MOSCOW, May 28, 2007 -- We’re setting heat records, according to the newspapers. 32 degrees C, a fraction under 90 F, set the record for the late May date last week.
This week is supposed to be even hotter. The forecast for Thursday is a sweltering 95 degrees F. High temperatures here are always unbearable because of the consistently high humidity.
Although I hate hot weather, this heat wave isn’t bothering me all that much surprisingly, probably because my classes are early – 8 a.m. – and late – 6:30 or 7 p.m., so that I manage to avoid the mid-day extremes, and the apartment is comfortably cool.
Long-suffering lot that they are, the Russians seldom complain about it – probably because the weather is usually the least of their worries.
The Russian-EU summit last weekend in Samara was notable for largely being a waste of time, say observers, while stressing that it’s important that all sides in the fractious amalgamation keep talking to each other.
According to news reports, Putin was visibly pissed at repeated EU accusations that Russia was injecting itself into internal affairs of former Soviet satellites, is failing to solve murders of Kremlin critics, and is squelching freedom of dissent – which is of course all true.
International pressures forced Russia to tolerate a “dissenters march” in the same city – Samara – on the same day as the summit; but the EU’s complaint that real dissent is not permitted was underscored by the fact that the two most important people of the march – presidential candidate Michail Kasyanov and anti-Putin activist Garry Kasparov – were detained at the Moscow airport because, airport officials surmised, maybe their tickets were counterfeit.
After a “thorough investigation,” it was determined that the tickets were quite legitimate and the two were released to catch their flight to Samara – but only after the last plane for Samara had already left the ground.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly ‘lowed as how it was a mighty strange coincidence, Putin scoffed that he was not afraid of “marginal groups” that disrupt everyday life, according to the Moscow Times, and noted that Germany had reigned in protesters ahead of next month’s G8 summit in Germany.
Arresting people for throwing stones and acting violently was different from stopping people on their way to protests, she replied.
Although, as the Samara protest march – admittedly without its organizers – showed, Russia is still sensitive to international pressures, this can be expected to be less and less of a factor in the future as Russia’s oil and gas cache arm her with greater and greater economic clout.
Putin said as much last week after his trip to Austria and Luxembourg to boost trade with the two countries. With an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent or more, a healthy inflow of capital into the Russian economy and a swelling cash reserve, "there are fewer ways to pressure Russia" these days, he declared.
Why Putin has such a hard-on for Estonia was explained in an op-ed article in the Moscow Times by former MT editor Lynn Berry.
It seems, according to some of Putin’s earlier published interviews, that during WWII Putin’s father was in an NKVD sabotage battalion of 28 Russians operating behind German lines. After blowing up a train on Estonian territory, he and his fellow Russian saboteurs hid in the woods. When their food gave out, and they turned to local Estonians for help, the Estonians gave them up to the Germans.
Only four of the 28 survived, according to Berry, “including Putin’s father, who hid in a bog, breathing through a reed, to escape detection by Nazi soldiers who were searching for them with dogs.”
Berry goes on to describe a press conference two years ago when an Estonian reporter asked why it was so difficult for Russia to apologize for the Russian occupation of her country.
“Putin responded by launching into what in the end amounted to a convoluted defense of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Chapt. 247),” in which Hitler and Stalin had divvied up their anticipated European spoils.
“He went on to explain that there had been no occupation of Estonia because Hitler had given the territory back to the Soviet Union in 1939. ‘This means that if in 1939 the Baltic countries had joined the Soviet Union, then in 1945 the Soviet Union could not have occupied them, because they were already a part of the Soviet Union….’”
Berry noted that before the Estonians turned his father over to the Nazis, “The NKVD had begun arresting the Estonian leadership and anyone else who opposed Soviet rule. Prominent Estonians were being executed or sent to labor camps.”
Thus “For Putin,” she observed, “history is still the history taught in the Soviet Union.”
The gay parade scheduled for May 27 (yesterday) was a bit of a fizzle, which is understandable since most gay men and women don’t relish having their heads batted in with police batons.
According to the Moscow Times, riot police action wasn’t that violent. Most of the violence came from the Russian Orthodox “Christians” and other opponents of gay rights. The police violence came in turning a blind eye to the hitting, kicking, and pelting of the participants by violent gay rights opponents.
Actually, the “parade” was little more than a procession to “city hall” by some 50 gay rights activists, including many legislators from European countries, bearing a letter asking hizzoner Lord Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov to permit a gay rights march.
