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Neighbourhood Cam: May Evening

may evening
May in my district in Moscow

May is blossoming slowly this year, and May evening is cold and dry. We haven’t had enough rain, so the leaves are taking time to appear.

I’m going to resurrect my Neighbourhood Cam and Moscow Cam rubrics to get you acquainted with my native places. I will also update some posts where the text was previously lacking, to make them more informative and enjoyable.

The place in the photo (which was actually taken in 2018) is within a 10-minute walk from my house, right opposite the place where I taught English and French for four years. In the vicinity are a few shops, many blocks of flats, a church, and two railway stations.

On May evenings like that in the picture one always wants to slow down. The sunset is about to begin, and, as the evening is cold, the sky is going to turn purple-red. The wind is getting chillier, the cars are few, and so are people. I usually take in this cool air and gaze on the horizon as if it were my personal Waterloo Sunset. I know I am in Paradise here, although it was only recently that my district has become resplendent and posh in some aspects. But I like it this way.

Victory Day – 2022

Today we celebrate the 77th anniversary of Victory against Nazi regimes in Europe. We should not forget that Nazist and Fascist ideologies swept across the whole of Europe. Soviet troops coming from the East and inner Resistance movements worked to extort inhuman regimes not only from Germany, but from France, Italy, and other European countries. Sadly, they were not always successful, and in Spain General Franco’s regime survived until 1970s.

But we celebrate our Victory, and we shall not let anyone to dispute, distort, diminish, or altogether deny it.

Victory Day

The Immortal Regiment has returned to the streets of Russian towns and cities, as well as to those countries whose leaders were not afraid to pay homage to the courage and selfless service of the Soviet soldiers. And we shall not forget this.

The Immortal Regiment marching in Tverskaya St, Moscow, 9 May, 2022

And if you want to watch Moscow’s Victory Day Parade, below is a video by one of Russian media channels, TASS. The organisers had to cancel the aerial parade due to overcast. The Immortal Regiment soaked wet in a short spell of heavy rain, but then the sun came out, and it has not rained since 3pm this afternoon.

Victory Day Parade in Red Square, May 9, 2022

As per tradition, special civil memorial services were held in all districts near the cenotaphs and monuments. These commemorate soldiers and civilians who gave up their lives to save the world.

More on Russia.

The Allies’ Approved Of the Death of Children – Remember this, Mr Blinken

In his address on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Second World War, the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken notably accused the Russian Federation of thwarting the events of the bygone days to “justify” a special operation against the neo-Nazi government of Ukraine.

Yes, I know that in the West the war is thought to have been fought and won by Britain and the U.S. It is also a well-known secret that Britain and the U.S., the so-called allies, were waiting to see whom to support, Hitler or Stalin. By doing so, they donned their taciturn support to Hitler. This was these nations’ own “war effort” until it became clear that the Red Army was about to sweep across Europe in its victorious march. The allies jumped on the bandwagon to keep the Western part of Europe in their sphere of interests.

The Victory in the Second World War is unthinkable without the USSR for the simplest reason: the allies were clearly going to collaborate with Hitler, had he suppressed the USSR. And it was only because the USSR courageously fought for its independence and sovereignty that we have been celebrating the Victory over Nazism for the last 77 years. Unfortunately, we are fighting against the same plague now – and we are going to win again, this time decisively.

So, lest the Secretary of State Mr Blinken forgets what the allies’, and particularly the American, war effort was really like, here are pictures of Soviet Russian children near their ruined and burnt houses in 1941-1943. Such was the beginning of life for these children – death, hunger, and ruins. And it was because the allies were calmly waiting to see whose side to join.

A woman with her children on the site of their destroyed house in Orlov Region, Russia
Russian children of the Great Patriotic War

The Russian soldiers fought not only for their Motherland, as we call our native country. They fought for these children, they took revenge for their ravaged childhood, and it was the Russian soldiers who raised the red Victory banner over the Reichstag as the symbol of Victory against Evil. Sadly, the evil has since resurrected, so the Russian soldiers will have to raise the banner again.

