr. Misikov, lied in court, or Mr. Chivers "adapted" the story to the demands of a Hollywood script. I'd suppose the latter, to be frank.


Sadly and quite annoyingly, the warning is misleading.

The transcript of the first hearing of the Nurpashi Kulayev trial has a list of all those who were held hostage in Beslan: it's a huge list. Seven males on it bear the last name Misikov. That's potentially confusing, considering there are also five females named Misikova there and one Misikova-Karkuzashvili, who, in Chivers' text, is left with the second, Georgian, part of her last name - possibly, to avoid this namesake confusion - though, who knows.

Kazbek Misikov, the man whose story opens The School, is briefly mentioned in someone else's testimony during hearing #5.

Then, at hearing #16, there's a testimony of Yuri Misikov, a namesake.

And finally, at hearing #18, Kazbek Misikov testifies himself - and I can't say his testimony "differs strongly" - or at all - from what Chivers' wrote.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I'm reading the transcripts of Nurpashi Kulayev's trial now, just open one after another at random and read, a little bit from each one.

They are stored at PravdaBeslana.ru, all in Russian, of course.

One witness (hearing #10) talks about the unbearable heat in the gym, how they smashed some windows at some point to let the air in but then stopped because they feared snipers and maybe also that the special forces would try to enter from the roof.

A page or so later, this:

[Prosecutor Maria Semisynova]

- At the very beginning you said that to quieten the hostages, the militants were firing machine guns overhead. That was during the first day. (Kulayev's guard fainted.) Oy, oy, oy, oy. We should at least turn on the fan, it's so hot, let him sit down. Give him some water, too. Can you switch the air conditioner over there?! Open the windows.


Oh God.

It's been a while since I posted Marta's picture here. This one was taken July 12 - I'm posing on it, she's not )))

The open mike part of the show was very depressing. Both sides. Most of what they said. And those stupid t-shirts - Pora and the Regions - after the nice, expensive ties and suits of the politicians. These people, on both sides, seem to believe their views matter. Even the dumbest of their views. Yanukovych and svetloye budushcheye (a Soviet way of saying 'happy future'). A new election as a way to cleanse ourselves of the shit we are up to our knees in right now.

This country needs more football, not more elections.

More on Turchynov and treason: a guy named Zubik or something, who made it into the parliament with Yulia's Bloc but defected recently - he and Turchynov spent a few minutes talking Christianity... Judas this and Judas that.

Jesus.

I'm watching Savik Shuster's Svoboda Slova.

Lots of crap.

Socialist Mykola Rudkovsky, for example: he is speaking on behalf of the new coalition, in the future tense, promising monthly salaries of $1,000 in five years.

Party of the Regions guys lack charisma, tact and brains so completely it hurts. (All of them, on all sides, are pretty useless now - and this is when charisma all of a sudden begins to matter. Well, not really all of a sudden, okay...)

Moroz isn't in the studio, but they are airing his video now, in which he's speaking about the new coalition; I'm not sure why and I'm sort of sure I'm wrong, but my feeling is he is taking too much upon himself, he won't last too long, one way or another.

Pora's Kaskiv advocates a new vote - but not too convincingly, using all those political cliches like 'let the people rule again' blah blah blah.

Mykola Katerynchuk, sexy as ever, wasn't making too much sense at the beginning, sounded too political, but a minute ago he asked Rudkovsky a simple, human question: why didn't you tell your voters during the campaign that as soon as you get into the parliament, you'll make Yanukovych the prime minister.

Every now and then, each side says something meaningful, something I can easily agree with. Rudkovsky asking what would change if there is a re-vote. (Moroz would lose, most likely, right? but that wouldn't make this coalition-building business easier... Rudkovsky, of course, wouldn't admit what his party's stake is, why he wouldn't want a re-vote...)

The audience has been brought to the studio from Maidan - Party of the Regions t-shirts on one side, Pora t-shirts on the other, and a bunch of undecideds who are closer to the Regions than to the other side.

