Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Did a quick GV translation on Aleksandr Glukhov last night.

His case, for some reason, has reminded me of Jessica Lynch. The making of a fake hero/anti-hero out of a silly kid. And the fact that armies are made up of kids, more or less.

With Jessica Lynch, I still remember the New York Times piece by Douglas Jehl and Jayson Blair (another major embarrassment, of a different kind) that ran in 2003:

[...] ''I can say I've been to places that half of Wirt County will never see,'' Private Lynch, 19, wrote with the wonder and awe of a country girl who had not visited Charleston, the state capital, until she graduated from high school but had now embarked on what she plainly saw as a great adventure.


''She kept saying that this is what New York City must be like,'' said Glenda Nelson, a family friend who took Private Lynch on her first visit to Charleston for a shopping trip, just before she left for her Army post at Fort Bliss, Tex.

The two spent several hours shopping for clothes and other items Private Lynch needed, and Ms. Nelson said the young woman was much impressed by the lights and buildings in the state capital, a city of about 200,000. [...]

One of the corrections to this piece notes that "the population of Charleston is about 55,000, not 200,000."
I don't watch Russian TV, definitely not the news on Channel 1, but today I've caught the beginning of this story (RUS) - which went something like this: "Yushchenko wants the Battle of Kruty commemoration date to replace Feb. 23 as Ukraine's new Defender of the Motherland Day. In this battle, a few hundred local nationalists were defeated by the Red Army."

And now I'm wondering if they run pieces like this every day.

Not sure how to define the spirit of this type of propaganda: Raising bullies by first convincing them they are victims?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aug. 22, 2003 - St. Pete:

Vitebsky Train Station

Somewhere near Vitebsky Train Station
Tessa Bunney, the author of the beautiful photographs of rural life in the Carpathians of Romania, wrote this about the implications of the EU accession for some of those she had photographed:

[...] The Romanian government’s interpretation of EU policy has resulted in the banning of horse and carts and hand milking of cows. No animals are to be kept within 200m of the house. If they decide to strictly implement these rules it will be the end of the family farm. No animals will mean no hay and the landscape will change forever. [...]

This sounds so absurd to me, I don't think I'm ready for the EU... :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dubyna, Yanukovych, and the guy from the Artek camp - they are all getting treatment (RUS) at Feofania hospital right now.

Accidentally, a dear friend of mine sent me a link to this story (RUS) last week: in the past two months, the state has spent about 50 million hryvnias on re-equipping Feofania.

That's 100 times the amount allotted for TB and HIV/AIDS prevention in the 2009 budget (500,000 hryvnias), according to the piece.

340,000 hryvnias has been spent on curtains - and 160,000 hryvnias on Venetian blinds.

I've no idea what the exchange rate is now - and I don't think it's relevant in this context.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Listened to Vysotsky on papa's birthday, went to Vagankovskoe Cemetery today (Jan. 25), on Vysotsky's birthday. It wasn't the same as last year, but it wasn't the birthday then, I went a few days earlier, when few people were there. I made it there somewhat late today, and there were too many drunks around by then, and the scene reminded me of a train station a bit, a crazy balagan, and the weather was ugly, and the cemetery is having some repairs and is messy - but still, it was a moving experience. Though not as moving as on July 25, 2005, the 25th anniversary of Vysotsky's death. And not as comforting as last year.


And here's the balagan part...


There was one guy in the crowd I wish I had some footage of, but I don't. A tiny guy with Down syndrome, who stood just outside Vysotsky's plot and recited Vysotsky's songs as if they were his own poetry, one after another, in a voice that had nothing in common with Vysotsky's, except for the pained intensity.


Here's some real Vysotsky:


And here's a Russian-language piece on Vysotsky's Kyiv roots (I've doubts about some of the dates mentioned in this piece, but it's an interesting read anyway).


Because of all the construction, it was hard to get through to Rufina Nifontova's grave this year, but I did succeed eventually:

Nifontova was my father's very dear friend, and there are many good things I can write about her. She was one of the two people who called us right after Chernobyl and told my parents to bring me over to Moscow - which they did - and for this I'm forever grateful to her. Here's a picture of her and my mother (taken sometime in the early 1970s):

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Daily Bookmarks 01/25/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
From an article on Ukraine's gas sector - Where East Meets West: European Gas and Ukrainian Reality, by Edward Chow and Jonathan Elkind, The Washington Quarterly, Jan. 2009 (.pdf is here; link via Wu Wei):

[...] The current form of the country’s energy sector, however, needs to be seen for what it is, a major threat to itself and to its neighbors. If Ukraine fails to modernize its energy sector practices, the sector will continue to undermine Ukrainian politics, economy, and energy security. Most importantly, it will threaten Europe’s own energy security.

Ukraine has the potential to change this story line. Friendly governments and international institutions can help with capacity building for effective policy execution, but only after the political will for energy reform is in place. Serious energy sector reform would not only help Ukraine but would also stabilize the economic undergirding of all European gas importing countries. In this sense, serious energy reform would arguably be Ukraine’s single most important contribution to improve the security of the trans-Atlantic community. On the other hand, continuing failure to engage in energy reform, when the high stakes are so obvious to all, would be a clear signal that Ukraine is not ready to pursue its stated desire of becoming a more integral part of the Euro-Atlantic community.

And this:

[...] Naftogaz’s chronic and massive indebtedness - it is currently in technical default of its international bond obligations - makes Gazprom the only potential purchaser of its remaining valuable assets, namely the trunk gas pipeline and storage facilities. Gazprom’s dominant position gives Russia the possibility of taking over Ukraine’s decaying infrastructure and strengthening its control over gas exports to Europe, including those from Central Asia, even without having to construct all the bypass pipelines it is planning. [...]

Saturday, January 24, 2009

One of my favorite St. Pete pictures, taken on Aug. 22, 2003 - I wonder if the fish is still there (don't remember exactly where I took it, but it must be somewhere close to where we lived then - Griboyedov Canal, a block or two from Sennaya Square, Stolyarnyi Pereulok, perhaps...)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This guy's St. Pete photos reminded me, well, of St. Pete. How beautiful and how terrible it is, and how when you think back, there seems to be little 'in between' about it, just beautiful and terrible.

And so I started looking through my St. Pete pics, and here's the very first one that I took with a digital camera - Canon PowerShot G3 - on Aug. 17, 2003:

I remember how papa was upset about this photo - "Why are you photographing the ugly stuff?"

I didn't care then, I had what I thought was a good answer to that (whatever it was) - but it hurts to think about it now: I wish I had allowed papa to see much more of the beautiful stuff.

(I also remember a picture of a Kyiv bum sleeping in the grass, his shirt and one of his shoes off, if I remember it correctly, and how papa was upset about that picture, too. How I wish I hadn't taken it - or hadn't shown it to papa. Would it have averted at least some of what followed?)

Anyway, here's a pretty picture from the same day - for you, papa:

And they are both pictures of the "in between" thing that I have problems remembering about St. Pete.

Monday, January 19, 2009

All these people coming here in search of Yulia's ass, legs, heels, leather and "nipple" yet again... My favorite search so far is this: "death valley screamers singer marries timoshenko's mother."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

For papa, who would have turned 76 today...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009