Author: Dane Lowell
Submitted by: redadmin

Chapt. 257 – 5,532 words
Columns :: Sergei roller-coast takes to the road

MOSCOW, July 17, 2007 -- Comments:   Ratings:
Average members rating (out of 10) : 6.00   
Votes: 1 since 2007-07-17 21:06

Sergei has a new plan: Travel
…and crime
…maybe murder
…but back to travel and getting rich
…while revenge plot reveals literary bent
Andrei back in our lives -- and my apartment
They’ll split as soon as I can give them 0
Zhorik POs CO, shredding New Year’s plans
So I’ll go back to Spain
Our dream of life together reaffirmed
Flying saucers unearth old acquaintance
…prompting a look at UFOs in Russia – in 1663
Kremlin now writing history textbooks
Russia takes new tack in curbing human rights cases
Orthodox Christers, skinheads, overrun gay cruising spot
New law would jail vagrants

MOSCOW, July 17, 2007 -- Sergei suddenly announced a new plan last Tuesday night: He would forget Tanya by traveling. Andrei would soon be getting $ 1,000 salary and they would go together – somewhere abroad. They would start by going to Moldova and visiting Igor, then they would keep going until they eventually reached America.

In his crisis, Sergei is turning back to the pillar he’s always turned back to: Andrei. They are twins after all, and have been inseparable schemers and partners – sometimes in crime -- since they were 16.

I still hadn’t let Andrei into the apartment. They would meet and plan in the courtyard in front of the house.

It was a maniacal scheme, but all his schemes are maniacal. I think he – they – would wind up in jail in one country or another. Sergei insists he knows people who know people who have succeeded….

On the one hand, I’m relieved. Sergei’s impetuosity and unpredictability is a never-ending source of concern – often of stress and usually a pain in the ass. On the other hand, I love and care for him, and I worry about his survival, although they’ve been surviving on the streets a long time, even killing and eating dogs if necessary.

I would – or will, if it really happens -- be better off without him. He isn’t adding to my life right now. And when Zhorik does get out of the army 11 months from now, it will be one less problem to solve.

When I told Sergei I was afraid he would wind up sitting in jail in some far-off land, he promised: “I won’t do anything criminal.”

“But you won’t have visas and other documentation.”

“I don’t need visas for Ukraine and Moldova, and they don’t throw you in jail for document violations. They just deport you.”

His vow not to do anything criminal lasted until the next day. After plotting in the courtyard for an hour, Sergei returned. In the meantime, Igor had called from Moldova and said he would be on ICQ in two hours and they could talk.

“I won’t be here in two hours.”

“Where are you going?”

“To steal.”

What do you mean?”

“I’m going to Moldova and Europe. I need money to do it.” Andrei, it seems, wasn’t going to have $ 1,000 after all. “I’m going to try to find the money.”

Oh, Christ!

“I hope you don’t wind up behind bars.”

“If I do, I do. If I don’t, I’m going to Moldova and Europe.

A recent photo of Andrei (second from right) with Sergei and Igor and some nondescript bimbo at Serebroniy Bor, a Russian nude beach. They obviously did not take full advantage of the opportunities.

“Wish me luck,” he said as he walked out the door of the apartment, and with an air of resignation, “If I see you, I’ll see you. If I don’t, I won’t.”

What has happened to him in the two weeks since Tanya split? He blames it on Tanya, but he’s still responsible for his own reaction to the one-two punch. He’s lost all sense of propriety – if he ever had any. He’s rudderless again.

On Thursday, Sergei discovered that Tanya was back in Moscow. He said he called her and asked why she hadn’t let him know and she had told him to fuck off.

So that set him off again. He absolutely had to get on the road or else he’d kill both her and her mother and maybe commit suicide for good measure.

He needed $ 500. He had $ 200. Could I give him $ 300?

I was wondering when he would get around to asking. “No. I don’t have any money.”

I didn’t, but probably would in a few days, but I was damned if I was going to give it to him and Andrei.