***

Why did Moroz have to wait for so long before he switched sides?

Why did the Regions of Ukraine wait for so long before buying Moroz? Did they really hope Yushchenko would join them - and when he didn't, when the first coalition was formed, was that the crucial point that forced them to part with their money?

***

Treason is the key word coming from people like Yosyp Vinskyo and Oleksandr Turchynov.

Turchynov is literally preaching against treason - it's a sin, it's not moral, don't teach the young people to cheat, etc. I'm sure there is an audience for this kind of blah blah blah, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yesterday, a Party of the Regions deputy Oleg Kalashnikov and a group of the party's supporters attacked STB channel journalist Margaryta Sytnyk and cameraman Volodymyr Novosad, who were filming the tents in the park near Rada. They beat up the cameraman and took away the tape.

So far, over 300 Ukrainian journalists have signed a letter (Ukrainska Pravda, in Ukrainian) protesting the attack and demanding the tape's return, as well as expelling Kalashnikov from the faction and opening a criminal case against him.

I hated Leonid Chernovetsky's guts during the election, and now I feel somewhat bad about it, because at this crazy time Kyiv's weird new mayor seems like the only politician talking some sense out there, in his own, peculiar, way, of course, which, among other things, is somewhat hard to translate (Ukrainska Pravda, in Ukrainian - Mish jan, thanks for alerting me to it):

I'm not into politics now because I'm more interested in [garbage], it almost led to a catastrophe... the way garbage is being collected, all this has to be taken care of, so I won't take any side in politics now.

According to Korrespondent.net (in Russian), there are about 10,000 people by the Rada now, supporters of the Communist-Socialist-Yanukovych coalition - and some Stalin fans, too:

Those people are so fucked up.

Victor Taran, a deputy from Yulya's bloc, fired from a rubber-bullet gun into the air last night to chase Valeriy Bondik, a deputy from the Party of the Regions, away from a BYuT tent.

This ain't Maidan, obviously.

***

About 50 Yanukovych tents by the Rada and 30 or so Yulya tents by the Cabinet of Ministers: if I had stayed at Besarabka, we wouldn't have a place to go for walks now.

Some 50 Pora and 20 Yulia tents at Maidan.

***

The March 26 election was pronounced free and fair and all - and I don't see how a new round of voting would help them fix things. Well, maybe if they follow it up with a couple more elections - then most parties would run out of money and only one would remain. That would be cute, I guess.

From the backlog:

When Mishah was on a train to Kyiv the night of the sad Ukraine vs Italy game, there was a man with an expensive portable TV set in his compartment - but they didn't manage to catch the game's broadcast.

When Mishah was on a train to Moscow the night of the France vs Italy final, border control guys at the Ukrainian-Russian border in Konotop were filling the passengers in on the game's details.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Something not related to politics ruined my mood a couple hours ago and I couldn't recover until I belatedly read about the situation in Poland: their president and prime minister are twin brothers. Man, how crazy is that?..

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This was Marta's first blog entry. She wanted to say more but it's time for her bath now )))))))))

P.S. It wouldn't post, tells me this, in red letters: "Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is broken: [<]uj." That goddamn HTML... )))

Oh, and those question marks - they are Cyrillic letters - she's managed to switch alphabets!

Trash update: yesterday, there was none - neither inside the containers, nor outside - and they weren't burning anything, either. It wasn't ideally clean, but compared to those really bad days, it was ideal.

It turned out to be a collective effort: our neighbor did call the district administration numbers I had given her and the guy I couldn't rich reach :-) talked to her, very politely. She took some photos, too, and is going to send them to the mayor - and, possibly, to some newspapers.

