Current events in Kyrgyzstan made me re-read what I was writing here five years ago - I've just tagged those old posts with this tag: kyrgyz2005. (This is a blog, okay, and for a meaningful reading experience you have to read backwards - not too convenient, I know. So, start reading at the bottom of this page, then move to the bottom of this one.)
I feel very sad for the people who were hurt and killed in the riots.
A quote from five years ago - that probably sums up best some of what happened then - and now:
A Kyrgyz woman, Fatima, a supermarket owner and a victim of the looting, on ORT: "This was done by the hungry ones to those of us who work hard."
It reminds me of Moldova a year ago, too - their "orphans' revolution"...
And the social media component - endless discussions on whether this or that unrest was "a Twitter revolution" or not, etc. My last year's GV roundups on Moldova are here, here, here and here. Alexey Sidorenko's GV text on Kyrgyzstan is here (and on the Moscow subway bombings - here).
Of the reality-based blog comments on the Moscow bombings, one of the most powerful is by Olga Allenova, translated for GV here. It's as much about Nord-Ost and Beslan as it is about what happened two weeks ago. I admire Allenova, have always looked forward to reading her texts in Kommersant-Vlast - and I'm really glad she has a blog now. (My brief post on her collection of war reportage is here.)
And while I'm at it, here's a link to my other GV translation on the subway blasts, with comments from Anton Nossik, Marat Guelman and Yulia Yuzik. (Ouch. The latter, however, has deleted her blog. For some reason. Not the first time for her, if I'm not mistaken. Maybe she'll be back.)
I took subway last Saturday. On autopilot, sort of. Not out of necessity. Without flowers, though. Entered at Park Kultury, meant to go to Lubyanka from there, but was so overwhelmed by what I saw that I took a train in the opposite direction and only noticed this when the next station, Frunzenskaya, was announced. When I entered the train car at Park Kultury, every single person in it was trying to have a look at the makeshift flower memorial on the platform. Halfway to Frunzenskaya, a sharp, explosive sound made nearly everyone in the car jump - turned out it was a balloon that burst in the hands of a little boy traveling on that train with his mother. A group of teens sitting across the aisle from the boy began to laugh, and many passengers, including myself, managed to produce nervous yet relieved smiles after that, too. I got off at Sportivnaya, took a picture of four skinny, young cops guarding the empty station, then got onto a Lubyanka-bound train and happened to stand next to a young woman with four red carnations, who got off at Park Kultury and walked towards the crowd gathered around the memorial. At Lubyanka, there were flowers both on the platform and outside, next to the Solovetsky Stone.
Here are some pictures:
On Monday, one week after the bombings, Kommersant-Vlast and Russian Newsweek had identical images of Lubyanka station on their covers:
Also a week or so ago, I took a walk to Luzhniki - because I had to have a look at that surreal-looking bus station that the suicide bombers had allegedly arrived at on Monday, March 29, all the way from the North Caucasus. I wrote about the place almost three years ago, in this post about Luzhniki:
[...] on the edge of the compound there's a makeshift bus station, with a few dozen buses, most of which are ready to depart for Makhachkala, Dagestan. And Derbent, and Budyonnovsk. Lots of people with huge bags and sacks nearby. Quite impressive - and, needless to say, it didn't even occur to me to attempt to take a picture there. I felt happy, though, that there was no way for Moscow skinheads to attack these people - if the fence isn't enough, Luzhniki seems to have enough human security guards, too.
Last time I was in Luzhniki was in early November 2009, when we went to see Varekai, an absolutely magical production of Cirque du Soleil. On the way back, as we struggled through slush and mud, we passed a large, dirty bus parked at the side of the road, its engine running, its rear window smashed to pieces, and a few dark-haired, beautiful but exhausted-looking boys hustling around, trying to somehow fix the damage and clean up the mess. It was one of those buses from the North Caucasus. I remember thinking some sad thoughts about the kind of lives these boys had to live - how different the reality was from the awesome, idealized version presented in Varekai's Georgian Dance segment that we'd just watched a few hundred meters away:
Another "back to reality" thing I remembered from that evening was the crazy old woman at a grocery store across the street from us, where I went to buy cigarettes: she was loudly cursing the store's non-Russian staff - for some reason, or for no reason at all. "Go back to your Dagestan," she was screaming. And - "I'm a native Muscovite!" And then one young Russian man standing in line in front of me told her indignantly that she was such a disgrace, and she shut up and left.
Anyway, last Sunday I went to Luzhniki, thinking about the subway bombings - and about the night we went to see Cirque du Soleil. The North Caucasus bus station was completely empty - and looked as surreal this way as when it was filled with buses and people. It could've been deserted because it was Easter Sunday, or because of the post-bombing investigation (RUS) that affected most of the bus drivers working there, or both. Here's a photo (two images merged together in Photoshop, actually):
And this sign for WC next to the bus station, with a Russian curse scrawled over it: