Mar 062014
 

For a few days I have been absolutely shocked by what was happening in Ukraine and couldn’t do much apart from looking at my news feed. Now, when I am starting to come back to the world of living, I feel some need to say what I think about the reasons for the present conflict. I don’t know too much as I’ve been in the UK all the time, but I am both Russian and Ukrainian, I’ve grown up in Moscow with one of the very common Ukrainian family names and visited Ukraine many times.

  • Russian Government or shortly Putin is to blame for steering people’s fears and for invading Crimea. What saddens me the most is the dishonesty of it all. Soldiers hiding their nationality (but in obvious Russian uniforms!)  Blatant denial and lies in the media. Also the fact that there was a treaty in the 90s over the Ukrainian borders which is now Russia is trying to break. And blaming America all the way for intervening in others business. The fact is that all powerful counties do this and it is time for people of the word to stand up to this disgusting pretence.
  • Western media. When the riots in Kiev started they were so happy on British channels to shout “Ukrainians are against Russia now!” How do you think this would make Russians feel?  I’ve met an artist who said to me something like “How great, Ukrainians are rebelling against your lot now” – almost instead of hello. It felt horrible. People, especially being in minority and living abroad, often perceive the view of they country as the way the locals look at them. Initially BBC and Channel 4 made me totally believe Russian propaganda: that Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis hating everything Russian (and therefore me too).
  • Idiots who proposed to get rid of the second state language. Western Ukrainian language is from the West of the country, it never been spoken by natives of many other regions, including the Crimea (which was given to Ukraine in 50s without any consent of its inhabitants – mind you, it didn’t matter so much as this was just a part of one country). The threat of abolishing their language caused great anger among Russian speaking Ukrainians and you can’t really blame them.
  • Violence during protests. Protesting is fine and in many cases great but why some protesters expect again and again the police to throw chocolates and flowers in return for bricks and Molotov cocktails? Violence leads to even worse violence, situation escalates. I am appalled by the scenes of rioters beating up the police or pushing each other through angry striking crowd, or making people kneel. This is medieval barbarism.
  • Nationalists on all sides. They are always in the wrong. It is limited, primitive view of the word in which one nation is more important than another. This has no future. The only good thing that this conflict may produce is that any government will stay away from Far Right as much as possible, scared by Russia’s over the top reaction to some nazis who joined the riots. There are plenty of nationalists in Russia too: I know because I lived under constant pressure to join them in the 90s. Rather than getting outraged at the idea that “our lot is being beaten up” (as nationalist do) humans should get outraged when anyone on this planet is beaten up.
  • Ambiguity of the international law on regional independence. Why some allowed referendums and some are not? Personally I think splitting countries only increases bureaucracy and nationalistic feelings. But this really should be for locals to decide, isn’t it?
  • Clergy on all sides blessing the guns, calling people martyrs and promising heavens. This divide people by religion and leads to more violence. Remarkable exchange of words happened between Ukrainian and Moscow branches of Russian Orthodox church. Ukrainian side asked Russian one to influence their government in preventing bloodshed. What Moscow church PR person Chaplin (not funny one) said was almost word to word from Hitler speech on annexing Austria. Nation, separated by borders, under threat have right to unite. Ukrainians, do not resist and you won’t be harmed… What this has to do with religion? Or is the church truly inseparable from the government in Russia now? Dark ages are back.

With all the screaming and emotions it is difficult to know what is really going on. I recommend following several different media channels, but also ordinary people in the midst of it. I put more trust to the opinions of wise and educated people.

It is all so sad because normally there is not much barriers between Russians and Ukrainians. There is often a feeling that we should not even belong to different countries. After all, Kiev was the first capital of Russia! But then all humans are brothers too, who left their motherland in Africa some time ago and we all separated to tribes who often don’t want to listen to each other…

What are the lessons? I think the only way to better future is away from nationalism, violence, mass media brainwashing and state-level dishonesty.

The brightest moments of the last few days were when Russia Today presenters expressed their honest views among suffocating propaganda. We do watch this channel from time to time, normally it is full of weird conspiracy theorists but presently it feels like the most aggressive brainwashing I’ve ever seen. Somebody from Ukraine recently said that their propaganda channels are full of lies too…

I do hope the situation de-escalate before it is too late.

