Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year to you all! З Новим Роком! С Новым Годом! Mutlu Yıllar!

Wishing you tons of health, love, joy, fun and adventures...



P.S. I'm so sorry for not writing back to some of you. One of my New Year's resolutions, though, is to stop being so sporadic and start keeping in touch with friends properly! :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Marta is acting really wild here, refuses to go to bed, keeps waking up at night, and I'm too exhausted to write anything now, don't really have anything to say, even though I do feel like saying something... So here are two pictures of today's rush hour in Istanbul:



Friday, December 28, 2007

Finally, two views from our balcony, and I'm off to bed:





Part of Aya Sofya on the first photo - and Aya Irini on both.





The first one is Sultanahmet Camii, the second one is Aya Sofya.

And some Turkish kids on a school trip, eating their lunches between the two landmarks.

But Istanbul may not be such a good place to take your teenage kid to: a "Westerner"-looking mama and son came up to me today and asked if I knew where McDonald's was. I only knew where Burger King was, and the boy had this tragic look on his face when I said so. "But I need a McDonald's!" He was almost crying when he said that, and it made me feel terribly sorry for his mother. Before this encounter today, I had never understood why a place like Istanbul - where they serve you REAL meat nearly everywhere - needed all those Burger Kings.

The weather's awesome.



There was no sun in Moscow for something like a month. And no snow. It was so depressing. And I really owe an apology to those New York Times and Washington Post people that I blasted in this post back in November: I'm now convinced that snowless winters in Moscow do deserve all the coverage in the world, especially if they manage to find some amusing angles, to cheer us up, please.

Anyway, when the plane took off and went through the clouds, it turned out that the sun wasn't all that far away: just 30 seconds or so of flying.

That made me reconsider the words I said to Mishah in the morning: Is a mere vacation worth such a sacrifice?

Because, you see, my fear of flying is such a torture, makes me even more insomniac, but that's not all: we also had to leave home five hours before our plane actually took off, to make sure we make it on time even if we get stuck in traffic on the way to Sheremetyevo.

But I felt it was all okay it the moment I saw the sun.

And in Istanbul, it's not just sunny.

It's warm.



First, about a month ago, I saw the word PEACE - МИР - written on the roof of a car parked down below. I thought it was rather ... well, rather peaceful for this part of the world.

Then, a few weeks later, I saw the word GAY - ГЕЙ - on this or some other car parked in the same area. I thought it was rather friendly, too, for this part of the word. What a polite neighborhood we live in, I thought.

Finally, a few days ago, there appeared the word I've been waiting for - the most common Russian swear word.

Maybe it's someone's conceptual art project.

I wish I had pictures of the other two cars.

Wordpress, a blog-publishing platform, is blocked in Turkey, and here's the note that opens in my browser instead of, for example, Natalia Antonova's blog:



It's very annoying.

And perhaps as efficient as hanging a curtain in the middle of your room, to help yourself pretend the rest of the family isn't really there, the way many people did back in the Soviet times.

Because I can still read Wordpress blogs through my Bloglines feed, right?

Here's more on the silly measure, in a Global Voices roundup by Sami Ben Gharbia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We're in Istanbul, btw. Arrived here yesterday, very happy to be back. More later, I hope.

Benazir Bhutto has just been killed. A very shocking news, despite everything.

RIP - to her and scores of others who were killed because of her, now and before.

Just like with Milosevic in 2006, until they're dead, it never occurs to me that they are mortal.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Politics, again.

Oh, Yulia, Yulia:

"We'll be working on it and will make it so that in our country both young people and children would want to become coal miners," said Tymoshenko.


Some of the comments from Korrespondent.net (RUS):

are:

I'll only believe in this when the President's daughter puts on a helmet and drags herself into a coal mine.

***

Guest:

It's simple: she'll make other professions so unappealing that children would rather hope to become coal miners than anything else.

***

Communist:

But this is exactly how it used to be in that great country that you destroyed! In the Soviet Union, children did dream about becoming coal miners, and their work was honorable and safe! Do you remember ever reading about coal mine accidents in Soviet newspapers?! No, because there weren't any!

***

Anna:

Our children are dreaming of being coal miners. Because in our town of Snezhnoye the mines have been shut and now there is no way to make any money at all. We are surviving on bread and water, and it'd be nice to leave, but where to?

***

Peter Pan:

Communist: "Do you remember ever reading about coal mine accidents in Soviet newspapers?! No, because there weren't any!"

Are you so sure? And Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" didn't exist, either, right?

