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#DragoonRide… On being a Parisean lady, trolling communists and other stories from the hybrid war front

All NATO intended was to show off power. That’s why Americans had been training in the Baltics, so close to Russian borders and then going back to Vilseck, Germany in the kickass military vehicles on our shabby roads. It’s the new Cold War afterall and we gotta fight it the best we can.

It all went smoothly in the Baltics and Poland on the way home. Some meet and greets, some cheering, strenghtening the alliences.

But in Czech Republic, the situation seemed much more dire… the Communists never been quiet bunch and they seemed to have learned how to use the social media. Sure, they may be Kremlin paid trolls, but this is hybrid war and on the blogosphere, they are winning… at least so it seems. Because us decent people are too liberal to create a united front………. So the Pro-russians people had advantage here. How many ways of saying “Putin good, Ukrainians are Banderites and fascists who eat Russian babies” are there?

It seemed the “resistance” movement of the communists was strong. They were planning to “stop the convoy”. We are gonna lay down on the roads if needed, they boasted on social media. In that moment the pro-western people were stirred. Our country shall not be embarrassed… or  jeopardize their security by appearing as a weak and unreliable ally. It started on the cyber front, when Lumpencafé had their fun trolling the former senator, the leader of the opposition to the convoy…. totally breaking down the movement. Paranoia and chaos were created.

And then………. the American convoy seen a cheering welcome. For us it was not merely about moving a military technology through the country. One of the slogans was “We waited 70 years”. We felt that it was definite end of the communist era and of all post-WWII wrongs. So Americans got warm welcome, crowds cheering along the roads and coming to meet and greets, with presents (beer, home-made cookies). They were surprised… and almost shocked.

It was our way of fighting, our way of trying to do our bit to secure our future, when we cannot count on our government, our president seems to be a Kremlinbot and times seem so fucking uncertain. So we throw ourselves on our ally, especially since the ally is good looking and has good car. Or Stryker. The upcoming times may not be good, but why not prove country’s worth, have fun and upset them commies at the same time? It felt almost like the days of Velvet Revolution. Nation coming together agains tthe common enemy.

We may not get a NATO military base any time soon… but we got some promised to be protected. And we all who came to greet the convoy might have played our part in obtaining that.

NATO couldn’t prepare this if they intended to. But we seen social society is not dead. And if the Strykers and Humvees and other vehicles did indeed damage our roads (Communists said they would… interestingly they had not such worries when they invited and kept here the Soviet occupants), it was fucking worth it.

Standing on squares, making masking nets of old bed sheets and being called “fascist” for wearing flowers in the hair…

I made a post once about what I learned in the Ivory Tower. But the Ivory Tower left me unprepared for the history unfolding. And for me taking a small, but straining part in it.

I went to occasional protests before, being a concerned soul, even in the Ukraine cause, which has been hopeless at some point. The protests, I mean. But that was about it. I was not really sure how to get involved more.

And then on my 30th birthday I went to join a protest event with ambitious goal to emulate Kyïv Maidan,tents and all (to satisfy police we called the tents 3D banners and then reduced them completely, while expanding our “petition stand”. Apparently, building tents is not part freedom of speech……… and it is sorta hassle, especially if you are, in fact, dweller of Prague coffeeshops). It never quite achieved it, but that’s mostly cause people here are not pissed off enough. But we done our mark. We might even have our spot in exhibition of national museum, which is talks :). So back then I spend long hours in the center of Prague, discussing with people, making photo-documentation and enjoying the atmosphere. Since then I spend almost every weekend “standing on the square” and one night in Montmartre café I vowed to so do it until Crimea is returned to Ukraine. To answer your question, dear reader… yes, we were bit drunk. But even more honest for it. So at times I pray Crimea is returned for selfish reasons (not only it saved my life back in 2012, but image of me in my 70s, with yellow and blue clip-ins in my hair, yellow and blue eyeshadow, taking off my jacket in the winter to pose with “It’s colder on the Eastern front” sign in some activist shirt… it sounds bit scary). And it is sometimes intense on the square. We get teary thank yous. Mostly from Ukrainians, but also from Westies, especially Americans (along with apologies their country is not doing more for Ukraine). We get death threats. We get Russians annoyed at us. “I pay 10 000 euro for hotel and I go out and see Maidan?”. One tourist destroyed our paper mache mask of Putin… out of love of her leader. Moscow Times wrote about the incident. A maidanista from Lugansk repaired the mask, swearing horribly all the way through the process. But the appreciation is worth it. Once a group of Donestk “cyborgs” was on trip to Prague, being treated in Poland for their injuries and came across our stand. They couldn’t be more surprised…. and happy. They came back few later with others. We had a night off in one of Prague American style pubs and shared stories. Some of them are yet to go back on the eastern front. I pray for them… it is rough out there. And they are good souls. And many of them have families.

