Andrey Shilov at WordPress

The notes of a journalist working in Europe for Russian TV

Big Parent

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I got this  questionnaire in the Berlin kindergarten where my daughter goes. 93 pages altogether, 15 pages are to be filled now, the rest later. How your child talks, what s\he plays with, how reacts to your “No” etc.

All parents in Berlin (and I doubt the situation is radically different in other German cities) are supposed to write their answers and bring the book back to their kindergarten. Later the questionnaire  will be brought to school where teachers will read it to get info about the child…

Mein Gott!

That is how it starts, all this endless paperwork between a citizen and the state in Germany.



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February 19, 2010 at 10:18 pm

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An underground parking in Helsinki

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After some consideration we decided not to park there.

It might be not as cool as something people found recently on Google Street View in Finland but it’s still memorable, isn’t it.

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February 16, 2010 at 1:41 am

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Dresden, 13.02.2010

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It’s hard to imagine something that works so easily and – in this case – so strong. The neo-nazi gathering in Dresden has been announced “the biggest in Europe” and with participants from many countries. Still one can’t see “Europe” at a meeting in a German city, one regards the event as a German one. But just one flag makes the whole picture different. Two, actually.

And now – yes, there is a feeling of another scale. Even though the number of people is far from expected 6 000. Is here two thousand, on a square near the Dresden railway station? I am not sure.


More people came afterwards so it looked more impressive. But there were no new flags.

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February 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm

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“And I am proud of it”

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I spent the final part of my vacations in Berlin this Agust but my only impression of the World Championships in Athletics was this stand.


I doubt Russian sport fans were the biggest crowd here but the equipment for them tells a tale. Italian, American, Australian, German stuff (humble “My Motherland”) is poor and inexpressive compared to them. “Russia, we are with you”, “I am Russian and I am proud of it” and an angry bear.

For me it is the most obvious illustration of “Resurgent Russia” (as Western media put it) and of the main trend in Russia nowadays – of growing nationalism.

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August 29, 2009 at 1:51 am

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«10 easy steps to writing the scariest cyberwarfare article ever»

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April 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

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Will the crisis correct them?

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Buying railway ticket online? Of course!


I tried it twice in Germany – both times with a problem, with a scandal, loosing money. Unbelievable!


Last time I chose the train and time, wrote my bank card number, got a confirmation by email. Is it the end? It’s the beginning!


Then one has to click a link in the email, write login and password, see the word “e-ticket” – and print it? Wrong answer!


-It is not a ticket, – I was told in the train on my way from Berlin to Munich.

-Why not a ticket? It is written here – “e-ticket”. Here is my name, destination, my seat number…

-It is not a ticket. You had to print out the ticket.


I had to pay second time, with cash, right in the train.


Later I learnt that one more step should have been made. You get the email, click the link, write your login and passwod, get the page with “e-ticket” and all other info – and click one more time. Then print it out.


Triple protection!


Today’s story.

My friends came to Berlin from Russia. Well I am experienced guy! I found the site, wrote passenger’s name, paid with my bank card, got confirmation by email, clicked the link, wrote login and password, and clicked, and clicked one more time. And printed out.


I just got a call from my friends from the train: “It’s not working!”

According to the rules of “Deutsche Bahn”, passenger must pay for his ticket himself.

-Why? – I was shouting on the phone. – It is unconvenient! It is inhuman! What’s the difference for you?

-It is the rule and I have to follow it. Your friends refused to pay and will be taken out from the train.


So that’s how I heard about rules in Germany for the first time.

But this story is not about Germans. Russians see unconvenience and dullness in their country often enough, too.


I have been flying with German “Air Berlin” for about three years and I never had any problems with paying, registering, showing documents etc. You write your bank card number – that’s all. No clicking, no passwords, no printing. You paid it. All the rest is the company’s business.


Sometimes it is so plain simple:

there is private business caring about customers,

and there are state behemoths who don’t give a spit about clients. They follow their own rules. The other day the head of “Deutsche Bahn” resigned with a scandal but it won’t change anything: there are no other companies one can use when travelling from Berlin to Hannover.


The rules of market and monopolies are the same everywhere.

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April 4, 2009 at 11:55 am

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Lada. Da-da!

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Lada was a dream for Eastern Germans. Indeed, one would dream even about a Soviet car when there are just cardboard Trabants around you. When the Wall fell normal cars from the West arrived and Volkswagen even built a plant in former GDR.


But I noticed an interesting thing while making a report about today’s sales of Lada in Germany.


Right after the reunification Eastern Germans despised Lada: a communist car, from the USSR… But demand reappeared after some time. Nowadays 60% of all German sales are in the former West Germany and 40% in the former East one – approximately equal to the territory ratio.


So the Soviet shade disappeared during the 20 years. The image has been reinvented, so to say. Now it is just an inexpensive car standing close to Suzukis and Kias in car sales centres. It is far not a leader on the market: just 2400 Ladas were bought in Germany last year while its population is 82 mln. But still people buy it: ”A car for the youth”, “low price”, “a second or a third car for your family”.


Dark legacy of the past disappears during just one generation time. At least on the market.

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April 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm

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