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Windows to Russia

Russia’s northern capital St. Petersburg is marking 65 years since the breaking of the Nazi blockade. Formerly known as Leningrad, the city lived through 900 days of starvation and horror.

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

The President of Russia visited Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery and laid a wreath at the Motherland Monument. The head of state paid tribute to the soldiers who defended Leningrad and to the residents of the city who died during the blockade.

The same day, speaking at a concert on the anniversary of the liberation of the whole city from the Nazi siege, Dmitry Medvedev congratulated residents of St Petersburg and especially veterans on the anniversary of the end of the blockade.

The head of state also held in St Petersburg a meeting of the Victory Russian Organising Committee, at which preparations for the 2010 celebration of the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War were discussed.

January 26, 2009Windows to Russia!

D. Medvedev congratulated B. Obama on officially taking on the duties of head of state, and wished him success in this high office.

During the telephone conversation both parties expressed their intention to focus their efforts on renewing the potential of the Russian-American relations, and on resolving issues in a constructive way, including those where their opinions currently differ.

Their conversation also touched on the necessity of developing cooperation and coordination between Russia and the USA in dealing with most important common challenges such as overcoming the global financial crisis, ensuring a reliable system of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the fight against international terrorism, etc.

Pooling of efforts is also required in the resolution of delicate regional problems – such as that in the Middle East, and that of Afghanistan.

All these issues are part of the broad agenda for the bilateral meeting between the Presidents of Russia and the USA which is scheduled for the near future. (Link)

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

As close as I could get with a form of camera to bank. You can not see them but the people are lined out the door and down the street…

Hello,Windows to Russia!

I was drinking my morning cup of coffee and thinking about what I went through on Friday to acquire American dollars in Ukraine. I had to come up with only American dollars to satisfy officials.

Four months ago I could have withdrawn the money from an ATM. Not now! My card I carry is in dollars but not a single machine would dispense dollars. All I could get was Hryvnia the local currency but the higher ups in Ukraine did not want that they wanted $ Dollars.

So I went to a bank: Now in Kiev Ukraine there is a bank on every corner and two or three banks in between. There is no lack of a sign proclaiming to be a bank. But as I found out most are just little cubby holes that just desire to be a bank. These banks had hoards of people lined up and taking out money. But none of these small banks had any dollars.

After much effort in overcoming my Ukraine language abilities, I was directed to a large bank. The bank pictured above a huge bank that will be lucky if it survives much longer. I put camera away and got in line for a several hour wait.

There was many security guards on the outside of the bank and once inside the security situation doubled. I stood in line another hour once inside and went through three metal detectors. They looked for any excuse to toss people out the door so as to cut back on the run on the bank. From what I saw people had every form of container and package to hold their money and it looked to me like they were taking their life savings out.

I new the bank had dollars because I saw a official looking man put what looked like $100,000 dollars in a brief case. This man had two body guards and they walked to the front of the line pushing us pathetic people out of the way. :)

My turn came and the initial response was no dollars. I then became the very dumb American and did not understand what they said to me. I went completely dumb! The woman kept rattling words at me and I kept saying: I am American and I want dollars! (Я американский и я хочу доллары!)

She gave up and went and got her boss, that lady tried to talk to me and I gave that bewildered dumb look. She gave up, sighed and gave me my dollars.

I really wanted to say that your government wanted the dollars, not me but I was pressing my luck now. I had my dollars to finish the transaction, so I quietly escaped.

I have smelled fear and panic many times in my life and as I left the bank that is the memory that stayed with me. “The smell of fear from the people!”

I had my prize but I wondered about all the other people that are being demanded to pay in dollars. Seems unfair to me…

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

PS: To get these dollars cost me 1000 Hryvnia per 100 dollars. The first time I went to Ukraine I remember 300 Hryvnia per 100 dollars. (Ouch)

A strange fact in many governments: They like to be bribed and payed in American dollars. The hundred (100) dollar bill brings smiles to official faces. In Russia I have never had to pay except in Rubles. I like that…

Walking in Ukraine was always relaxing!

Hello,Windows to Russia!

It has been a few days since I last posted but sometimes life gets in the way of the fun stuff. :)

So I was just drinking my cup of coffee and thinking about the trip I just made.

I got back from Ukraine on Sunday Morning and it is sure nice to be back in Russia. Russia has become home and home is where the heart is!

First an interesting happening with the Ukraine Government requesting information, but information only deliverable by TELEX – (A public switched low-speed data network used for the transmission of administrative messages.) Of course this was information that I had in multiples of other forms but only Telex was acceptable.

Second interesting problem was Ukraine Government only would accept American Dollars! Not Ukrainian Hryvnia (UAH) currency. Yes you heard me correct I had to find dollars in a world that seemed to be lacking in dollars. Four months ago when I was in Ukraine all the ATM machines dispensed dollars, Not Now!

This story will unfold over the next few days. I am trying to get caught up on sleep and everything else.

Next post will be about finding dollars in a dollar poor area…

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

Hello,Windows to Russia!

