Andrey Shilov at WordPress

The notes of a journalist working in Europe for Russian TV

Posts Tagged ‘Russia

The observer. Here is starts

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That’s is what it looks like. This paper was given today to a friend of mine with whom we will be observers on March, 4 – during the president election day in the Russian city of Nalchik, on the North Caucasus (I couldn’t come to pick it up myself because I am not in Nalchik now, the photocopy of my passport was enough).

We got the paper in the local branch of the Russian Communist Party even though none of us can be called a Communist or anything near it on the political field. The peculiar thing about Russia at the moment is that the idea of fair election is more important that political views so people get these documents from diffrerent parties, they just need legal passes to the election points.

Just like millions of Russian Internet users I read very many astonishing stories (with photos and video) after recent Parliament elections in Russia (December, 4, 2011) when observers saw unbelievable fraud, amazing in its simplicity. For example, heads of the local electoral committees just marked ballots themselves for the right candidate. Or even simplier: they added dozens or more of ballots to the piles when counting them.

Anyway I am looking forward to see how it works on the particular electoral point #153.

Exciting.

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February 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm

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Brothers

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I wonder whether a non-Russian sees the same here as we do.
A Facebook friend of mine noticed this picture in a Moscow office.
For me it is clearly a symbol of the times, a bit similar to the salt-cellar and pepper pot from 2009.

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August 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

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Non-Basayev

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Shamil Basayev’s brother appeared and disappeared in Helsinki within a day. Indeed, it was worth watching. It still is.

Basayev’s name has been a symbol of terrorism in Russia for more than a decade and it stays so even after Basayev’s death. So the news about a trial in Finland on «a citizen of Finland and a citizen of Turkey» excited nobody in Russia. But the news about a trial on Basayev’s brother in Finland was reported by Interfax news agency and copypasted by dozens of Russian media.

Russian search engine Yandex gives at this minute 38 000 pages to the search «брат Басаева суд Финляндия» (meaning «Basayev’s brother trial Finland»).

Not all pages actually tell about the trial but quite many indeed. The news actually were published on the web twice: «trial is to start», «trial is over». Interfax even translated the news to English – « Brother of slain Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev to face trial in Finland» – what a shame, world media didn’t catch it.
If it is a report in Russian then «Basayev» is surely in the headline. Some media referred to a Finnish political author Johan Bäckman who claimed he saw the name «Basayev» in the trial documents, others mentioned just «trial documents». So far I actually didn’t see a single report in Russian with quotations by a representative of the court, by a prosecutor or by the «brother» himself.

The trial might be interesting for some people, it is a case about illegal immigration of Chechens to Finland. The accused one, Finnish businessman Mikael Storsjoconfirms the facts but says he helped Chechens  on humanitarian basis and wasn’t paid for that. Immigration service gives political asylum with the same motivation, that’s Storsjo’s argument. Indeed very many Chechens moved to different European countries, they survived two wars  during two last decades!

But this is not about Chechens or Storsjo. It is about Basayev’s brother who is on trial in Helsinki. I am based in Helsinki so of course in the morning I ran to the Vantaa court near Helsinki. The hearing was in Swedish because Mikael Storsjo is a Swedish-speaking Finn and Swedish is an official language in Finland. The judge, the prosecutor and lawyeers did mention «Storsjo», and some other names (of the immigrants, I suppose) but – to my surprise – no «Basayev». Why did I come here at 9am?

After 3 hours there was finally a break and I asked the prosecutor Mikko Sipilä:
-There is a young man near Mikael Storsjo. Is he a brother of Shamil Basayev?
-No.
-But there were reports that he admitted it.
-I can’t say anything about his relatives but there is no name of Basayev in the legal case.

But I can ask the brother, can’t I? According to the Russian media reports, his name is Deni Berkat (and earlier he was called Abdulkhamid Mechiev). Should I believe the media? Well anyway I don’t know his real name, I didn’t check his passport.
I approached the young man and asked him in Russian:
-Are you Shamil Basayev’s brother?
-No.
-But there were reports…
-Who said it? No!

The guy looked realy surprised and later  he came to me in the corridor and asked again: who said I am Basayev’s brother? I showed him dozens of reports in Russian on my phone’s screen.
-Basayev’s brother is in Turkey!
-And you are a Russian citizen?
-No, a Turkish one.
-But your Russian is so good!
-My English and Chechen are good, too.

Should I mention that Finnish press was laconic about the hearing? A short report in the main newspaper, that’s all. And no Basayev there! What a surprise.

The only thing I am happy about: not all Russian media reported about Basayev’s brother in Finland. Somebody just ignored the news. Or checked it and saw that there was no brother at all.

