Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 April 2016

30 April 2016. “Born in the Year of the Goat”

00 goat 090416


The Chinese Zodiac moves on a 12-year cycle. According to Chinese belief, every year is associated with one of the Zodiac figures. Well, what Western years are equivalent to the Year of the Goat? Here’s a list:

  • 1907
  • 1919
  • 1931
  • 1943
  • 1955
  • 1967
  • 1979
  • 1991
  • 2003
  • 2015

The Chinese year begins in late January or early February and goes into January/February of the next Western year.

“Goat people” aren’t overly fond of sudden changes or impulsive decisions. Rather, they find comfort in repetition and well-laid plans, having a natural inclination towards this type of work and are skilled at pulling together actions and events in a manner that flows naturally. However, they’re protective about who they let into their inner circle. Not just anyone can get to know a “Goat person”. Rather, they must prove themselves steadily over time, through kind gestures and loving support, until they win final acceptance.

Neither Nicky nor I are “Goat people”… I’m a “Horse person”… I’m supposed to be flexible, but stubborn when it comes to ideas, but also incredibly patient when it comes to hearing out what other people have to say. They favour straightforward and blunt conversation, yet, they avoid starting up unnecessary trouble. “Horse people” are incredibly loyal friends and partners. Perhaps, it’s because first impressions have a lasting effect, or simply that they wish to do well by others. However, they’re consistently there when friends need them. They’re also quite capable of resolving conflict.

Nicky is a “Tiger person”… incredibly strong and stable, however, they sometimes hold too much inside and can find it difficult to let stress out. They tend to act without warning. From setting out to discover new things to getting lost in their thoughts and dreams, they rarely ever show exactly how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking. Chinese belief posits that Tiger people and Horse people are quite compatible.

This was a fun little romp, wasn’t it?



Saturday, 12 January 2013

12 January 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… What Did They Make That Snake Sculpture Out Of in Chilly Yakutia?

00 dung Cobra Snake in Yakutia. 12.01.13


00 dung Cobra Snake in Yakutia 02. 12.01.13


His loathing of “capitalist pigs” led Piero Manzoni to can his faeces and put it up for sale as artwork in 1961. However, when 61-year-old Mikhail Bopposov created a giant cobra out of frozen cow dung, he did it for the kids. Speaking about his 400-kilo (882-pound) creation, the native of Yakutia in Siberia told RIA-Novosti by phone Friday, “I made it so that the kids could play around it and have some fun”. The snake… coiled, with head upright and hood widened… is on display in the village of Yolba, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the republic’s capital, Yakutsk. Bopposov created it to mark the coming of the Year of the Snake, which begins 10 February according to the Chinese calendar.

Cattle-raising is widespread in Yolba, which has about 500 people. Bopposov works as a building manager at the village school, but his 17 cows provide him with an ample supply of dung, or “balbalkh” as it is in his native Yakut language. When asked about his artistic aspirations, Bopposov said modestly, “This isn’t sculpture, it’s just a piece of work that I did”. Bopposov first dabbled in the medium in 2008, when, inspired by his military service in a tank division, he created a tank out of dung. Encouraged by the reception from local children and adult villagers alike, he proceeded last winter to mark the Year of the Dragon by sculpting a winged serpent, also using cow manure.

Yolba villagers also sculpt from snow and ice… Bopposov and his son contributed a rabbit in the Year of the Hare in 2011… but the medium isn’t as convenient, as it’s hard to shape when temperatures fall far below freezing. January temperatures in Tattinsky Raion, where Yolba is located, hover between -42 and -44 degrees (-44 to -48 degrees Fahrenheit). Come spring, the dung sculptures are always dismantled, both out of aesthetic concerns and because “balbakh” is a valuable fertiliser sold for compost or used locally in the fields during Yakutia’s short summers. Carefully enunciating the words in his correct, but heavily accented, Russian, Bopposov said with a laugh, “Guess I’ll have to try to do a horse in 2014, if I can pull it off”.

12 January 2013

Aleksei Yeremenko



Saturday, 14 July 2012

Why Did the USA Repudiate Băsescu?


Removing Băsescu from office might seem illogical from the point of view of US-Romanian relations, but it isn’t by chance that the USA repudiated the Romanian president. At first sight, the president seemed a perfect vassal of the USA… he sent Romanian troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, allowed deployment of a missile defence site (thus turning Romania into one of the priority targets for Russian nuclear missiles), started verbal attacks against Russia, and advocated American interests in major European forums. Under such conditions, many supporters of the Romanian president believed that Băsescu’s American patronage was stable and wasn’t subject to change. However, the reality turned out to be different.

General Clark’s visit to Bucharest and the fast replacement of Ambassador Gitenstein prove that Washington made a decision to support Romania’s USL (Social-Liberal Union) Party in the domestic political struggle. Despite all of Băsescu’s efforts to remain an unsurpassed vassal of the USA, he ended up in a situation where the decision-makers at the US administration decided to remove him from politics. The obvious question is, “What has he done to upset the Americans?” There are two possible answers to this question and the answers might not be mutually exclusive.

Traian Băsescu failed to win the goodwill of the American Democratic Party élite. The image of “being one of the Republicans in Bucharest” turned out to be harmful for his political career. Probably, another incident made Washington nervous… Băsescu’s visit to the Chinese Embassy earlier this year, where, on 10 January, he took part in Chinese New Year celebrations. The decision was quite unexpected, since the president had never taken part in such events. Only a couple of Bucharest analysts noted the inconsistency between the official version of the visit and the calendar. In 2012, the Chinese New year started on 23 January… two weeks after the official ceremony held in Bucharest. For an outsider, the situation was clear… Băsescu needed to discuss something important with the Chinese, so, for that reason, they moved the New Year’s party some two weeks. We can only guess what topics they might’ve discussed, but one thing’s obvious… such discussions can’t help but cause certain irritation in Washington. Today, the situation Băsescu has found himself in might be the result of such annoyance.

Another possible explanation, which doesn’t exclude the above-mentioned scenario, might be Băsescu’s behaviour abroad. Superpowers often use their vassals as a means of exchange in their geopolitical manoeuvring. At a certain point, Băsescu’s behaviour abroad started to irritate some geopolitical players so much that his “getting out of the game” became a topic for discussions at high-level talks. In the context of such machinations, global geopolitical forces tend to make mutual concessions on certain regional problems, often combining things that don’t have any apparent connection.

It is quite possible that régime change in Romania… that means removal from political life not only the president, but also the entire team who supported him… is just a tit-for-tat exchange, a concession in a geopolitical deal made by the USA at the international level. One can prove such an explanation of the current situation by the fact that General Clark went over there and actually organised Băsescu’s removal in a blitzkrieg, with military precision. It looks like Washington needed the urgent resignation of the president, but didn’t want to leave the process in the hands of local executors. The steps that the USL government will take domestically and internationally, and the difference between them and what Băsescu was doing might be able to somewhat explain the real reasons for his removal. Regardless of that, it’s clear that Romanian politics will never be the same and Romanian politicians will understand that subservience cannot guarantee them security for the future.

12 July 2012

Valentin Mândrăşescu

Voice of Russia World Service


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