Sunday, September 30, 2007

A pile of crumpled newspapers lay in the corner of our shitty elevator today. Not even newspapers, but those free ad things, the "spam" that's being regularly delivered to our mailboxes.

I glanced at them - and then again, more carefully. I had just voted for Tymoshenko - and now I was seeing her name, along with the words Vybir 2007 ("The choice of 2007") at the unlikeliest of places. It was really eye-catching, despite the ad's really tiny size and the elevator's dim lighting:

This is the most hilarious Yulia's ad I've ever seen - because it's not. And it is.

It's actually an ad for a bathroom/kitchen utilities store (santekhnika) - located ... ha-ha ... on vul. Tymoshenko, 19 - a street named after Marshal Tymoshenko:


At least two more people in our extended family have voted for Yulia, and at least five - for Yushchenko/Lutsenko.

I'm too busy/lazy/exhausted to "report" on the rest, as well as on the exit poll and preliminary results. The latter are available elsewhere.

The turnout has been kind of low, it looks like.


Tsushko has resigned, allegedly because of health problems. Mishah is worried this might be a sign of imminent unrest. Someone at Savik Shuster's show said it could be because Socialists aren't getting 3 percent this time, but Mishah thinks it'd be too honest of him - "not in this country."


Pechersk has been having blackouts tonight; among those affected are the Central Election Commission, Party of the Regions' HQ, and's newsroom.
Taras of Ukrainiana has just posted an invaluable resource for anyone who would like to experience the 2007 parliamentary election campaign the way ordinary Ukrainians - those who own a TV set, at least - have: a comprehensive collection of videos of campaign ads by seven Ukrainian blocs and parties - translated into English!

Thank you so much, Taras!!!

P.S. A video I referred to in a comment to one of the previous posts is also there - the one about a pregnant "village woman" rescued by Yushchenko/Lutsenko's ambulance.

P.P.S. And I have added 41 pictures from Yulia's Maidan at Sofiyivska and Yanukovych's Maidan at Maidan. All taken on Friday, they are at the bottom of this Flickr set...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Three more cab/gypsy cab driver stories.

In the past week, I've started asking them directly whether they were planning to vote on Sunday.

The first one wasn't very talkative, but has said enough: he thought it was okay for Yushchenko to be on Our Ukraine/People's Self-Defense campaign ads; was impressed with how much more presentable Yanukovych has become in the past three years; was going to vote for either Tymoshenko, or Lutsenko; did not believe they'd manage to sort out the mess this time; was sure there'd be another election soon after this one and then some more, but didn't really mind it, seemed prepared to vote ad nauseam.

The second one was in his 30s, a large man with a shiny, bold head: we were going to the center, and I asked him whether there was the Blue Maidan at Maidan, and he said he had no idea and couldn't care less; he was going to vote against them all; he'd spent two weeks at Maidan in 2004 and then ended up being hospitalized with pneumonia; we started sharing various moving memories of that time, and one of mine was about the guys yelling to the cops through the snowstorm: Idit' pohriytes, a my za vas postoyim! ("Go get warm and we'll stand here for you!") - and it turned out he was there then, yelling this, too, and also telling jokes to the cops and giving them flowers; as for his "against all" vote - he did not see anyone worth voting for right now.

The third one was the least talkative of the three: he was not going to vote at all; I asked him if he had ever voted for anyone, and he said, "Yes, for Yushchenko, when he was running for president."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The bastards have occupied Mariinsky Park again.

My friend, the one with the 8-month-old daughter, has called me to complain about it. First, there was the spring invasion, then she spent the whole summer in Kyiv, and now they are back, and she's got no place to walk with her daughter again.

Call me undemocratic, but this permanent election is such a pain in the ass.

She didn't see any banners, but I suspect it's the Party of the Regions. Preparing to stage those fake protests again.

I really don't understand why they need the park when they can't even fill Maidan properly.

