Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ha ha ha. As if someone with a weird sense of humor and good connections is reading this blog. I wanted change and here it is: a note at the entrance warns us that there'll be no gas tomorrow, from 9 am to 7 pm. Tomorrow is already today. But we'll still have electricity and phone connection, I hope. Please?

And you should hear some of my neighbors: they are losing patience, too.

***

Comments on the comments:

Ranger, they didn't take away the trash. I mean, they did once, but then they stopped. And I've stopped looking at our side of the lake when I'm walking with Marta at the sanatorium. Summer is too short to waste it on piles of garbage and jihads/crusades. Moreover, while garbage is the city's responsibility, or at least the district's, the water's such a local thing: if they say they don't have the money to replace the pipe, this is probably true. Or perhaps all the plumbers have died from too much vodka - and there's no way I can do anything about that, either.

Sash jan, we are part of the "presidential sanatorium" - its backyard, but still. And this is why, I guess, they never turn the hot water off here - until something gets ruined beyond repair, that is, like now. And since hot water is always there, no one has a heater, not even the guy with a nice car.

Another Misha! How nice to hear from you again! Thanks for stopping by and sitting on those benches!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Maybe something will change if I mention it here?

We've been without hot water for about a month now - and I'M SO FUCKING SICK OF IT.

In any other place I've lived around here, they give you a warning when they are about to turn the hot water off, and it never lasts more than three weeks, and you always know when, approximately, the water is going to be back.

In Pushcha Vodytsya, we've been told that they do not turn the hot water off AT ALL here, and they weren't lying to us. What happened is some pipe burst, and there was no one to fix it right away, and then they were looking for the money to fix it, and now I have no idea what else they are waiting for. Not all buildings have been affected - but we live in the unlucky one. A sign on the door says they'll let us know when the water's going to be back - no date is specified, which probably means it can last till New Year's or something.

It's like hospitals here: very poor or comparatively not poor, everyone's in the same shit together at some point, the true equality. Our next-door neighbor has a nice car, but he's in the same hot-waterless shit as the janitor woman and her retarded kids upstairs, who can't afford to buy a kilo of cucumbers in addition to a few kilos of potato.

Me, I can't give Marta a bath for the third day in a row - because by the time I've boiled enough water in the electric kettle - we need five kettles, at least - she's too tired and screaming for me to help her fall asleep, to be her pillow and her pacifier - and I can't ignore those screams.

***

Here're some local benches - very calming to look at them, somehow:





Monday, August 28, 2006

I've added a new set to my Flickr page: Kyiv Drive-By (22 photos).

All pictures but the first two were taken from the back seat of a cab, on August 10, on the way back from Kyiv's center to Pushcha Vodytsya.

The first one was taken on a bus from Pushcha Vodytsya to Nivki metro station; the second one was taken from behind the Opera House.

The one below was taken when the driver wanted to cut a corner but got lost in the back alleys somewhere in Nivki; the word mriya (on the garbage container) means "dream" in Ukrainian:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Not sure why I'm posting these now - wanted to post them on the day of the Maccabi-Liverpool game, but got distracted. Well, this is a backlog, so here goes:









The boy kept the ball from dropping forever. English fans drinking beer at Maidan were delighted. Hope he earned some money from them.

Didn't see any Maccabi fans - but Ukraine's best-known anti-Semite Baba Paraska (aka Baba Porazka - Grandma Defeat) was there. If she's not making some cash posing for tourists' pictures, she should.

By the way, there's an Orthodox church holiday called Makovey (this is one of the names, at least), celebrated sometime around now, a few weeks ago, I guess - they take poppy heads to church for blessing, even in the Soviet times they did, it's one of my very few church-related childhood memories, old women walking to the church at the end of our street in the town of Pryluky - and we've recently realised that the official church holiday has nothing to do with poppy (mak in Russian), but is all about Biblical history: Maccabi is Makkavey in Russian - but Makkavey sounds like something about mak, poppy, and hence the whole pagan ritual. It's interesting, I'd like to read more about it.

Another Global Voices translation:

Russian-Language Blogs: Miscellanea (2)

Victoria Shcherbina (LJ user saint-autere) reacts to the news of the August 22 TU-154 crash in eastern Ukraine, which killed all 170 people on board, by writing (RUS) about the death of her father - IL-86 navigator Valeriy Shcherbina - in a crash at Moscow's Sheremetyevo four years earlier, on July 28, 2002.

Her post has already received 1,682 comments...

[...] Papa was gone. But he did have a premonition... On July 15, two weeks before the crash, on the 30th anniversary of [my parents'] wedding, when they were at a restaurant, he suddenly began speaking about it, about his death: what would need to be done, how he would like to see it. Mama interrupted him, but he managed to continue with this topic.

It's true that their equipment was on the verge [of collapse]. The crashed IL-86 RA-86060 was made in 1983 and had flown 18,370 hours - and this type of plane can be used for 20 years. Only the so-called human factor was capable of dealing with problems arising in the air, not vice versa, as is commonly believed. How many times he spoke of those problems! One of the scariest episodes happened during the flight over the ocean, from New York, USA, to Shannon, Ireland. It was a miracle that they reached their destination, they did it [manually], because the navigation broke down and they were going blind. He didn't worry for his life, but for the lives of 350 passengers behind him.