Now, jumping way sideways, sort of: it's really easy to talk about Ukraine's willingness to join the EU/NATO/WTO/whatever, it's easy to bullshit everyone saying we're moving in that beautiful direction, westward, away from Russia. It's really easy to talk about moving toward Russia, too, of course. But this is all such abstract talk. When that trash lay rotting for the second week in a row and no one gave a shit, I finally began to understand why certain countries make it very difficult for Ukrainians to obtain their entry visas - and I couldn't blame them for it. They have enough of their own shit to want some of ours. All our current political mess is as abstract as all those promises and statements made by Yushchenko, Tymoshenko, Moroz or Yanukovych - while the mess in the beautiful Pushcha Vodytsya is totally real, and so is the mess in many local administrations, and in many other places all over Ukraine, beautiful or ugly.

One thing I'm really tired of seeing in the coverage of Ukraine is the repetition of the promises made by politicians - all including Yushchenko. But if they stop doing this future-tense pseudo-reporting, they'll have nothing to write about - because nothing's being done.

The mess inside the parliament has poured out into the street, and I sort of regret missing it all - regret not being able to take pictures. Otherwise, I'm doing wonderfully where I am - and I couldn't care less about this fight over the chairs for their fat asses. If they decide to do a new election, I'll finally vote against all - and won't feel guilty afterwards. Though I hope it won't come to that, I hope they'll sort it out without wasting all this money and paper again.

The bombings in Bombay, so sad...

I'm reading a very interesting book about the city right now - Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketu Mehta. Not gonna be the same after yesterday, unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Basayev's death, for Global Voices - nothing special and, to use someone else's words about Moroz, I feel unclean after compiling this. Must be because of the memory of Maskhadov's corpse: on every Russian channel, every minute that night - and Ramzan Kadyrov's sickening, sick sense of humor: a March 8 present to all women of Chechnya. Basayev's head (or his headless and legless body) must be Putin's present to the G8 folks arriving in St. Pete...

Anyway, here it is:

Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), announced Monday that Shamil Basayev had been killed shortly after midnight in a truck explosion outside a village in Ingushetia.

Timur Aliev (LJ user timur_aliev), editor-in-chief of the print/online weekly Chechen Society (Chechenskoye Obshchestvo), happened to be in Nazran (the capital of Ingushetia until 2000) last night, and below is the translation of his account (RUS) on how he learned about Basayev's death. Although FSB claims that Russia's most wanted man died as the result of a special operation, some people (and bloggers) doubt it.

Has Basayev Been Killed?

[...]

I was spending the night in Nazran tonight and heard a powerful explosion around midnight, and some 15 minutes later, a few shots - singular, automatic.

In the morning, it turns out there are blockposts on many roads in Nazran - traffic police and some others, unidentifiable, wearing masks - and IDs are being checked. I ask what's going on - they tell me a car with rebels and explosives blew up in Ekazhevo. And around the same time I start getting phone calls from various journalist acquaintances from Moscow - hasn't Basayev been killed? I call my friends from ITAR-TASS in Ingushetia - what have been heard in this regard? Not known yet, they say, two rebels of the four killed cannot be identified yet. All this I tell to my Moscow colleagues. But to myself I think: I'll stay in Ingushetia till the evening and see how the situation develops.

Then I get a call from our newsroom in Grozny - they say the FSB people stopped by, were checking us in relation to something (irrelevant to this post), and one of them said that Basayev had been killed in Ingushetia. He was identified by a missing leg (without a prosthesis, by the way), and it looks like a DNA analysis showed a match. Though it's not clear how is it possible to do such an analysis in a couple hours.

But since we've already got burned on this topic once [Basayev had been reported dead a few times before], I decided to wait until the release of official confirmation. And here it is - Patrushev reports on a successful operation.

upd. Patrushev is talking about a successful operation, but it appears that the whole operation was about identifying a one-legged corpse. Moreover, it turns out that Basayev has been driving around next to the federal highway, just like that - and if it hadn't been for an accidental truck blast, he would have continued to.