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Jan 062009
 

In Newtown I sometime see mothers taking kids to the Primary school swearing loudly among other parents and kids. I guess its supposed to be OK. Maybe its something wrong with me, but when I hear a person swearing I just feel like they cover themselves in horrible dirt and also are trying to spread it on others around them. I’ve heard in some places of the world you could be fined for swearing in public. Lucky them!

Today me, my kids and their friend were walking back from school when a couple of 11-13 year old boys started swearing at my kids’ friend who walked first and then at all of us. Its third time on the same spot! (awesome view of the valley BTW) The kids from our hill of the High School age must be from those families where they start teaching kids “manners” at Nursery! Curiously, every time this verbal harassment had happened I was caring my kids guitar or violin. Maybe the local children just are feeling jealous because they parents didn’t bother with they music lessons busy drinking & spending on themselves (sorry for harsh words)?

Anyway, that’s not very important. We had snow in Newtown these holidays, hurray! Its only a centimeter but its been here for a couple of days (!) and the landscape looks really great, wintry, although its so slippery to go up and down the steep hills! And the snow sounds so great crunching under the feet – just like I remember it from my childhood.

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 January 6, 2009  Posted by at 16:43 kids, legal issues, moral issues, music, Newtown, winter, xenophobia Tagged with: , , , ,  2 Responses »
Dec 082008
 

There is a house not far away from ours. Just one more of the simple 70s dwellings. It is the only one (as far as I know) having solar water heating system in the area. And it is BROKEN. I don’t know what had happened but it looks like somebody had thrown a stone at it from the street, breaking this expensive piece of technology and the owners couldn’t afford to (or just didn’t wanted to) replace it. Some people don’t forgive you for being different, be it an accent or solar panels…

Another sad thing, I’ve noticed quite a lot of desperate messaged from artists on the net like “this recession kills me”, “I have to lower my prices for a time being” and so on… Well, somebody actually told me that people may invest in art during depression as its price ought to go up eventually. So, lets hope for the best!

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Nov 182008
 

White Horse Village – changing China:

I watched a bit of this programme yesterday

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5103100.stm

and was somehow surprised by a female presenter attitude. She pointed at a lady and said something like that this unfortunate one has to abandon the idea about going away to work in a factory, instead she is doomed to stay with her kids and work on a farm, and that’s such a hard work. Well, we switched the TV off after that. I think almost any way to earn money is hard, one way or another. It may be the stress (separation from family and home) or unhealthy lifestyle instead of the hard physical work, but the hard bit is still here. Interestingly, I’ve heard there was some research showing that men’s health is worse if they stay at home all the time, women’s health is worse if they go away to work.

I haven’t been to China but I see how in the Russian countryside the city folk dreams to live close to the nature, not just stay here on holidays, but most of the village and small town dwellers wants to move to the city, to give up their land, to fill up yet another huge ugly apartment block. There used to be quite a lot of tension and hostility on the buses, but now the better off people unfortunately mostly use their cars.

Once I was walking through a village, seen a nice old house and decide to take picture of it (no, its not that one). Immediately a very angry elderly lady popped out and started shouting at me. I was surprised – I would count it for a compliment if people started to take pictures of my house or garden. Anyway, she disappeared next year – probably moved to a town…

So, I’m bothered with question: Why people who live close to nature, see the beauty every day, have fresh air to breath and birds to listen to, are often so unhappy, jealous and hostile? Are they already so deeply affected by modern consumer culture watching TV and doing their shopping in towns and cities? In that angry lady’s village, there are crowds of tourist and pilgrims passing by yet local folk don’t even try to organise any farmers market which would be of a great success and helped them to stay afloat, I think. Its just looks like they don’t want to be happy where they are. Even here, in Newtown (Wales) I recon my encounter with xenophobic hostile youngsters shows that there is a class of people why don’t feel any inspiration from marvelous countryside around them, instead they think themselves being on some unfortunate margin of modern society.

PS. And the size of local gardens doesn’t help either. All the fields around, but the ordinary person in Newtown is lucky to have enough land to hung the washing in the back garden! Not surprising there is not much connection to the land.

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Nov 122008
 

Right, me and my children were… I think its called “verbally abused” for two days in the row by a couple of local high school teenage girls. I almost didn’t noticed them yesterday. As we were passing them by on the way home from school they were asking each others in unnatural loud voices “How to say f… in Polish”. Not actually being Polish I just thought “what a sad life the local girls have” (me and my family, we don’t swear and are trying to keep the kids away from this).