And then there’s the helping out in any way you can. Aside for humanitarian aid collection, which got out of hand and we hand trouble finding place to store it and a we collected “too much” so more lorries were needed…. a great problem to have… Winter was dedicated to making white masking nets. Using old bed sheets and weaving them into a fishing net. Who woulda thought that my hippiesh knowledge of knowing how to make macramee would be useful in matters of war? So we got together, Ukrainians and Czechs, weaved something that looked like something spider on acid would produce (“the system is…. that there is no system” as I like to explain it)  and shared our dark, dark humor. It’s been Maidan this, Maidan that, hahaha, we are such Banderites! and jokes about burning tires and eating Russian babies. It was propaganda from other side that started it, but why not laugh it off? It annoys the enemy for sure. And if i wear my “Prague Maidan” badge and ribbons, I can be sure no damn Russian brats sit to me in subway. Once one Russian child ran to her mommy when she seen me in my get up. I felt sorry for her at the moment, but later we had a good laugh at the incident.

But as much as we are loved and appreciated by some, ignored by the most (who still believe Ukraine is far far away, even though Kyiv is probably closer than some of their vacation destinations), we got very intense hate from some. First time somebody called me a fascist, it made me feel anxious. Now I am anxious when day passes on the “Maidan” and I don’t get called fascist. Does it mean we are losing our relevancy? Along, with being likely tapped in my online communication and on my phone……… it’s more about “forgetting to be paranoid” than suffering paranoia. Because just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not after you, right?

One feels mostly good on the square. Or weaving or ripping sheets frantically (a good stress reliever. Is Putin Huilo? Of course. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip!) But then one wakes up in the middle of the night, there is plane landing on the military airport close to my place and one is dwelling in existentialism. Can we make it? And THEY? Can we even live normally after this all settles down? What if our efforts are pointless? What if our side loses? Activism takes toll. I am sure it got me some scars on my soul. I grown years later. But there’s been good things too. I am no longer afraid to talk to people. I am much stronger for all of it. I learned a lot about world and people. I know I will look back at these times as good times, even in midst of bad times. Among our flags, yellow and blue clothing and flower wreathes we created our own world, where we consider ourselves the “normal people”… even when we are a minority… sadly.

Maybe it was all worth it, even if we don’t overthrow our president as our petition intends to or if we don’t save Ukraine. Maybe providing moral support to enough people counts too. Maybe we have sown few seeds. I hope we did. I know we done all we could.

Long time not to write

… but I am just too damn busy “standing on a square” as part of Prague Maidan. Something that started as protest movement of few pissed of individuals and turned into something quite big. An NGO for starters. And I guess that receiving death threats means you are important right?

I been wanting to write about my experience for a very long time, but often the words just don’t come.It’s bunch of bundled flash images.

I feel like I been sucked into history. Sometimes it feels fatal. Either this works, or……………. well, I am pretty sure I banned myself from Russia forever. Or for as long as Putin is in Kremlin. And the rest? I don’t even wanna think about. All I can say, that if I am wrong, I hope to never ever be right….

So maybe one day I will be able to talk about it. Right now I feel like the historian who says one shouldn’t write about history while it’s still being made. Except, I pray for the best i my sleepless nights.

Words for the end times….