He used to say: "I'll go quickly... I'll crash... I'll be shown on TV... Your children will be proud of their heroic grandfather!" And this is what did happen.

He promised to bring mama a bouquet of exactly 30 flowers from Sochi, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their wedding. They must have been gladioli... Here, they aren't as beautiful, and they are expensive, too...

[...]

I was there, at the site of the air catastrophe, in the fall of 2002... I wanted to see it... By that time, I was prepared to see it. It is so close to the airport. The snow covered all the horror a little and only a modest cross stood over the dug-up part of the field and the forest. The ground still smelled of kerosene, and there were still torn pieces of metal underneath my feet. And above my head, very low, flew the planes... Up and down... I'll never be able to forget this.


Both crashed planes belonged to the St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines, a company saint-autere has no kind words about:

Do you know what a pilot's life is worth in our country? Because, it turns out, pilots are insured! The whole $3,000 received each family of the dead pilots, regardless of the number of people in these families. And do you know how much the company received for the plane - because it was insured as well? Two million dollars, which is twice as much as the plane's remaining cost. So it's a very profitable business to lose a plane! Well, they also had to pay the pilots' salaries to the relatives, as [the law] requires, but it's incomparably less than the profit they received, isn't it!


A 28-year-old graduate of St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Equipment, saint-autere goes into a lengthy explanation of the technical issues neglected by Pulkovo Airlines, which may have led to the plane crash that killed her father. She also writes about the biased coverage of the tragedy and her futile attempts to restore justice.

***

LJ user nl (Norvezhskiy Lesnoy, whose blog is rated (RUS) by the Russian search engine Yandex as the 5th most-read blog) comments (RUS) on the coverage of the plane crash and the complex relationship between the mainstream media and bloggers:

[Radio Echo of Moscow], in a story on the TU-154 crash near Donetsk, quotes from this post, attributing to it like this: "as they write in blogs." I remember how some seven years ago, NTV [people] would rather shoot themselves than cite Gazeta.ru as a source, using this formula instead: "as has been reported on the internet" - and Lyokha Andreyev suggested that in response, we should replace our links to NTV with this: "as some chick in the TV set reported..."


A discussion follows on how some LJ users' nicknames are just too obscene, unpronounceable or don't make sense at all to be cited as sources by the "serious" media. Still, according to nl, it's really up to the journalists - and some do deserve praise:

[...] Stories on how it is inhumanly difficult to pronounce urls are as many years old as Sasha Plushchev's [LJ user plushev] recitations of the most [unpronounceable] site addresses on his [radio program] Echonet.


***

A 26-year-old Chechen journalist Elina Ersenoyeva was kidnapped in Grozny on August 17, in broad daylight, and is missing still. Russian online publication Gazeta.ru reported (RUS) that Ersenoyeva, a freelancer for the Chechen Society newspaper and a representative of an HIV/AIDS prevention project, could have been married to Shamil Basayev, allegedly killed by the federal forces in July.

Timur Aliev (LJ user timur_aliev), editor-in-chief of the print/online weekly Chechen Society (Chechenskoye Obshchestvo), writes on his blog (RUS) that the allegations of Ersenoyeva's ties to Basayev only aggravate the already difficult situation :

For the last few days I've been busy with Elina's case more than with anything else. At first, I was answering phone calls and meeting with journalists, telling them what I know about the kidnapping of this female journalist. Simultaneously, I was trying to give some advice to Elina's mother, Rita, who was also constantly calling me and stopping by at the office. The woman was catastrophically helpless - only on the fourth day it turned out that she hadn't yet reported the kidnapping to the [Ministry of Internal Affairs]. We've also helped her to write a letter to the prosecutor's office - she didn't know where it's located. Her husband, from whom she is divorced, was of little use, too - when Rita fainted in our newsroom and a thin intern and I barely managed to drag her to the couch in the office next door, he just stood there and [did nothing], while the girls were calling the ambulance, fanning her with a fan and pouring [a heart medicine] for her.

In general, both parents, instead of [persistently visiting various law enforcement officials], the [Federal Security Service], and getting the relatives involved, kept coming to us - help us, save us, recommend something, find a way for us to meet with [Ramzan Kadyrov]. I told them to visit Elina's primary place of work - the youth affairs committee - because Ramzan loves them, and they'll find a way for [the parents] to meet him. But they [the parents] were saying - no, they won't help.

It's been a couple days, though, since Rita stopped coming. On the first day I thought that maybe it's because the mobile connection was terrible - impossible to reach anyone by phone. Today, however, I received many calls, but not from Elina's mother.

Anyway, I was even more busy today than in the previous days. Reports have appeared that Elina is Basayev's widow. And everyone started contacting us for comments.

At first, it seemed funny to me - to imagine Elina in this role was difficult. She was spending all her time in her youth committee, and even Ramzan stopped by there pretty often, and sometimes Elina wrote something for us, and she attended UNICEF's seminars from the committee - and it seemed she wouldn't have the time to take walks in the mountains with Basayev.

Then I felt uneasy - when people are calling you about it, you turn into a person who has to provide some explanations. I re-direct all callers to [Elina's] mother and to her primary employers - like, what nonsense, please contact them for more details, I don't know anything - but they are still calling me.

What's going to happen tomorrow, I don't know.

