Friday, February 29, 2008

I wish I had the strength to announce that this blog is kaput, but I can't.

Global Voices takes up too much of my time, and then there's Facebook, and Odnoklassniki.ru - where I somehow have 85 friends already, and most of them are probably mad at me by now, because I tend to vanish right after the initial greetings.

It's amazing how much I remember about most of these 85 people - but ask me what date it is today and I'll have to consult a calendar. A few days ago I was really shocked to realize that the Russian election is this coming Sunday. I thought we still had a week or two. Must be because of all this Kosovo madness.

I wish I could at least write about Marta here - but I'd have to translate, and I have enough of that at GV.

Well, there's one thing that doesn't require translation: Marta has somehow learned to say 'fuck' - and since she somehow knows it's a very bad word, she keeps saying it all the time. At first, I thought it was so amusing - like, wow, I still remember very vividly the time when she didn't know how to smile, and now she's cursing - and in a foreign language! But now I'm a bit worried, because I'm not sure how to unteach her. I know I should try to ignore it and then she'll get bored and stop saying it, but it's just something that's too funny to ignore. Reminds me of my dear Armenian friend who once left her beautiful little daughter with her teenage brother for a few hours - and when she came back, the beautiful little girl was cursing left and right like a man - in Russian, I guess.

Marta can also count from 1 to 10 in English, with a little bit of help from me. And she knows how to say 'cat' and 'dog' in Turkish.

The rest of it is mainly a Russian-based language of her own - and there's lots of stuff. She's really fluent now and it's unbearably cute to have all those conversations with her.

One more thing: I'm getting very good at telling her bedtime stories. At first, Mishah was making them up, and I was kind of jealous, but then he got tired as well as discouraged by the fact that his stories weren't making her any sleepier, so I had to take over. It took me over a week to actually start making stuff up - it happened after I had finally exhausted all the "non-fiction" animal stories that I had in my head. Now, it's pure fiction, and I'm extremely proud.

Moscow hasn't had any winter this season - it's been raining for the past few days, and on Sunday or Saturday, there was even a real thunderstorm. Too gloomy to take any pictures.

I miss this blog so much, but I'm tired of being so sporadic.

And I've a feeling that some people who are still coming here expect me to write about politics, but the problem is I'm so disgusted with what's going on both in Russia and in Ukraine, I don't want to waste my time and get myself upset.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Watching Dora the Explorer with Marta is such a torture: it's in Russian here, with some English, and here's how it sounds sometimes:

"Skazhite 'more faster'!"

And Dora is called Dasha here.

P.S. And Diego is singing: "You need swim, you need swim!" - which, I guess, means that he wants the turtle to swim...

Is the English-Spanish original as horrible, I wonder?

Friday, February 22, 2008

This Ukrainian lullaby, performed by Nina Matvienko, moves me to tears:



My other favorite is this Yiddish lullaby:



The whole project - www.lull.ru - is totally wondrous and amazing.

***

And here are three audio clips of Mykola Fokin, a Ukrainian singer, who was also my maternal grandmother's cousin:




Де ти бродиш, моя доле?
Муз. Марка Кропивницького, обробка для голосу і ф-но В.Заремби
Дует з П.Кармалюком




Київський вальс
Слова А.Малишка, муз. П.Майбороди
Хорова капела та симфонічний оркестр Українського радіо
Солісти: М.Шевченко, М.Фокін

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've just finished a GV translation of the Russophone reactions to Kosovo - here.

An earlier roundup of the English-language reactions (along with 20 or so comments) - here.

***

AP's Mike Eckel has done a piece on the Russian blogosphere (a somewhat truncated copy - here), and below is my very sketchy supplement to it (all links are, obviously, in Russian):

- There are plenty of LJ blogs that are more or less like RTR - run by hateful propagandists of a variety of ideologies. Some of them support Putin's regime in one way or another (Rumol/Nashi activists, Gleb Pavlovsky's folks like mrparker/Maxim Kononenko - he seems a bit more subtle now, though, than he was a year or so ago), while others, like all those DPNI and neo-Nazi folks, happen to oppose it - which makes it even more depressing. I try to stay away from these bloggers as much as I can, but since they are always present in the comments to some of the blogs I read, it's hard to avoid them altogether.

- I actually prefer intuitive approach to LJ-monitoring. I regularly check the top-ranking entries at Yandex Blogs - tons of trash, but there's always something relevant there, too.

The beauty of LJ is that you always seem to stumble upon some truly relevant stuff, you keep discovering lively discussion at some pretty obscure blogs. One example of such unsystematic but lucky browsing is here. But this is also something that's really depressing about LJ - there's so much stuff there, you need a few dozen of clones to follow it all.

- Pictures of the recently vandalized walls of a few of United Russia's offices in Moscow, re-posted from the NBP site - at the blog of varfolomeev66, an Ekho Moskvy guy.