It was all there. In special depositories. As for points of view that were different from the "leading and guiding one" - you could only hear those on short-wave radio through the wailing of the jamming stations. As Napoleon (not a psycho!) used to say in a well-known joke, "If I had controlled the Soviet press, the world wouldn't have learned about my defeat in the Battle of Waterloo!"

***

Benya na Laden dyshit 2 Communist:

You better remember football broadcasts from Donetsk. The tracks around the field were packed with wheelchairs.

Then they banned these wheelchairs, too.

As for the accidents, no one was reporting on them in the USSR - well, perhaps they did once, when the plane carrying Tashkent "Pakhtokor" [football team] crashed. They had to somehow explain to the people where the old players disappeared and why the backup team members were playing instead.

They didn't report a word on what happened to the Komsomolets submarine, nor did they report on the nuclear accident in the Urals - while it was way worse there than in Chernobyl.

So much for you Communist USSR government.

***

Ъ:

Kids are going to dream of playing for "Shakhtar" ["Coal Miner," a Donetsk football club]. That's for sure.


I love the way this conversation is evolving - even though I hate what Yulia has said.

***

P.S. I've made a GV entry out of it - here.

I wish I could use this place more for random notes, but I can't, and also, whenever I have something to write about, I'm too busy to, and then when there's time, I'm too tired to or I've already forgotten what it was that I wanted to write about.

By random notes I mean stuff that's not directly related to Ukrainian and Russian politics.

Like a conversation I've eavesdropped on today, between two elderly men who looked like they'd vote for Valeriya Novodvorskaya rather than Putin or Medvedev (well, okay, I don't think I'm capable of writing a single sentence without squeezing some politics into it anymore). One said to the other as they were crossing this really wide and dangerous street and I was walking next to them: "So, first there was Babylon, then there was Rome, and now - wouldn't you agree? - it's Moscow?" I didn't quite catch the rest of it, as they walked straight on and I had to turn right at that intersection.

And a cab driver today, from Kyrgyzstan, who talked about Chingiz Aytmatov with me. I loved it. He said he was a student in Moscow - but I somehow doubted it, I thought he was driving a cab full-time, but I liked him and so I didn't ask for details. He also said that those few nice people one happens to run in in Moscow all turn out to be from somewhere else, not native Muscovites.

And another cab driver, who was listening to some vostochnaya music - either Caucasus, or Middle Eastern - but switched to some silly Russian pop on the radio as soon as I got into his car, and I was too tired to ask him to please turn what he'd been listening to back on, because I liked it better, etc.

Anyway, I apologize for sporadic blogging, thank you all for reading, and for writing me, and I'm wishing you all a very joyful and fun holiday season, and hope that the new year is going to be an extremely happy one for us all.

Love to all,
Veronica

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Marta in vyshyvanka a year ago, on Dec. 17, 2006:



And now, on Dec. 18, 2007:



Those sleeves are still too long for her... :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yulia is our PM again! I'm glad the vote went okay - it was a 'manual' vote, btw.

Plushch did not vote.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two links - from Korrespondent.net, in Russian - for Andrey Slivka, who wrote this in his Kyiv traffic piece in the Washington Post:

Another peculiarity: Cars are really unnecessary here because Kiev's Soviet-built subway system is excellent.


- Dec. 11, 2007, 82 comments: They now have trambovshchiki at Livoberezhna, Darnytsya and Chernihivska stations - men who work from 8 to 9 AM, helping passengers to squeeze into subway cars during rush hours, by pushing them from, hmm, behind. From outside.

- Dec. 12, 2007, 127 comments: Kyiv subway authorities are asking passengers to avoid using subway from 7:30 to 9 AM, unless absolutely necessary, and use other means of transportation.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Masha Gessen on Shkola Zlosloviya with Tatyana Tolstaya and Dunya Smirnova - five clips at YouTube, in Russian:

Part 1 (9:49 min)
Part 2 (9:09 min)
Part 3 (9:49 min)
Part 4 (9:09 min)
Part 5 (4:23 min)

Three writers I admire, they spend the whole show discussing two subjects: adoptions and glossy magazines in Russia.

Interesting, informative, cozy.

Amazing how they manage to stay so focused: there's a whole mountain of subjects that they don't touch upon, stuff that they could have turned into a dozen more extremely interesting shows.

Funny, though, that they do talk about the possibility of Masha getting fired from the glossy she was editing at the time of the interview, recorded in mid-April. I think the magazine's September issue was already done without her. Or the one after that.

