Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Solzhenitsyn: Russia dogged by problems similar to those that led to 1917 revolution

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has been a fan of Putin's. Until recently? Nonetheless, the following is quite a phenomenal statement.

(By Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press Writer, 27 February 2007)

Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn warns in the preface to a newly republished article that Russia is still struggling with challenges similar to those of the revolutionary turmoil of 1917 that led to the demise of the czarist empire.

The article - which will appear tomorrow in the influential government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta - analyzes the roots of the February revolution 90 years ago that forced the abdication of the last czar, Nicholas II, and helped pave the way for the Bolsheviks.

"It's all the more bitter that a quarter of a century later, some of these conclusions are still applicable to the alarming disorder of today," Solzhenitsyn wrote in a preface to the article first written in the early 1980s.

Solzhenitsyn's wife, Natalya, said it should serve as a reminder to Russia's political class about the dangers stemming from the huge gap between the rich and the poor, and the stark contrast in lifestyle and moral attitudes in the glitzy Russian capital compared to the far less prosperous provinces.

"Alexander Isayevich is deeply worried by this gap," Natalya Solzhenitsyn told a news conference Monday. "It's necessary to pay attention to that. If the government fails to do that, consequences would be grave."

In addition to being printed in the widely read, half-million-circulation newspaper, the article - first published in Russian in a magazine in 1993 - will be also republished as a separate pamphlet under the title "Thoughts On The February Revolution" and sent to officials across Russia, Rossiyskaya Gazeta's editor Vladislav Fronin said.

"People from the (Ear Eastern) Chukotka region to the Kremlin would be able to read it," he said.

... Read the whole story here.

(© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The BEST Finnish food. (Part II.) Mystery of a POW. Sexy Finn.

I have to admit, the Finnish food I like most is rye bread.

I tried to find a recipe in English in the net, but failed. All the recipes (in English) I found, had stupid fake ingredients, like white flour or eggs. Those really do not belong in the rye bread. Rye bread is just rye, old root of dough (NO yeast, either), water and salt. And it tastes incredibly good!

Did you know, that "Finns eat approximately 50 kg of bread per person every year. One third of that is rye bread." So claimed Vaasan Mylly bread company. I think I eat much more than that 16,666 kilos annually.

And most of the overweight, lazy candy-munching teenagers eat less. (I heard Britney Spears loves junk food and has been told to stop snacking, or else she will be a huge, fat ex-teen idol.) Rye bread keeps people healthy and slim.

All you Finnish expats, you can order you bread here. It must be explained to the non-Finnish-speaking foreigners, that according to the story, the "root" of the dough was brought to the company 80 years ago by a prisoner of war from Archangel.

So, the POW had been carrying the root of the dough all over Archangelsk oblast to the Finnish Lapland, or Carelia? Did he have it already with him when he joined the Soviet forces? How old was it back then? Hundred years? (I sense a good story here.)

This sexy Finn loves rye, too.

And his traditional Finnish knitwear is from where my ancestors came, from Alavus!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Enemies. Bad Finland. Food. (Part I)

An article that was published earlier in the New York Times, I think, has now appeared in the Observer of the Guardian. No wonder, as this is very interesting: "Who Is Killing Putin's Enemies?

Vladimir Putin has presided over a staggering economic boom in the six years since he took control of the Kremlin. Meanwhile, a dozen of his critics have been assassinated and the country's vast natural resources are in the pockets of a chosen few. (End of quote.)

Was quite touching to read about Anna Politkovskaya's last moments.


Finland, Finland, Finland. I have been blogging so much about Russia lately, that I could say a few words about Finland for a change.

So. Three things I dislike in Finland:

I could say some serious things too, like racism, xenophobia, industry destroying the environment and wasting energy and producing a lot of trash and exploiting the third world countries, but I'll get back to those later. This list is much lighter now. But yet, these are the things I hate:

3) Finland hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. Why, of why did we have to win the bloody farce last spring? Bad and extremely boring music, expensive set up. Bad everything. (I was très heureuse with zero points.)

2) Ugly, uninviting and distasteful Finnish architecture. There is a lot of it, too much. Look at any centre of any little town in Finland. Driving through the whole Finland, from Helsinki to Sodankylä, Lapland (every June, to the Midnight Sun Film Festivals) makes me cry.

1) The Finnish food. Bad, tasteless, raw tomatoes and cucumbers (pickled cucumber with almost no vinegar and with lots of sugar = Swedish style. Sugary "Felix" pickled cucumbers are disgusting), watery, boiled potatoes, bad meat...

When Berlusconi said two years ago that the Finnish food is bad, quite a bunch of Finns got offended. Why? (I said immediately this is the first, and probably the only time, I hear any words of wisdom coming out of Berlusconi's mouth.) Should the Finnish food be good, there would not be so many pizzerias, kebab houses and hamburger-junk-food places around. Please, the Finnish cooks: learn how to demand good ingredients, and PLEASE learn to use spices. And not just in Helsinki, but elsewhere, too.