- A virtual rally launched by tanya-ogf (OGF is, I guess, United Civil Front) - here, here and here - a bunch of slogans, from Freedom to political prisoners! to Russia without Putin! to an unlikely one from Murmansk, in Ukrainian: Out with "democracy"! Long live Freedom! :)))

- LJ user drugoi is a good resource because even though his entries are often neutral and laconic, everyone seems to consider it his/her duty to leave a comment, to express his/her view on the issues he chooses to bring forward, and the result is often like impromptu opinion polls, very telling. He blogs a lot and on everything from the Russian politics to the Russian orphanages to the U.S. elections to the Norwegian royal family - so it's good to stop by at his place a few times a week to check for the most heated discussions. Lots of idiots leaving comments, but lots of decent people as well.

- Of the weird stuff, candidate Andrei Bogdanov isn't just a freemason, he's also a blogger: LJ user bonych...

- TsIK has an LJ community, too - http://community.livejournal.com/izbircom/. In one of the recent posts, geeks are arguing on when exactly the "www.medvedev2008.ru" domain was registered, in 2005 or more recently... :)

- A collection of spoiled ballots from the parliamentary election. Warning: many of them carry nazi symbols or other nasty stuff - http://soberminded.livejournal.com/242696.html

- Marina Litvinovich (abstract2001) - Kasparov's aide

- Valeria Novodvorskaya - http://vnovodvorskaia.livejournal.com/

- Boris Nemtsov - http://b-nemtsov.livejournal.com/

His first post, back in October, drew over 350 comments, and part of his reaction, in his second post, was: "Have read through the comments. Turns out there are so many mentally ill people in LJ. Well, but I'm not going to ban anyone - SPS is for freedom of speech, for everyone including the mentally ill. Also, insanity of some is being lavishly sponsored from the state budget."

- Dmitry Galkovsky on the parliamentary election - http://galkovsky.livejournal.com/115802.html

- Pyotr Favorov is trying to figure out why "the bloody regime" needs Alexanyan scandal - http://favorov.livejournal.com/316208.html

- Young Russian politicians/bloggers who were thought of as Russia's Pora back in 2005 (Oleg Kashin's old piece about them in Bolshoi Gorod is here):

Ilya Yashin, Yabloko's youth wing - http://yashin.livejournal.com/

Irina Vorobyova, fired from Russkoe Radio, now with Ekho Moskvy - http://vorobieva-irina.livejournal.com/

Nastya Karimova - http://karimova.livejournal.com/
she's running for local government now - http://karimova.livejournal.com/677216.html

Masha Gaidar - http://m-gaidar.livejournal.com/

Oleg Kozlovsky, the one who got drafted illegally - http://welgar.livejournal.com/

- Who is Who in LJ, by Ilya Peresedov - lots of valuable links - http://peresedov.livejournal.com/601178.html

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I've just finished reading the Putin-related part of Kommersant-Vlast's translation (RUS) of the transcript of what is said to be Badri Patarkatsishvili's secretly taped conversation with Irakli Kodua, head of Special Operations Department of Georgia's Internal Affairs Ministry - very interesting stuff.

And now Patarkatsishvili is dead, allegedly of a heart attack.

Kommersant-Vlast's full translation (RUS) is here.

P.S. A quick GV translation of Sergei Dorenko's take on Patarkatsishvili's death is here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

About a week ago, I tried leaving a comment on Paul Goble's Window On Eurasia blog - but since he chose not to publish it, I'll blog about it here.

In Goble's post on renaming streets in the former Soviet Union, there's this mention of Ukraine:

[...] But it is in Ukraine where name changes may generate the greatest number of problems in the near term. On Friday, President Viktor Yushchenko directed the authorities to identify streets and other locations that could be renamed to honor Bogdan Khmelnitskiy (http://unian.net/rus/news/news-234179.html).

That will offend many ethnic Russians who view the leader of Ukraine’s national liberation war in the 17th century as anything but a hero. [...]


It's some Poles, not Russians, who might get offended, I wrote to Goble. I sent him a link to a Wikipedia article on Bohdan Khmelnytsky, too.

Ukraine's history isn't 100 percent about Russia, and the country's ethnic Russians, so often portrayed as this overly sensitive biomass, should be given a break every once in a while.

***

Goble ends his post with a report by an Azeri news site on how Lviv Armenians want to rename the city into Aryuts. It's so crazy, I'm not sure how to think of it: a mistranslation? a joke? propaganda? Whatever.

A Moscow-based foreign reporter has complained to me that much of the stuff found in the Russian blogosphere seemed "juvenile."