***

Masha's next book is due out in April 2008; here's a note from her publisher:

Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene

In 2004 genetic testing revealed that Masha Gessen had a mutation that predisposed her to ovarian and breast cancer. The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenching personal decision—what to do with such knowledge—Gessen explored the landscape of this brave new world, speaking with others like her and with experts including medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers.

Blood Matters is a much-needed field guide to this unfamiliar and unsettling territory. It explores the way genetic information is shaping the decisions we make, not only about our physical and emotional health but about whom we marry, the children we bear, even the personality traits we long to have. And it helps us come to terms with the radical transformation that genetic information is engineering in our most basic sense of who we are and what we might become.


Bolshoi Gorod, of which Masha had been deputy editor, published an excerpt from the book, translated into Russian by Pyotr Favorov, along with an intro note by Masha.

The excerpt is about Masha's mastectomy - very painful reading.

Masha's other work, in English and in Russian, is stored at http://gessen.livejournal.com/; I also love reading her Russian-language blog about her kids - http://gessenyata.livejournal.com/.

Masha is currently at work on a book about Grigory Perelman - here's a 2006 item from Publishers Weekly:

Agent Elyse Cheney just sold North American rights to a new book by Ester and Ruzya author Masha Gessen to Harcourt’s Rebecca Saletan in a significant six-figure deal. Not yet titled, the book’s subject is Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman, who recently solved the Poincare Conjecture, one of the seven great mathematical mysteries of the century. He was subsequently awarded the Fields Medal for this achievement, but turned it down. Through Perelman’s mysterious life, Gessen, also Russian, will aim to tell a larger story of mathematics, genius, global politics and obsession. Saletan is also publishing Gessen’s Blood Matters, on genetics and intelligence, due out next year.


***

A lovely collection of Dunya Smirnova's writing, in Russian, can be acquired at Ozon.ru - here. Much of the stuff in it is wicked funny and wonderfully written.

When I first discovered Masha Gessen's pieces, she reminded me of Dunya, whom I had discovered a few years earlier, when she was still writing for the Moscow News (among other publications).

***

Tatyana Tolstaya is all over the place, and I'm too tired to look for links to her work. I love her stories - and it's so heartbreaking that she hasn't been publishing any new ones in a very long time.

P.S. I've just noticed that a collection of Tolstaya's short stories has been published in English this year.

I love the cover image - so dreadfully Soviet:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The second day of circus in Rada seems to be over. No work has been done again - all thanks to the Party of the Regions folks (RUS).

Yesterday, when I was searching for the Rada site, to look up some stats, I first landed at the page for another Rada: the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Instead of disbanding - and deputy head of TsVK, Mahera, thinks (RUS) it's not an unlikely option right now - our idiots could perhaps just rename themselves. Would be cheaper than having yet another election, and more honest.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yulia gets 225 votes instead of the 226 she needed to become Ukraine's PM.

NUNS/BYuT coalition's got 228 people in it.

Kyiv's ex-mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko (NUNS) says his voting card was broken.

He would've "misfired" sooner or later anyway. Yushchenko should've known better.

Update: Though who knows. Maybe he's not lying. Maybe it's the voting equipment that was broken, as some BYut deputies are claiming.

And speaker Yatsenyuk has failed to vote for Yulia during the repeat vote - because some folks from the Party of the Regions took away his voting card. Fucking awesome.

P.S. It wasn't a repeat vote - but "the vote on a re-vote" (more at Ukrainiana).

Another update: Vladislav Lukyanov (Party of the Regions) admits to having taken away Yatsenyuk's voting card.

A Korrespondent.net item on this (RUS) was posted at 2:37 pm - and has received 82 comments in the first 20 minutes.

This is really funny - I've just stumbled upon this photoshopped image of a United Russia campaign ad of the "Putin's Plan" variety - at Discovery Institute's Real Russia Project (aka Russia Blog):



Here's a quick translation for Charles Ganske, the man who mistook this for the real thing:

I smoked it.
It kicks ass!

Putin's Plan.
Tkachev's Plan.

By 2010 - 60 tons of weed from 1 ha.
Ha-ha...
BUA-HA-HA-HA!

FUCKED RUSSIA


'Plan' is one of the words for pot in Russian slang (more - here).

The last line doesn't translate too smoothly - it should be Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) - but it's Yebimaya Rossiya instead...

Anyway, great job, Charles! Учи олбанский!!! :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Yulia Tymoshenko may again become Ukraine's prime minister.