I reminded him that I would have the money if Andrei hadn’t conned their father into borrowing $ 1500 from the bank which I had to pay off.

“Could you borrow some from your friends?”

“Absolutely not.” I reminded him of the last time I had borrowed money from my friends for Andrei, who needed $ 5000 for a sure-fire cigarette hauling business in which he would double his money and would pay the $ 5,000 back immediately (Chapt. 144, Twins launch cig biz; London bombs mark birthday).

I reminded him that he still hadn’t repaid the money. I had to pay it and it cost me a friendship. “I won’t borrow money from my friends for you.

“The rent is due this weekend, and I don’t have any extra money.”

“Could you tell the landlady….”

“No. Absolutely not.”

Well, nothing left to do but steal it.

“You’re not the only person in the world to have a crisis, and nobody else goes around killing people or stealing money because they have a crisis in their lives.”

“I’ve had lots of crises, but this is the worst. She has ruined my life. I need to get out of Moscow or I will ruin hers.

He put on his T-shirt. “I’m going to go commit a crime.”

“I’m not going to wish you luck. You shouldn’t be doing this.”

I SMS’d Zhorik and told him what was going on. “Idiots,” he replied.

At last, a sane voice!

“I want to go abroad and get rich and come back and buy a nice car and a nice apartment for you to live in, and I’ll have a wife and children, and I’ll do nice things for all the people I love,” he said as we sat in the kitchen Friday afternoon.

While Sergei is mercurial and unpredictable, he’s also incredibly sincere and means everything he says – at the moment. As I’ve observed before, he’s so unselfish and so giving of what little he has. Every time he fantasizes about having money, he talks about all the good things he can do for others. It’s seldom about what he can have, but what he can get and do for the people he loves.

Realizing that this was one of the last times we would see each other, and that this was probably the last chance we would have for an intimate talk before he leaves in the next day or two or three or four, I began crying. I couldn’t help myself.

He’s a street urchin who was born into poverty and who has lived in poverty his whole life. He and Andrei left home when they were 16 and have clawed and scratched and stolen and connived to survive. And so far they have. But those he loves, he loves very deeply – his father, twin Andrei, his sister Anya, little brother Zhorik, Igor from Moldova, and me.

He is a street smart hustler, but underneath his layer of hardened street tough, he is basically honest and decent and kind and loving.

“You’re my wild angel,” I told him. He laughed and took me to the computer where he showed me his symbol on the “Legend” game: a black angel. He is a sweet, good kid in an ugly, bitter world, and he has adapted the best he can. Like a child, his love for those who love him is unbounded, but his hatred and vituperation for those he considers have betrayed him – i.e., Tanya -- is equally limitless.

“I’m not afraid of being beaten, or of being hurt physically, or of death,” he said, when I again told him I was worried about what would happen to him. “I’m afraid of being hurt morally, spiritually, emotionally, like what Tanya did to me.”

He told me that he had never wanted to get too close to Zhorik, because “I don’t want him to be like me. I want him to be a respectable lawyer or businessman, and to live a normal life – not like me.”

I would have to agree with him. I think Zhorik long ago rejected him as a role model.

“Revenge is all I can think about,” he said Friday night. The mercury column was down again, and he was back in his anger and hate mode when I kissed him goodnight and headed for bed. “It may be one year, or two years, or five, or ten, but I will kill her.”

“That’s nonsense,” I said.

“You don’t believe me?”

“Unfortunately,” I believe you. “But it’s nonsense. It’s crazy.”

When Missy woke me up at 4:45 Saturday morning, I looked into Sergei’s bedroom. He hadn’t killed her yet. He was busy at the computer, writing.

“I’m writing about Tanya’s and my relationship, about what happened between us, and about how she lied and hurt me.”

“That’s a great idea,” I said. Sublimating anger and bitterness by writing it all out has been a very useful tool for me my entire life. I once killed an impossible straight fantasy in a short story I wrote in college. Made me feel a lot better, and not a drop of blood was shed. My fantasy was still there to torment me the next day.