The Soviet soldier raising the Red Banner over the Reichstag in Berlin, May 2, 1945

We have never taken revenge on the dead enemy, and we have always striven to keep peace with the living adversaries. But in memory of thousands of children who were killed by the Nazi army – and by the allies’ appeasement – we will always remember and remind others of the real price of British and American Imperialist interests.

The price has been the death and poverty of children – everywhere, from Europe in two World Wars to Vietnam, Middle East, Serbia, and Donbass, throughout the entire 20th and 21st century. This must end soon.

The Alley of Angels in Donetsk, the People’s Republic of Donetsk (former Ukraine), commemorates children killed in the shellings and bombings by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The average age is 5 years.

More on Ukraine.

More on Russia.

An Exclusive Interview with Aidan Aslin, A British Mercenary

Graham continues his selfless service as a journalist in Donbass, and this time he has interviewed Aidan Aslin, a British mercenary in the Ukrainian service.

Aidan Aslin interviewed by Graham Phillips

At the very beginning of his interview Aidan acknowledges that he made a mistake by joining the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He is a professional soldier, a mercenary, but he claims that he used to be pro-Donbass until his colleague managed to convince him to join the other side. He states that the Ukrainian soldiers wear Nazi symbols and, in fact, imitate the Nazi forces in every possible way. He strictly disapproves the torture and killings of the Russian soldiers captured by the Ukrainian forces. He also states that he wanted to desert immediately as the Russian special operation began but he never found a chance to do it due to lack of transport. Eventually, he was captured in Mariupol by the Russian side. His mother Angela and his sister Sharon can for a moment be calm because he is alive and probably safer in captivity.

We urge all people to watch and share this interview that sheds tons of light on what is really happening in Ukraine and what has been going on in Donbass for the past 8 years. I am in the process of collating the instances of Ukrainian legislation that effectively legalized Nazism. We want all people who cannot be fooled by the media outlets to understand that it was the rejuvenation of Nazism and the evidence of development of biological weapons that forced Russia to enter Ukraine with a special operation.

Back in the days of the Iraqi war I wondered why the soldiers would not refuse to go in Iraq, especially since that war never received an approval from the UN. I was told it was their job to do what their government told them to. But here we are clearly dealing with the comeback of ideology that once killed what could be a hundred million people altogether. If now British and other mercenaries would turn against their governments and help the Russian army to suppress the Nazi batallions in Ukraine, then we would plainly see that British and Russian nations can really be allies in the fight against the evil.

Please share the video.

Other posts in Ukraine.

Bucha: The Real Russian Forces and Civilians

A British reporter visited the Chernihiv region a few weeks before the Bucha massacre, and in the video he shows the actual interactions between the Russian army forces and the civilians. His conclusion is obvious: there is absolutely no chance that the same military men would kill the people.

Also, people warn the civilians in other areas that they should leave together with the Russian army that is currently retreating from some outposts:

After the Russians retreat from the villages, the Nazis go there and kill everyone. Please let people know that they should leave, too. This is done upon Zelensky’s orders, to kill all civilians in the villages left by the Russian army.

Meanwhile, the Russian forces are storming the Azovstal plant. This is in line with Russia’s decision to only bomb the military bases. This steel plant is one of the biggest in Europe, and it should not be destroyed. Unfortunately, it has been used as a stronghold by the Azov batallions, which personify the Nazi forces and are not controlled even by Kiev. They deftly use the plant’s territory to move about, to hide, and to shoot the Russians. The Russian army plans to either neutralize (kill) or capture the Azov soldiers, thus avoiding the plant destruction.

Seeing that they do not even want to destroy the plan, it is highly unlikely that the Russian army could kill civilians. This is another proof that the “Bucha massacre” is a war crime by the Nazi forces orchestrated by their Western advisors.

More on Ukraine.

Ukraine: My Views + My Contacts

I moved to my vKontakte account in April. I have been busy with work and, on the other hand, I wanted to gather the sentiment about the unfolding events in Ukraine.

This is Kiev’s Maidan place back in 2014.