And isn't the park some sort of a historical heritage object, where it should be prohibited to campaign? I think there's something about it in the Election Law, but I may be wrong.

And when we were there two days ago, there was lots of construction going on, too, at and around Mariinsky Palace. I said then that this could be a good way to keep the invaders away, by fencing off the park completely, for safety reasons - but they probably haven't thought about it.
Rusanivski Sady are campaign-ad-free, and so I only take pictures of the election-related stuff when I venture outside, which isn't too often. Today, I went to Besarabka and decided to mix laundry with politics: I loaded the washing machine and then took a walk to Maidan and to Sofiyivska Ploshcha.

My Campaign 2007 photo set finally has enough pictures in it (64) to post a link here.

"Not all politicians are the same."

Brava, Yulia!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I was on the way to see my friend, whose husband died of cancer last fall, at the age of 40, and whose daughter is 8 months old now. I was bringing her some of Marta's clothes that are too small for her now.

I boarded a metro train at Livoberezhna. At Gidropark, the train stopped near the police booth in the middle of the platform, and I saw my father's portrait pasted to its window. It's been there all this time. Very conspicuous. Or maybe not. I'm not sure. But for a moment, I stopped seeing things around me. All I could see was papa's face. For some reason, I didn't get off the train right away. Then I did, walked inside the police booth and talked to a heavily made-up woman in uniform there. Asked her to please take it off. She promised they would. What if mama sees it, I thought. She takes metro every day to visit us at the dacha. What a blow it would be to her.

We went to the park with my friend. At some point, she began telling me about her husband's last months - and his last hours. It was a more detailed story than the ones she had told me earlier. Their daughter is so beautiful, though, such a miracle.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Inspired, I guess, by this post - and the comments - on the "language issue" over at the wonderful Ukrainiana, I've done a GV translation on the subject - here.

P.S. The original I was translating from - a blog post at - doesn't open now for some reason. I think all their blogs are down now. Hope it's a temporary problem.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mishah talks about his work and other things in this interview on (in Russian).

I'm so proud of him.
This may sound like a non sequitur, but I don't want to postpone saying it:

In the upcoming parliamentary election, I'm voting against them all.

I wanted to do it in 2004, but Yanukovych was just way too much. I wanted to do it a year and a half ago, but Pora seemed like such a logical choice then. Now, I see no obstacles whatsoever to voting the way I really want.


From the archives:

- Another reason why I didn't vote against them all in 2006;

- Part of the reason why I voted for Pora;

- The breakdown of our extended family's 2006 vote - I hope to do a similar one this time as well.


All this said, I'll be rooting for Yulia. Because following politics here is like watching a football game: there has to be some emotional involvement.


There are a few politicians here I have great respect for: Volodymyr Ohryzko, Mustafa Jemilev and Refat Chubarov are the first ones who come to mind.

Ohryzko isn't running, Jemilev and Chubarov are with Our Ukraine/Lutsenko's thing. If I voted for them, I'd also vote for Kyiv's former mayor Oleksandr Omelchenko, for former culture minister Oksana Bilozir, for Petro Yushchenko and his son, for Roman Zvarych. And God knows who else.

The way things are, I'd rather volunteer in some way for these guys I respect than vote for the whole bunch.
Here's how our former dacha neighbors are going to spend $100,000 they've made on the sale of their little plot and house:

They are a family of six: grandfather and grandmother, who lived at the dacha fulltime; their daughter, her husband, and two little girls - Sonya, 3, and Veronica, 1 (funny, but it always pleases me to encounter namesakes, doesn't happen too often here, though :))

The daughter's family had a two-room apartment. They've sold it, added $50,000 and bought a three-room place. The kids will now have a room of their own, their parents will have a bedroom in addition to a living-room. Way cool.