Friday, August 25, 2006

One thing I've never bothered to mention - and which occurred to me only now: it may seem as if I re-started this blog in August 2004, exactly two years ago, when the two Russian planes fell from the sky simultaneously - but this isn't so.

I was writing about the planes, and then about Beslan, elsewhere, keeping record for my friends who were asleep in the States at the time of the storming of the School, among other things, and then, sometime in early September, I decided to re-post it all here. So it may seem as if I was liveblogging some of the stuff, but it ain't so: I was doing it live but elsewhere.

I don't want to look at September 2004 archive now, it's still too scary, still too painful, but if I could, I'd remember the exact date I re-started this blog.

Two years.

(And it's a typical August in Russia again: a market explosion, a plane crash. So sad.)

***

I did have a quick look back at my September 3, 2004, "liveblogging" when I was reading C.J. Chivers' The School in Esquire a couple months ago. Strangely, it felt almost good to re-read it then. It was like an emotional prop, a way to cut a corner or two: I skipped feeling some of the pain for real by reading about the pain I felt two years ago and why I felt it.

***

Okay, so I have gone back to the September 2004 archive - couldn't keep myself. I was too busy to write much about the pain. Pain is what I remember the best, though. What I wrote then is different and, often, weird. Like this entry, posted at 3:16 pm, September 3:

NTV is still doing more or less live coverage. NTV is watched by a lot of people - but their signal doesn't reach as many places as that of the other two - Channel 1 (ORT) and RTR.

Channel 1 has another Soviet comedy on - when I switched over to them there was a scene involving a big black submarine being evacuated - very surreal, you know...

RTR has commercials - Twix, Pantene shampoo, etc. - and then a preview of a documentary about General Pugo - the only 1991 coup guy who committed a suicide after they got busted - very weird because i just mentioned 1991 here - and I've always felt almost sorry for this Pugo guy - if he hadn't killed himself, he'd be totally safe and comfortable now, maybe even still in politics - Mishah told me a few days ago that Pugo probably was the only person with conscience out of that evil bunch - i don't remember why we were talking about him... Still, it's weird that a state channel is planning to show something about the 1991 coup - what's happening today is so much worse but probably has the same significance, the same implications for Putin as 1991 had for Gorbachev. Or maybe not - it's highly unlikely anything will change now.

on NTV a shirtless boy of about 13 - cute cute cute - is telling (in Russian with an accent) how he was breaking the windows in the gym to make it easier to get out - his hand is bandaged, it could've been worse, he says, but the windows are plastic... two younger boys next to him are also trying to contribute some information, trying to be helpful... they do look shocked, in a childish way, without tears, just their eyes, huge and black... it's me who's beginning to cry, i wouldn't be able to be a journalist...

also, journalists seem to be getting in the way of the rescuers, all the time

4:10 - NTV live news is over. CNN is still on, a BBC reporter is wearing a helmet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Happy Ukraine's Independence Day to everyone! Z Dnem Nezalezhnosti!

Here in Pushcha, it doesn't feel like a holiday at all. Even at the sanatorium, which belongs to the presidential administration, they didn't put up a flag at the entrance today - even though there was one with a black ribbon yesterday.

My father's been back home from the hospital since Monday - thank you all again for the warm wishes, thank you so very much!

I'm yet to see (and to hear) him.

He does go for walks, I've been told. The first one was while he was still at the hospital, around the Kyiv Mohyla University campus nearby: he sneaked outside at 7 am, very typical. It wasn't too hot yet, and my over-protective mama wasn't there yet, too. Father's roommate told on him later, when mama arrived.

By the time I have time to post something, I'm totally falling apart - falling asleep as I type, typing in my sleep. This whole week. I don't know why it's grown to be so tough. I'm drowning in things I fail to do because of this lack of time. I badly need a clone.

Here's my today's Global Voices translation - I had to post it two days ago...

Russian-Language Blogs: Miscellanea (1)

On August 19, LJ user sapojnik (39 years old, Moscow) wrote this (RUS) about the 15th anniversary of the 1991 August Putsch:

The Day of Victory Over the CPSU

It's necessary to have a clear understanding of what happened in August 1991. It wasn't the "collapse of the [Soviet] Union," or the "farce with the shaking [Gennadiy Yanayev]," or the "victory of the CIA's allies." What really happened on August 21 is the [CPSU] LOST CONTROL OVER THE COUNTRY. This is what happened.

As they began to feel that the power was slipping out of their hands, the most active and "stubborn" segment of the party nomenclature tried to forcefully restore the status quo. They thought they'd [shoot] and scare, and the people would run for cover, and then everyone would obediently set out to "build socialism" again.

But you see, the people didn't run for cover.

And instead of a takeover, the communists lost power completely.

THEN, by the way, it was obvious to everyone.

So basically, August 21 is the day of our victory over the CPSU. The victory over a party that didn't shy away from marking down its eternal rule even in the Constitution!

How I love this holiday...


The conversation following this post stretches out for the 1,088 comments - and, though it's hard to know for sure, there seems to be as many bloggers who agree with sapojnik as those who don't.

Here's a response of one of the skeptics:

agent_008: ha ha ha

The party [bosses] needed this operetta about the elimination of the CPSU the most. And this is why it all went so smoothly.

Everyone, except for the most stubborn, stayed in business, having converted their status and power into money and then - if they felt like it - back into power.