Today in the morning, when we just have leaved our entrance door, they unmistakably shouted at us something like “Polish scum” & f. word (a lot). As I started taking pictures of them, they got scarred and walked quickly away towards the Hope Church. I should admit it was the first time I actually almost went to report somebody to the police. As I citizen of this country I feel responsible. People shouldn’t be abused based on their nationality, Polish or not (they probably heard me speaking Russian to my kids & I guess Poland is the only Eastern European country they know at their age of about 15-17 years). And I think, nobody should swear in public, especially with kids around. But I stopped just before the police doors. Lets give them another chance, I thought. They looked frighten enough when I pulled my camera from the handbag! But any other incident like this, and I’ll do it. As an artist I’ve got a good visual memory (and my kids too), I know they live on Treowen and go to the Newtown High School. My children immediately told everything to their teachers & friends, so, its looks like incident will be known in town.

I had a bit of a shake because all that – always happens to me in similar situations – part of being an INFJ, I suppose. I’m so easily deeply offended but after that I get to such heights of inspirations and revelations, so, thank you, girls, for that!

Well, I should admit, growing up in a major capital city, I’ve been a bit xenophobic myself. Sadly, its seems to be natural for human beings. Its more understandable, if immigrants misbehave or form some sort of mafia. As far as I know, its not the case here. Maybe the condition the two girls live in or a family situation are really bad and they just jealous, maybe they have been brought up with hatred, without a slightest idea about moral and legal norms. Maybe they have been offended by somebody from Poland and now think all foreign-born people are evil. If by any chance you, girls, read this, please came forward and explain your point of view!
When we lived in the USA one of our American friends told me: “Don’t move to Britain, they don’t like Russians there, but we do”… I have been wearing this Russian scarf for 4 years in Virginia and DC. Then, about five years ago, we moved to Long Eaton near Nottingham. I went to a charity shop as usual. It was winter and quite chilly, so I had my scarf on. Exiting the shop I’ve been asked by two boys about 12 years old “what’s the time”. I told them and went forwards. Suddenly they started shooting me from their DIY blow guns, passing by Christmas shoppers looking at this with empty eyes. I absolutely froze and couldn’t do anything. Well, I understood they had asked time to be absolutely sure that I had an accent. Maybe they even though I’m a Muslim, wearing scarf. Later at home my relatives instructed me that I had either get my telephone and (pretend) to call police, or take some photos of the offenders. So I am prepared now… 🙂 But I don’t risk wearing scarfs on the streets of Britain any more… I also probably should be much more careful speaking my native language (or speaking at all!) : -( Mind you, if people want to hate, they will find a reason for this anyway.
PS. Just can’t stop imagining. Years pass, times change, our rude girls are trying to earn some pennies in Poland and Polish teenagers mock them for not being local… Sorry. I’m just being taking myself too seriously. “Educated, sophisticated, but shouted at and hated by some absolute zeros just because I’ve got a wrong kind of an accent in this part of the word”. I really should learn to get ride of my pride… Sorry…
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Nov 042008
 

Its looks like that there is going to be a Tesco in Newtown. Hurray! I know some people don’t like supermarkets, but for a person with the family and no car, home delivery is the only way to have healthy affordable food. There is Iceland, of course, but it hardly ever have any healthy food, and never anything organic! Also I love online shopping and really hate off-line madness: being pushed by trolleys and baskets, and shouted at occasionally… In Nottingham we had a choice of Tesco, Sainsbury, Ocado, Asda & Iceland for home delivery plus local organic vegetable box. We went almost completely organic. So far from it now, despite being “close to the Nature”! There is one place – the Cwm Harry Land Trust:
http://www.cwmharrylandtrust.org.uk/
We had their smallest vegetable box last year but ended up a bit disappointed – with lots of brussel sprouts (half of the family don’t eat them) and inedible green hard cabbage leaves. We were so busy trying to eat up the stuff we really hated…

Living in the Soviet Union, I thought angry shoppers were only typical for that side of the Iron Curtain – because of food shortage. How naive! Just a few days ago I’ve been to local Morrisons (hands full of bags & kids, people with trolleys rushing to the queue in front of us) and my son, being curious, vent standing next to cashier. An elderly gentleman in front immediately suggested that my child was going to steal his pin number!!! A child! I don’t know, maybe his little grandson is like this, or maybe he has overheard me speaking with accent and decided to indulge in his xenophobia…

Anyway, once there is Tesco with its home delivery, there will be no need for all that.

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