Or not.

Ukrainiana writes about "suspicions of sabotage from the would-be opposition" and some of the steps taken to not let it happen:

[...] Confronted with a hostile environment and a razor-thin vote margin, the Orange Coalition is offering the would-be opposition a cornucopia of political pacifiers, including the First Vice-Speaker post and control over key parliamentary committees. [...]


Ukrainska Pravda (UKR) and Korrespondent.net (RUS) have both picked up a LigaBusinessInform item (RUS) on the "enemy within" factor: this time, it's Vladislav Kaskiv, who - according to LigaBusinessInform's "reliable sources" - has recently had a surgery and is likely to skip Tuesday's vote. His absence would obviously make the already "razor-thin vote margin" even thinner.

Although Kaskiv's plans for Tuesday aren't a certainty yet, few readers at Korrespondent.net busy themselves with this consideration. Some are making guesses as to what kind of surgery he could've had - and here're their bets:

- circumcision (comment #8)

- brain removal surgery (comment #10)

- appendectomy (comment #25)

- zit removal surgery (comment #25)

- ingrown toenail removal (comment #37)

- hemorrhoids removal (comment #40)

- sex change operation (comment #55)

We here think it could have been liposuction.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Here are a few more flashbacks from 2003...

This United Russia ad across Nevskiy Prospekt from Moskovskiy Vokzal in St. Pete seemed way huge then - but compared to this campaign ad by Yuri Lutsenko at Livoberezhna this year, it looks pretty modest now...



"The President's Party" - not much has changed since then, they've just taken it one step further...



***

Although I already had this blog at the end of 2003, I wasn't really using it. I was on Fotopages.com instead, and here's a tiny entry that I did on Nov. 28, 2003:

So I decided to buy myself roses today, and I asked the woman at the store not to bother with fancy wrapping; a newspaper would do. At home, I glanced at the paper and realized that there was no way to escape politics: it turned out to be a campaign newsletter of Vladimir Yudin, one of the local candidates.

I saw his name before, sometime in October, when the whole YUKOS thing had just begun. "Yudin, hands off Khodorkovskiy" - read the writing on the wall then.

The paper is full of Putin vs. Khodorkovskiy stuff, and other oligarch-related issues. It also touches upon the problem of communal apartments and offers ways to spend some 240 billion rubles, together. It's in my garbage can now.

The roses are doing great.


And here're two pictures from the set that I posted that day - both have to do with this Yudin guy and Khodorkovsky:





***

Looking back at this, and at the 2003 notes that I posted yesterday, it sort of becomes clear that in this part of the world it hurts a lot to be an optimist - and it hurts somewhat less to be a pessimist.

Friday, December 07, 2007

As I said in that interview, it's hard to imagine anyone being surprised by the outcome of the Duma election this year - even though there are plenty of people who still care and may now be outraged or depressed. Or happy.

As for being surprised, we used up most of this emotion's reserves four years ago, when we spent half the post-election night glued to the TV, cursing the Russian opposition for their pathetic performance. This year, Mishah chose to be watching some movie instead, and I was translating Russian bloggers for GV.

I also unearthed an old notebook and read through the stuff I jotted down right after the vote of Dec. 7, 2003.

We were watching Savik Shuster's Svoboda Slova then - still on NTV, still in Russia, long before anyone could've imagined Shuster's move to Ukraine, together with his show, and his quick transformation into a Ukrainian mega-star. (Though, of course, it was also long after Shuster's dismissal from Radio Liberty, following Gazprom's takeover of NTV from Media-Most.)

- For Victor Shenderovich, it was the first appearance on NTV in three years that night - he did make some joke about it. He also said that the right-wing opposition had discredited itself, and it would be much better for them not to be represented in the Duma at all for the next four years: let "the new CPSU" - United Russia, obviously - bear all the responsibility, because when oil prices go down and Russia isn't producing anything, there'll be no one else but them to blame for the economic decline.

Oil prices have only been going up since then, of course.

- As of 6 pm, the turnout was less than 50 percent, and nearly 5 percent had voted against all candidates. Someone in the audience said that the non-voting folks would eventually join together and force this regime out.

- Someone noted that SPS' campaign ad about Europe didn't really sell in the Asian part of the country.

I'm not sure which ad they meant, but I do remember something about Irina Khakamada, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov calling people to vote for them while aboard a private jet - an ad that wasn't well-received, either.

