Archive for April, 2010


April 30, 2010

Ukraine is a lawless state. All norms of ANY civilized dialogue in society are denied . Denied blatantly and impudently.  The pro-Russian section in Parliament bribed about a dozen parliamentarians who earlier had been considered pro-Ukrainian. As a result the parliamentarians deserted their camp and the majority in Parliament was tilted in favour of the pro-Russian gang.

From now on any forms of a democratic parliamentarian struggle are senseless. Should you try to play chess with the Party of the Regions (the party in power) they will start beating you on the head with the chessboard.

They definitely surpass their opponents in physical strength and fighting skills. No wonder: some thirty years ago when the opposition leader Ms Tymoshenko was graduating cum laude, the present-day President Mr Yanukovych was taking fighting lessons from his cell-mates and had his prison nickname “cad”.

The victors are proudly flaunting black-and-orange ribbons of St George, which symbolize their like-mindedness with the imperial Russia. They say that from now on World War II will be named the Great Patriotic War (focusing on the period when the Soviet Union was waging the war with fascist Germany). They denounce the Ukrainian resistance movement of the 1940s. They encourage the erections of monuments to Stalin and their police are guarding monuments to Lenin from “vandalizing”.

They don’t feel it’s their country which they should take care of. They behave like invaders who came to conquer and pillage.

A week ago they signed an agreement with Russia on the Russian military base stationed on the territory of Ukraine in exchange for cheaper Russian gas. It’s done in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution which bans any foreign military bases in Ukraine. On the other hand, can you imagine, say, France being allowed to set up its military base in the Czech Republic just only because Renault cars will be sold to the Czechs at lower prices?

I would compare the date of February 7, 2010 in Ukraine with January 30, 1933 in German history. With all the differences between the countries and the epochs one fact is surprisingly similar: the very existence of Ukraine (as the existence of Germany in consequence of the tragic date) is threatened.  The Belgian magazine issued a map of what the region may look like in the future. On the map a part of Ukraine is integrated in Russia, another part is a quasi-independent vassal of Russia, and only a small western part may hope to be a “Ukrainian Ukraine”.


April 25, 2010

In the Soviet Newspeak of the post-war period there existed a rather frequent official phrase “hostile voices” which was a catch-all term for such radio broadcasts as the Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, the Voice of Israel, Deutsche Welle, etc. In those days I never went to sleep without listening to something “hostile” on my transistor radio. It was refreshingly different from the pervasive communist propaganda which you used to hear all day long. At present almost nothing is broadcast on short-wave bands except several stations which, judging by throaty voices might be Arabic. One reason is that short waves have gone in disuse with the appearance of cheaper and more reliable means of communication – like the Internet of satellite television. Second, the West has abandoned human rights issues in totalitarian countries which it was advocating in the cold war period. However, the sad fact is that those countries have not ceased to be totalitarian. Whenever I tune in to FM radio stations (only they can be tuned into now), I hear familiar intonations of several decades before, which eulogize the policy of Moscow, denounce American “baddies”, castigate the “nationalists” and snub everything that is Ukrainian. I feel as if Ukraine is occupied by an enemy and I am the one who is overpowered and persecuted. Now for me the voices of the media are really HOSTILE – and the word is no longer in quotes.

As for the transistor radios, I have had seven of them and I like them all. I keep having them until this moment, though I never use them now.  I just cannot throw them out. Not because they are broken – they are not. But because once they were true friends, and you cannot betray friends, right?


April 15, 2010

Most of the people arrive here from the nearby town – a regional center – where they have been living for decades already. They come once a year on the same day. This is the place which reminds them of who they are and where they are from. In those bygone days their lives were so comfortably sheltered, and the people who used to envelop them in love and give them the feeling of protection were still alive. Now they are not. Now moms, dads, grannies, granddads are lying in their home grounds. They are being remembered and honored today. Their progeny spread cloths amid the graves, take food and drinks out of their baskets, partake of all that and for a couple of hours they feel they are at one with each other and with their own as they were in this village forty or sixty years ago.

The first Sunday following Easter Sunday is Ancestors’ Remembrance Day in Ukraine. This is a somewhat clumsy translation of the name which in Ukrainian sounds very briefly “dee-dy” (the final “y” is stressed and pronounced as short “i”), or “grandparents|”. In this case the word “dee-dy” stands not so much for the older generation as for the day when the ancestors are remembered.

You may see wreaths practically on all the crosses and tombstones that are erected on graves. Under the crosses on the earth mounds there are sweets and biscuits laid by the relatives of the diseased. Children go from grave to grave and pick up the stuff. This is also the way of remembering the dead.