Sergei made me sit down and listen to his story. Although I didn’t understand all of it, it was an incredibly creative and riveting tale. It seems that at the beginning of their relationship, her boyfriend of the moment beat Sergei up pretty bad, but Tanya and Tanya’s love were worth it.

In his tale, he encounters Tanya five years from now with her new boyfriend. He captures them and ties their hands and places them in separate rooms where he has a talk with Tanya’s new boyfriend Vitaliy while Tanya watches on a closed circuit camera.

Without naming names, he tells Vitaliy the story of his and Tanya’s romance. At the end, he brings Tanya in and asks Vitaliy: “Do you love her? What are you willing to do for her?”

Then he pulls out a gun and hands it to Vitaliy. “If you kill her, your life will be spared. If you kill yourself, she will live. Who do you love more, her or yourself?”

If he puts the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger, he will prove his love for Tanya. If he points the gun at Tanya and pulls the trigger, he will prove that he doesn’t love her. Of course, the chamber is empty, and if he has shown that he loves himself more than Tanya, then Sergei will kill him.

“You know I don’t approve of that,” I said.

“Well, actually, I won’t kill him. But I’m sure that he will choose to point the gun at Tanya rather than at himself, and it will prove to Tanya that he doesn’t love her.

“Do you think when she finds out he doesn’t love her, that she will love me?”

“Honey,” I replied. “We don’t control our love. Our love controls us.”

“But do you think she will understand how much I love her?”

“Yes, honey, I do.”

And then: “Sergei, this is a very creative and clever story. You should be a writer.”

“Do you think so?” he asked, his eyes brightening.

“Yes. You’re very creative and artistic. You have a real talent.”

“Maybe I should thank her for uncovering my talent,” he laughed.

“Yes, you should. You should thank her.”

“If I go on this trip, when I come back I will write my memoirs. I’m only 25 years old, but I’ve had a lot of adventures, and I will have a lot more on this trip. Do you think it would be interesting?”

“I think it would be incredibly interesting. I definitely think you should do it.”

We were emotionally close again. “Dane,” he said. “I want to ask you a big favor.

“What is it?”

“In the four or five days we have left before we leave, can Andrei stay here and sleep in this apartment?”

“I’ll have to think about it,” I replied.

“I keep thinking about all the things he’s done,” I continued. I walked over and picked up the hand blown decanter than Sasha had made for me several Christmases ago and that Andrei had destroyed in his fit of rage last December (Chapt. 229, Andrei, caught red-handed, is evicted).

“Look at this!”

“Yes, I know. He’s very ashamed.”

“And I think about what he did to his father. He had him borrow $ 1,500 and promised he would repay it, and I’m the one who had to repay it.”

Sergei went into an explanation of that. His father had borrowed the money to pay for credit purchases they had both made. “And he plans to pay his father back.”

“I’ve already paid for it. He can pay me back. And all the stuff he stole…”

“By the way,” Sergei continued. “Andrei and I have talked a lot and he swears by his father, by everything, that he didn’t steal the notebook or your camera.”

“Tell me,” I replied, “Who was it who stole Igor’s mobile phone?”

[Sometime after Andrei left last December, former boyfriend and apartment mate Yegor came either to borrow or to pay some money. When he left, he immediately returned. “I left my mobile phone.”

[He said he had left it on the couch in the living room. It wasn’t there. I ordered everybody to remain in the room until it was found. It wasn’t found. Yegor called the police. If the police came, it would mean deportation for Denis and Igor and problems for all of us.

[Sergei told them: If you produce the mobile phone now, when the police get here, we’ll tell them the phone has been found. Give it to me. I won’t tell Dane, and nobody but you and me will know.”

[A few minutes later Sergei brought me the mobile phone. “Who took it?” I asked. “I promised I wouldn’t tell,” he said.]

So sitting in the living room talking about the thefts of the past, I asked Sergei, “who stole the mobile phone?”


So Denis had been the thief all along. He stole most – if not all – the stuff that was taken from my apartment.