***

goldyz: They [the Kremlin] are trying to score a few points on the eve of the [G8] summit. IMHO.

timur_aliev: Yes, of course...

realavatar: [...] They were reports recently that Basayev was somewhere in the former Soviet republics...

timur_aliev: Most likely, he transplanted his DNA to someone else and left... :)

vozrozdenie: [...] How popular was Basayev [...] with the Chechens?

timur_aliev: I'd say that with time he was becoming less and less popular. But he definitely did have admirers: radicals always attract young people other radicals...


***

English-language Russia bloggers are also reacting to the news.

TaliaXianne of Something In The Way She Moves waited for the Chechen sources outside Russia to confirm Basayev's death:

Shamil Basayev

is, allegedly, dead... again.

However, as I just told a friend, 'maybe I am in denial, but I do not buy it'. But I told myself earlier, when I first heard the rumours, that I would only believe it when Kavkaz and Zakayev said that it was true. And now they both have. [...]


David McDuff of A Step At A Time is also relying on extraneous sources (and translates some, too):

[...] Update: Now Kavkaz Center has also confirmed the death, following the view that it was the result of a military accident, and not of a "successful special operation" by Russian or Russian-backed forces. [...]


Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog reviews and links to various reports on Basayev's death and its possible causes, notes that this has been "a great week" for Putin - and offers a brief glance at the discussion to come:

Be sure that over the next day or so analysts and commentators will deal with the obvious question: Does Basayev’s death signal the end to the Chechen resistance and the Chechen War?


Vilhelm Konnander cites Nikolai Patrushev on Basayev's plans to disrupt the upcoming G8 Summit:

[...] Basayev was killed while preparing a terrorist attack in Ingusheti capital of Nazran on occasion of the St. Petersburg G8 Summit this week.


He is pessimistic about the effect Basayev's departure is going to have on the future of Chechnya:

Basayev's death will most likely mean little for the conflict. With Moscow-backed Ramzan Kadyrov as leader of Chechnya, criminality as a form of government has been institutionalised. When Kadyrov turns 30 in October, he will most likely succeed puppet president Alkhanov to rule Chechnya without much restraint from Moscow.


Charlie Ganske of Russia Blog recalls Basayev's most horrendous act of terror - the 2004 school siege in Beslan - by posting photos of the victims - and cheers the FSB:

Russia Blog congratulates the Russian security forces for a job well done. We know that Basayev's death is small comfort to the families of his victims, but it is a huge step towards peace and prosperity in the Caucuses and another stinging defeat for the global jihad.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dimwits at Gazeta.ru quoted what dimwits at ITAR-TASS wrote about Crimean Tatars at 11 am today:

About half a thousand people were involved in a mass fight in Bahcesaray today. To prevent bloodshed, a special unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Berkut, was summoned, said a Crimean law enforcement official.

The fight broke out because the Crimean Tatar diaspora decided to keep Russians and Ukrainians from trading at the local market.


Diaspora, my ass.

Here's a quick Wikipedia reference on Bahcesaray:

Bakhchisaray, first mentioned 1502, was established as the new khan residence by the Crimean khan Sahib I Giray in 1532. Since then, it was the capital of the Crimean Khanate and the center of political and cultural life of the Crimean Tatar people. After occupation of the Crimean Khanate by the Russian Empire in 1783, it was turned in an ordinary town, having lost administrative significance. However, it remained the cultural center of the Crimean Tatars until the "Surgun" (deportation on 18 May 1944).


There is a huge Azeri diaspora in Moscow, of course, and they do run many markets, and part of their business strategy is to keep the locals from selling stuff at these markets. This is just one of the reasons why they are disliked in the Russian capital: Muslim hordes invade the markets and chase Slavic babushkas away.

At 7 pm, Crimean Tatars were upgraded to "local residents" - by Interfax this time - and the Azeri scheme was given up:

[...]

As was reported earlier, a confrontation between vendors of the central market and local residents - the Crimean Tatars - grew into a mass fight. The cause of the conflict was that the market's owners began construction work in a reserve zone near an ancient Crimean Tatar mausoleum. Crimean Tatars have been demanding to shut the market for a long time and they went to court to solve this issue. Several hearings took place, but the final decision haven't been made yet.