All of Perestroika [word written in Latin script] had been thought up for this - and it began "up there on the top."

[...]

[The Putsch] was the culmination of the show.


***

Ivan Shifrin, a 17-year-old high school student from St. Petersburg and LJ user kremlin-wall, is selling the (virtual) Kremlin Wall brick by brick - because he believes (RUS) that "teenagers [...] can do serious business instead of carrying trays at McDonalds, working as messengers or handing out paper ads by the subway, because they have more energy and creativity than the adults do!"

Here's the first post of his blog (RUS):

Don't say anything! :?))) Let me guess on my own...

You are a businessman and you often have to find ways to diminish advertisement expenses? Or, you're a thinking, active person and you want to express your opinion on something, but do not know where and how to declare your position with, for example, an open letter? Or, perhaps, you're a representative of a socially useful organization?

No? Okay.

Maybe you are an artistically-minded person, because you paint or write books, and want the whole world to hear about you, and see your paintings. But how?

Here's how: you take a pail of paint and go to Moscow. You come to Red Square and paint your message on the Kremlin Wall :?))))) Reckless? A chance to get your neck kicked?

Okay, there's an easier way :?)

You go to my site, http://www.kremlevskaya-stena.ru, and paint anything you want there. And post any information. I'm serious. You don't believe it?


Ivan Shifrin's Kremlin Wall brick costs 6,000 rubles - which is roughly $215 - and you can have it for at least five years.

The blogger plans to invest the money he makes selling virtual bricks into a business that would build real sports playgrounds for kids in St. Petersburg's abandoned backyards.

***

LJ user nl (Norvezhskiy Lesnoy, one of the most popular Russian bloggers) posts a picture and writes (RUS) about a horse grazing in his backyard in the very center of Moscow:

A pasture underneath my window

Moscow, center, third millenium, 3:15 am. Here's the situation: two mares [women] of the "could you help feed the horse" type are walking the third one - the horse in question - in the little park across the street from the capital's mayor's office. [...] The horse is eating the neatly mowed grass with pleasure. [...]

[photo omitted]

So I'm thinking now. On the one hand, I've been taught that you may hit a woman on the face only when she asks you to. On the other, if I pick up the phone and inform the person on duty about a horse grazing across the street from the mayor's office, there's a chance that the patrol unit will be sent not to the horse, but directly to me. Also, last time a man was being killed underneath my window and I called the police, the first thing that the law enforcement officer did as he climbed out of [the police car] was this: he went over to the aforementioned grass, very unsteadily, and peed on it generously. Finally - I feel sorry for the horse.

So no, there's no way I can play Neighborhood Watch [words written in English].

[...]


Bloggers commenting on this post kept to the topic at first:

dyakhnov: My sister once called the firemen, and they eventually arrived, got out of the car and ... lit their cigarettes :)

nl: I do believe you.

[photo omitted]


Then nl mentioned his wife - how she was once hit by a horse. LJ user salatau responded with a non sequitur - about an easy way to get rid of one's wife, which existed in 1938 in Moscow: one only had to inform the KGB that the wife was an English spy. From here, the conversation briefly swerved into nl's family history:

One of my great-grandfathers, who died in the camps, wrote to his daughter (my grandmother) in one of his last letters: "You must read [Aleksandr Blok]. And [Afanasy Fet] you may skip."

The other great-grandfather avoided the camps by having gone to the [Finnish War] in a timely fashion: there he, a tank's commander, had his neck hit by a bullet - and since then his head was always jerking, and this is how I remember him. He did not tell his 6-year-old great-grandson about how he was the commandant of Vienne and [had sex] with half of Vienne because of that (my grandmother shared this with me later), but he did manage to tell me about how he was lucky to avoid the camps.

My grandfather, according to those who knew him, managed to [escape] either because he, at the end of the purges, very timely, moved to another city, or got involved with the [pioneer organization's publications], about which few people cared.

My father's brother wasn't lucky: Stalin was long gone from [Lenin's mausoleum] and buried, but he was still not lucky: he fell in love with a Polish woman, and it wasn't allowed to fall in love with Polish women, so he hung himself.

And my [wife]'s grandfather didn't like to talk about the war. To all questions about what he did during the war, he used to reply: "I was catching spies." When the grandfather died and the granddaughter went to bury him, she looked at the platoon of military trainees, listened to the memories of catching spies from the colleagues of the deceased, and was surprised to discover that it wasn't as much her grandfather who was being buried, but a valued employee. She told them: "He may be a colleague to you, but to me, he is a grandfather."

Why am I writing this: I, of course, value and respect any jokes about English spies, but my smile is a little lopsided and a little insincere, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kyiv is Haifa today:

Ukraine boosts security for Haifa-Liverpool match

KIEV, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Police have called in reinforcements and tightened security for Tuesday's Champions League qualifier between Israel's Maccabi Haifa and Liverpool in Kiev.

Haifa are hosting Liverpool in the third qualifying round second leg in the Ukrainian capital after UEFA banned all fixtures in Israel due to the 34-day war pitting the Jewish state against Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

"Police have been put on a special regime. Our presence will be higher than is usual during soccer games," the Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Interior Ministry Yuri Lutsenko as saying.

"Police in this instance are concerned over security. Measures will be taken to prevent potential terrorist action."

He told Interfax he was not worried about "fans beating each other up". Rather, he was concerned about racist incidents and guarding against any attempt at a terrorist act.

