Friday, November 17, 2006

Caught this on TVTs (TV channel of Moscow mayor Luzhkov) today, on Vremechko daily show:

An elderly woman (70-something), her daughter and the daughter's 15-year-old son, all three looking perfectly Slavic to me, speaking absolutely correct Russian. They've been living at Rizhskiy Vokzal (one of Moscow's train stations, Riga direction) for a while, and before that in the street in the freezing cold, and before that in Latvia, and before that in Nizhniy Tagil in Russia. They had sold their Nizhniy Tagil apartment and the money they received for it is already up. They live off the old woman's pension that she somehow managed to get herself in Moscow, quite a feat for a homeless person, and they also sweep the floor at the train station. The boy hasn't been to school in two years.

They would really love to get an apartment in Moscow, and are passionately appealing to mayor Luzhkov (maybe because he is one of those Russian politicians who pretend to be patron saints of all the "Russian-speaking people" of the former Soviet Union).

The family's explanation of why they're entitled to an apartment in Moscow is really silly: the boy's (wayward) father is a Muscovite. They haven't located him yet, though.

(This way, I could probably demand a Moscow apartment, too: one of my great-grandfathers lived in Moscow before the revolution, and one of my grandmothers lived there well into the 1990s, in a very nice place, I've been told, and, if you follow the logic of that crazy family, the fact that we were not on speaking terms with her since 1986 doesn't really matter - I want an apartment, how much longer do they expect us to live in rented places? But I digress.)

Naturally, the hosts and the audience weren't too sympathetic; someone even used a rather common argument that "Moscow isn't made of rubber" - isn't stretchable.

But the real reason why I'm writing about it here is a remark made in passing by one of the show's male hosts - it went something like this:

- If I'm not mistaken, you are Muslim, right?
- Yes.
- So why don't you move somewhere to Tatarstan? I heard it's not a bad place to live.

I mean, can you believe it?!

Would they find an apartment for them if they were Orthodox Christian?

And would the guy recommend them to move all the way to Birobijan if they were Jewish?

Et cetera. So much stuff in that one remark, someone could squeeze a dissertation out of it.

This in a country whose Muslim population is over 20 million people.

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