Monday, October 23, 2006

Budapest here we come....

...back in November...

Entartete Kunst?

A prominent Russian art dealer was recovering last night after being attacked by youths who smashed his gallery and destroyed paintings by an ethnic Georgian artist.

Russian television showed a video of paintings by Alexander Dzhikia that had been ripped from their frames, torn up and scattered around the gallery, The Times wrote.

This story gives me a very strange feeling. I am not in Moscow now, so it's difficult to judge. But after officials apperently started deporting Georgians from Moscow and asked schools in the capital to provide them with a list of pupils with Georgian surnames and then questioned the children about where their parents lived, for an outsider it really seems things are getting out of hand. This is scary. Where did we see this before?

In the meantime I wonder what the effect of this wave of anti-Georgian sentiment is on the warm relationship between Zurab Tsereteli and Yuri Luzhkov.

(On the image: Death in the museum (1997) by Alexander Dzhikia)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ave Maria, gratia plena...

In 1937, an illustrious society called Brabantia Nostra placed a Chapel next to the A16 Motorway devoted to Mary on what they believed is the cultural and religious border between Holland and Brabant, between Calvin and Carnival, or between Protestant and Catholic. They thought it would be wise to welcome the Dutch entering from the North.

Sta reiziger! Wees wellekom
Hier treedt ge Brabant binnen,
Doch weet, dit trotsche hertogdom,
Heeft Háár tot Koninginne.

Stand, traveller! Be welcome
Here you enter Brabant
But know, this proud Duchy
Has Her as its Queen

In 1947 the same movement also ordered for a Brabant hymn to be composed (Lied van Hertog Jan). The Society did not survive into the twentieth century, but the discussion on the hymn is still vivid...

Polskie pamiątki

Niet alleen in Breda staan Poolse gedenktekens. Vorige week ontdekte ik er ook een aan de voet van de Moerdijkbrug.

De winter van 1944-'45 betekende een periode van stilstand voor de divisie, waarbij ze aan de zuidoever van de Maas een sector bewaakte, van Tholen via Moerdijk tot bij 's-Hertogenbosch, lees ik op de pagina over de Poolse 1ste Pantserdivisie .

Hier nog links naar meer graven (Pools) en monumenten (Pools en Nederlands).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Факко & Сакко

Fokke en Sukke verliezen zelfs in het Russisch de hoop niet!

Je kunt het boekje bestellen via de website van Fokke en Sukke:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Борат @ Амстердам

De Stentor: Provocerende Borat zet Kazachstan op de kaart
de Volkskrant: Borat beledigt Kazachstan weer eens
AD: Smullen van beledigingen door Borat Borat slaat 'vrouw' aan de haak in homobar
RTL: Borat: amper verschil tussen Kazachstan en Nederland
NOS: Borat bezoekt Amsterdamse Wallen

Vodka war

One of the latest developing "difference in opinions" between Russia and the EU seems not to be about democracy, or is it?

A majority of EU countries seems to have the opinion that vodka can be made of anything that contains enough starch. Of course Russians - like some EU countries - would argue that genuine vodka should contain grain only. An espert group met in Brussels this week to taste the difference.

Meanwhile the Russians had other concerns about spirits.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Today a friend sent me this message:

Welcome to the EU-campaign pages of Amnesty International in Finland. During the six months that Finland is holding the EU-presidency AI Finland with help from all other Amnesty sections works in different ways to influence the Finnish government to make sure that the EU proactively does things to defend human rights worldwide. Amnesty demands not only words, but also deeds from the EU.

At the moment our main public campaign on the web is about getting the EU to demand changes for the better in Russia’s human rights record.

Amnesty International has serious concerns regarding a number of human rights problems in Russia. Here is a brief list of some of the issues, which we are closely following:
  • Arbitrary detention, ”disappearances” and torture continue in Chechnya and neighbouring areas
  • Violence against women in the family is a widespread problem in Russia.
  • Last year at least 28 people were murdered because of their race in Russia.
  • The new NGO law, which came into force in April this year, poses a number of problems for both local, foreign and international organizations operating in Russia.

Read more here...

A farewell to Anna Politkovskaya

Image by Oleg Klimov

Monday, October 02, 2006

Connecting people :-)

Democracy at work in Central Europe

"Social Democrats Defeat Governing Party in Austria" , "Hungary PM stands firm after big poll losses" and "Early Results Show Bosnian Voters Split on Nation's Future" are just a few of this morning's headlines.

While most of Central Europe was facing important elections, Netherlands was just preparing, having the party conferences last weekend. The mud-throwing has started.

But what worries me most, is that among the three elections mentioned, the most significant ones for the future of Europe (namely the elections in Bosnia) were not mentioned in the Dutch newspapers. Still the collective shame over what happened 11 years ago?

There are more significant things happening in the area. "Serbia Asserts Its Sovereignty Over Kosovo in Legislation" according to the NYT.

It's going to be a hot autumn on the Balkans...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sandra in the land of Beria

I wonder how Sandra Roelofs is doing these days. Tensions between what Russia regards as a runaway state and the Big Northern Neighbour rose over the arrest of four Russian soldiers on Friday.

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin called it "a sign of the political legacy of Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria" - carefully chosen words.

Georgia-born Beria was responsible for a number of notorious deportations and political murders under Stalin.

I hope Coen can comfort his previous compatriot. Already looking forward to his reports from the state in turmoil.