The presence of teams from Britain and Israel, he said, complicated security preparations as both countries "had been witness to terrorist acts or attempted acts". Liverpool go into the match at the 17,000-seat Dynamo stadium with a 2-1 lead from the first leg at Anfield.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Today's Global Voices translation:

Today is 15 years since the beginning of the events that some people consider (RUS) Russia's Orange Revolution - but which are better known as the August Putsch.

This year, on August 20 and 21, memorial services will be held in Moscow for Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky and Vladimir Usov, the three men who were crushed to death by tanks during street confrontations. On August 22, which is Russia's State Flag Day, there'll be a rally near the government building in Moscow, known as the White House.

LJ user labas (Igor Petrov) was one of the defenders of the White House in 1991. He wrote a piece for a newspaper shortly after the events, and, when 13 years later he was feeling nostalgic during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, he posted parts of this old text (RUS) on his blog. Below is the translation:

PRESTO (August 20)

How many of us are here? [...] Fifty thousand, one hundred, five hundred? We are soaking wet under the nervous rain and we are warming up near small fires; we are crowding around the happy owner of a portable radio and we are stomping the revolutionary mud with our wet sneakers; we've gathered here to defend freedom, so long-awaited, so badly-needed [...].

Who are we? [...] The people, old and not so old, good, different, people who've suddenly gathered at this square and become what we really are. [Lots of] young people, and here's this 14-year-old guy who asked me for 2 kopecks to [make a call from a pay phone] and tell his relatives with pride: "I'm staying for the night here. Don't worry, ma, we are defending our Motherland." And this sweet feeling of unity, and being positive of our victory, despite it all, and yesterday's thoughts and worries are nothing to us now, [...] - and the already very familiar dirigible is greeting us from above with the tri-color [Russian, not Soviet] flag.

ALLEGRO (August 21)

The White House Radio:

"Attention. Aspecial edition. White House observers have noticed a group of young men with short hair and sports bags. Fifteen minutes ago, they poured into the ranks of the White House defenders. Watch out. There are KGB agents in disguise amongst you.

- Listen, - says my cordon neighbor, - let's stay in touch. If the need arises, we'll get together again.

The White House Radio:

"I think that the putschists have to be tried by a people's trial in Russia. Though it would be moral and ethical to give [Boris Pugo] away to the Baltics." (A voice from the crowd: "And [Dmitri Yazov] - to the students!")

We laugh. Gradually, the tension subsides. But no one goes away, and women keep carrying, carrying, carrying shopping bags, plastic bags, backpacks: "Where do we take the food to, guys?"

The White House Radio:

"Attention. If the saboteurs inside the White House block any of the rooms, those locked in will be breaking windows from the inside. This should serve as the signal for you."

- Listen, - the neighbor tells me, pointing to a gunman in police uniform, who is guarding Entrance #14 with us, - this is the first time I'm looking at a cop without getting annoyed...

I'm smiling. A black Volga drives up to the [dining hall set up inside a bus]. On the back seat, there is a heap of buckwheat.

...

ADAGIO (September 2)

It seems to me that all our fathers-victors aren't paying attention to one really important issue: yes, we've reached unity, but this unity is against, not for, something. We've been able to reject something together, but it doesn't mean we all aspire to positive deeds. No one can [miraculously] turn mourning into carnival, and carnival into construction.

Alas, my dear cordon neighbor, we will never be able to get together again. Soon, very soon, life will take us to different levels of the social ladder. And, unfortunately, there is a possibility that one day, in the new maelstrom of political craziness, we'll bump into the decisive, khaki-colored boys who were recently giving us trophy cigarettes near the White House - only suddenly they'll be at the other side of the barricades.

September 2, 1991

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I apologize for this really long period of silence and hope to begin writing here again soon.

Thank you all who wrote to wish my father a quick recovery - thank you so much!

He is still in the hospital, doing relatively well: the most serious problem now is that he can barely speak - can't say his name, can't say where he lives. But he went to look for a TV set on the third day or so and got really upset that they didn't have Channel 5 there - very much like my father.

Marta and I have decided to stay in Pushcha Vodytsya for one more month, till mid-October. If I could, I'd move here for good.

As always, it's really hard to keep writing after such a pause, so I'll stop here.

Again, thank you all for prayers/wishes/positive thoughts - and my very warmest wishes.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

If my mother could blog, she'd probably blog about this now:

There are two night-shift nurses for 50 or so people in the neurology department. Two nurses for fifty or so elderly people recovering from strokes and other such things.

This is a busy summer. Normally, they don't have so many people at this time of the year.

There's a bunch of women staying at the hospital overnight - Dekabristki, as my mother calls them, because they're staying with their husbands - for no other reason but to accompany them to the bathroom for a pee during the night - because the stupid men wouldn't do it into a banochka, a can next to their bed, and there are only two nurses on duty at night.

My mother doesn't know where Dekabristki sleep during the night, whether there're couches for them somewhere or something, but she thinks it's a good thing they are allowed to, because it was different in the Soviet times - like, once, when I was 2 and got sick, they only let her stay at the hospital with me after she threw a major fit.

My mother takes meals to my father twice a day. Kontraktova Ploshcha, two or three subway stops from us, still the center of Kyiv, no problem, she tells me.