Organizers of the event were arrested immediately and hauled away in police vans.
However, gays got some surprise support from a Russian Duma legislator, Alexei Mitrofanov, a member of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, who recently announced his support for gay rights and was among those at yesterday’s demonstration protesting police actions.
Sophie Int’Veld, a Dutch legislator in the European Parliament, called the police response “a travesty to democracy….I’d like to take home a political message that the European Union can’t turn a blind eye on this any more. I am very sad.”
Some might say the EU should “cast the moat out of thine own eye,” since there is a lot of anti-gay opposition and violence in the EU member Baltic countries as well. But the big difference is that gay demonstrations and parades are at least officially permitted. The opposition comes, not from the state, as in Russia, but from anti-gay citizens. The police at least try to protect the gay demonstrators.
Russians are getting shorter! The average Russian is 1.4 cm – a little over half an inch – shorter than a decade ago, according to the National Academy of Medical Sciences.
“Today, Russia is becoming one of the shortest nations,” NAMS senior specialist Alexander Baranov told a press conference last week.
Teenagers have also become weaker and less robust, he said. Boys have 18% less muscle mass than 10 years ago, and girls, 21% less. Lung capacity has also shrunk by 20%, he said, and 20% of all children are underweight.
So not only is Russia losing population at the rate of about 700,000 a year, but those that are left are shorter and less healthy.
It’s impossible not to notice that Russia is increasingly a nation of short people. At 6 ft., not considered tall by American standards, I’m very conscious that very few men’s and boys’ eyes meet mine at the same level.
Why are there so few tall men in Russia? Dimwit Yuri, who populated my apartment for far too long, patiently explained it two years ago (Chapt. 140): The tall ones all got shot during WWII, because their heads were sticking up. So only the short ones and their sons and grandsons are left.
He knows this is true, because his grandfather, who was a WWII veteran and therefore an expert, explained it to him.
As for loss of muscle mass, my own unofficial survey finds that, if Russian boys are indeed losing muscle mass, they are fortunately not losing it in the muscle that counts.
The vibes between me and Igor have been waxing and waning over the past couple of weeks, mostly because of the ongoing presence of Finish, who – despite last week’s mandate by the ucheskoviy (Chapt. 249) – has continued to show up at night and leave in the morning, spending the intervening time in our bed.
On the positive side, it has given me the opportunity for a couple more encounters with his piska. One morning he had his hand inside his shorts scratching his balls while the head of his dick was peaking out of the top. I lifted the band, and I think he had a hard on, but it wasn’t much bigger than when it had been flaccid a couple of weeks before (Chapt. 244).
Another morning I could hear him breathing deeply and could see the clear outline of his dick in his shorts. I reached over and squeezed it. Again, I think it was erect, but it wasn’t very big. About the same time I noticed that his eyes had opened. Just how awake was he? It hasn’t seemed to affect our interactions.
Another night I awoke to realize he was watching the porn channel. “Do you have a hard on? I asked, and reached over and grabbed his dick through his jeans. Yes, he did. But through his jeans, I couldn’t tell much about the dimensions.
He giggled, but moved my hand away. Obviously, he wasn’t inviting me to have a hand in resolving the dilemma. A few seconds later he disappeared into the john. Apparently, he’d rather do it himself!
But I don’t really have any illusions about him. He scratches his balls too much, and he’s got splotchy skin and bad breath. He’s personable and cute, but he doesn’t trip my peter meter.
On Wednesday night, he and Igor spent the night sitting in the courtyard and talking. Finish left very early to go to a new job, and when Igor crawled into bed about 7 a.m., Missy was making noises that she had to go out.
“Where are you going?” asked Igor when I got up to take her for a walk.
“Wait, I’ll go with you,” he said.
He steered us to a bench in the courtyard and we sat and chatted while Missy roamed and pee’d.
“Are you offended?” he asked.
“Why should I be offended?” I asked quizzically.
“I know I haven’t been very attentive to you, and my behavior toward you has not been very good the last few days.”
Well, at least he noticed!
“I’ve been disappointed,” I replied, “but not offended.”
He put his arm around my neck and pulled me to him.
“I promise that I won’t do this again – stay out all night. I’ll be home with you and I’ll be quiet.”
“Our relationship is very important to me,” I said. “When our relationship is good, I’m happy. When it isn’t, I’m depressed.”