Luckily Miss Funnybunny loves easy food. Easy to make, that is. I try to use a lot of organically grown vegetables, and never raw ones. I never put tomatoes into the fridge but let them rest by the window for a week or two before we eat them. And, in winter, sun-dried tomatoes or tomato sauces are more practical and tastier.

Because Miss Funnybunny's three-year-old friend at their nanny's is half Italian, my two-and-a-half-year-old Funnybunny speaks a (huge) bit of Italian, too! In the mornings, when she is to get her oatmeal, we often have the following discussion:

Mummy IStori: Here is your oatmeal, dear. Wait a second, I am just putting it onto the plate. There is Winnie the Pooh, see? No, the Mumin plate is not clean, sorry. Please, honey, don't come near the hot kettle. Put your legos away. NOW. No, I don't think your horsey would like this kind of food. Now...
Miss Funnybunny: I WANT to have latte, with my porridge! Latte, latte, latte!!!!!
IS: Ask nicely. But sure. (Pouring milk into her bowl.)
Miss F: And... Zucchero!
IS: Yes, sure. (Putting a tiny little bit of sugar onto the dish.)
Miss F: (Smiling like a winner.) And cannella!
IS: But of course! (Adding a puff of cinnamon onto Funnybunny's porridge.)

Then my happy and clever little daughter starts eating her oatmeal. She is proud of herself: she can speak, she knows how to ask for things - and how to be polite, even though that is easily forgotten - and she can eat without making a huge mess. (Just a little mess.)

And I am happy and proud, too.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Russia, my love!

Some people get confused when others like me pay so much attention to the undemocratic developments in Russia, critisizing the lack of human rights. Has been assumed that we, the watch dogs, are Russophobics, hostile people hating Russia.

But it is NOT so. I love Russia. (As do many of my politically demanding friends, too.) The best trips ever I have done to that bizarre, enigmatic and huge superpower. Some of my best foreign friends are of course Russians. And even in Estonia I love to dig into the visible and lively Russian culture, too.

This is my list of some of the best things in Russia:

5) The amazing history. It can been seen and felt everywhere, even in ultra-modern Moscow, when you scratch the surface. Old ruins and kremlins, like in Nizhnyi-Novgorod, old churches, palaces, stupendous Stalinka blocks of flats, monstrous but eye-catching Soviet-style monuments...

4) The food. When it is good, it's really good! (Be aware: lots of bad food available!)
Blinys. Borsch soup. Shchi soup. Cabbage pies. Pickeld cucumber. Pelmeniy. Mustard (Dijon-like). Ketchup. You did know, didn't you, that in Russia ketchup is the best in the world? My favourite restaurant in Helsinki is Russian, too. It's Restoran Kazak.

3) The people. The good, nice people. Guys who like to sing until early morning. With whom to enjoy the bridges being lifted. Discussing the meaning of life and drinking sparkling Ukranian wine in a cosy bar. In the kind of bar, where everybody claims she is an artist. Everybody. Old ladies taking care of the museums (and taking care of me). Grannies cleaning public toilets, day by day. Selling hand-made goods at market places. Cleaning tables at cafes, run by girls looking like super models. Witty Russians, never running out of captivating jokes and anecdotes:

An inspecting commission came to a lunatics asylum. To greet them, a choir of the patients sang a song from a popular movie that says "Oh, how good it is to live in the Soviet land!"
The commission noticed that one of the men did not sing.
"Why are you not singing?"
"I'm not crazy, I'm a nurse here."

A frightened man came to the KGB, saying "My talking parrot disappeared."
"This is not our case. Go to the criminal police."
"Excuse me. Of course I know that I have to go to them. I am here just to tell you officially that I disagree with that parrot."

2) The Russian music. My favourites: Rakhmaninov, Mussorgsky, at times even Shostakovich. Tchaikovsky; especially the violin concert and some operas, like Eugene Onegin, the opera I find the best opera in the world! The second best is the Queen of Spades.

1) More culture. Arts. The wonderful paintings in the Russian museum or Tretyakov gallery. Or Hermitage. Films, like the ones of Tarkovskiy. Literature. Master i Margarita, Doctor Zhivago (= my favourite), anything written by Dostoyevsky, poems of Akhmatova. Solzhenitsyn. Wonderful.
And Krokodil Gena , the best children's character ever, enjoy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Echoes Of Stalin. (Be careful when you have tea.) Games Part III. Shoes.

(More of the Games theme: see below, parts II and I.)


By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
Telegraph: 07/02/2007

Russian authorities were accused of turning the clock back to
Stalinist times yesterday after a group of human rights activists was
found guilty of having an "unsanctioned" afternoon tea party with two
Westerners. --

Nine members of Froda, a group that campaigns for ethnic minority
rights, were found guilty of holding an illegal meeting and fined
after they had tea with two German students visiting a friend in the
southern city of Novorossiysk.
The students, involved in similar campaign work in Germany, had
requested a meeting to find out more about a Froda project encouraging
children of different racial backgrounds to play football together.

But as the meeting began, armed officers from the Federal Security
Service, the intelligence agency that succeeded the KGB, burst into
the headmaster's study and detained the group.
"We were told that citizens were forbidden to gather and ordered to
make a written explanation," said Tamara Karastelyova, Froda's
"We were told that, under the new law, any meeting of two or more
people with the purpose of discussing publicly important issues had to
be sanctioned by the local administration three days in advance," Mrs
Karastelyova said.

The verdict, with its echoes of the Stalinist era when Russians were
forbidden from meeting foreigners, has provoked outrage among
non-governmental organisations.

This week's Challenge at Photo Thursday is Shoes.

This is also what I wish, for O.C. and her work.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Famous World Leader

Something for you to laugh at. And believe me, this is a good one.

Some serious tests have been taken; the web wizards have spoken:

If IStori was a Famous World Leader, she would be... (Mr HP just heard the result, and he looked at me with a very strange and dubious look on his face.)

And, what Classic Movie is IStori?

Wuthering Heigths.

Could have been worse. And I certainly hope I am not the hysteric psychopath kind of a Wuthering Heights character, but instead, a charismatic and altruistically kind-hearted person.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Games Have Begun. Part II.

The Games Have Begun. See my blogging yesterday. TGHB, Part I. This has been getting pretty absurd, as this was on the YLE TV news in Finland today. Not a new piece of news, but new to many of us.

Churches Must Report on Offerings (See the whole story here.)
by Carl Schreck (Moscow Times):

Moscow, Russia - Churchgoers who drop money in the collection plate might want to consider the consequences of their generosity, lest their places of worship be shut down in April amid a blizzard of bureaucracy.

Under new rules that Protestants fear will threaten religious freedom, churches must start counting how much of their tithe and offerings come from Russians and foreigners.

The new rules also require churches to account for every service and any other event, including the time and date it took place, how many people attended and the "makeup" of the participants, such as whether they were mostly students, small-business people or some other group, according to documents that churches and other nongovernmental organizations have to submit to the Federal Registration Service.

The rules are part of the contentious new law on NGOs that forced all foreign groups to reregister with the service by October. For religious organizations, the law means they must submit the new accounting forms to the service by April 15 or face closure.

"If there is a collection box in the corner, how are we supposed to know who donated what?" Konstantin Bendas, a spokesman for the Russian Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith, said Friday.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Games Have Begun. AGAIN.

(Little Fone Bone and Thorn are getting ready...)

The text below is quoted from lawyer Robert Amsterdam's blog. See the story as a whole in here, and don't miss the blogging before that one: Grigori Pasko blogged very interesting report from Chita region. That is one of the scariest prison camps created during the Stalin era, still in use, and where for example the ex-oil tycoon Khodorkovsky is currently being held. And, most likely Trepashkin (ex-FSB officer, now a lawyer) is being imprisoned somewhere in Chita.

Pay attention to the comment (below) of Robert Amsterdam: "It is clear that the games have begun once again."

Despite of its truthful context, it does sound like an uplifting line in a fantasy story; the tension before the Final Battle: "We all see the signs. It has started again. The Darkness is rising...

But this is not funny, and please don't think I am making fun of serious matters. I do agree with Amsterdam.

The games have begun. It is rising, the Purge has started again.

THERE you go (Amsterdam's blog):

"This evening in Moscow, lawyers of the defense teams for political prisoners Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, including lead lawyer Yuri Schmidt and Karinna Moskalenko, Yevgeny Baru, lead lawyer for Platon Lebedev, were detained by police at the airport on their way to Chita, taken to a station through a back door, and held for more than one hour without charges or explanation.

After much vigorous protest, a senior officer gave instructions for the release of the male prisoners, who were being held in one cell. At this time, the whereabouts of Karinna Moskalenko are still unknown.

In response to these warrant-less and unwarranted arrests, international defense counsel Robert Amsterdam issued the following comments:

“It is clear that the games have begun once again,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “The constant harassment of the legal team – which has included interception of communications, physical intimidation, disbarment, imprisonment, and deportation – apparently will continue as we prepare to defend our client from new, fraudulent charges. One can only continue to condemn these ongoing attacks as a further abuse of process which renders hollow any assertions by the Russian president about the 'dictatorship of law.' It’s just dictatorship.”


Ps. Guess where Miss Funnybunny, Mr HP and I went today. Our annual tradition: Bikers' Fair. Gee, I could not have guessed some years ago I would actually come to like that happening so much. But, you know, motorcycles and all the leather-rubber stuff there belong to the kind of irrational, not-at-all-boring, and old-fashionably adventurous world I sometimes miss very much. But don't we all?