Here's my tonight's Global Voices post - a roundup/translation hybrid:

Ukraine has been without a new government since the March 26 election. A coalition between Victor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc and the Socialist Party was finally formed at the end of June, but it didn't last past yesterday, when Socialist leader Oleksandr Moroz unexpectedly joined forces with the Communists and Victor Yanukovych's Party of the Regions and received their votes to become the speaker. On Tuesday, the country is likely to get its new prime minister, though much isn't clear yet, and Ukraine-watchers may be in for another surprise or two.

Below are some bloggers' (emotional) reactions to what's now a certainty: the Orange Coalition has collapsed and Oleksandr Moroz is the speaker.

Adrian J. Erlinger of Leopolis calls what's going on in Ukrainian politics "uninterrupted hysteria." Here's his summary:

Fast forward to yet another election. 3 months after that - no goverment, no constitutional court. Yu, Yulka, and Moroz refuse to speedily form a coalition. Eventually, a virtual orange coalition is formed, but then Yanukovich in snakeskin boots with sovok CPU allies also refuse to work. Like PORA activists, they begin a hunger strike and block the Rada. PR nominates former head of tax Mykola Azarov as speaker of the Rada, even though he cannot speak the state language. Moroz is elected speaker of the Rada by his opponents and former enemies. PR, CPU and SPU form an "anticrisis" coalition.

No end in sight for dramapolytyka in Ukraine.


Petro of Petro's Jotter feels "unclean" after watching the "speaker chapter" of the post-election "drama":

I am very glad I didn't waste time following the whole agonizing formation of the so-called "Orange Coalition", only to see it lay dying a week later.


Abdymok jots down the developments leading up to the speaker vote - "the un-coalition," he calls it:

(17:09) moroz takes podium . . . explaining his decision to leave the coalition with our ukraine and tymoshenko bloc. . . . says there is no way ukraine can be governed by people like poroshenko and tymoshenko . . . etc. blech.


Also, he criticizes the slow response of the English-language media:

it’s amazing how SLOW english-language media have been to cover this mess. there is NOTHING on the kyiv post site. i look at their issue for this week and get SICK.

such incompetence!


Stefan of Dykun tries to analyze the situation and assign blame, despite feeling "dumbfounded, flabbergasted":

I once again blame the incredible stubbornness of Our Ukraine that has resulted in a) its failure to accept its defeat at the polls and b) its continual support for people like Poroshenko for much of what happened today.

And of course, Moroz's cunning is also to blame. . .he is indeed a major political risk-taker and is very, very cunning; will this risk work?


He gives up eventually, however:

I don't know what to think about Ukrainian politics in Kyiv anymore. I think I will, from now on, keep completely to the grassroots, as I mostly do on this blog, anyway. . .


And as Ukrainian politics is getting more and more confusing, the gap between political discourse and ordinary people's lives is growing wider. Here, for example, is an entry (UKR) on how much the state pays Kyiv kindergarten employees (posted in the LJ community kiev-child, by LJ user mg-g):

Does anyone wish to work in a kindergarten?

We are sending our kid to daycare. They, however, lack teachers, don't have a nurse at all, et cetera.

This is how it is.
And here's more detailed info - maybe someone will find it useful!

Preschool Educational Institution #463
24-A Dobrokhotova St., metro station "Akademmistechko"
(phone number: 424-00-62)

Vacancies for Sept. 1, 2006:

Teacher - 4 vacancies, pedagogical education (490 hryvnias [monthly salary, $98])

Nurse - 2 vacancies (400 hryvnias [monthly salary, $80])

Music Teacher - 1 vacancy, special education (490 hryvnias [monthly salary, $98])

Teacher's Assistant - 4 vacancies, secondary education (430 hryvnias [monthly salary, $86])

Cleaner - 1 vacancy, secondary education (390 hryvnias [monthly salary, $78])

Nanny-Nurse - 1 vacancy, secondary education (390 hryvnias [monthly salary, $78])