It is really neat today to see Kiev wake up from the coma that no gas brought on. Today for the first time in 5 days the smoke stacks of factories are puffing vapor into the air. The people are running around all over the place instead of huddled by fires and electric heaters.

Now you can find heat all over the city and the steam is rising out of the manhole covers again. (You never miss something like that until it goes away.) I can burn myself on the steam heaters in the room again and hot water is really hot. :)

I hope that Europe has the same experience because it was no fun wearing all your shirts, pants, socks and sleeping with three blankets.

I feel sorry that Europe had to go through a gas shortage and really hope that it never happens again.

It is a good day in Kiev!

The gas is flowing again.

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.


A man who told everyone that he was getting death threats stands outside in broad daylight doing an interview with a newspaper reporter. (‘Novaya Gazeta’)

“I’m getting threats. What kind of threats, I asked him. If I don’t drop this case, I’ll get killed. Who are these threats from, I asked. I’m getting anonymous text messages, he answered. Right away, I said to him that maybe I should get a new lawyer, and he said No, I’m going to persevere,” Visa Kungayev, the father of Elsa Kungayeva, said.”

If he was getting death threats than what was he doing running around Moscow in broad daylight and doing interviews in front of the whole world. He was not protecting himself very well.

The lawyer of the Kungayev family, the relatives of a Chechen woman, who wasWindows to Russia! murdered by a Russian army colonel, Yury Budanov, has been killed. Stanislav Markelov was shot dead in the center of Moscow in broad daylight on Monday.

According to witnesses, a man wearing a ski-mask approached Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, a 24-year-old free-lance journalist for ‘Novaya Gazeta’ newspaper, in the street and took out a gun.

The lawyer was shot dead on the spot, while the woman was fatally injured with a gunshot wound to the head, and died shortly after she was taken to the hospital. (Link)

I would think that they should have been doing the interview in a more protected place. The fact that he knew he was being threatened with his life should have given him a clue to keep a low profile.

The shame is that he was shot because that is the Russian way of dealing with it. I had several high profile friends in America killed the same way. People say, “I am getting death threats” then they go about their life like it does not matter. I guess we all think it won’t happen to us.

My Job in the Military everyone was taken out in broad daylight.

These kinda things make me go Hummmmm…

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.


Hello,Windows to Russia!

Guess who has hot water and heat again. Me! (and Kiev)

Ukraine has gas and it sure is nice. I have spent days with no heat just like Europe and watched the news as Ukraine politicians argued and whined about Russia. The fact is Ukraine had no gas and it was getting cold here in Kiev.

Ukraine resumed transit of Russian gas to Europe at around 10am Moscow time. Gas flow through Ukraine will total 424.8 million cubic meters per day, of which 348.8 million cubic meters are destined for European consumers and 75 million cubic meters for Ukraine.

Under the terms of the latest agreement, Ukraine will pay $US 360 per 1,000 cubic meters. Should they fail to pay on time, Gazprom will switch to 100 per cent prepayment in dealing with Ukraine. (Link)

So while the world has lambasted me with multiples of unprintable comments and other nice thoughts. Russia was correct and Ukraine had to be called to the carpet so to speak.

All this hassle was to the fact that Ukraine had no gas and when Russia cut Ukraine’s gas off (due to non payment and past fees) and just kept the gas to Europe going. Ukraine had to resort to stealing the European gas. Then Ukraine shut the pipelines down and tried to blackmail Russia into giving Ukraine gas.

The last few days have been great in Ukraine. The TV stations have been burning up the airwaves with the gas issue. The biggest issue seems to be: Get rid of the Stealing Ukraine Government and get a new Government!

Things that make you go Hummmm…

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.

Hello,Windows to Russia!

Today I am still in Kiev, Ukraine. Svetlana is back in Moscow and I have stayed in Kiev to finish up work.

To me running around these countries is a lot like running around America from state to state. It is harder for Svet because she must have a visa for many countries. (Not Ukraine though.)

So I will be posting from the lobby of the hotel and trying to get comments caught up. I have at last count 58 comments to answer and I just answered 20 before that 58.

This does not count the hate you and die comments that are full of cuss words. The Ukraine’s got hold of me and their English only included sweet America words of endearment. :)

I posted all that I could and sent the others to the waste can. So If you see that you lost a comment, retype with out the explicits and I will post…

Got to go, battery is going dead and I got 3 posts and 20 comments answered. I will charge the battery and be back tonight to finish some more comments.

Kyle & Svet

comments always welcome.


New world math during the gas crises.

Normally the Western World blames Russia 100% on a, UkraineRussia dispute…
(The EU would have said we must reconsider our relationship with Russia.)

This time Russia and Ukraine were condemned equally – 50% to 50%…
(Now the EU says they must reconsider our relationship with Ukraine and Russia.)

That means Russia was 100% correct!

Cool Math!


On January 7 2009, Ukraine shut all four pipelines that send gas to Europe. Not Russia!


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