The village priest walks among the graves saying prayers. I see an old man who was not in time to order a prayer over those who are his own. Now he is hobbling after the priest repeating the phrase: “Father, remember Halya and Olexiy”. I know the man. Halya was his wife and Olexiy – his son. Now the man lives alone. You may or you may not believe in the power of the priest’s word but you cannot help wishing that the priest would hear the names and mention them. The priest does it and I feel relief.

Grey-haired and bald-headed people – your playmates of half a century ago – will take you round and show where their relatives lie. Complete strangers will come to you and suggest that you drink in memory of their close. When you say you do not drink alcohol, they will offer you a pickled pear or a chocolate instead.

What really amazes you is the Christian spirit of peace and love for one another. Something different from what may be observed in the routine rush of our daily lives. Incidentally, during the whole day I did not see anybody smoking. It would be sinful to do so.

The sun is setting behind the pine forest in the horizon. People go to their cars and start leaving the place. They may still find some time to drop in at their former households which stay  mostly abandoned and dilapidated now. From tomorrow the village will again be deserted till next “deedy”.

My aunt and uncle, who live permanently in the village,  didn’t visit the cemetery this time. When I asked for the reason, the uncle said: “I am 87, my wife is 90. Most of those who come are thirty-forty years younger. We will not know anybody.We are getting ready for the time when you will begin coming to us”. He smiled. The smile was sad  and kind.


April 11, 2010

IMHO such accidents are not accidental. The temptation for the Russian KGB (or whatever is its new name) was too great: the anti-Russian president and all the country’s elite – also anti-Russian–  were coming into their parlor. If earlier they had chased Alexander Litvinenko all over Europe to poison him with lethal polonium, why should the secret service miss this chance when the “lucky” cards were being dealt to them? Actually, they had dealt the cards to themselves when they repaired Lech Kaczynski’s TU-154 in the Russian city of Samara last December. The presidential plane was fully overhauled, the electronic and the navigation equipment was retrofitted. Yes, the plane was “flight-worthy” as the Russian authorities say. But wasn’t it difficult to insert the “right” chip in the navigation equipment during the repairs? Especially when it was known that the plane that was being repaired was “presidential”? Also tell me: what could stop those who had cynically blown off four apartment buildings in September 1999 killing  about 300 and injuring more than 600 of their own citizens? To murder is their profession.

Now they are shedding crocodile tears. The sad thing is that the so-called civilized world will “swallow” the results of the KGB investigation, because those results will smell of oil and gas.


April 11, 2010

I live on the sixteenth floor and there’s a kindergarten right below my balcony.  When the balcony door is open the incessant yells and chirrups of the kids on the playground come so strong that the playground seems to have been constructed not some 50 meters down but just under my window ledge.

This time I looked out. While the main group were busy chasing each other, these two were laboring: he was digging a hole and she was carrying the excavated sand further off with a bucket. The contrast between the careless scurry of the multitude and the couple toiling by the sweat of their brow was so striking that I couldn’t help grabbing a camera. Just in time to also fix a dramatic change in what earlier looked like a team effort: something did not work between HIM and HER. So she left him and joined another guy who, as I saw, was less of a workaholic and  more interesting as a communicator. However, the digger kept on digging. I tried to guess what was his motive. The kindergarten teacher might have told them in the morning that the Earth was round and if you dug through the center of the Earth all the way to surface on the other side, you would turn up in Australia. The boy wanted to see Australia. He was sure he would dig through to his destination if not before lunch-time then definitely by the time his mom would come to pick him later by the end of the day.

After some time the teacher pulled the boy out of the hole. It appeared that she told him it was time to get ready for the day-time sleep. There had already been no kids in the playground.


The boy was sleeping in his bed. He dreamed he had dug his way first down and then up to Down Under and was sitting now in the shade of eucalyptus trees. The kangaroos were jumping all around and the kangaroo babies in their moms’ pockets were chirping and screaming.


April 8, 2010

Last Sunday saw a rare coincidence in the spiritual life of mankind: the Orthodox Easter (celebrated after the Julian calendar), the “western” Easter (for some reason called “Catholic”), and the Jewish Passover came together.

There was also another – truly miraculous – event which took place last Sunday: our granddaughter was born. I say “miraculous” because a tiny life ignited in this limitless Universe is always a miracle for me. The little thing is self-confident, she gets angry when she’s hungry and her Mom means the whole world to her.

May Sophie’s life journey be long and happy, may she love and be loved, may she help and be helped, and may she always treasure the life so miraculously granted to her.

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