- Khakamada seemed to imply that the results of the election reflected what the people of Russia were like, and that those who voted for SPS shouldn't be too ashamed of their choice.

One of their conclusions: they should have joined forces with Yabloko.

- "Someone fat has compared Russia to a pendulum: in four years, he said, there'll be three parties in the Duma - Yabloko, SPS, and LDPR (the latter two just for fun), and today's rulers would be afraid to walk the streets."

Mishki, a pro-Putin kids movement:


A screenshot of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Dec. 6, 2007

Novaya Gazeta has a few photos from Bolotnaya Ploshchad, where the new movement's presentation took place.

Пиздец.

More: Radio Liberty story (RUS).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Chris Vallance interviewed me on the Duma election for BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs show yesterday - here's the clip:



The rest of the show and show notes are here.

***

Just as the previous time - back in April, following Yeltsin's death - it was way too scary to know I was being recorded for the radio. I must've lost a few kilos - which, of course, would've been good, if only I had stayed away from those coconut cookies afterwards.

Marta was asleep this time and missed her chance of appearing on the radio once again.

It's been months since the last time I really spoke English, so I couldn't remember how to pronounce the word 'Apocalypse' and, as a result, Chris had to edit out the part where I was talking of some bloggers' attempt to outspam their 'Putinjugend' counterparts, by posting Bible verses all over LJ and thus chasing the 'victors' out of the Yandex Blogs Top 30. By way of consolation, Chris told me my pronunciation was perhaps much closer to the original Greek than the way they say 'Apocalypse' in English.

:)

***

There was some more election stuff that I wanted to write about, but it took me too long to figure out how to do an audio clip, etc, so this is it for tonight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Roman Gruzov's piece (RUS) that conveys the atmosphere in pre-election Russia beautifully, but hasn't made it into the last issue of Bolshoi Gorod. Published on the blog of Bolshoi Gorod's editor instead.

UPDATE: Lyndon Allin's English translation of the piece is here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

I've just noticed the news of the third explosion in two weeks at the Zasyadko coal mine.

Nov. 18 - 101 people dead; Dec. 1 - 44 wounded; Dec. 2 - 5 killed, 30 wounded.

How terrible.

I wanted to write so much more tonight, but Marta kept waking up and I had to run back and forth between her and my Global Voices translation, and as a result, it took me forever to finish it. Here it is - and that's it for now:

Russia: Duma Election Notes

According to the early official results, president Vladimir Putin's United Russia party has won a landslide victory in the Dec. 2 general elections.

Below is a tiny fraction of the recent election posts by Russian bloggers, translated from Russian.

LJ user brazzaville posts a joke:

Two people meet:

- Who are you voting for?
- United Russia.
- Oh, okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to.


In the last sentence of her post, brazzaville may or may not be revealing her voting preference, through what may or may not be an allusion to one of the contenders in this election - Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko ("Apple") party:

I'll eat an apple now and then go cast my vote.


LJ user maliar shares his plans for the post-election future:

When it gets unbearably bad, I'll move into my friend-lenta [LJ friends' feed]. There's civil society in here, and freedom of speech, and democracy, and the absolute victory of SPS [Nikita Belykh's Union of Right Forces].


SPS and Yabloko are not expected to get past the 7-percent eligibility threshold in this election.

LJ user lit_wonder posts this report from her polling station in Moscow:

Civil Duty

At the polling station, there's a line for cheap pastries. They are also selling silver and imitation jewelry there.

Observers don't look older than 18.

A woman is making a scene: "Why are you writing me down, you've written my number down and now you'll be able to trace down who I've voted for! I wanted to [vote], but now I'm not going to!"

No one wrote down my number - but I'm not making a secret of it: [I am] for Yabloko.


In a comment, LJ user vladimir_morf writes about who the observers are most likely are:

First- and second-year students. Paid 2,000 rubles [$80]. A bus takes them there and a bus takes them back. Food is included.


LJ user favorov explains his voting choice:

I'll vote for SPS, though it's not as easy for me as it was four, eight, 12, or 16 years ago (no matter what [SPS] was called then).

Because this is how I've always done. Because this is where [Anatoly Chubais] is. Because I do not see a better option. Because someone somewhere has completely lost it, and I'd like to drop him a hint.

As for the rest of it:

Lately, there's been one thing that's beginning to frighten me: logic has disappeared from the regime's actions. The logic that I can understand, that is - I disagreed with them on certain things before, but I could always understand their reasoning.

I don't understand why Putin is so scared, why [United Russia] is overreacting like this, why they are strangling SPS, who needs such an exaggerated image of the enemy.