In brief, this is what I have to say:

  1. I support Russia’s special operation against the neo-Fascist regime in Ukraine. In the years since the first negotiations in Minsk all the opportunities to peacefully resolve the conflict in Donbass have been exhausted. Meanwhile, not only did Ukraine legally proclaim the criminals of WW2 as the country’s national heroes, it has also opened the doors to experiments with biological weapons in its territory. As you might remember, my maternal grandfather was born in Ukraine, and his parents were the prisoners of war in Germany. I sympathise with the people of Ukraine insofar as they have not managed to organize anything similar to the Resistance movement of the past war, so they now have to hide in cellars instead of helping the Russian army. But I do not sympathise with anyone who wants to somehow draw a line between the country and its legislation. In case with Ukraine, the legislation has commemorated those who orchestrated the carnage in Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine itself. And I personally do not want to tolerate this for whatever reason.
  2. Secondly, I realise that I have not written much about it here, for this blog has always been about Arts&Culture, not a place to discuss dubious Wikipedia articles on politics. But things are different now. The first thing I want you to know – especially those of you who have known me for a while – is that, since I returned to Moscow in 2010, I have always voted for Vladimir Putin. I voted for the new Constitution of Russia in 2020. I support the idea of a strong national state. And I certainly stand for the idea of internationalism and the national equality. I have always supported these ideas, and I have always cited the Equal Opportunities Act in Europe as an example of a guarantee of equality to various minorities. But I cannot support the present-day “cancel culture” whereby The Russian Dancers by Edgar Degas are renamed into The Ukrainian Dancers by the National Gallery, and the works of Tchaikovsky are withdrawn from concerts. I cannot and will not support this morone attack on my country and my values.
  3. Finally, for now, I’d like to leave all you intellectual and open-minded people with one question to answer. I first came across the British mentality and culture in 2000. For the past 22 years I have often heard you slagging off the British and American media for bias and lies. You are aware that your media and your governments can lie just about anything – from little-known celebrities to biological weapons in Iraq. Why now, then, do you believe everything you see and read about what is happening in Ukraine? You are now listening to the talk about “the Ukrainian Srebrenica” – and you don’t even pay attention to the fact that the NATO country, in cold blood, uses the NATO’s war crime incident to draw parallels with today’s carnage! It was so hard to effectively divert the world’s attention from biolaboratories in Ukraine that the NATO media were not too proud to use their own war crime to put it on Russia.

Of course, in this day and age I will have to take precautions, so I will double my posts here on my LCJ page in vKontakte. I don’t use VPN, so I will not be able to answer any comments on Facebook or Twitter. But you can contact me by email, and I will take the opportunity to be your first-hand source of news and commentary.

As you may notice, I do not blame anyone for their views. Indeed, there is often a huge chasm between the Anglo-Saxon view of things – and that of the rest of the world. I do not expect anyone to turn against their media or government just because I say something. But I keep being told that we, Russians, are brainwashed by the Kremlin propaganda. Well, perhaps, it’s not just the Kremlin that engages in propaganda – and we, Russians, are not the only victims thereof.

The Benefits of Planning

I have lived by planning for over a decade. There was a time when I only had to remember which lessons I had on which days, but that ended after I graduated from the University of Manchester. When I worked at APPCO in 2010, I wrote detailed daily plans in a simple notebook. Then I came to Moscow, and planners entered my life and stayed there for good.

Admittedly, I was never a fan of dated planners. I much preferred writing the dates myself… which on occasion meant that I would skip planning, especially at weekends.

For the past two years I had my daily and weekly planners and a notepad all in the same notebook, which was undated. It was alright, but I felt I needed to bring more organisation and, erm, planning in my life. So this year I have an undated notebook for long-term planning and taking notes and a dated planner for everyday life.

planning
This ISN’T my planner, and I don’t use colours. Via Pinterest.

I’m only past January, but the benefits are already there:

  • I did a lot of translation;
  • I did a lot of copyrighting for different clients;
  • I started a book for those who are studying the English language;
  • I am in the process of collecting my own art essays to publish them as a book this year;
  • and I am in the process of doing something very creative that I have rarely done before. It will be in Russian for the first time, but if it goes well, I’ll probably add an English version to it.

I can also see what I have little time left for and think about alternate routes.

Better yet, I am writing my personal diary again, and this time I pay more attention to my everyday life. It’s heartening to contemplate how decades later scholars may really use it to reconstruct my “womanly” part of life.

So, if you have been thinking whether or not to use planners and diaries, I hope this has inspired you enough.

More about my Experiences.