The other half of the sum bought them a country house for the grandparents, outside Kyiv but not far from it. They've already moved, but while they were still living here, they adopted a puppy, which they hoped would guard the new place from intruders. My mother gave them some tips on the puppy's unbringing, advised them against beating it, and they seemed grateful to her for this little lesson in dog psychology. In fact, it was my mother who told me all about their situation and the dacha sale: they just kept telling her everything as she was walking with Marta outside our place. She would've made a great journalist, my mother...

Anyway, they seem settled and I hope things will go well for them. Our landlord seemed a bit upset when I told him about their departure: the grandfather, it turns out, used to make really good wine from the grapes that grow in our garden. We, on the other hand, are making really good grape juice out of it, now that most of the apples are gone.

As for those who've bought the place, I know nothing about them and wouldn't really care to know where they are getting their money from. Honestly, I'm more worried about those poor souls who may consider breaking into our place to steal the TV set and the chairs.

I'm mentioning this here now because my mother has somehow managed to make another neighbor open up to her today: a woman with a 2-year-old girl, who lives in a really big house behind a really big brick fence, who is scared shitless to stay there when her husband's away, because this past summer some guys managed to rob them - and did it twice, on two nights in a row. The first time, the house stood empty, but the second time, there were people asleep in it, and all the lights on the ground floor - as well as the TV in one of the bedrooms - were on. Wild.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Our dacha neighbors have recently sold their plot (with a small house on it, most likely to be demolished by the new owners) for $100,000.

A few streets away from us, something is selling for $350,000.

There's a lot of construction going on everywhere here, and the houses being built aren't some tiny little huts.

Rusanivski Sady is just minutes away from Livoberezhna metro station, and it's a comparatively wonderful place in general, and so this construction boom wouldn't have been surprising at all - if only it hadn't been for the huge Podil-Voskresensky Bridge, which, if completed, would cut right through the dacha neighborhood, wiping away a big chunk of it. Those whose property would be affected, however, refuse to accept compensation for their plots and seem to be determined to fight the city to the end.


I'm slowly posting photos from Rusanivski Sady here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A link from a comment to the previous post - thank you, Taras!..

It's a video of Kyiv's mayor talking about world religions.

I cried watching it.

Seriously, though, with a mayor like this, I don't think it's fair to ever make fun of any other politician.

GV translation on "Putin's Plan" - and on Victor Pipiskin - is here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This one was taken from a moving car, on Paton Bridge. There must be a few hundred of Yulia's posters there, double-sided.

Yanukovych has all of Khreshchatyk.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Can't get myself to write here - too cold and windy outside, and I'm hibernating, I guess. And there's also the food poisoning that I'm recovering from now, eating nothing but apples and apple juice.

Here're two pics from my yesterday's walk around the dacha neighborhood - and I hope to have more soon, both images and words...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just like three years ago, Putin farts and everyone comes running to smell it.

On Sept. 13, 2004, just ten days after the bloody end of the Beslan siege, Putin managed to divert everyone's attention by ending the system of supposedly direct popular election of Russia's governors.

Now, according to Putin, instead of thinking about the mess in Ingushetia, "we should all think together how to build a structure of power and governance that better corresponds to the pre-election period." Now, we should all think about Zubkov.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My dear friend Sasha Kleimenov has sent me this picture:

© Alex Kleimenov

It's the Party of the Free Democrats - Mykhaylo Brodsky (#2) and Dmytro Vydrin (#4), defectors from Yulia Tymoshenko's Bloc - and ... #3 is ... Mykola Melnychenko, the guy who started the Gongadze Tapegate, no less.

Their slogan: "Let's force these bastards to be honest!" (Prymusymo tsykh ublyudkiv buty chesnymy!)

Their ads are all over Kyiv now.


Monday, September 10, 2007

This whole past week, I've been trying to write something about Ukrainian politics here, but kept getting distracted.

First, I got bogged down in the Beslan anniversary GV translation, and then, in the one on Ingushetia violence.