The only possible - though not universal - explanation is that the West and [a collective Sechin], acting spontaneously together, have chased [Putin] into the corner.

I still hope - even though it's getting more and more difficult to have hope - that he'll leave. I'm positive that he wants to leave.

Something along these lines.


LJ user puschaev_y posts this comment to favorov's entry:

Don't you think that he really cannot leave [...] - and one of the reasons is that he needs guarantees that [Mikhail Khodorkovsky] will remain in prison. And he's the only person who can provide such guarantees to himself - and only if he stays, one way or another. Otherwise, he risks switching locations with [Khodorkovsky]. Basically, the year 2008 was predetermined by the year 2003 [the year Khodorkovsky was jailed].


LJ user mcmamus posts a photo of a rather huge United Russia's campaign ad, seen on the election day at Manezh Square in downtown Moscow. LJ user kuteev, in a comment, reports that such ads have not been taken down all over the Russian capital, in violation of the election law.

LJ user ervix shows off a smiley that he put in the United Russia box on his ballot (see photo).

LJ user karimova responds, in a comment:

Up until this moment, I did not believe in the existence of the people who vote for United Russia.


On her own blog, karimova writes:

I text-messaged the family we are helping and asked: "How is it going? Did you go to the polling station?" The head of the family replied: "Yes, we did. I've voted for United Russia, because I'm a member of this party and I'm obliged to."

Damn. They live a half-hungry life, their house is half-ruined, the state is throwing miserable bits their way. They are now re-registering disability status for their boy, and that's why they cannot count on getting pension money in the next few months. If it hadn't been for the volunteers with their humanitarian aid, I can't imagine how they would've survived.

The conditions they live in are nightmarish, a child with oncology should not live in such quarters. In addition to this, they've got a grandmother there who can't get up from her bed, and the toilet, please excuse me, is outdoors. I decided that we should somehow try to get them a new house next year. That we should write to the governor, demand something from the local authorities. I asked one experienced person whether it is true that the officials might respond that since the boy is severely ill and would die sooner or later, they have no reasons to give them a new house. Is it possible that they might respond this way? "Yes, they might." This is how they respond more often than not.

Why are they voting for United Russia? I don't understand this.

It's making me feel utterly discouraged. Volunteers and charity foundations have to mend the holes created by the state, and people who are suffering and need help don't even understand what's going on.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Some quick pre-election linking:

The text of Victor Shenderovich's Plavlennyi Syrok show, aired on Dec. 1 on Radio Echo of Moscow - it's in Russian, however, and there's no audio posted yet, but it should appear there eventually.

God bless Shenderovich, is all I can say.

Here's the wrap-up section:

And finally, about what matters most. In your letters, you often ask me who to vote for on Dec. 2. Unfortunately, the election is already tomorrow, and campaigning is prohibited, so I'll try to answer your question ... well, in the most general terms... Anyway, I think one shouldn't vote for the party headed by a hypocrite and a scoundrel. To the contrary, one should vote for the party that's the most articulate of all in calling this hypocrite and scoundrel a hypocrite and a scoundrel. Here, I guess I've answered your question without violating the law. Happiness to you all!


On his blog, on Nov. 26, Shenderovich revealed that he'd be voting for SPS (Union of the Right Forces). This post of his - also in Russian - has received 547 comments, which I haven't had the time to read yet.

Mama has told me today that they've planted new chestnut trees on Khreshchatyk, replacing some of the old ones that seemed to be dying. This is really good news.

The newly-planted trees are 15 years old, which means they'll be blooming as early as next spring. Hopefully.

For the past few years, Khreshchatyk looked kind of ugly not only because of the crazy parking lot in the middle of the sidewalk, but also because of the chestnut trees that grew depressingly rusty by mid-summer.

By the way, what we have in Kyiv, are they called chestnut trees or buckeyes? I think it's the latter, but I wasn't aware of this until a friend who studied at Columbus, Ohio, told me so.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Our birthday girl:

Beeline and Megafon, major Russian mobile operators, are promoting the Dec. 2 election by text-messaging all their subscribers, regardless of their citizenship.

Here's an sms that I have received today/yesterday:

2 ДЕКАБРЯ ПРИХОДИТЕ НА ВЫБОРЫ! ВАШ ГОЛОС ВАЖЕН ДЛЯ СТРАНЫ!!!


Translation: "Come and vote on December 2! Your vote is important for the country!!!"

:)