#SpeakOut for Freedom

From http://www.sodahead.com

Now dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs
To the singers.
In some lands
D
ark night
And cold steel
Prevail
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Break
Its jail.

By Langston Hughes

Russia: “Speak out for Freedom” – show of solidarity against repression

Amnesty International has launched a Week of Action, from 6 to 12 October 2014, to show solidarity with independent voices in Russia who speak out against the pernicious creep of repression in the country.

To mark the start of the Week of Action Amnesty International is publishing a new briefing, Violation of the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Russia, which focuses on the following areas of concern:

  • Independent media in Russia – journalists threatened, harassed, physically attacked and even murdered with impunity;
  • Non-governmental organizations smeared, fined and forced to close down for independent and critical work spuriously presented as “political activities” in the interests of foreign sponsors;
  • Protesters denied the right to express their views in public spaces; arrested and tried in unfair proceedings.

The week of action coincides with the 8th anniversary of the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, one of the all-time staunchest critics of the Kremlin and once a prominent free voice of the Russian media.

Freedom

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THE END

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Lemon Beauty

Anger2
From http://www.zdorovieinfo.ru

“Do you have any lemons?” asked Victoria reading one of the popular women’s magazines.

“Lemons? In the middle of Russian winter? What do you need lemons for?” I wondered.

“Not me, but you. You always were more adventurous. Let’s trial this on you first.”

“Me? Trial what?”

“The best beautifying detox treatment”

“Beautifying you say? Then you need milk not lemons.”

“Why milk?”

“Don’t you remember – Cleopatra used to beautify herself by bathing in milk. I wonder what my folks will think if they spot me in a bathtub full of milk,” I giggled.

From http://www.care2.com

“No, no. Milk is out of fashion now. Besides, how are you going to get so much milk to your bathtub, without even mentioning the cost? Lemons are the way to go now … and apple vinegar,” said Victoria with authority in her voice.

“So are you expecting me to bathe in a bathtub full of apple vinegar juggling lemons?” I laughed.

“No, no. You don’t need a bathtub at all – you can stay in bed watching TV.”

“That sounds better. What about lemons and vinegar?”

“It is very simple – we’ll get you wrapped in a sheet soaked in vinegar, then will cover you with lots of warm blankets. You’ll need to stay like that for a few hours drinking a cup of hot lemon drink every ten minutes. I’ll get the drinks ready for you.”

“You must be joking! Where did you get these crazy ideas from?” I laughed.

“Not crazy at all. Look at this article – all Hollywood stars are doing that.”

“They must be growing lots of lemons in Hollywood then!”

“Come on. You try that first and then I’ll have a go,” said Victoria.

From http://janasjournal.com

I completely forgot about this conversation, when Victoria came to my place with a bag of lemons.

“Look, I’ve spent all my monthly income on these lemons. You surely can’t say no to such sacrifice. No one else is at home – perfect timing. You go first. Where do you have spare sheets?”

“That’s not my cup of tea, Victoria,” I tried to object.

“What tea? You won’t be getting any tea – only lemon drinks. Come on, it won’t take long – only a few hours.”

Ignoring my objections, Victoria pulled out an old sheet and soaked it in apple vinegar. Five minutes later I was all naked, wrapped in the stinky wet sheet, trying to warm up under a pile of blankets. Victoria turned the TV on.

“Enjoy while I get the first lemon drink ready,” she said disappearing in the kitchen.

“Enjoy! Do you really think it is enjoyable to be wrapped in that stinky sheet?” I shouted to her.

“Beauty requires sacrifices,” responded Victoria with authority in her voice, bringing me the first cup of hot lemon drink.

From http://www.coconutmagic.com

Lemon drink was nice and it did help me to warm up a bit. The second drink was OK. After the third cup I had enough.

“Look, I had enough of these lemon drinks.”

“Beauty requires sacrifices,” repeated Victoria. “Still 10 more cups to go”.

“Ten more cups!!!”

“Yep, wait here, I’ll make another cup of lemon drink,” she said disappearing in the kitchen.

After three more cups I could not tolerate this any longer.

“Victoria, I can’t drink it anymore. I’m bursting.”