Epiphany 2022

January 19th is a fixed date in the Russian Orthodox calendar. On this day we celebrate Epiphany – the moment when Jesus came to be baptised by St John in the waters of the Jordan River.

You have likely seen the reports of people bathing in the cold water on Epiphany. Bearing in mind Russia’s climate and severe wintery frosts this bathing ritual is more of a popular tradition rather than a requirement endorsed by the Church. In other words, if one doesn’t bathe on Epiphany, there will be no negative implications for their soul.

I have never gone to a designated bathing place but I did take a shower at home at midnight on January 19th. Yet this year I chose to skip doing so, and turned out so did President Putin!

What I did do as usual was to go to my local church for the so-called holy water. This is your regular water that was blessed by the priest. There are usually crowds of people standing in long queues, so I tend to go there late in the evening.

This is what my parish church of St Nicholas looked like on the evening of Epiphany. I’ve just caught myself on a thought that, while I was studying the Tudor period, I was quite fascinated by the terms “parish” and “parishioners”. Even though I was quite irreligious in those days I evidently loved the idea of a community where a church was a perfect gathering place, where people sang hymns and attended sermons. And see, two decades later I’m a parishioner myself…

Winter Holidays End

As of 2021, Russian winter holidays now officially last from December 31st until after January 7th. And although this does not seem like too long a period, it seems I managed to take some rest. If you follow the link to 2021 Xmas category at the end of the post, you will read about what I did. I wanted to visit GUM and to walk in the forest and maybe have a ski walk, but I didn’t. I have some time for a walk, and I might still visit GUM, and hopefully I’ll give a brush to my skis, but in the meantime these are mere plans.

GUM Christmas Trees.

This is what I did:

  • sat in solitude and silence with a garland and a cup of tasty coffee;
  • read a lot;
  • framed my diplomas;
  • walked a lot;
  • ate 3 big cakes;
  • translated a lot into English, including a Bowie-inspired Space O;
  • blogged here practically every day;
  • slept to my heart’s desire.

And I don’t know if I had enough rest, but I have a feeling it was good enough. And this is the most important thing.

winter-holidays
My winter holidays were something like that, cuddled with lots of soft cushions. Courtesy of Tartanscot

More posts in 2021 Xmas.

Julia Shuvalova – Space O

Space-O-Julia-Shuvalova

I wrote the story “Space O” in Russian in late February 2021, upon learning about a literary contest dedicated to the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight to space. The contest was organized by Litres.Samizdat, a Russian platform for self-published authors, and Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency. It was shortlisted for the final and was eventually published in a separate collection of novellas by other contestants. Apparently, this collection has recently been delivered to the ISS, too.

space o
A cover of the original Russian story

As I was thinking about the subject for my story, I went through some notebooks but I did not find anything that caught my attention. It had to be a short story or a novella. I began to think “outside the box”. I did not want to delve into too many technical aspects of space flights, nor did I want to populate the story with extraterrestrial characters. I wanted something creative, daring, and utterly humane. Suddenly Space Oddity came to mind…, and I wrote this story overnight.

This is obviously a fictional account of David Bowie’s composing one of his most famous songs, but I did some research for the fictional part. All aspects of the first three chapters fell together almost by themselves, I only had to write it all down. Along the way I realized that I walked the same streets in Soho, I lived in Bromley, accessed from Victoria Station, for 2 weeks in 2004, so I was a regular at Victoria Station, too. The pub I depicted was a beer hole I visited once, but it was probably in Greater Manchester where I lived between 2003 and 2010. And I saw many loaders, like “Major Tom”, in my 7 years in England. After I submitted the story for the contest I decided to check when the first British person went to space. Turned out it was a woman, and her mission was mutually financed by the UK and the USSR, and it took place… on May 19th, 1991. 30 years after the first flight. “Majors” had to wait for a long time.

Space O is a story about dreams – and what breaks them. It is about love and poverty – the topics that Robert Burns was very much aware about. It is about inspiration and thirst for life. And it is about the Earth and space – for “the whole space is about Earth.” And on occasion of David Bowie’s 75th birthday I translated the story into English and share it now on this blog.

More on the topic:

60th Anniversary of the first space flight

Most posts about space

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