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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Dec 042008
 

I don’t think free speech exists. We hear from time to time, that it didn’t existed in the Soviet Union, or it doesn’t exist in modern China. Well it doesn’t exist anywhere. Its just a pretense. Lets be honest. If you forbid saying anything offending – that is it. Any strong opinion on important matter can offend the opposite side. So governments, organizations, etc forbid some allegedly “bad” groups of people or individuals to speak on their own behalf. And what does that do? It turns them into martyrs for indecisive people. It shows to those who didn’t make heir opinion yet – the government is afraid that if “baddies” speak, they will take over, that they may actually have Truth on their side. Its so easy to wave your sword at somebody who is not allowed to do so in our “civilized” society. For me its strange, how on Earth you can convince somebody what’s right and what’s wrong if you don’t let other side publicly defend itself?

Of course no viable government will allow open propaganda against itself on the prime time TV. Its understandable. Of course children should be protected from unappropriated content. But why not have a web site (or a radio station) easily accessible for all adults where absolutely anything could be said, any opinion discussed, and where any crazy lunatic could explain his or her point of view (and being praised or remotely”beaten” for that). And then, we WOULD have freedom of speech.

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 December 4, 2008  Posted by at 20:30 Britain, legal issues, moral issues, politics, radio, religion, Russia, tv, USA Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Nov 302008
 

It bothers me, why on Earth people need to send or give greeting cards if they actually SEE the person they are sending them to at his or her Birthday? And why people BUY cards with somebodies else message printed in them? It’s difficult to find a blank card in shops here. Anyway, now so many people have computers, cameras and printers, why not to do something original, from a heart? Even if it’s just a citation form a favorite poet, etc. Its all totally above me. I guess you have to be born in this culture to understand. Mind you, it starts to catch up in Russia too, unfortunately.

And why relatives and friends have to give kids mountains of toys on Birthdays and Christmas? I’ve seen so many times poor children crying for hours because of over excitement! And a piece of advice for toy-buyers: if there are more thanfour jigsaw puzzles for kids at home – they will get mixed up. Complex games will have irreplaceable pieces lost or broken. Expensive electronic toys will get unintentionally broken too. If you kids have too much toys it will became impossible to tidy them up properly neither for you nor for kids themselves (we are learning all this hard way). By the way, the best birthday present my daughter had for her eight birthday was a big Yamaha keyboard just for 34 pounds. It really helps her to learn to play good music. And my son does wonders with his K’nex construction kits. Also at eight they still don’t mind if the toys are second hand – save your money and enviroment!

I like traditions, but only when they came from a heart and generally good for you…

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 November 30, 2008  Posted by at 09:37 about me, Britain, kids, Russia, traditions, USA Tagged with: , , , ,  1 Response »
Nov 162008
 

I’ve read an interesting article by Dmitry Orlov

http://www.energybulletin.net/node/47157

It compares the collapse of the USSR (which I sort of experienced) with present economic situation. Frankly, I’ve already started to gradually increase amount of tinned and dry food in my storage, buying seeds of edible plants and reducing spending even more.

During the Soviet Union Collapse I was young and naive, lived with my mother and spent most time just dreaming. So I mostly missed it and I don’t feel sorry for that. Now I did criticize the consumer culture living in the USA and UK for the last eight years but I feel a bit upset I didn’t participated. We never went on a cheap holiday to a popular destination, visiting kids’ grandparents instead. We never had flown by a cheap airline (they don’t have flights between the destinations we need!). We never had a car. We were buying mostly second hand clothes. We never had thrown away something we didn’t need anymore but still useful. Instead we were trying to sell it in our Ebay shop – to earn few pounds. I’ve been to hairdressers maybe 3 or 4 times during this period because that would cost too much and personally I don’t like being interrogated about my life during my haircut. We never borrowed any money apart from mortgage which was unfortunately unavoidable. We had to switch heating on in our house only when it was really needed – to save money. We haven’t been buying perennial flowers in big boxes from a plant nursery just to throw them away next season as I’ve seen many people (and councils) do. I’ve been trying make my own compost as I couldn’t afford to buy some (once it did went really wrong :-). We didn’t went much to restaurants. I had nobody to chat for hours on the telephone, mobile or not. We haven’t been replacing old things with new unless we really had to. I’ve missed all that and it looks like its gone for good now…