“I’ve noticed,” he said. “I promise I will start being responsible and attentive.”
“If we were inside,” I said, “I’d kiss you now, but I can’t here.”
“I know,” he said. “Nobody else needs to know what kind of a relationship we have. It’s our little secret.”
So he is acknowledging that we have a sexual relationship, even if he calls if “playing,” and it’s important to him, and he wants to keep it! Good sign.
“My toenails need trimming again,” I smiled.
He laughed. “I’ll trim your toenails again. I’ll start being good to you.”
“Yes, nobody needs to know that you’re my ‘ukhazhor,’” I agreed, using the word with a lot of different meanings but which he seems to be using to mean my devoted caretaker.
“Yes, nobody needs to know. That’s our little secret,” he repeated.
“I am very happy right now,” I said. “My heart is singing.”
“I want to keep it singing every day,” he replied.
When he lay down to sleep about 10 a.m., I crawled in beside him and reached to put my arms around him. He withdrew.
“You don’t want me to hug you, honey?”
“I need to sleep.”
“Maybe we can play tonight?”
But that night, when he lay on his back next to me and I put my arm around him, he again shifted away.
“You don’t want to play?” I asked, a little taken aback after our conversation that morning.
“I have a stomach ache,” he said.
The next night, Friday night, when he finally came to bed about 4 a.m., I put my arm around him: “Do you want to play?”
“Later,” he replied.
"You mean later now or later like tomorrow?" I asked.
He watched TV for a while. When he turned it off, I asked again, “Can we play now?"
So for the first time in about three weeks, we “played.” I try to monitor each experience to see if anything is changing. I noticed that this time he got harder quicker and he came quicker, with no porn or TV of any kind. I interpret this as meaning he is enjoying it more.
And this time, while he was still shooting gism down my throat, I jerked myself off and came almost simultaneously.
Life is good.
Worthless, blond Alex with the big dick, the skuzzy sex partner I inherited from Hong Kong Harry last year, has phoned several times over the last couple of weeks, and I’ve consistently put him off. The last time he said he wanted to meet me and pay me back the 1000 rubles that he borrowed in St. Pete last year to catch a train back to Moscow (Chapt. 217).
He has consistently put off paying it, which has pissed me off mightily. Finally we arranged. He would come over Monday night after my class with Masha and we would chat and he would pay me the 1000 rubles.
So he arrived. We kissed each other cursorily. “How are you, blah blah blah.”
“Would you like some wine?” I asked, pointing to the two bottles I bought earlier in the week waiting for a convivial time and companion to drink it with.
“I don’t have the 1000 rubles,” he said. “My bank card is broken.”
I don’t know what he meant, but it was the same old dodge.
“Would you like some tea?” I asked. “If you didn’t bring the money, I’m not in the mood to drink wine.”
“I’m leaving at midnight tomorrow to go back to Pitr,” he said. “What time can we meet tomorrow and I’ll give the money then.”
“11:00,” I said.
“Okay, at 11:00 I’ll call you and we’ll meet.”
“I’m really pissed,” I said. “You’re completely undependable and unreliable. If you don’t show up tomorrow with the 1000 rubles, don’t bother to call me again.”
“I’ll call you.”
Of course the fucker has never called. If he ever does, I will hang up. Hong Kong Harry dumped him for the same reason: He simply wouldn’t keep his word. I’m better off rid of him, but I’d be better off still if he’d given me the 1000 rubles first.
The apartment crisis seems to have been resolved. I won’t move – a least now. The landlady called Monday night. “Do you want me to move?” I asked her. “I want to continue living with Sergei and Igor, and if I can’t live with them here, I will move. It’s up to you.”
She answered with a rapid-fire stream of Russian.
“Wait, Natasha, I don’t understand. I’ll give the phone to Sergei.”
They chatted, and Sergei repeated that all the demands were coming from the ucheskovky and that it’s okay with Natasha if he and Igor continue to live here. She mentioned something about repainting, repapering, etc., but we’ll deal with that later. So at least I don’t have to come up with a wad of dough over the next few days and life can continue as normally as it ever gets around here.
See also related pages:
Chapt. #251 - Is U.S.-Russian conflict unavoidable? Probably
Chapt. #249 - “Illegal Moldovans” threaten apartment crisis
Chapt. #247 - Russian bear roars again on Victory Day
Chapt. #244 - Zhorik interlude proves frustrating