Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I can't focus on Ukrainian politics now, no matter how hard I try. I haven't finished reading Tymoshenko's press conference transcript, for example. And it's taken me three days to get halfway through what seems like a rather informative text on recent resignations and appointments (in Russian) in the Russian Newsweek.

Here're a few Newsweek bits:

- Pora has moved to a new office at Andreyevskiy Spusk, Kyiv's main tourist street;

- Poroshenko says Zinchenko is planning to head Pora: the party's got plenty of good strategists but no real politicians;

- Oleksandr Tretyakov, Yushchenko's adviser and family friend, stayed next to Yushchenko throughout his illness but shunned publicity during the Orange Revolution; he is now one of the key figures in the corruption scandal (Abdymok has a lot more about it here);

- Poroshenko is perceived as a "pro-Russian" politician in Russia, partly because he's got a business there;

- In order to get into the parliament, a party needs at least 3 percent of the votes; Yushchenko wants to raise this barrier to 7 percent, the same as in Russia. There are 127 political parties in Ukraine, which is three times as many as in Russia, and 51 of them have now gathered in Kyiv to protest the president's plan to keep them from getting into the parliament next spring.

So I'm trying to take all this seriously, but then my mind wanders off to the two hour-long phone conversations I had with my mama yesterday and today: her stories about the neverending remont in our apartment somehow seem a lot more relevant.

For example, Sasha, one of our workers, has recently departed for Moscow, to earn $700 or so working illegally here. He and his fellow slaves will spend a month or two never leaving the construction site, to avoid getting deported or having to deal with the Moscow police, and then, at the end of their term, they'll be placed on a train back to Ukraine, and only then they'll get their money. Hopefully, they won't be cheated.

Sasha is from a village in Chernihiv region, not far from Kyiv. He is 20, already done with his army service, has an older sister and two younger brothers. His sister finished high school with all A's and now attends the Kyiv Polytechnical University on scholarship. Their father drowned a few years ago; their mother now has a boyfriend who works in Kyiv and who is helping Sasha with all kinds of construction-related employment. His family needs money badly.

Sasha plastered the walls in our apartment - he's really good at it, and good is extremely rare when it comes to finding people to help you with a remont. He's very diligent, a man with golden hands, as we say here, very kind and good-looking - and he doesn't drink. There are said to be plenty of Ukrainian men like this here in Moscow, and in Portugal.

If there is a connection between the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko conflict, 127 political parties and Sasha having to sign up for slave labor in Russia - I do not see it. Or maybe I see it all too well, I don't know.

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