Since yesterday, father's appetite is back, thank God. She made fish soup for him today, but when she got to the hospital, he wasn't hungry anymore, because they'd given him some mannaya kasha (oh boy, how do I translate that?..) - but she'll take the fish soup with her tomorrow again; she can't leave it at the hospital because there's no way to warm it up there.

She buys all medication herself - everyone does. She oversees all the injections they administer to my father - many people do. Today, she missed both of his antibiotics shots, though, and is very nervous: if you don't stand over the nurse, she may steal the medicine and resell it to someone else later. Inject water instead. This particular drug is considered expensive, my mother told me: 8 hryvnias ($1.6) per capsule. So she does have reasons to be nervous. She is not paranoid, no: even the nurses understand her - they would've done the same, a few have already told her.

Nurses get 5 hryvnias ($1) after each shot from my mother. When she had to ask the night-shift nurses to keep checking on my father, she entered their room and gave each one 10 hryvnias ($2) - placed the bills into their pockets. She did the same with the ambulance doctor and his assistant on Friday - 20 hryvnias to each one ($4), into the pockets of their white gowns, as they were helping my father into the elevator. This was gratitude, though, not a request.

No words for today, just a couple images...

This is Victory Square/Ploshchad Pobedy/Ploshcha Peremohy in the center of Kyiv - Hotel Lybid on the left, Ukraina Shopping Mall on the right, and the Circus is behind me (not in the picture, naturally):



And this is what's (or who's) beneath Victory Square/Ploshchad Pobedy/Ploshcha Peremohy:





(The walk through this underground pass has reminded me of Istanbul's Eminonu/Galata Bridge area.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Global Voices translation for today:

Victor Yanukovych is Ukraine's new prime minister, and it looks like the president, Victor Yushchenko, is the nation's new "anti-hero."

At least, this is what LJ user didaio concludes (UKR) after reading through the recent posts of his fellow-bloggers:

Before August 2, the only problem with my friend list was that it had few people on it. The reason for that was that I used to add only Ukrainian-language journals (with just a few exceptions). About 95 percent of my friend list are political [blogs]. Before, there was no one on it who was openly pouring dirt on the President.

After August 2, I saw more dirt directed at the President in my feeds than I'd ever seen directed at [Oleksandr Moroz] (after July 6) or at Yanukovych. Judging by the feeds, the nation's main anti-hero is Victor Andriyovych Yushchenko. Everyone's calling him beekeeper [pasichnyk] now [...]. There can be only two reasons for this: his refusal to dismiss the parliament and the nomination of Yanukovych [for PM].

I don't want to judge these people's conclusions; I just want to say what I've been saying always (even back in [Leonid Kuchma]'s time): such attacks on the President are immoral [...].

In these two days, I've also heard similar accusations directed at me. I've also been accused of having [...] low intellectual level. The reason is my support for the President's latest actions.

So that no one has any doubts or questions as to my position, I repeat: I support the signing of the Universal of National Unity, support the creation of the new Coalition of the [Party of the Regions], [Our Ukraine] and [Socialist Party] (without [Communist Party]). I am immensely sorry that [Yuri Yekhanurov] is no longer the premier, and that the ex-con Yanukovych has replaced him. But this is the objective consequence of irresponsible behaviour of the Orange Team in the past year and a half. I've been a steadfast supporter of the Our Ukraine-Party of the Regions Coalition since March 27, 2006 [one day after the election]. And I'm very glad [Yulia Tymoshenko] is the opposition now - I'm positive she won't let the President and the government relax.

I'm very sorry that the friends whose feeds I used to read with pleasure now allow themselves to abuse the President of Ukraine. But I hope that my position and theirs won't affect our virtual relations, though if someone decides to delete me from their friend list, I'll understand.


It turns out, however, that there are plenty of bloggers who share didaio's views and are supportive of president Yushchenko:

czyk [in Belarusian]: I respect your president. I see logic in what he does, even though at times, he has to choose from [the worst]. I don't understand what the new election could change. Maybe the problem's not the president but the country: this is what it is now, not all of it is Europhilic, not all of it is Orange. [...]

love_precious: We voted for him, we gave him life as the president, and now we have to support him, attempt to understand his position. Yulia in the opposition is good for the Country. Let's judge Yushchenko when his presidency is over - whether life has become better or worse. And in general, would any of us be capable of a better performance? It's always easy to judge.

pashyrey: Oh, and I thought I was the only one like this :)) You've expressed all my thoughts almost verbatim.

didaio: I also thought that I'm the only one like this. But all comments to this post have convinced me that I'm not the only one. It's very, very nice to read it! Thank you!

pashyrey: Maybe this is because people who support the President are calm, have minimum emotions, and don't write much, unlike the opposite side. That's why it seems as if you are a white crow next to what appears to be mass dissatisfaction.


LJ user nezloy quotes (RUS) what Yanukovych said back in 2004, a year and a half ago, as a reminder - and an explanation of why it is such a blow to many to have this man as prime minister again:

From hatred to love - a year and a half.

[photo omitted]

"I believe that there are a lot more strong and healthy people than these animals ['goats' in the original], who aren't letting us live the way we want to!" This is what V. Yanukovych said [about his political opponents] on October 21, 2004, in his address to representatives of local communities of Luhansk region. [...]


LJ user faina_kaplan dreams (UKR, RUS) of her dislike for Yanukovych - and writes about Yushchenko's unfulfilled promise to prosecute the criminals who were part of the previous regime:

In a dream tonight, I saw [Yanukovych] tied to a chair, like in a mafia movie, and it was possible to do whatever you wanted to with him. And I was eating cherries, throwing pits at him, saying: "I hate you, do you understand? And not just me, but the whole nation hates you!" - And he looked at me sadly and said that he'd keep on moving toward integration with Europe.

***

kosta_kosta: And I'd put [Yushchenko] next to [Yanukovych]. And [extinguish cigarettes] on them, not throw pits. [...]

faina_kaplan: Better think of how [late Georgy Kirpa] must be feeling now: he shot himself prematurely. He really believed that "Bandits will go to jails."

kosta_kosta[...] And my friend said this today: "A thief's place is in the Cabinet of Ministers."


LJ user mc_yulka, a Kyiv journalist, experienced a different type of disappointment with president Yushchenko (RUS): because of his early-morning decision to nominate Victor Yanukovych as prime minister, her cover story about Israel's Russian-speaking community and the war was no longer a cover story, and since an urgent redesign of the magazine's cover was needed, her photo of two Israeli children (originally from Dushanbe, Tajikistan) had to be replaced:

Just an hour ago, the new issue of the magazine was supposed to come out with my photo of two kids that I took in a shelter outside Haifa during a bombing alert [...]. It was the first and the last chance in my life to have a photo taken by me on the cover.

But then, shortly after 2 am, Yushchenko came out and spoke quite a bunch, and the cover had to be changed, and now there'll be Yushch on the cover, instead of the children from the shelter.

Yes, I'm VERY VERY VERY
VERY VERY VERY
VERY VERY
UPSET.

I haven't slept in 46 hours. And I thought that - with a front page story - and with my photo on the cover - that it was worth it. But it's not worth it. [...]


mc_yulka has posted some of the pictures from her Israel trip here, and the cancelled cover here (RUS):

UNDER THE PROMISED LAND: Hizbullah's bombing of Israel has united former Odesa, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv residents in the shelters.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ukrainska Pravda posts copies of Yanukovych's income declaration (UKR) that's being distributed in the parliament now.

According to it, the newly-elected prime minister made something like $7,600 in 2005. That's roughly $630 a month.

Fucking liar.

My father has just been taken to a hospital with his third stroke. I happened to be at home, at Bessarabka, when the ambulance arrived. I'm back in Pushcha now, with Marta and Mishah. Poor mama.

And Yanukovych is Ukraine's prime minister.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Victor Yushchenko has nominated Victor Yanukovych as prime minister early morning today.

Funny how they keep readjusting themselves to the country. When Kuchma came to power 12 years ago, he didn't speak Ukrainian and everyone thought Ukraine would join Russia real soon; but instead he learned Ukrainian and everyone, including Western Ukraine, voted for him in 1999, because at that point he seemed like the lesser evil, compared to Symonenko, a Communist.

Considering the way he came to power, it was hard to imagine that Yushchenko would end up doing a similar trick.

In three years, we'll probably be choosing between Yanukovych and Tymoshenko - and Yanukovych's platform would really resemble that of Yushchenko in 2004, thanks to his Republican advisors.

Oh, and I don't think that "readjusting themselves to the country" is the same as "uniting" it. I think that all the talk about uniting Ukraine's East and West is abstract bullshit.

Mishah doesn't agree with me here; he says he believes it's a step toward the creation of the modern Ukrainian nation. He also says Yushchenko would now have many ways to manipulate Yanukovych, especially if there is a Regions of Ukraine/Our Ukraine coalition that excludes the Communists.

As for the morality of it all, Mishah thinks that like everything else in politics, it's all immoral, of course.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So what did Baba Paraska scream at Ukraine's first president Leonid Kravchuk and why all papers seem to not want to print it? Did she really curse him and called him zhid? If yes, then she's no longer "a heartbreaking silly old fool" - but a silly, stinking old bitch. Not that I admire Kravchuk, of course.

***

I caught Baba Paraska on camera again last week, by the way - at Maidan. Had no idea it was her until Mishah told me:



My today's Global Voices translation:

Information Access in Russia; Hospice Work in Ukraine

Marina Litvinovich - LJ user abstract2001 and founder of PravdaBeslana.ru (Truth Of Beslan, a site that contains transcripts of Beslan-related trials as well as other information on the tragedy) - notes that it's significantly harder to ensure free access to information in Russia than it is in the United States (RUS) :

Free access to information

The opening of the 9/11 terrorist act [trial] materials in the United States is a welcome development. I myself have been trying for two years already to do a similar thing on PravdaBeslana.ru. The only difference is that over there, it's the court that's doing it, while here, it's me and my friends.

Taking into account the peculiarities of our judicial system and investigative process, the work on uncovering and gathering information, testimonies and documents on high-profile crimes becomes extremely important. And it's not just that these documents allow a person to figure out independently what happened, and who is guilty and who is not. In our country, collecting these materials becomes the basis for future trials, which, under the current political regime, cannot take place.

Unfortunately, I haven't had enough time and energy to organize gathering of materials and transcribing of the trial transcripts in [Andrei Sychyov]'s case. I should've done it.

