August 8, 2008
This morning, when I opened my fridge there was a mosquito, chilling out. How they get into my apartment in the first place is beyond me. Mosquito screens on the windows, mosquito detector on the door, mosquito check-ups every hour and yet every night they have themselves a feast and I have itchy patches on my arse.
Still I don’t suffer half as much as does my wife.
Which brings me to the point: I am Russian, she is English, we sleep next to each other, mosquitoes mostly bite her and I get a raincheck.
Do Russian mosquitoes prefer foreign blood over domestic? After all many Russian consumers have passion for foreign brands. Maybe Russian mosquitoes are communists? Many supporters of the old times are still about, you see them now and then gathering around statues of the forefather of Russia’s communist revolution.
Of course, when it comes to Lenin, nothing can beat the Mausoleum. When Solzhenitsin died I was half expecting headlines like “Body of celebrated dissident is set to replace Lenin in Red Square” and such. After all, many streets have gone back to their pre-revolutionary names and the imperial eagle has replaced the hammer and sickle.
However, speculative name changing and the replacement of a relic are not even in the same league, so I guess the swap is never going to stick. And rightfully so. The communist past is an important part of Russian history and a fascinating one at that.
The revolution, the Stalin years and the grim conflict of the Second World War all have inspired many talented architects and sculptors and left behind many landmarks.
When in town, check out Victory Monument on Ploshchad Pobedy. It’s dedicated to the victims of Leningrad’s Siege and the heroic defenders of the city. Sculptures of soldiers, partisans, sailors and workers surround a 48-m high obelisk. There is an underpass leading to the Memorial Hall. Solemn music, subdued lightning and the persistent beat of a metronome create an atmosphere to compliment a display of artifacts that records the war effort of Russian people.
Of all crimes against humanity war has to be the most serious one. Do people like George Bush realize that once they give their troops the go-ahead many sections of the community that are not supposed to be involved in the action will suffer a knock-on effect? These people are not soldiers, they did not sign-up and dying is not part of their job description.
The Siege of Leningrad lasted 900 days and lead to death of 2 million people, half of them civilians. Ost-West Kontaktservice offers an excellent guided tour designed to introduce you to the Museum of the Siege,”Piskarevskoe” Memorial Cemetery and “The Flower of Life” - a particularly disturbing monument as it commemorates the city’s many children who lost their lives during this tragic event.