All the fresh thoughts I had now feel sort of stale.

But I'll try anyway.


In the past year and a half, Ukraine has lost 24 parties/blocs: in March 2006, there were 45 running, and now there are only 21.

If we translate this into people/candidates, we are down from 7,595 to 4,890.

2,705 are out. Good riddance, whoever they are.

(CVK info on the March 2006 election is here; September 2007 is here.)


An entity I've been itching to write about: KUCHMA Bloc.

Pronunciation differs from that of Kuchma the ex-president - stress falls on the second syllable, not on the first.

Moreover, it's an acronym: Konstytutsiya - Ukrayina - Chest' - Myr - Antifashyzm ("Constitution - Ukraine - Honor - Peace - Anti-Fascism").

Their slogan: "Motherland is in danger."

On the fences throughout Kyiv, though, they call themselves "Kuchma, Come Back! Bloc":

You'd think this balagan is some joke, a masterpiece of idiocy similar to the Party of Putin's Politics, which ran in March 2006 (more on it here and here), but no, they all sound completely serious, and they've got some "serious" people in their ranks.

The thuggish-looking thug Oleksandr Volkov is #1 on KUCHMA Bloc's list. He used to be Yulia Tymoshenko's friend until relatively recently, was at her daughter's wedding. He also used to be Georgiy Gongadze's enemy - there was some sort of an argument between them, sometime in 1998 or 1999, and this was how I first heard about Gongadze.

Another "serious" person on KUCHMA bloc's list is Oleksandr Leufenfeld (#11) - according to this piece (UKR) in Ukrainska Pravda, he is a co-owner of the Globus shopping mall at Maidan, among other things.

According to the same piece, KUCHMA Bloc is funded by Vadym Rabinovych, among others.


More later.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Some more dacha pictures, taken with Mishah's camera this time...

Marta next to one of the biggest molehills in the garden:

Most of them have appeared in the past two weeks or so. Yesterday, the mole was digging his way up LIVE, and mama, always curious AND a biologist, kept walking around the growing pile of earth, ready to snatch the poor animal out - "just to have a look" - and I kept inventing reasons for her not to: it bites, it scratches, it may be contagious, and just imagine how frightened it's gonna be... Then I found this mole picture on Wikipedia - and mama seemed satisfied, but it got the photographer in me really anxious... By then, though, the mole must've been enjoying a siesta, and when it returned to work, it was already dark. So, no mole pictures, just the molehills:

A little lake right outside our plot; it looks a bit too perfect on this picture, a bit unreal:

There's a little rusty (or is it green?) door near the house that opens onto a little rusty platform over the lake - and Marta is so drawn there that mama had to invent a Mr. Crocodile, who lives on the platform and hates being disturbed...

And here's one more cute picture with some of our apples in the background:

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A quick, almost random, note on the election:

I guess it was Natalya Vitrenko who was screaming this at her opponents on Savik Shuster's show this past Friday:

- YOU have plundered the country!..

And it suddenly got me thinking that all these people - all the Vitrenkos, Yushchenkos, Kuchmas, Tymoshenkos, Symonenkos, Morozy and Yanukovychi - they've all been in it for SO LONG and, more or less, TOGETHER, that here's what Vitrenko should have been screaming instead:

- WE have plundered the country!..
The election is in less than a month now, and even though it's making me sick to think about it, I'll write some more later. For now, here're two pictures of the campaign ads, taken near Livoberezhna subway station with my cell phone camera.

Yanukovych ("A happy family - a successful country!") and Yushchenko ("The law is the same for everyone."):


Apples, from sometime early last week:

Doesn't seem like too many of them, somehow, so here are some more:

This second picture was taken with my cell phone, because my camera is kaput, I'm afraid. Last time I had problems with it was during the Orange Revolution, three years ago. I missed so many nice images then, which I still kind of regret. I hope to have it fixed - it's 4 years old, but I really love it.