***

libellule_fun: A teacher costs only 100 hryvnias [$20] more than a cleaner. And a nurse is 10 hryvnias more ($2). Amazing...

mg_g: :) The director hesitated for a long time before giving me these salary figures - like, they'll see it and decide not to call...

libellule_fun: But how is it possible to live on this money and not to collect additional fees from parents?

aksonova: They work two shifts. In our kindergarten there is one teacher, not two, and that's why she's making more. And they aren't asking any money from the parents. Well, maybe only for repairs.

libellule_fun: But working two shifts isn't adding up to $200, either. Horror-horror. They work with children. These professions are some of the most important...

aksonova: In our kindergarten, there's also a lack of teachers. They are inviting me to work there and I've learned about the conditions, little by little. God, how much they are demanding from them for this money! But I really admire our teachers who love kids so much and work there. [...]

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yay! Mishah's first post here!!!

(The previous one, about Moroz.)

***

Moroz is a kurwa, I've always said it.

Now he's the speaker.

Seems like Moroz may actually become a speaker. Seems like Regions did voted for him, not for their own Azarov. Unbelievable.
-- Mishah

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mishah, currently in Moscow, is following the meaningless drama taking place in the parliament; I'm not, or not really, not enough to say anything about it.

Here're notes he's left in the comments section:

meanwhile there's a real time thriller going on in the parliament now. after insidious fuck moroz refused to vote for poroshenko despite the previous agreements the coalition practically ceased to exist. moroz decided to become a speaker himself. poroshenko withdrew. region's azarov won't get enough votes since moroz is running too. moroz will get about 20 votes unless regions decide to vote against their own guy. all of this is happening right now.

i guess it's a matter of hours when we see nu-regions coalition.

***

wow, now moroz is explaning his act as preventing his fellow party members from voting for region's azarov. meaning their votes were already bought by regions.

very much like judas, now from the gospel of judas...


Funny how I can't make myself read the papers or even turn the TV on (we don't have Channel 5 here, believe it or not), but I find Mishah's digest totally digestible. Very interesting, even. It's like hearing a familiar voice or seeing a familiar face for Marta - pleasing.

I should figure out how to set up an account for Mishah, so that he could post on politics whenever he feels like it, in the body, not in the comments.

Went into a local store, saw this curious - and hideous - item:


Dekoratyvna mysha, 360 hryvnias

The verbatim translation (from Ukrainian) is "decorative mouse" - letuchaya mysh (flying mouse) in Russian, kazhan or letucha mysha in Ukrainian.

360 hryvnias is more than $70, someone's monthly salary.

***

I haven't been to the lake today, but mama tells me the garbage is still there. Haven't heard back from the newspaper; was too busy to call any of the bureaucrats.

At the city administration, that rude woman told me garbage collection's the districts' responsibility, not the city's. She didn't know what district Pushcha is - she asked me and I told her it's Obolon. The thing is, it became part of the city only recently, a few years ago, and before that it was a separate entity.

It all doesn't really matter, though. Garbage is a tiny problem compared to the land/real estate ownership one. I've never studied it closely, but just by looking around you sort of know what's going on: all the deserted buildings, sanatoriums, huge chunks of wonderful land turning into a Pripyat/Chernobyl look-alikes. Their new owners probably sit there quietly, waiting for the complete collapse, and then they can move in, fence the area off and build their mansions or whatever. And the brave/impatient ones are already building - just like they do in the center of the city: huge, ugly stuff squeezed in on impossibly tiny plots of land, and all those poor huts or ruined sanatoriums surround them. And the locals talk about it, too, curse the rich guys, are scared of them. A woman who works at the post office talked yesterday about some guy who recently died of a stroke because they wouldn't let him privatize his hut or something - most likely because someone rich wanted his land in order to expand.

I don't really want to get into all this: I don't want to ruin my first impression - that it's a paradise. I know it's more of a volcano, but I'll pretend it's not for the rest of the summer and then we'll move on.