Boris Nemtsov, who's been a "blogger" since Oct. 2007, seemed to have been as disappointed after posting his first entry - which drew more than 350 comments. In his second post, he wrote (RUS, my very rough translation):

Have read through the comments. Turns out there are so many mentally ill people in LJ. Well, but I'm not going to ban anyone - SPS is for freedom of speech, for everyone including the mentally ill. Also, the insanity of some is being lavishly sponsored from the state budget.


This, I guess, might be useful when I'm asked to write my job description or something.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Another journalistic marvel from RTR (the first one's here), from the Dec. 23, 2007, show.

First, in Russian:

Тандем идет на выборы

На благо Родины


На прошедшей неделе стало ясно, что новогодние праздники страна проведет, уже абсолютно понимая, что ждет ее дальше. "Единая Россия" официально подтвердила выдвижение Дмитрия Медведева кандидатом в президенты. А президент действующий, хотя и мог сохранять интригу до мая, уже дал согласие в случае победы Медведева возглавить правительство. Точки расставлены.

Таким образом, для обеспечения преемственности власти выбран самый что ни на есть законный, но самый что ни на есть трудный путь. Восьмилетний срок президентства Путина был таким, что им и так можно было гордиться. Страна действительно стала совсем другой. И вот ответственность за выполнение задач, поставленных на будущее, берут на себя те же, кто эти задачи и поставил. Для политической системы "Путин плюс Медведев" это конечно двойная прочность, но для них самих - двойная ответственность. Поэтому вместо предвыборных лозунгов - лишь слова президента: "Нужно просто засучить рукава и работать. Работать без всякого чванства и амбиций". [...]


And a quick translation:

The tandem bound for election

For the benefit of the Motherland


Last week, it became clear that the country would spend the New Year's holidays absolutely understanding what awaits it in the future. United Russia has officially confirmed the nomination of Dmitry Medvedev as a presidential candidate. And the acting president, even though he could have kept the intrigue going until May, has already agreed to head the government should Medvedev win. All the i's have been dotted.

Thus, to secure the continuity of power, the most lawful and yet the most difficult path has been chosen. Putin's eight-year presidential term would have been something to be proud of anyway. The country has indeed become totally different. And now, those who have set the goals for the future are taking responsibility for fulfilling these goals. For the "Putin plus Medvedev" political system this, of course, means double endurance, but for each one of them it is also double responsibility. And so, instead of election slogans, only the words of the president: "We just have to roll our sleeves up and work. Work without any effrontery and ambitions." [...]


I really like the "double endurance" thing: good to know that ad writers are getting promoted this high in the pre-election Russia.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Our Marta always insists on picking stuff to wear herself - and her sense of style is truly peculiar :)))



She turned 2 years and 2 months old five days ago.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I rarely watch TV now, but today I've spent about half an hour glued to Vesti Nedeli on RTR (Rossiya TV Channel). It's a gorgeous show, a great example of how perverted journalism has become here. Too bad I can't find any video to support my claim. They've got partial transcripts of all their items on their website, of course, but you really have to hear and see it, not just read it. If I, God forbid, ran this country, I'd introduce a feature similar to sign language translation that would accompany every show, with a tiny Victor Shenderovich sitting in the corner, translating everything as he sees fit: this way, everyone - not just the majority - would be satisfied.

Here are the main highlights of today's show (all links in Russian):

- OSCE is acting up, "once again threatening not to show up" for the election. Russia's foreign affairs ministry "has called this demarche 'sabotage'." In the same piece, that clown Andrei Bogdanov, presented as Russia's pro-European presidential candidate. The message: take a look at him, people, take a look at his hair - and you'll know right away what piece of crap this whole "eurointegration" thing is.

- Foreign spies pose a threat to the democratic nature of the upcoming election.

- In Serbia, things are more complex than we may lead you to believe - but: "If democrat Boris Tadic wins, Serbia loses Kosovo, but joins the EU - a humiliating peace in exchange for economic benefits. If radical Nikolic wins, Serbia will give them a good fight for Kosovo. Serbs will most likely lose the EU, but instead they'll keep their national dignity." But hey, it is, of course, more complex than this.

- Ukraine: "Proud to betray." The piece is about Mazepa and how we are re-writing history. And about our government's Russophobia: "The famine suffered by the Soviet peoples is now known as holodomor - a genocide against Ukrainians only, committed by Russians."

- Detroit: "Forgotten, barely alive." An incredibly apocalyptic piece. A masterpiece of idiocy. I really hope someone will upload it on YouTube. One thing that's not in the transcript is the mention of Eight Mile - as a "once flourishing neighborhood."

- Those dirty, sick, deceitful Central Asian migrant workers, eating all from one pan, not washing their hands after taking a leak - Russia's true enemy within. Says Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian Federal Center for AIDS Prevention: "A whole army is needed to track down which ones of them are HIV-positive, and who's got syphilis, and where they are now. We should be working harder to educate these people. They bring in HIV infection, and they should be taught to use condoms, so that they don't infect Russian citizens."