Thursday, April 15, 2010

Again, I don't know where or how to begin this post.

I'm shocked, sad about what happened on Saturday. Don't have the words to describe how I feel, actually. Have been trying to write something here, but just couldn't. Instead, in the four days and nights since the crash, I've read and published these texts by GV's wonderful volunteer author and translator Sylwia Presley:

- Poland: President Kaczyński is Killed in Plane Crash in Russia - Initial Reactions
- Poland: R.I.P. Black Saturday 10.04.2010
- Poland: Video Reactions to the Deadly Plane Crash
- Poland: Online Grief After 10.04.2010
- Poland: Controversy Over Polish President's Burial‎ Location

And this text - Russia: Reactions to the Polish Tragedy - by Alexey Sidorenko, who was going through passport control at a Warsaw airport (RUS) at the time when the terrible news arrived...


I went to the Polish Embassy on Saturday, and to the Catholic Cathedral a couple blocks away:


I stayed through most of the Russian-language service at the Cathedral, even though I normally prefer to listen to religious messages in languages that I don't understand. I was on my way home from the Cathedral, passing by the Embassy once again, finally feeling as peaceful as was humanly possible under those circumstances, and I wouldn't have paid attention to a group of ordinary-looking young people - relatively well-dressed, cheerful, carefree - at the trolleybus stop across the park from the Embassy, if it hadn't been for the flowers and candles in their hands. An even number of flowers - two or four: a funereal arrangement. Mostly red carnations.

I stopped nearby, sort of automatically, and almost right away they regrouped into a neat column and marched off towards the Embassy. One or two of them were wearing green hoodies, on which I later spotted the word МЕСТНЫЕ (Mestniye, 'The Local Ones') - a youth group that I couldn't recall anything specific about right then, only some vague memories inspired by the group's somewhat xenophobic name. 'Kremlin youth,' I thought, using a very convenient shortcut to label this sort of crowd.

TV camera crews started running around as the young people approached the Embassy and began placing their flowers and candles on the ground by the wall. I took a picture of them, too:

Those of the kids who were done with the commemoration part were crossing the narrow street, and now I was standing right behind some of them, close enough to hear them giggling, chatting, discussing who was going to be on the evening news. It was disgusting.

And then they all left, dispersed, as quickly as they came.

Back home, I watched a newscast on Channel 1 - and, sure thing, the kids were on it, as sympathetic Muscovites.

[Channel 1 video is no longer where it used to be, fails to load, so I've deleted it.]

Not a word about the group that these kids belong to - even though there's an item (RUS) on Mestniye's website about their April 10 initiative. Ordinary Muscovites.

The journalistic aspect of it seems very interesting. There weren't too many people by the Embassy on Saturday. Just enough from a human point of view - but not enough for a good TV picture that would adequately reflect the current Poland-friendly agenda. So they bring in these kids, to act as extras. News as movies. A tiny little example of yet another manipulation, nothing new, not a big deal - but since I don't have any firsthand TV experience, it was pretty educational to witness how those guys work here.


In the blogosphere, there'a plenty of genuine grief and sympathy, but also tons of sick shit poured on Poland. Putin and Medvedev - and even Yanukovych - got their share of criticism (read: curses), too - for their decision to declare April 12 a day of national mourning, in Russia and in Ukraine: it's Cosmonautics Day - how dare they...


Something that I can't stop thinking about: the fact that the language of communication between the Polish crew and the Russian air traffic controllers was Russian. And some broken English.

To what extent could this have contributed to the tragic outcome?

Mentions of this "language issue" here and there, now and then, and still some more (all in Russian); in English, a Wikipedia summary - here.

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