WHAT THE KIEVANS ARE MADE OF: NEWS, BOMB SHELTERS, RIFLES, METRO TOKENS AND… ENGLISH WORDS

A few typical Internet headlines I came across after yesterday’s Merkel-Hollande blitz-visit to Kyiv and Moscow.

Associated Press: Merkel uncertain whether Ukraine peace talks will succeed

Merkel, Hollande end Moscow talks without word of peace deal

Bloomberg: Ukraine summit is unsuccessful

Washington Post: Moscow talks fail to produce a Ukraine peace deal

BBC: Ukraine can’t stop Russian armour

The Guardian: Putin and Poroshenko to hold phone talks after inconclusive end to summit

Financial Times: Merkel-Hollande mission ends with promise of more talks

Reuters: UK concerned over “threatening” Russian nuclear strategy

Kerry delivers hot-air speech to Ukraine while Putin supplies tanks, missiles and troops

In his interview with the German ZDF the U.S. Senator McCain said what most Ukrainians actually think: not giving modern arms to Ukraine is to pursue the same appeasement policy towards Putin which the West used before WWII in relation towards Hitler. Amidst all the political blah-blah a European country is being torn apart at the beginning of the enlightened 21st century. An enlightened, tolerant, politically correct, anti-racist, anti-fascist, civilized century with high humane orientation.

2015-02-07basementOn a local level here, Vitaliy Klichko ,the mayor of Kyiv, got all bomb shelters in the city listed. He says it’s another measure of enhancing the residents’ readiness for an enemy attack. It must be admitted that the name “bomb shelters” is rather overstated. Ninety per cent of such shelters (there are about 700 of them) are metro stations and basements of apartment buildings. The shelter we are assigned to is under my building. It’s unequipped — at the moment some stray cats are mainly found there. If our 16-storey building collapsed, it might take quite some time before rescue-teams (should there be any at the right time) could take us out from under the debris. On the other hand, how many civilian people would be able to get into the Kyiv shelters? Roughly 100,000 out of the total (official) population of 2.5 million. Estimates based on the amount of bakery products sold in the city suggest a minimum of 3.5 million, which means there are up to one million undercounted residents.

2015-02-07c Meanwhile, students are trained to use automatic rifles in schools of Kyiv. Such lessons are called here “lessons of valour” and are conducted by the volunteer defence battalion Azov. Here are pictures of “valour lessons” in the Obolon district where I live.2015-02-07e

The centre of Kyiv looks comparatively deserted. Not so many pedestrians and less traffic than usual. In the evening the city is dark, dirty, wet and cold. In an underpass leading to the metro station street musicians in military fatigues play some instruments. Next to them a few young couples shuffle their feet to the music. Three or four policemen stand a bit afar. Some more military may be seen near the windows where metro tokens are sold and Bild090further down on the platforms – sometimes with dogs which are said to have been trained to sniff explosives. There are also “retired” dogs. One scene in a Kyiv market was particularly moving and I couldn’t help taking a picture of it.

Yesterday was the last day when tokens could be bought at their “old price” – 2 hryvnias a piece. As of today, February 7, you have to pay twice as much for public transport. That’ s why yesterday there formed long queues of people buying tokens for future use, and the administration ordered that no more than two tokens should be sold to one passenger at a time.2015-02-07Queues in Metro

The TV-like advertisements on monitors inside metro cars have disappeared, and the monitors remain depressingly black. Surprisingly, one of the major English-language schools abundantly advertises its services on the escalators all the way as the escalators move. Each fixed light-box past which a passenger floats up or down has a word with a corresponding illustration. Being a word-lover, I appreciate the Bild045choice of the vocabulary: desuetude, insouciance, erstwhile, nemesis, ingénue, ebullience – to name just a few which I remembered. I only thought that if you stop an English person in a street in England and force out these words at him, what will the person think of you?

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