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Victory Day – 2022

Victory Day Parade and the Immortal Regiment have returned to Red Square on May 9, 2022. We celebrate this day with our veterans and children.

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 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.

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.

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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…

2022 Calendars Here!

The Russian Seasons calendar go through all 12 months in Moscow, mostly in my neighbourhood.

I was glad to learn that my photo calendars from the previous year was quite popular. I am beginning to add the new ones to my Zazzle store, so please bookmark this post for other artwork. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to the first two 2022 calendars, called “Russian Seasons”.

As you know, I am a keen photographer, and I like to share my photos with you. The Russian Seasons 2022 calendars go through all 12 months in Moscow, mostly in my neighbourhood. There are four months when there is lots of snow; and the long autumn season with a kaleidoscope of colours. There is a blossoming cherry tree and the rich This is a great choice for those who prefer nature to architecture. In another calendar you will see an icy pond in February, pink tulips in May, and a red squirrel in October.

Two Wales calendars feature sweeping landscapes of Denbighshire and Snowdonia. And Roses and Peonies will fill each day of the month with a splash of colour.

Watch out for other 2022 calendars soon. There will be flowers and a few other cities and places throughout the world.

More posts in PhotoFiles.

Freedom, Love, and Vaccination

The humanity has done everything in its capacity to get rid of God but it cannot stop Him being. He is a necessary category for a man’s personal growth. And His principal language is that of Love. Not fear of virus, or greed for money, or hatred towards those who are (not) jabbed.

I’ve just read that in Austria they are locking down the citizens who have not undergone vaccination.

In Russia, Moscow’s officials have been organising a lottery among those who got vaccinated. People could get a new car, a new apartment, or a hefty sum of money.

If you look at things from my angle, you probably think that all this sounds like a bad joke. I mean, why suddenly does vaccination need a material motivation?

Meanwhile, QR-codes have been introduced to all museums and theatres in Moscow, and there are a couple of bills in the making that will make QR-codes mandatory everywhere except municipal transport, chemist’s, and groceries. So if I wish to travel to St Petersburg but I am not jabbed, then I probably won’t be able to unless I undergo a test.

And, of course, officials still claim that vaccination is one’s free choice. Except that, as the above examples show, the choice is taken away.

I realise that a lot of people have been ill. However, I am of a strong conviction that, like during any epidemic, people are not susceptible to just a virus. They fall prey to their own negativity, fear, and the lack of knowledge about their own health. Particularly in Russia, a lot of people in their 60s survived the 1990s when they had to think about making money for the family. For decades people were employed and had no need to improve their financial education. Then suddenly they found themselves in the situation when they had to make their own living. Obviously, they had no time to look after themselves.

And it is this group of people that today is under the biggest threat. Their health “naturally” deteriorated due to hardships. They also did not have the chance to undergo necessary treatments. So when these people get a dose of vaccine, it is possible that it backfires simply because there are health conditions they have not been aware of.

And then there is a group of people who simply cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. What can they do?

My answer is such:

  • we need to take care of our physical body;
  • we should assess our mental health;
  • we have to review our values and mission;
  • and we need to find God in our lives.

I know the last point might appear really strange. The humanity has done everything in its capacity to get rid of God but it cannot stop Him being. He is a necessary category for a man’s personal growth. And His principal language is that of Love. Not fear of virus, or greed for money, or hatred towards those who are (not) jabbed. Only Love to your own self, to the light you bring to this world, and to life that will become dull without you. When you find this Love, you will see how you can share it with others.

I took the image below in summer. I was lying in the grass, and it was about to rain. Suddenly there was the lightning in the sky in the shape of a heart.

Other posts about Covid-19 pandemic in Russia.

Dali-Picasso Exhibition in Moscow (An Overview)

I’ve got a special skill: I’m excellent at visiting exhibitions on their last day. 26th of September was the last day of an exhibition I’ve longed to visit since 2020. In the top photo you see my selfie between Moliere and Honore de Balzac – by Pablo Picasso and below there are several pieces from Salvador Dali’s halls. And whereas Picasso is represented at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Dali’s artwork is mostly in private collections, to my knowledge, at least. To say I was thrilled to visit the exhibition of artwork of two of my favourite painters is clearly an understatement.

Notes on Moscow City Day

I’ve spent an entire day in Moscow city center. I’m sitting in Nikitsky Boulevard, blogging and noticing people walking past. Tomorrow is expected to be overcast but today there were many sunny spells. It was very warm, and is only just beginning to get chilly as the sunset approaches.

Although there are no major celebrations this year due to the pandemic, people went to the city centre to enjoy the good weather and some outdoor events. I mentioned the Soviet photography exhibition, which starts a dozen of meters away from my bench. Another set of events, Flower Jam, apparently lasts until October: there are different flowery displays scattered across the city, starting with Apothecary Garden.

People do wear masks in shops, museums, and on the public transport. Yet in the streets one only remembers about the coronavirus when a mask hanging under someone’s chin pops in the view.

Overall, the weather is almost spring-like, and it feels like there has never been any pandemic…

Moscow Celebrates 874th Anniversary

For the 874th anniversary of my native city I went to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. There are currently two “Italian” exhibitions. One, in collaboration with Pinacoteca di Siena, focuses on the rise of the Sienese school of art. It features at least one work attributed to workshop of Duccio di Buoninsegna and works by Simone Martini, Giovanni di Paolo, and others. It also demonstrates some rare Sienese biccherni and 13-14th Italian paintings and altarpieces from the Pushkin Museum collection.