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April 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

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Top Leaders

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Russian top power sharing forced journalists to invent many terms in order to describe Putin and Medvedev’s duo: duumvirate, tandemocracy and even medveput. Recently I read a business letter where all above mentioned would look pretentious or over-ideological. I found there another term and I don’t know how to translate the flavour of it. There is expression in Russian: “первые лица” (“first faces”) meaning “top leaders” of a company, government etc. In the letter I saw all respect and laconism were put in capital letters so it was written “Russia’s Top Leaders” (Первые Лица РФ) which is particularly funny: along with Russian State Emblem (two-headed eagle) there is well-known expression “двуличие” which luckily has exact translation to English as “double-facedness”.

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April 6, 2010 at 7:31 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.

16082009553

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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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.

lada 

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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Common values

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Some topics are supposed to unite people but it doesn’t always work. For example, world’s “green worry” doesn’t exist in Russia at all compared to other countries. Indeed, a typical story about wind energy in Germany had to wait it’s turn to be shown in my company’s news for more than a month. But the “crisis” suddenly worked: nothing unites Russia and the world better than news about crisis and the way people cope with it. Who the hell in Russia would be interested in some German car-sharing companies? Or some German tricks to boost consumer interest in cars? Now we are making the third story about cars in Germany during  just a couple of months – and all this thanks to a simple approach: how do they deal with the crisis?

Common values, so to say.

Thank you, crisis!

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March 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm

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The Wall

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Nobody reproached me while I was walking along the former Berlin Wall and made a report about today’s perception of it. Even though so many people were killed when trying to cross it, the city and the country are still divided, and it was over just 19 years ago.

 

Nobody said a word about Soviet ideology, communists from Moscow etc.

 

As if the Wall appeared from nowhere and vanished by itself.

 

We didn’t have long discussions with people on the street but if I were asked by a television crew about the Wall I would have mentioned the Soviet authorities, if not the USSR. At least I would have asked back a Russian journalist, “what do you feel?”

 

So if I ask myself the question – I am ashamed. And I am really interested how many Russians share the feeling.

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November 9, 2008 at 1:42 am

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“Na zdarofie!”

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I wonder who is the author of this phrase. Really.

 

Every single foreigner drinking and playing a la Russe says “Na zdarofie!” Why? The meaning is far from “Cheers!” (which people mean). “You are welcome”, that’s what it means. It is what a doctor can say in Russia to patient’s “thanks”, or one can hear it in a pharmacy, again as a reply to “thank you”.

 

I heard “Na zdarovie” from Brits, French and just recently from Germans – there must be an explanation! So far I have two versions, both from the readers of my Russian language blog:

-it is a quotation from another Slavic language;

-people once heard ‘Za zdorovie’ and made mistake.

Yeah, everybody makes the same mistake everywhere… I am really puzzled.

 

P.S. Drinking Russians say very many different things, an article can be written on the topic. Among the most well known are:

“Cheers!” (literally “For your health” – “Vashe zdorovie”)

“Let dreams come true” (“Za sbychu mecht”)

“For all of us and f*** them” (“Za nas s vami I khren s nimi”)

“For the ladies present” (unpronounceable “Za prisutstvuyuschikh zdies dam”)

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November 9, 2008 at 12:52 am

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On AN-2 above Berlin

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Old Soviet planes AN-2 fly above Berlin regularly these days, it is actually the high season. Till Thursday, October 30, when Tempelhof airport closes down.

 

 

Here is our ticket. And that’s what AN-2 itself looks like.

 

 

This particular plane was made in Poland in 1968 – the pilots say the bi-planes were made in two places outside the USSR – in Poland and in China.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are 9 passenger seats in this AN-2. It used to be a training plane for skydivers during the GDR times, later it has been transformed for sightseeing flights and the seats have been added. As a tenth passenger I got a seat near the pilot…

 

 

…but everybody wanted to see everything and take pictures…

 

 

so we swapped places and others could enjoy the view.

 

Old Soviet planes flying above the Brandenburg Gate wouldn’t be nice memories for the Germans, I presume. So we didn’t fly towards the Berlin center.

 

 

Tempelhof is situated to the south from the center and the sightseeing route goes away from it. Actually AN-2 has been designed after the WWII, in 1947, and has being produced ever since. The AN-2 history site claims the plane is even in the Guinness World Records Book. Well I don’t know whether it is true but AN-2 is indeed a classic for Russians. “Annushka” is a tender name for it (sounds just like a diminutive from the name Anna); “kukuruznik” (to be pronounced “kookoorooznik”) is a common name, it comes from the word “kukuruza” (“maize” or “corn”). AN-2 is universal and has been used a lot as an agriculturial aeroplane. It works quite well as a tourist plane, too – personal ventilation tools are particularly impressive.

 

 

So no Reichstag or Brandenburg gate in view – the only real “Berlin thing” we noticed was the television tower. I will show it in my report on NTV on Friday and will give the link to the video here, too.

UPD Here is the link

 

 

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October 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

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