Let’s turn off the news
so I can close my eyes
and pretend
everything is fine.
I need
just a moment to breathe
and find something good…
Maybe if all lights go out
we will finally be able
to see the stars
and have enough time
to remember all the things
we have forgotten…
Maybe only a tragedy can make us feel something
and bring us together.
I close my eyes
and play my music really loud
so I don’t hear the planes disturbing the night skies…
Maybe nothing is going to happen
maybe we are all going to live…
Maybe I am just paranoid…
So I got idealism…
but will that keep me warm?
Or do I have to still count on Gazprom?
I am angry
and knowledgeable
I am brave and strong
but how long can one keep on going?
When everything falls apart?
I may stand up for others
but would somebody stand up for me?
When the nights are rainy and long
I pour absinth for the victims of history
and its children
I think struggle makes people precious
so here is to the young revolutionaries
you were so reckless and impulsive
here’s to those who didn’t make it
(I know you hate to watch us from somewhere elsewhere and probably hate you died for such unappreciative bunch,
but I still think of you
and pray for your precious souls)
I drink for us idealists
we need something to numb the world woe…
I drink to you, controversial figures of the history
(it’s thanks to you were are here…
but it’s because of you we are so screwed)
For the end of times
I will wear glitter on my eyes
(instead of teardrops)
and my fancy dress
the one I bought in Sevastopol…
back in the good times…
I got a fancy faux-fur coat
hope I can wear it through the nuclear winter
hope it fits my body, cynicism and endurance…
Hopefully I will be able to say
I done all I could
hopefully I can go
with peace of mind…
And in the meantime…
I stand up for the oppressed
building tents on cobble stones
talking to anybody who will listen…
I paint my nails in yellow and blue
little gestures in big times
flags and flower wreaths…
When words fail
I might as well use my looks a weapon…
Maybe it will help some…
Glory to heroes!
and future for those who never quite had their chance…
so hard to make impact
so hard to make people care
and some say we’re at the wrong side
well, if we are… hopefully
we’re never gonna be right…
When we all go down
our precious humankind
one thing I know,
none of us were innocent
some are guilty of taking sides
some for staying neutral… in the hard times….

Political song

I’m gonna write a political song
Because I know they are wrong
A song about how we need a revolution
How it’s time to fight
cause we are young, we are precious, we are right

I’m gonna write a political song
Something to sing on protest marches
Sharp words of power demonstration
Handful of mottos
For oppressed nations

I’m gonna write a political song
Because I know how easily things go wrong
A song about the darkness, how there’s a light
But I know, how to make things right

I’m gonna write a song
That people will recall when times are dark
Words with power to start a fire
A song that is the spark

About freedom, peace, love and all
About how empires always fall
How I think I have a solution
How it’s time for a revolution

That we need to change things
And change them fast
About how bad times never last

Gonna tell you that truth is something
We shouldn’t hide
How time and Gods are on our side

Gonna write a song to sing on barricades
That freedom and hope are something
That never fades

I’m gonna write a political song
About lost hopes
And things we’ve done wrong
Gonna write something to sing and shout
… even if we’re not allowed

I’m gonna write cutting lines
About how they’re wrong
words of comfort for those wounded
Affirmation that we’re strong

I’m gonna write a political song
Something for people to sing
But deep inside I’m afraid
It won’t change a thing

Reply to Mr. Mearsheimer

To article published in Foreign Affairs
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the-ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault

I might not be reknown political scientist, but I have something to say too…….. (and of course,I am well trained in writing calm sounding walls of text…)

Dear Mr. Mearsheimer,

I read some of your work back in University, where I studied International Relations, and me and my classmates very much disagreed back then. I am from Czech Republic, yes, the former Eastern bloc, country of 10 milion… do you really think we shouldn’t have a choice which side to join and what international organizations to be members of, just because it would make Russia mad? Reason why we wanted so desperatelly be members of NATO, is because we wanted to feel safe after being soviet sattelite for four decade and occupied by USSR for two decades. I am aware some American representatives and academics weren’t sure about occupation troops moving out my country back in the 1990s, claiming that Russia might be mad and it could destibilized the region. Central Europe was not destabilized and I believe we are good allies and consumer of your goods. Economically, this was good for the USA.

USA considers 9-11 a great tragedy. It was one single attack in the post-war history. USA didn’t face long term occupation or insecurity what will be tomorrow. My country has been occupied for twenty years, many have died, there has been many political prisoners, we couldn’t travel, many people weren’t allowed to study, we faced shortages of daily items (even food) while my country has to forced to send goods to USSR for free… My parents were severly affected in their career choices, studies, they weren’t allowed to travel outside of the country….

NATO means security to us, that we will not have foreign tanks and soldiers in our country. EU provides us with economic development and gives us carreer and study opportunities that many in the USA take for granted…

That is why I stand for freedom of others to choose their way. Ukraine should decide what THEY want and what is best for them. If they wants to be members of NATO and EU, they should be free to do so and we should not prevent them, because we are afraid of Russia. This is the same logic as not defending person who is bullied, because the bully may get mad.

Much of the Eastern bloc is now thriving, we are doing much better than during the Cold war, even despite economic crisis (which is world wide problem anyways), because we had a choice to determine our way. We chose to join the Western Bloc. After all American ideals of freedom kept our dissidents, including Václav Havel (world known and acknowledge politician and first democratic president of Czech R.), going in the dark times.
Shouldn’t Ukraine have the same right? I grew up seeing the economy to devolop from empty shelves in stores to see thriving economy, where everybody with bit of smarts and starting capital has a shot. I guess over there in America, people take it for granted. Just like your huge shopping Malls with overflowing stores. These one of the many reasons why the Eastern countries want to join the Western Bloc. Ukraine didn’t gain much by being close “friend” to Russia in 1990s.

World politics is not a chess to be determined merely by strategy. Ideology plays an important role. It makes nations thrive. It makes lifes of their citizens worth it. Freedom is important concept for everybody, not just Americans. Does author realize, that if he published article criticizing Putin’s actions in Russia, he would be shot, poisoned, run over car in dark street, or relocated to Siberia. Easy to talk from Ivory Towers. Often one doesn’t realize it is people living down there too. Foreign countries aren’t pawns of fhe superpowers. Just because people were born in country that is not a superpower does not mean that they don’t have right to determine their own fate like people in the USA have.

USA determined their way back in 18th century, despite wishes of British monarchy or balance of power. American independence changes the world in many ways. They were brave enough to go against how things were done in the world back then. Others have the same right for freedom and pursuit of happiness.

We should condemn and stop Russia’s tyranical behavior and not try to make excuses for it. We don’t tolerate it in individual’s not matter how rich and powerful they are. Statesmen who were afraid of Hitler are also partly responsible for WWII. Putin doesn’t want balance of power. If it was up to him, he’d want to control the USA as well. USA cannot sleep soundly in world with Putin’s Russia. Putin is danger to the USA and to the world.

I vote for…

I vote for people
I vote for peace
I vote for freedom
to do as we please

I vote for love
I make a stance
I vote for freedom
and human independence

I vote for those
who want to thrive
I light a candle for those
that didn’t make it out alive

Don’t vote for parties
or even countries
cause these never last
I vote for the future
and for the spirit of the past

I vote for you
I vote for me
I vote for those that didn’t give up
for the survivors of history

I vote for courage
For those who understand
I vote for people
Those I defend

I vote for the brave
and yes, I take sides
I root for those who know
and want to make things right

All fucked up on the Eastern Front

Remarque will sure forgive me a play on his most famous book…

One thing I noticed is I can stand watching wars on-line as long as it’s “over-there”. Sure it distresses me and haunts my dreams. Gaza situation makes me sick and worried. Thinking of Libya gets me nervous and hopeless.

But when it comes to war on *my* continent, in *my* backyard, it sends me in full on panic mode. It makes me tense and nihilist. It’s nothing but doom and gloom. Makes me wanna burn “End of the history” book (and preferably throw it at object of significance). I cannot use cynical humor to comfort myself (although euromaidan playlist blasted on the top volume helps for a while. Then it triggers my paranoia that some of my neighbors will throw a stone into my window…).

So I follow the news, rejoice and feel slightly hopeful at town signs painted in yellow and blue (not cause I think nationalism is wonderful, but because it’s symbol of human spirit to me), watch news about “the plane” in disbelief and of other war crimes tweeted with pride of immature teens… and feel doom and gloom. It never gets better. The worst in us always prevails in the end.

World watches cautiously. Stuff like that happens in the “suburbs of Europe”. Maybe those in the west miss the cold war secretely. Maybe to them this war is a background noise, just like the trouble in Syria… maybe they just try not to think of what could this lead to. Who knows.

It’s a mess. And it’s too close to me geopolitically and too close to my heart. Almost hits home… I understand why heroes in Remarque novels drank so much Calvados and cheap rum. Because believing in human spirit doesn’t do the trick at times.

The politics of gay Europe

Politics may be an over the top term, when it comes to Eurovision…. but than again, maybe not. Politics always played a part of Eurovision and this year, despite the slogans and fluff about joining… it was very heated.

So there was a sing off between Russia and Ukraine. Too bad Ukrainian singer is actually supporter of fallen Yanukovich and thought man in hamster wheel is good stage prop. Had it been Ruslana or environmentally conscious Alyosha (who thought Pripyat is a good video prop), it would be even more satisfactory. And Ukraine mighta scored much higher. Even now lots of Ukraine votes were in fact fuck-you-Russia votes. Russian song was generic fluff as everything Russia sends to represent on Eurovision, because god forbid their song actually had some message, controversy or something. (Actually, to be honest, Yulia Savicheva was a good entry and so was Tartar Alsou. Speaking of Alsou… she has been Russia’s token Tartar announcing voting results), And Russia got booed a lot. Some people say they felt sorry for those sweet little blondes… but maybe this was the only way to show Russia how much Europe loves them (that and all the “are they gonna invade to rig the results” jokes on Eurovision webs over the internet). Media doesn’t let on lots of things in Russia…… but this was a clear message. Gay Europe hates you, Mr Putin. For hating gays, for the war… nil points for democracy.

(and yes, the song sounded like an annexation anthem. Annexation anthem for some shitty racist Disney movie…).

But you know, all this has nothing on winner of the contest…. Conchita Wurst a bearded lady with strong voice. Conchita, you know, is transgender. Or transvestite (but drag queens try to look as feminine as possible!). Intergender? Conchita (or Tom in civil life) explained that Wurst is not only a sausage intuendo, but it means “doesn’t matter” in slang, because her gender doesn’t matter. Interesting character. Of course her win is seen as proof of Europe’s decay in non-gay Europe parts (Russia and Belarus actually protested this singer before the contest). Apparently, she will doom us all. Forget the economic crisis or the war in Ukraine, forget neo-nazism and corrupt politicians. Bearded lady is coming out to get you… (this isn’t the first time Eurovision revelead some prejudice in some. We had non-white-enough Loreen and zomg-Muslims-from-hard-to-spell-country (Azerbaijan… to be honest, they have their problems…).

But before Russian commentators tell us about how decadent and godless and just overall horrible we are….let’s remind ourselves of their win (Dima Bilan) that deliberatelly pampared to the gay Europe. Sappy love ballad? CHeck. Sexy singer? Check…. maybe. Gays and little girls love him though. Baring chest? Check. Guy playing violin? Check. Figure skater on 2X2 portable ice ring…………. check (that part broke my gaydar… it hasn’t been right ever since). That entry was “gayer” than Dana International. Not quite as gay as Conchita…. but I don’t mind gayness coming from the heart. What I despite is pampering the gay population of a material gain. It’s wrong when Katy Perry does that (after using gay as insult in one of her songs). I could forgive it when it comes to TATU because they are Russian and it was almost brave to pull that act in Russia (and as much as they played on the sexy part, they managed to be controversial and it was not all about HEY-YOU-GAY-BUY-MY-RECORDS. That video when they kiss and cuddle while people watch them from behind barbed wire, so they look like animals on display, but in the end it turns the judgemental people are in cage and the girls walk away? That was great). So point being, Russian commentators have no right to say anything about European music taste… or our gaydom. Because it was the gays that voted your guy winner, back then.

 

In the end, I hope that Austria’s queer/intergender/trans/doesn’t really matter winner can stir a debate in Europe and bring on some tolerance and understanding. And if not… at least we have now some entertaimer like we never had before.

Yellow fields, skies of blue and burning barricades (dedicated to Ukraine)

 

Idealism is an ideology that supposes you believing in human goodness. No matter how many wars you’ve seen on Livestream, you need to believe that there are good people everywhere… they just want to be free and thrive.

I fell in love with yellow fields and skies of blue

The cities with their wide avenues and tragic histories

I fell in love with a nation

Whose perseverance could teach us thing or two

I fell in love with a nation that is known for its troubles

… but then again

I always been attracted to the troubled ones

 

The best of times

Never quite happened

Will they make it through the worst of times?

 

So TV tells me of revolutions and/or coups

Of the brave, the treasonous

About annexations, referendums, the separatists, the nationalists, the terrorists and the crimes

And it seems, everybody’s in the wrong

(but those are not the people I know…

That is not the country I know…)

They speak of strategic interests, treaties and unpretty histories

They fingerpoint the blame…

None of this I ever wanted to see happen

Especially to a place I love so

 

Idealism supposes people are inherently good. Everything can end up well, if they are given a chance.

 

I fell in love with troubled places

And they seem almost gone now

And I knew the history was always tragic

And I know that history is never at side of the people

I knew that all

… but I was hoping it might be different this time around

That they may get a pass, a chance

 

Idealism tells us a lot about how the world should be… but how to believe it in worst of times?

And if I ever get a chance

To go back again

It will be too different

If that times comes

Will it be still possible

To hope for the best of times?

(or at least for better days to come)

For us and especially for them

Won’t we all turn bitter?

 

This is my open letter

To the people

Let’s preserve one more time

So there is somebody to tell the tale

 

In my heart

I got a pain for a nation

In my head picturesque memories

And a tune about a barricade of burning tires… that didn’t let the wild dogs in…

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