“Hm, that’s a bit of a problem. This article does not say anything about that. You’ve done one hour only. You need to wait for another hour. Beauty requires sacrifices,” she said disappearing in the kitchen.

девушка с лимономFrom http://krasotavnytri.ru

After three more cups I could not wait any longer. As soon as Victoria disappeared in the kitchen to make another cup of lemon drink, I jumped out of bed and, still wrapped in the wet sheet, rushed into the hall to get to the toilet.

To my horror, right at that moment the front door flew open and my brother came in with all his mates from engineering Uni. Without a word, I dashed past them into the bathroom and locked the door. A few minutes later the whole flat burst with roaring laughter: the lads discovered the copy of the women’s magazine with that ‘beautifying’ article….


From http://heavenonearthindia.wordpress.com

That night dad joined us for dinner.

“You look particularly beautiful tonight,” he said to me with a wink, “Would you like another lemon?” he asked, taking a lemon out of his pocket…

I could not stand lemons for the rest of the year and women’s magazines – for the rest of my life after that day.

From http://pikabu.ru

THE END

Chanel N°5 Russian Style

Russia, 1990s


From http://www.perfumesreview.com

“Gosh, don’t tell me it ‘s Chanel N°5”, Victoria wrinkled her nose.

“What’s wrong with Unleaded 91?” – I gave her a wink.

“And look at your face. Is that your new makeup?”

“Ivan does not mind it. In fact, that’s the only ‘makeup’ he is OK with,” I giggled inspecting my dirty snout in the car mirror.

*  *  *
From http://www.photosight.ru

Ivan hated seeing me with my makeup on. “Why do you need to put all this stuff on your face to make yourself look like a painted doll?”, he used to say every time he would spot lipstick or any other makeup on my face. “You are beautiful just the way you are. Why can’t you simply be yourself?”…

You are so beautiful without makeupFrom http://www.pinterest.com

“Give us a few minutes to finish with the car and we’ll be ready to go,” said Ivan, poking his snout out.

“Gosh, you both look like twins now,” giggled Victoria.

From http://rikki-t-tavi.livejournal.com

I always enjoyed hanging around when Ivan was fixing his car, moped or various stuff around his or mine flat. He was good at fixing stuff. I was not much of a help, but he did seem to enjoy my company. We could chat about all sorts of things, or enjoy silence. No silly questions, no pressure. Everything was so simple with Ivan. If something rattled me, he always knew how to make me feel better.


From http://razeehasblog.blogspot.co.nz

Victoria got cheap tickets to ‘Swan Lake’. We both enjoyed ballet. Luckily, St Petersburg had some of the best ballet theaters in the world. Ivan and Alex were not particularly into ballet, but they were OK to go with us and get us safely back home. The streets of St Petersburg were not very safe at night time. No sensible girls ventured out on their own in the dark.

Swan Lake Odette San Francisco BalletFrom http://debeysklenar.wordpress.com

The ballet finished after 10 pm and we happily trotted back to the car. Ivan was driving, while Victoria and I were giggling and chatting on the back seats. There was not much traffic and hardly any people on the streets. Suddenly a car swirled towards us, almost forcing us off the road.

“Duck down,” shouted Ivan, accelerating .

“It looks like we got mistaken for a rival escort service by the local brutes who are ‘manning’ this district. Two lads on the front seats, two girls at the back – typical escort services set up.”

“But we surely don’t look like that sort of girls,” objected Victoria.

“Duck down, Victoria. I doubt they will bother looking at us, if they get us,” I whispered, forcing her down.

Жажда скорости и 12 протоколовFrom http://zebra-tv.ru

“What will happen to us then?” whispered Victoria.

“Have you watched “The Rifleman of the Voroshilov Regiment”? If we are lucky, it won’t go further than a bit of Kama Sutra. If those brutes share Marquis de Sade’s views on the pleasures of pain however – then the outcome for us will be much worse. I’m more worried about our lads though – for them it might be all over much quicker and simpler, with a higher chance of a fatal outcome. Now duck down and stay quiet, please. We don’t know what kind of weapons these brutes might have.”

Though in Russia it was illegal to own a handgun privately, criminals did not seem to have any issues with obtaining all sorts of guns, including automatic ones. Knives, axes and other weapons were commonly used as well.