And the Vladivostok fire, and [the events in Nalchik] should have been taken up. And there are many other themes that exist for three days in the news, but then it's impossible to find any information on them: nothing. [...]


Marina expounds on the issues of timeliness and unbiased approach in her answers to the readers' questions:

_kleptos_: Isn't timeliness one of the most important factors in this kind of information gathering?

abstract2001: There are different situations and different stories. In the case of Kulayev trial, we tried to do everything in a timely fashion, so that it was possible to continue working with the people trial testimonies. But there are also stories that last many years. It depends.

_kleptos_: Thanks you. I'd also like to know how strong is the opposition to the gathering of this kind of information?

abstract2001: It is strong.

[...]

hoholusa: Sychyov. Vladivostok. Nalchik. What's the use of these materials?

abstract2001: The main goal is to gather politics-free witness and other testimonies. Due to censorship and self-censorship, the mass media cover many events either incorrectly or not at all. Besides, courts are not bias-free and don't aspire to justice. As time goes by, facts are mixed with fiction, myths, etc. It's important that there are accounts of "how it really was."

hoholusa: This is a good goal, of course... As long as this is really "politics-free" material. I won't talk about Beslan, but your participation in Sychyov's case (rallies, LJ) was nothing but an attempt at political evaluation of one specific person.

abstract2001: But the desire to figure it out and gather the facts remains.


The first comment to Marina's post is from Elizaveta Glinka (LJ user doctor_liza), who runs and fundraises for the first and only hospice in Kyiv, Ukraine - Vale Hospice International:

doctor_liza: Good luck to you, Marina. I wouldn't be able to do even one tenth of what you're doing.

abstract2001: You're also doing an important thing. It's hard to make comparisons here. We are both doing what we have to do.

doctor_liza: It's easier for me because I'm forced to be apolitical: because of - or for the sake of - my patients. Definitely without any evaluations, the public ones. It won't work otherwise. While you are constantly taking risks - with yourself, your child. Well, you know it all yourself. Thank you.


Below is the translation of one of doctor_liza's hospice stories, about a patient named Tanya (RUS):

She has bright blue eyes and a happy smile. On her left hand, there's a tattoo [with her name] Tanya, made many years ago in [Magadan].

She was born in Ukraine. I'm not asking how she ended up in Magadan, and she doesn't like to talk about it, either.

Alone. There's her daughter's phone number, but no one's answering it.

She was brought to the hospice by two people. One of them, when asked who he was to Tanya, replied: "Brother. In Christ." The next question the "brother" asked himself: "How to arrange trusteeship on Tania's pension?" The third question, and the last one in our communication, was asked by brother and sister - in Christ, of course, too: "How to arrange trusteeship on her apartment, while she's still conscious?"

Jehovah's Witnesses. She loves them. But she loves everyone who comes to visit her.

She is happy about everything that surrounds her: her roommates, flowers, candies, and even the hot water that we take to her instead of tea in the mornings.

- Tanyusha, where do you like to live better: here in Kyiv or in Magadan?
- In Magadan. People there were kinder. You know why?
- No.
- Because they were in exile. They are kind. All of them.


Of the 14 patients that the hospice can house, not all are adults. Below is doctor_liza's sketch of a new arrival - a baby boy:

I've received a 5-year-old baby into the hospice today.

The boy is very patient, though the move from home to the [hospice] has been very tough for him.

He'll be here with his mama.

I asked where it hurts and what can be done for him. He looked at me like an adult and said: "I want silence..."


There is some politics in doctor_liza's work, despite what she wrote in her comment to Marina Litvinovich. On her blog, she quoted this question to Vladimir Putin (RUS), posed by the mother of a sick child from Ukhta, Russia, on the eve of the July 6 online chat with the president:

[...]

Why is it that in order to save a child dying of leukemia, the whole town has to do fundraising? What are the country's medical and social insurance funds for? Why parents are left face to face with such trouble, on their own?


In order for Putin to answer this question, as many people as possible had to vote for it. In the comments to doctor_liza, many bloggers wrote that they did. Here is one such comment:

tiputya: I've voted. I'm very interested in this issue. [...] For a long time now. Ever since my husband's sister [lost] a 4-month-old boy, who was ready for a [heart surgery], which they didn't carry out because the parents hadn't had enough time to find $50,000. [...] Can any one of those "caring" officials survive for just two weeks on 1,550 rubles [roughly $55] that they throw [monthly] to a mother caring for a sick child? (Just one hormones test costs 1,000 rubles [roughly $35]!)


Indeed, money is much more of a problem in doctor_liza's work than politics. Her fundraising effort for the hospice, for example, is now taking place on her blog - because it's free, while running an ad on Vladimir Gusinsky's RTV International (RTVi) - a "Kremlin-free" channel - costs too much (RUS):

Social advertisement :)

Got a call from RTV International.

Would you like to know how much it costs to air a banner - just a picture, not a video (I simply don't have it) - for 30 seconds, three times a week - ONCE a day for thirty seconds?

$2,080. And no discounts.

Let it hang here. For free.

Abdymok has a very interesting 2002 item on kurwa Oleksandr Moroz, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and president Yushchenko's former ally, and his alleged involvement in Georgiy Gongadze's disappearance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Marta is 8 months old today!

I've just noticed that the Ukrainian flag next to Stepan Bandera's portrait and UNA-UNSO flag was upside down yesterday. How ironic.