Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

The Christmas market at the Esplanade Park. The photo is from the website of
the City of Helsinki.

Dear Everyone,

These pictures speak as loudly as the truthful words created by John Lennon.

Please enjoy the video (the link of which is above), and be patient when waiting for my next blog post. The thing is, I need some new computer equipment before I am able to actively write into my blog at home. (And here I am, at work, in the middle of the most traditional holiday season!!! And soon, doing some serious shopping for hardware, oh nooo...)

And, to give you some less tearful to watch – unless seeing George Michael with his hairdo from the 80's makes you cry, like it almost did to me – here is an equally serious, as for lyrics, but visually much funnier video. (EDIT: And I don't know which is more pathetic: his messy, half-feminine and strange-looking hair, filled with gel and tacky spray, or the fact that I found him so handsome back then!)

Talk to you before the New Year!


Ps. Miss Funnybunny and Mr HP are fine, too. Funnybunny met with Santa on the Chrismas Eve and told him to "Go away! I have enough presents already!", as she was so over-excited about the whole Christmas affair. (In Finland Santa comes to people's homes on Cristmas Eve, unlike in the USA, where he just drops by at night leaving the presents in the socks left waiting for him by the fireplace. But I guess Santa can afford to spend more time with us, since we live so close to him.) And Funnybunny got huge loads of presents, of course. Including two big gingerbread houses (know what they are?). But that's another story...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Help needed, still. Chervochkin and Chervochkina.

Late Yura Chervochkin (in the middle) being hugged by the law and order. This took place on March 11, 2007 in Moscow, at the time of the Communal Elections.

Yura Chervochkin, 22, died yesterday. He was beaten up by the UBOP officers two weeks ago in front of his home, in Serpukhov, Moscow oblast.

Every day of treatment in the hospital cost 20 000 rubles (500 euros) for his mother. Yura was an only child, and his mother had borrowed the money from friends. And Yura's fellow politicians. But she still needs some more in order to organise the funeral, and she's in debt.

Today mrs Chervochkina had walked into the prosecutors office in Moscow demanding her son's body for the burial. At first she was refused and even threatened with arrest. Actually, there have been cases of mothers demanding justice for their kids, but then they are put into jail instead, like just happened with Natalia Petrova's parents. (Petrova is a journalist who was beaten up in September at her home, with her parents and 9-year-old twin girls. I mentioned it the other day.)

But finally they agreed. The funeral of Yura Chervochkin will take place on Thursday the 13th in Serpukhov, near Moscow.

So in case you are an oil tycoon, or just have some extra cash, please send some to Yura's mom. Who lost her only child. (Please see my earlier blog posts on this, the bunch so far is here.)

If you can send your donations in foreign currency, it is better to do it by Western Union sending the money directly to her, Nadezhda Gennadyevna Chevochkina, in Serpukhov.

Even small donations might help. (Her. Too late for Yura now.) Thank you for your help and concern.
(On behalf of Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance)

Christmas Parties

We have had really nice Christmas parties, with Mr HP and even with miss Funnybunny. Thanks, everybody! Both our guests and our hosts.

Miss Funnybunny has met with her very first friends like our godchildren, the Dynamic Duo Twins, and a bunch of other funny toddlers and bigger kids. She admires girls older than herself, and likes to be teased and chased by bigger boys, too. (So it has started already! At the age of 3 and a half.)

But not everybody has had fun:

HAVE A NICE CHRISTMAS PARTY. It was the moment you realised the Christmas Party sucks this year, too. You came back from the toilet and Hitler had taken your seat."

Peace and Justice? Let Yura be the last one.

(The pic is from the site of the Other Russia.)

According to Oksana Chelysheva, the chair of the Society for Promoting Tolerance, located and registered in Nizhny Novgorod, "the criminal investigation in to the assault [leading to death of Yuri Chervochkin, age 22] that he [Chervochkin] suffered on November 23 has been opened. Now it will have to become murder investigation. The main suspects are servicemen of the UBOP (special detachment to combat organized crime). Yura had called the office of webpage an hour before he was found with the broken head to tell that four servicemen of the UBOP were following him. He recognized those people and gave their names."


The UBOP forces did not kill for the first time. Please read the story at the Telegraph site.


More on this, please see the previous post in this blog.

Yura is gone.

I am so angry.

And ashamed. I have posted about Jura, but the beginning of that post was a bit stupid.

I spent yesterday evening with a (Russian) friend – thanks to whom this whole Chervochkin affair was in IStori in the first place. (IStori is not a big deal, but spreading the word is somewhat important.)

Jura died yesterday. His would have celebrated his 23rd birthday on the New Year's Eve.

Jura died after being beaten up by the police in fron of his home. After being in coma for a fortnight. After his mother tried to raise money from friends, organisations, everywhere, for the hospital bills. (A day in a Russian hospital cost 20 000 rubles ie. 500 euros per coma patient, we learned.)

He was his mother's only child.

My friend from Russia also told me that "Jura was a worker in an industrial plant, and he liked to spend his time off with the opposition."

Hanging out with his political friends. And with his girlfriend.

And distributing leaflets.

This autumn he started receiving anonymous phone calls and SMS's – the message of which was clear: he will die if he goes on.

"Goes on... doing what"? I asked, wanting to know why they were so eager to kill the youngster. (As if the guy was a big politician, and I'd be sorry for not having heard of him before. EDIT: But still, he was the leader of the National Bolshvik organisation, in the Moscow oblast. Yet, no reason for killing anyone...)) "They said he will die if he keeps on distributing the leaflets of The Second Russia", my friend told me. "He, as well as his friends, got several death threats under the Duma elections."

How very, very sad.


Old news (situation last week):

Yuri Chervochkin from Serpukhov (Moscow Region) is still in coma after he had been beaten up on November 23, the day before the March in Moscow. He was found at the entrance to his apartment building. He suffered a grave head injury and had hurt his arm when trying to protect himself. ---

Yuri had called the office [of the local branch 2nd Russia movement] an hour before he was found with his head broken. He told that there were two UBOP servicemen who threatened him with "tearing off his head" a few days before that.

He told that he was being followed by some UBOP people who he had recognized. It was not a robbery as the assaulters didn't take the money, or a watch or an expensive mobile phone.

He has been taken to Burdenko Hospital. His doctors find his condition to be stable but grave. They tell that it is possible to save his life although the consequences of the head injury are inevitable. Yura is trying to open his eyes and he reacts to pain irritants. He has not regain consciousness. ...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"The Points of Pleasure." On music and running.

What is Donald Fagen reading? I am so trying to see.

I have some personal updating to do. Remember when I told last spring I wish I could run? (Even though I did not considerate myself a runner.) I could not find that post – at least I had not labelled it under "Stupid things".

But I started running in mid-August, five times a week (not when I travel, however. But even then three time a week, at least. And I run only 2,5 kilometres, but yet I am getting better and better. Now I do it with 2 X 500 g weighs around my ancles.

Even in the stormy weather last week I ran, and it's getting easier and easier nowadays – I don't mean just because I am getting stronger and faster (oooooohhh I love the sound of these words: stronger and faster, stronger and faster...!). But I was given a present: an iPod! It is so cute. Lovely red colour, and even with my name carved onto it.

When I run I listen to it playing my favourite pieces in random order. I have started to give them The Points of Pleasure: the more points the faster I get. Almost anything my Joni Michell (Shadows and Light): 5 points. Except God Must be a Boogie Man, 10 pts. Almost anything by or with Donald Fagen: 10 pts, except My Old School, What a Shame About Me, Godwhacker, Morph the Cat, Ruby Baby and Nightfly: 20 pts. My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) by En Vogue: 25 points (No necessarily, and normally, would I say it is a better piece than Maxine, for example, but when running, much much better!).

And before (the the combination of iPod & running) I had not noticed how perfect a taste in music Quentin Tarantino has. What a shame; I have underestimated the power of Johnny Cash, too. Since having the Jackie Brown soundtrack in my iPod I see the world differently.

I am still really looking forward to some snow. Would add more challenge and spark, you see...!

And I have a strong but unproven theory according to which the weighs prevent me from falling on a slippery icy surface. (Either I'm really clever or just a maniac.)


Santa is a Finn and won't move elsewhere, no matter what kinds of suggestions the nasty and envious Swedish scientists come up with. Take a look at this:

"Santa's best location: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan could be the optimal location for Santa Claus

Santa Claus should leave the North Pole and relocate to Kyrgyzstan to optimise the delivery of Christmas presents, a Swedish engineering firm says.

The Sweco consulting firm found Kyrgyzstan was the most logical base to avoid time-wasting detours.

It took into account main population centres and the Earth's rotation.

The story is here as a whole, so please see these BBC pages.

But if, for centuries, he has been able to deliver the presents so well from Korvatunturi, the Finnish Lapland, he should continue doing so.

Warsaw, part II. Some views and a bit of architecture.

The Warsaw Ghetto could not be rebuilt, because the nazis did not leave a thing after they destroyed in entirety. (By the way, the monstruos Palace of Culture and Science is built onto the ghetto area.) But the old town was. Quite like in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) that was a remarkable task, but the bombs had not destroyed the town completely.

Like sad skeletons the walls of beautiful merchant houses and noble old churches were standing still when the citizens came back from undergound safe houses or countryside. Or, from concentration camps.

Horsey horsey horsey! And the local little ones love these vehicles, too.

Very narrow passes can take you from the King's Castle to the Market Square.

A dragon is guarding the old buildings.

And some newer districts. This is a bit the the east from Jana Pawla. (And on the area the ghetto used to be.)

The Central Station. "Surprisingly small, in a big city like this", Mr HP said. He was brave and left for Treblinka by train, and spent there almost one day. In the dark evening the Extermination Camp had been full of ghosts. "I have to turn back, can't see a thing. But there must be ghosts around", HP reported to me on the phone.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Warsaw, part 1

So, mr HP and I visited Warsaw two weeks ago, with a god bunch of publishing editors but so far I haven't had a chance to update my blog, with photos.

Stalin's unwanted gift to the Polish, the Palace of Culture and Science, made an impression. To most of us, I dre to believe. (But our Polish guide hated it!)

Visiting the erection, or just walking round and round it, is a must. But mind that it is so big that even walking around it is more than a kilometer.

You can see it, whereever you are in Warsaw. A fact some locals do not appreciate, however.

This is the cafe at the main entrance inside the Palais. A good cafe, by the way. They served good and cheap meals, too. But did not advertise them at all. We just begged them to sell some food which was not like cakes or peanuts. And the lifts up, to the terrace are here. Remember to buy the ticket first here, downstairs. Otherwise you will be told to get back without seeing a thing. (Was tested.)

Oh, the ghetto... It was huge. And what's left? Almost nothing. Only part of one street, Chlodna, and the Umschlagsplatz where the trains were "loaded" with the "cargo". The trains heading to Treblinka.

This monument is dedicated to the ghetto victims and heroes.

This is the monument of the heroes of Warsaw Uprising, in 1944.

And one of the most interesting museums I have visited for a long time (except the one one we went into in Nuremberg): the Warsaw Rising Museum. This is a play room for kids, can you imagine. They can build little cardboard tanks, for example.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It's not satisfaction. Let alone content. It's fear. The Russian elections part II.

IStori must now give the chrystal clear and wistful, though thought-provoking interpretation of the political situation in Russia, as the elections were hours ago, and here in Helsinki the dawn is... well... the sun is rising, if we get any more sunshine before March.

So on the verge of a new working day I just list my conclusions here:

* Out of fear people can do anything, they can vote anyone who says he will see the old (Soviet) system is not coming back (or vote the very same guy, who is claming the Soviet system was not so bad after all!!!!!).

* And, when it comes to the "national security (read: KGB/FSB) the older system is pretty much back. According to some Russian human rights activists the FSB was present at voting places, very openly and visibly.

* People, animals (especially horses), every living thing will always do things they find comfortable at the moment. (Even though the comfort would soon dissappear.) It is never easy to be the one trying to change the system, or not even the one who is supporting someone who is a rebellion in the inside – but yet, there are people who are currently doing so.

But you know what. It clearly seems Putin and his comarades are taking more and more desperate measures day by day, in order to silence the malcontent dissenters and restrain mutiny: Beating up youngsters and elderly people (see my previos blog post. What happened yesterday was that Pertova's parents were daetained when they tried to vote!), in public detaining the leader of the opposition party, and planting the FSB thugs to the voting places for ensuring the loyalty of the citizens'.

So, that clearly indicates Putins brigade is worried. Not just securing the back but worried.

If so, there actually is resistance in Russia. And it is strong.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who won? No idea. Or some oligarkhs, perhaps. The Russian elections part I.

So. The "elections" have been carried out in Russia.

There were "candidates" and "campaings". But only if you can call "candidates" the long lists of party organisations – which people had to vote, instead of voting a person.

And if you can call "campaings" the ridiculous acts of Putin speaking at stadiums for getting his ruling blessed by the people, and scaring everybody by telling how the foreign organisations are dangerously intefering the Russian political atmosphere.

But also there was a lot of oppressive violence – attacks of which the responsible ones were the police, FSB – or some houligans working for the police or FSB.

So I have heard. And there is very little about this I would doubt.


In the capital of Tatarstan, Kazan, a critical, liberal journalist Natalia Petrova was beaten up by the police (the goons were recognised by the neighbours) in September, and also her 9-year old twin girls were attacked, as well as Petrova's elderly parents. The beating took place at Petrova's home.

Later, when the parents tried to press charges at the police station, they were put into jail.

The other one of the girls lost her teeth. A terrible thing for a nine-year-old... But Petrova's condition is not so good at all. According to the recent information, she is still hospitalised, with head injuries.


But now the latest case of violence (IStori knows of), under the Duma elections, is Yuri Chervochkin's case. The following text (not the pic!) is from the Society Promoting Tolerance, located in Nizhny Novgorov.

We are calling on all people of good will to help raise money necessary to cover medical treatment of Yuri Chervochkin, aged 23.

Yuri Chervochkin is from Serpukhov (Moscow Region) is still in coma after he had been beaten up on November 23, the day before the March in Moscow. He was found at the entrance to his apartment building. He suffered a grave head injury and one of his arms that he tried to protect himself with was also injured. The "" webpage editorial office has the names of the suspects from among the UBOP (special detachment to combat organized crime at the Ministry of the Interior).

Yura had called the office an hour before he was found with his head broken. He told that there were two UBOP servicemen who threatened him with "tearing off his head" a few days before that.

He told that he was being followed by some UBOP people who he had recognized. It was not a robbery as the assaulters didn't take the money, or a watch or an expensive mobile phone.

He has been taken to Burdenko Hospital. His doctors find his condition to be stable but grave. They tell that it is possible to save his life although the consequences of the head injury are inevitable. Yura is trying to open his eyes and he reacts to pain irritants. He has not regain consciousness.

Every day of treatment there costs 20 000 rubles.

A ruble account has been opened to collect the money necessary to provide him with medical treatment.

ОПЕРУ Московского ГТУ Банка России
БИК 044525225
К/С 30301810340000604040

The address of the bank is: Serpukhov, Lenin Square,12/20

The name of recipient Chevochkina Nadezhda Gennadyevna (Yura's mother)

If you can send your donations in foreign currency, it is better to do it by Western Union sending the money directly to Yura's mother.

Even small donations might help Yura.

Additionally to this information, Anna Ploskonosova (aged 18) is currently under orders not to leave the territory of Tula city. She is under criminal investigation into alleged resisting the police on 7 November when they held a rally which was dispersed by the police. The 18-year-old girl (her weight is 48 kg) is being accused of injuring an eye of 36-year-old riot policeman, 180 sm tall.

Thank you for your help and concern.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beach, Shakespeare and Paris

Books. My favourite medium of interior design. I live and work surrounded by books.

Paris. My favourite town.

The place where I wish I were. Right now.

Sylvia Beach was an American lady, only twenty-something in 1919, when she sent from Paris her mother a message asking for money. Mummy was in the USA.

Beach wanted to found a bookshop in Paris, and start selling American (and British and Irish) literature for the French. Literature she adored, and in a stimulating, lively, vivid town she had started to see as home.

This was not her original idea: at first she had wanted to run a bookshop in NY, but the rents were much higher there, and living costs in Paris were inexpensive.

She had lived in France and Switzerland, knew the language, so the decision was not that far-fetched.

Soon Shakespeare and Company was opened on the left bank, by Rue Dupyutren. And she started having guests. Boy, did she have some visitors! James Joyce. Among her closest friends. (Beach even published Ulusseus, the first print run being 1 000 copies, but Joyce suggested 12! Luckily Beach knew better.) Ezra Pound. There, too, of course. Ernest Hemingway. Well, sure. F. Scott Fitzgerald. How to avoid him, Hemingway and Pound being there, too? Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. The eccentric lesbians, the Dynamic Duo of the Literary Life of Paris.

And many, many others.

(Picture: Beach with Joyce.)

Shakespeare and Company is probably the most comfortable, stylish, respected, well-known and attractive bookshop in the world.

I have been even dreaming of it lately. It's because I am reading the autobiography Sylvia Beach wrote in the 1950's. It is so interesting.

I am reading in Finnish, for a change.


I am thinking about that book all the time.

And I am leaving for Warsaw tomorrow.


Well, some history of WW II and the ghetto & highly artistic Polish posters will invade my mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Martti's Fair: Estonia visiting Finland

Miss Funnybunny is somewhere in – sorry, on – Narva, Ida-Virumaa... Or perhaps she's not quite there yet, but around Rakvere, as it seems...

Tervist! Martti's Fair, Martin markkinat, is the annual fair representing Estonian culture, in Kaapelitehdas (Cable Factory), organised by Tuglas society. That's the main organisation in Finland garding the relationships between the Finnish and Estonian cultural bodies and people. With Mr HP and Miss Funnybunny we were able to attend Martin markkinat for the first time, as during the previous years we have always been abroad at the time. And before some time, we did not have many items of Estonian origin for sale, but that's different now.

I'm glad we were able to make it this time. It was great. Lots of nice people, some thousands, even; interesting cultural discussions – and so very good Estonian food! (Like sausages. Mr HP is loves sausages. He bought kilos of different kinds. But I am a cheese person. And yes, I bought kilos, too.)

...and there she is now, Miss Funnybunny selling artistic postcards, with her new Estonian friends!
In the meantime her mother is selling books, and chatting with Jaan Kaplinski. And with his translators and hosts. And with the Tuglas guys. And with Imbi Paju, who was quite content as her film is now in DVD distribution. Have you seen Memories Denied? Go get it at once. (I will add a link to the DVD once I find out from where it can be purchased.)

These ladies are from Setu (Setumaa), they are "setukainen" (setukaisia). Setuland is in the most Southeastern corner of Estonia. And they also sang. (I have a friend from Setu, and she sings all the time. All the time.) The Setu in Estonia are a lot like our Carelians.

Hand-made Estonian fashion with ancient flavors spicing up the greyish entity. Mmmmm I could wear that, maybe...

Teretulemas, next year again!

Saddest Surprise

Last week Helsinki was so sad and grey – like the whole Finland.

A young (18-year-old), desperate man got crazy and killed nine people including himself at school in Jokela, quite near Helsinki.

This has been an exceptionally shocking massacre for some reasons in particular: because it was a massacre, because the murderer was so young, because he had claimed to be a "fan" of the Columbine murderers (or at least accepting what they did), because he had written about his plans and published the texts in the net in advance (had even received comments), and because all this took place at school.

And because all this took so many people by surprise.

The ones in power who have been opposing funding (mental) health care of the young with public, tax-payers' money, they are really to blame here. The growing number of suffering teenagers, and even younger ones, has been discussed for decades, and yet, the situation has not improved significantly. Probably even worstened – but that is difficult to say, despite this catastrophy.

The internet does not kill anyone. The crazy and depressed people do. But the internet can still have some alienating impact in young people's minds. The lonely and the sad can get even more estrangered by accessing really violent and terrifying material.

Perhaps the key is not to leave anyone so totally alone.

But now I sincerely hope the media will stop enjoying the crisis for a while. Otherwise it will be nearly impossible for the youngsters in Jokela to continue with their lives.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Answer is 42? The Scary Mouse.

I have always found animal testing quite scary, probably because of all the pain they cause, for the benefit of the mankind. If the mankind gains any benefit out of new mascaras or shampoos, that's another story. But the really MOST scary tests are carried out by the gene technology guys. Check this out:

The mouse that shook the world

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
The Independent, 02 November 2007

The mouse can run up to six kilometres (3.7 miles) at a speed of 20 metres per minute for five hours or more without stopping. Scientists said that this was equivalent of a man cycling at speed up an Alpine mountain without a break.
Although it eats up to 60 per cent more food than an ordinary mouse, the modified mouse does not put on weight. It also lives longer and enjoys an active sex life well into old age – being capable of breeding at three times the normal maximum age.

American scientists who created the mice – they now have a breeding colony of 500 – said that they were stunned by their abilities, especially given that the animals came about as a result of a standard genetic modification to a single metabolism gene shared with humans.


Please read the story as a whole in here.

And why would the answer be 42? If you need to ask me this, you have not read the Douglas Adams books, and that's a pity. Come on, go get them. Mice had an important role in the future – or the destruction – of the Earth.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Books, Wine and Food? Or Books and Sauna (+ Beer).

According to the press release of the Helsinki Book Fair,

Books, wine and food draw visitors to the Helsinki Fair Centre

Booklovers and wine & food buffs were pampered with a twin event at the Helsinki Fair Centre over the weekend. The seventh Helsinki Book Fair was accompanied by the new Wine, Food & Good Living event, which was organised by the wine magazine Viini. The two events attracted a total of 68,500 visitors...


We, a group of six women, enjoyed the Fair and the Sauna, like last year.

Swimming in candle light, can you imagine? But a good, hothot sauna first, with good company, afterwards beer, or cider, like some (others) preferred.

This sauna belongs to some trade union hot-shots, in the book fair area, Pasila. Perhaps this has already become our tradition?


Something reminded me of the first Helsinki Book Fair which took place in 2001. Then Ian Rankin, my idol, visited. (I met Rankin in Reykjavik, in 2006!!!! Take a look at this and this.)

But I happened to come by a very funny Rankin interview in the net. I quote just a few bites here, enjoy:

Are you a practical joker?

– Now and then. When some friends were away once, I stole a 'For Sale' sign and put it up next to their house as a homecoming gift. But practical jokes take effort, and these days I try to keep all effort to a minimum....

What would be a perfect weekend for you?

Perfect weekend: out on the bevvy (alcohol) with some pals, maybe hit some record shops, go see a football match, then sober up in the evening, a bath and a shave, and out for a meal with my wife. That's the Saturday. Sunday, I'd stay in bed late, then assassinate the royal family.

Are there any movies you have seen that have left a real lasting impression on you?

I don't know. Instead, here are some films I love: The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Big Chill, Toy Story, Singles, Terminator, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner....


The Big Chill
, where did that come from? Well, nonetheless, it is an extremely good film. I have loved it for decades. Haven't thought about it for years. A Lawrence Kasdan film, directed in 1983, with the Kasdan gang, like William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline + Meg Tilly, sweet...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Report from Germany, part I: Frankfurt am Main

Typical landscapes. The first one from the balcony of our hotsts' Book Fair taking place around the tower the highest point of which looks like a pencil, far left.

From the website of the fair:

"At the Fair a record 7,448 exhibitors from 108 countries presented 391,653 titles. Despite the train strikes and Autumn school holiday 283,293 visitors came to the Fair. During the three trade days there were 154,269 visitors – almost one per cent up on the previous year. At the weekend the German-speaking halls were full to capacity with members of the public.

"There has seldom been a Book Fair which has been so optimistic about the future of the industry," said Dr. Gottfried Honnefelder, Chief of the Börsenverein des deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) at the end of the Fair. "For publishers and booksellers this is very important, as the mood of the Fair is very influential on the development of the book market in a given year."


A typical scenery, again.

And you'll get soooo hungry...

Alte Oper, the Old Opera. And Punk is not dead!!!!

Cheers! And thanks! We are toasting and hosting, for a change.