From Gun Violence

It was the fastest car ride in my life. That was the only time I ever prayed, though I was never particularly religious. Luckily, we managed to get away and drove straight to Victoria’s house.

“Is there any chance we could stay overnight at your place?” I asked Victoria. “Don’t feel like driving anymore tonight. We are fine with sleeping on the floor if you have no spare beds.”

“Sure. I’ll talk to my mum. I’m sure she won’t mind.”

Victoria lived in a two-room apartment with her mum. We stayed there a few times before – boys in one room, girls in the other. Her mum was OK with that.


From https://vaccinehazard.wordpress.com

“Gosh, these escort services must be a very scary business,” whispered Victoria once we settled in our room.

“You reckon. Ambulance services are as scary these days. Do you remember my school friend Lucy? She is studying to be a doctor. She had a stint with paramedics as part of her training – the scariest experience she ever had. What do you think such brutes do when they want a free girl? Call an ambulance. With 99% of paramedics being female, these brutes have a good chance of getting a female for fun. Thanks goodness, the male drivers in that ambulance unit were very good. They would keep female paramedics in the ambulance until the males check that the call is genuine and the specified address is safe.”

From http://www.xn 

“My God, that’s awful”.

“Talking about Lucy, I wanted to give her a call to check that magic stuff advertised in the pharmacies. It is claimed to provide emergency contraception as well as protection against all sexually transmitted diseases. Sounds too good to be true. Thought she might know whether these claims can be trusted. Let’s go to sleep now – tomorrow is another day and … please, no more ballet this month…”

Rape victim given 'contraceptive pills'From http://news.oneindia.in

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THE END

 

 

THAT most empowering ONE

I usually collect other people’s writings and rarely write myself. However as Melanie, one of my dear followers and frequent visitors, indicated a few weeks ago that she enjoys my stories best of all on my blog, I decided to make her a special treat and post one of  my old little stories that was sitting on my computer for a few years. Hope you’ll have a few giggles while reading it, Melanie 🙂

* * *

( Russia, 1990s )

Sisters
from Coroflot

“Long ago in a faraway kingdom, three sisters were outside in the courtyard talking, imagining what they would do if they were married to Tsar Saltan. One said that she would prepare a great feast for the entire world. The next said that she would weave linen for the entire world. The third said that she would give the tsar “an heir, handsome and brave beyond compare.”

It did not take long for Ivan’s mum to pick up that I was totally useless in anything practical, so one day when we came to his home she greeted us with the following words:

“Hm, you won’t get any feast from that one. I doubt you’ll get any linen either. Well, from that one we’ll take heirs then,” she giggled and gave him a wink.

I don’t think I ever blushed that much in my life, while Ivan gave his mum a fierce look.

“She surely does not mean that “making heirs” is the only thing I’m good at?” I whispered to Ivan as soon as we got to his room. “And who are the other ‘ones’ she is talking about?”

“Do you think any other ‘ones’ will be hanging around with a mum like THAT ONE?”

Hanging

From Pinterest

A few days later I did point out to THAT ONE, that there were neither heirs nor wedding bells on the horizon. We were just friends with Ivan – old school friends hanging out together  – nothing more. We knew each other from the time when I started school at the age of seven.

“Oh well”, she giggled, “you’ll still make a good daughter for me, whether it is in-law or without any law”, she gave me a wink.

“I always wanted to have a daughter, you see,” she continued. “Ended having two sons instead,” she sighed. “Hope you’ll have at least one daughter. From a daughter you’ll always get a smile and a hug, while the only tender words you’ll ever hear from the sons are ‘What’s for dinner, ma?!’ “

Right at that moment the door flew open and her two sons rushed into the kitchen: “What’s for dinner, ma!?”

We both burst into laughter.

“What are you laughing about, YOU TWO?” her both sons looked at us with suspicion.

That’s how THAT ONE turned into YOU TWO.

Dinner
from Menu Monday

“That’s unfair,” pointed Ivan a few weeks later. “Every time you come to my place, it is all the giggles between YOU TWO. THAT ONE is my mum after all, but she seems to make more fuss about you than about me!”

“Come on, we can share THAT ONE,” I gave him a wink with a giggle.