Another exhibition features works by Giambattista Tiepolo (18th c.) and other Italian painters of 17-18th cc.

In the city, in one of the boulevards, there is an exhibition of Soviet photography. Photos span 1930s-1980s and focus on celebrations in Red Square and Moscow architecture.

Below is one of exhibits, a painting by a 17th c. Neapolitan master, “The healing of the man sick with palsy”.

First Space Flight: 60TH Anniversary

First space flight meant more than just overcoming the gravity. Gagarin showed the working class that everyone had a chance in life.

Ten years later I’m writing a post on the 60th anniversary of the first space flight.This year a Russian self-publishing platform, Litres.Samizdat, and Roskosmos, the Russian Space Agency, organised a contest of short stories. They had to be about space exploration, or dreaming about space, and to generally fall into the category of sci-fi stories. My story was short-listed for a book, but it was not about space exploration as such. It was about David Bowie’s composing Space Oddity, although it mentions the first space flight.

first-space-flight
The International Space Day

It is a well-known fact that Bowie struggled to break through onto the music scene. I was inspired to use it as a backdrop for my story, which came out to be a reflection on what Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight really meant for mankind. It wasn’t just a flight into space, overcoming the gravity; it was, quite literally, a flight in the face of all conventions and restrictions, especially social and economic. Gagarin, a son of a carpenter and a milkmaid, showed the working class that everyone had a chance for a break-through, no matter the background.

A synopsys:

London, 1969. Psychedelics, hippies and space flights inspire a young musician who can’t compose his first hit song and is suffering from misunderstanding and loneliness. One day, in a pub, he meets a red-haired dockworker who, like him, is living a dream of space. From a single conversation Space Oddity, one of the main “cosmic” songs, is born.

It’s only available in Russian at the moment, so if you know the language, please read it here. If you wish to help me out with the English translation (and be credited for it), please, drop me a line.

julia-shuvalova-space-o
The book cover

My previous posts about Space

Jodrell Bank touched the stars and starts into Euro Space Mission

Life in Space: the anniversaries of satellites and search engines

Poekhali by Yuri Gagarin to become a trademark

Georgy Beregovoy – Space Begins on Earth

Yuri Gagarin’s First Orbit – A Film

The 50th anniversary of the first manned orbit

Zoos in Pandemic: Animals Without People

Animals without people and people without animals are equally in distress – and this is a truly good motivation to protect the Nature.

Not only theatres and museums are suffering from the financial losses due to pandemic. Zoos are also in huge distress – and, as the Russian zoo workers state, not only because of the lack of money. Animals without people is a poor sight, too.

animals-without-people
Meerkats at the zoo in Amiens, France (@YouTube)

The zoo keepers in Kaliningrad, Voronezh and Yekaterinburg in Russia noted the animals’ astonishment at the absence of visitors. In Kaliningrad, the llamas were surprised to see no people on the first day of lockdown in spring 2020. Having waited for a few hours, they retired to the farthest corners of their cages. Tigers and monkeys, who are especially fond of people’s attention, all but succumbed to depression. And even fish – the koi – were upset to have no visitors.

I suppose it is easy to understand the animals. They realise they are in captivity, and people’s presence makes a very necessary “link” between the cage and the outer world. Without this link, the outer world becomes an unattainable dream. Indeed, animals without people are bound to find zoos unbearable.

Budgeting the Cause

The financial problems the zoos have faced are partly exacerbated by their place in the country’s budget. In Russia, for instance, the zoos are assisted by special charitable funds that come under the jurisdiction of the Culture Ministry. The Government tries to support all cultural institutions, although it has to single out the likes of the Hermitage and the Bolshoi Theatre. And, rightfully, the preservation of the Hermitage comes ahead of that of a zoo, especially a regional one.

In October 2020, the Russian Ministry of Culture designated 200 mln rubles (~1,9mln GBP) to support the zoos. They admit, however, that situation is unlikely to change in the 2021, so, together with the Finance Ministry, they will look into rearranging their budget to preserve the zoos and natural parks and reserves.

Meanwhile, regional governments and visitors have been giving their little help to save the animals. A zoo in Novosibirsk received 27,5 mln rubles (~267K GBP) from the local government. And a zoo in Nizhny Novgorod collected nearly 300K rubles over an evening via the Internet (~1000 GBP).

The Scottish government has ruled to offer another 2,5 mln GBP fund to support the country’s zoos and aquariums, Andy Philip of Daily Record reports.

The applications can be made for loans or grants up to £100,000 to pay for three months of animal care costs.

The fund for zoos and aquariums will close on March 10, while the conservation part of the fund will open for applications later this month.

Life Goes On

There is also a bright side to look at. A year ago, at the start of the pandemics, a zoo in Cordoba, Mexico welcomed three cubs – a tiger and two pumas – whom they named, respectively, Covid (male), Pandemia (female) and Cuarentena (male). Life continues at other zoos, too. And this is what one may find particularly striking. In spring 2020, we all contemplated the maleficent impact of a man when dolphins returned to the Venetian waters, and animals came back to the city streets. Yet in zoos animals cannot survive without the humans. So, animals without people and people without animals are equally in distress – and this is a truly good motivation to protect the Nature.

More in the News.

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