That’s very good, somebody might say. Yes, but it wasn’t entirely my choice of lifestyle! Well I think all this happened because I didn’t went out to work but stayed at home with my kids and my paintings. That was my choice… although I’d still love to have a Landrover Defender or a motocaravan to visit beautiful and exotic places (Gypsy blood), to have nice organic clothes for the family and to start my own large orchard. Hope dies the last.

Another thing I wanted to say – thank you very much to everybody who sent me kind comments during last few days (sorry for my English by the way). Now that I know that somebody is actually reading what I write – I’m really scarred…

PS. There is a long list of labels (topics, subjects) on the left, so if you want to read say about oil pastels only you can do this. I also have a nasty habit of rewriting old posts or adding something to them – sorry

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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 032008
 

I’m so bored watching the American Election on the News all the time. We are not in America here! None of the candidates looks kind or interesting to me, neither radically different from each other. But Americans sound angry and divided at the moment… Few years ago I was sort of sad when Gore lost (can’t remember which party he belonged 🙂 but I’ve seen him in real life when we lived in the USA. Normally all politicians are for me something like computer generated models – deep inside I don’t really believe they exist.

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 November 3, 2008  Posted by at 10:28 Britain, politics, tv, USA Tagged with:  No Responses »
Oct 312008
 

The Curious Tribe *New To UKTV Documentary* Weekdays, 9pm (from Friday 5th
September) A televisual, anthropological experiment, The Curious Tribe sees
Donal MacIntyre host five members of the Insect Tribe from Papua New Guinea in
his London home. Turning the tables on his own visit to Papua New Guinea, the
tribe swap their war paint for sweaters and travel to Britain to satisfy their
own curiosities about the British way of life. The Curious Tribe, new to UKTV
Documentary, is a look at the ordinary things western society takes for granted,
and through their eyes we begin to discover that some of our own customs and
eccentricities are not as far away from theirs as we might have thought.
Throughout the three-part series, the tribe encounters snow, escalators, beds,
and even a football match.

I really liked that documentary from 2007. It is useful to be able to look at your life from a completely different point of view! Favorite moments: when one of the PNG people is in the winter forest and says something like “how strange and sad it is when trees are without leaves”; when in a church one of them says that man can’t build this, only God. Well, that’s right, man can’t build this without God’s help! We keep forgetting about this.

I enjoyed this “natural” people’s resistance to shopping culture – they couldn’t imagine buying things they don’t need. And a special treat for a person from Russia like me: how PNG people see “retirement houses”. For them its obvious that children abandoned their parents in that nursing care home, didn’t returned the favour for bringing them up! Majority of the people from this planet would probably agreed – but not British or Americans. Mind you, seeing my mother and elderly grandmother arguing horribly all the time with the grandmother rapidly loosing any touch with reality I started looking better towards nursing homes. But I don’t think it is an option in Russia at the moment, for better or for worse.

Anyway I was amazed how healthy the PNG people looked, even women with 7 children. Imagine a British, American or Russian lady with so many kids! Maybe its because they start early in New Guinea…

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Oct 282008
 

Sometimes I’m lucky to see real beauty right from my window. That’s how the American winter landscape on the left has been made.

I do take hundreds of photos every time I go out in hope that one day I can use them for my artwork. They constantly appear in random order on my desktop.

My wild imagination and dreams often bring me vivid pictures worth painting.

I like using 3D modelling for creating landscapes and/or people to paint later.

I also feel its fine to be inspired by random photos in books, newspapers, on the web, in movies. After all, I’m not copying them photorealistically, merely interpreting. Artist Pablo Picasso said “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” And, of course, all artists & photographers steal from God a bit… Poor Van Gogh copied his favorite artists when couldn’t afford live models.

Last, I sometimes do copies of historic art from all over the World to learn about old masters approach.

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