 Mum
From Pinterest

Giggling with THAT ONE was like a fresh breath of air in the suffocating environment of obscure ‘cultural’ notions and norms where even at the University professors every now and then were ‘lecturing’ us, female students, about catching ‘princes’ before finishing the Uni on the grounds that there won’t be many ‘princes’ left afterwards. As one of the popular songs went, “there were only 9 boys for each 10 girls” at that time, which is not surprising taking into consideration millions of males killed during the revolution, civil war, First World War, Second World War, Stalin’s repressions, in Afghanistan and later in Chechnya. It looked like the whole purpose of girl’s existence was catching a prince – and the better the catch, more ‘worthy’ the girl was perceived.

 Cake
From http://andrfem.blogspot.co.nz

No cohabitation was ‘allowed’ before wedding bells – that ‘cultural’ notion puzzled me the most. After all, no one would be getting a new dress or a new suit before trying it first. Why were we forced to make important decisions in our lives after having just a few dates? How much can you learn about another person if all your ‘shared’ experiences are limited to a movie and a few ice-creams?

 Kino
From http://bonlady.ru/

THAT ONE fell into that trap herself with a quick marriage at the age of 19 that ended up in an even quicker divorce and a long spell of solo-parenting. No way she would fall for any of these “cultural” notions again.

“Listen to no one but yourself,” she used to say to me. “That’s your life – live it the way you want. Don’t let anyone else to write the story of your life”, she gave me a wink.

I smiled and gave a big hug to THAT MOST EMPOWERING ONE.

Family
From Adoption Services International

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A prayer for Ukraine

Family2 

My grandma was Ukrainian. My granddad was Russian. They lived happily in Ukraine all their life and are now both resting in peace next to each other…

What is happening in Ukraine now is not as simple as a pro-Western faction of residents protesting a unilateral decision to pull away from deeper EU integration made by a democratically elected government. There’s much more to the story.

While a few experts are trying to put the story straight in Ukraine from the geopolitical perspective, propaganda machines is busily working on all sides, manipulating public perception. Similar to the media coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan in 1984-1986 , the story gets twisted by the media machines in support of a certain agenda.

Media

From When the Media Chooses the Side

As Neil Clark points out in his article Ukraine & EU: Why some protestors are more equal than others, “leading western media outlets have not only have deemed the protests to be a major story, but their reporting makes it quite clear whose side they are on….It’s revealing to compare the highly sympathetic, high profile western coverage of the Ukrainian protests with the way other protests have been covered in recent years… Generally speaking, we can say that if the protests are against a government the western elites don’t like or it’s a cause they support… then they will receive extensive coverage. Not only that, but the protest will be reported in a very positive way, even if violence is used by the protesters… “, while if similar violence is used by protesters in Western countries they will be “condemned as ‘thugs’ and ‘criminals’”.

Maidan1
From Getting the Story Straight in Ukraine

Russian media on the other hand is focusing all attention on the most controversial element of the anti-government alliance in Ukraine – Svoboda, an extreme right-wing political party that has representation in Ukrainian parliament and is widely known for its neo-Nazi views. Its leaders are included on the top ten list of most active anti-Semites of the world for their calls to fight with “goat-likes [Russians] and kikes [Jewish].”

Svoboda_Logo

The history of the radical nationalist movement in Ukraine is very long.  The radical nationalist organization under the leadership of Stepan Bandera actively cooperated with Hitler’s troops during the war, fighting against Jews, Russians and Poles.

Sergey Kirichuk, a member of the group Borotba, which publishes and anti-fascist magazine in Ukraine, told Channel 4 News that these neo-Nazis are the most violent elements on the streets. “They are the ones throwing molotovs and trying to kill policemen… Svoboda are leading ideologically now. Fascism is like a fashion now, with more and more people getting involved.”

What about people? Ordinary people like my uncles, aunties, cousins, nieces and nephews? They can only hope that their beautiful country won’t turn into a Hell on Earth. 😦

Let’s pray for the safety and well-being of all hard-working peaceful people in Ukraine – for dear Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Poles and all the other people living in that beautiful land. Pray with us too, dear grandma and granddad, from your resting place to keep peace.

Pray
From Please Pray for Ukraine

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THE END