As for Yushchenko, well, would you guys bother distracting George W. Bush from the war in Iraq to have him clean up the July 4 litter?

***

More garbage photos are now up but I still have to sort them. There are five containers - though it does seem as if there are more, both on the pictures and in reality.

A tiny update (and a response to Sasha, sort of):

Instead of sending the flag photo to CNN, I've sent the woman-walking-through-garbage one to Gazeta po-Kievski. Who knows, maybe they'll come over and do a story, and then the assholes will show up and clean the mess.

I feel somewhat idiotic, like a babushka, writing letters to newspapers and all, but I really want something to be done about it!

The neighbor, by the way, said that maybe they should write to Yushchenko, and I thought it was so childish of her to hope he would help in such a (seemingly) trivial matter.

(Have been trying to post this for quite a while, but Blogger was down.)

I did take a walk there - decided to do some "citizen reporting."

"Dachnitsa reporting" is a better term.

Here's one picture and I'll post a few more later, to my Pushcha Vodytsya set at Flickr:



As you can see, there are people who don't give a shit. The woman on the photo just walked barefoot past the trash and into the lake. And I felt weird: who knows, maybe this is how it's supposed to be. Maybe I'm just spoiled. Maybe all those nice and clean places like the lakes around Iowa City don't exist. But after I was done taking pictures, I went back to the sanatorium, and of course, it's a different world there, sort of. And I am spoiled, of course.

More later.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Putin's internet conference will begin in less than half an hour. (Update: Oops. It's tomorrow, not today. Tomorrow's the 6th, right?) There are 116,228 questions to him now, and the most voted for will probably be passed to him.

I, along with four other people, voted for this question, from a 40-year-old woman named Rada:

Dear V.V.

In the spring of 2004 we decided to return to our Motherland, to Beslan, after living "abroad" for six years. We sent our daughter to school, found a job. Several months later, Beslan happened. Our daughter was in a different school, thank God. We left again. If you were us, would you have stayed?..


(I found it via Marina Litvinovich, who had posted a link to the 28 questions about Beslan.)

There were so many people here last Wednesday, for the Constitution Day, people and their cars, and then there was the weekend, but the weather, thankfully, wasn't too hot, so there were few people, and now it's hot again, and guess what - the garbage containers by the lake have been full and overflowing all this time and no one has bothered to come over and take them away. It's been over one week now.

I've called the Obolon regional administration and the city administration, have been redirected from one phone number to another, and sometimes a fax machine is turned on, and sometimes they aren't picking up the phone, and I've been almost yelled at once, and the same woman then spoke to me in this totally incomprehensible bureaucratic language, not sure if it was Russian or Ukrainian, not even sure what department she worked for, except for it must have been something pretty high up and I was sent there by mistake.

Anyway, it's impossible to walk in the forest now and it's not a nice place to have a picnic anymore - and even though I'm very lucky to be allowed into the sanatorium, the stench will reach there eventually, too.

Fucking pigs.

I've given the phone numbers to the neighbor - let her bother the bureacrats, too.

More on this later, maybe.

Belatedly, a photo taken by Mishah from our window here in Pushcha Vodytsya:


For Ukraine, the World Cup is over: This Ukrainian flag (upside down) was left out to dry by a young couple from the building next door either Saturday or Sunday, following the Italy-Ukraine game. They'd been happily carrying the flag around on top of their 3-month-old son's stroller after the happy Tunisia and Switzerland games.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006



No time to write at all - and when I don't write for a long time, I often feel an almost physical discomfort. Notes made in my notebooks with one hand, while rolling Marta's stroller back and forth with another, don't count.

***

Mish jan, could you please send me the "World Cup's Over" picture and I'll post it here?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

0:3

How terribly painful.

And Marta's been crying through it all, screaming almost non-stop. Maybe another tooth on its way.

It's midnight and I still have to do something for Global Voices.

Marta's watching me type, but as soon as I try to lay her down, she cries.

Oh God.