“Andrei is very close to me,” Sergei continued. “Because of him and you, I didn’t do anything to Tanya. He doesn’t have the $ 1,000 because he hasn’t worked the last week because he’s wanted to be here with me to see that I didn’t do anything bad. He told me not to commit any crimes. He told me I should forget Tanya.

“I want him to be here with me.”

“Okay,” I said reluctantly. “But you’re responsible for him.”

A few minutes later, Andrei entered the apartment with Sergei. He kissed me. Neither of us said anything. But he has been sweet and kind and gentle – the Andrei I used to know.

My life will be much smoother without them, and I don’t want Sergei doing anything stupid like trying to steal the money for their trip, so I’ve relented. I told Sergei I will give him $ 300 – if I have it – by the middle of the week.

Once again, I’ll be draining my resources, but I really want them out of here. It may mean that I won’t have the money to go back to Moldova to meet Igor. But I can send him the money and he can come back by himself.

And when Zhorik returns next June, I want to live just with him. I don’t want to re-create his lifelong family dynamics by living with his two older brothers. He doesn’t want that either.

Zhorik has pissed off his commanding officer, who is now making life miserable for him. Zhorik had been in a foul mood for several days, but didn’t go into detail about why until he sent an SMS Tuesday night – in the middle of Sergei’s scheming about escaping to America.

It seems he came in late one night last week from partying with friends. He was drunk, and when the colonel upbraided him for it, he told him to fuck off.

I can’t believe he was that stupid. As I reminded him, he’s in the army, and army unit commanders are not noted for their sense of humor or for turning their cheek when their subordinates fuck them over.

Zhorik says they’ve given him a month to shape up, and if he doesn’t he’ll be shipped out to another unit.

He says he doesn’t care what they do with him. They can all go to hell. But of course, he does. He’s got – or had – a cushy deal there. Since he returned from his special “mission” to Bisk, he’s been assigned to working in the office on the computer.

The big question is how this is going to affect our plans for me to spend New Year’s with him again in Novosibirsk. He may not even be in Novosibirsk; and even if he is, will his CO give him permission to take a week off to spend with me if he’s pissed off at him?

I SMS’d him Thursday: “How is this going to affect our plans for New Year’s?” I asked.

“I think you’d better not plan to come here.”

Ivan in Spain had just the day before urged me to return to Ourense this New Year’s. But I had told him it was probably not in the cards because Zhorik had begged me to come back to spend New Year’s with him in Novosibirsk.

“If I can’t come visit you, then maybe I will go to Spain,” I replied to Zhorik.

So now it’s virtually certain.

In the meantime, Ivan has gotten a teaching job with an English language school there, where he has also set up a Russian Center to teach Russian language and culture. Which means, he said, that he won’t be returning to Moscow to teach at the Inst. of Diplomacy.

So I told him to find out if maybe I could teach English there too, “in case things go sour here.”

And at the rate things are going, I may want to seriously consider it.

Zhorik is the main thread still tying me to Russia.

“I’m going to give Sergei $ 300 so he can go on his trip,” I SMS’d Zhorik on Sunday. “I need some peace and quiet.”

“It’s up to you,” he replied, “whether you give it to him or not. But he’s going to come back for more.”

“It’s absolutely the last I’m going to give him. He’ll be out of the country. My dream is to live just with you, without Sergei, without anybody.”

“When I get out of the army, we’ll buy an apartment and we’ll live by ourselves,” he replied.

“That’s my dream,” I replied.

“Mine too,” he wrote back. “I hope that’s the way it’s going to be.”

I sent him back a smiley face :-).

There was a UFO Festival last weekend in Roswell, NM, commemorating the 60th anniversary of what true believers contend was the crash of a UFO, the retrieval of alien bodies by the U.S. Air Force, and a massive subsequent government cover-up.

My old Seattle buddy B.B. sent me a Washington Post article chronicling the event, which was to host some 50,000 UFO’ers. They had formed their own political action committee to try to elect representatives to Congress who would promise to try to open up what the UFO crusaders believe are voluminous secret government files on flying saucers and their extra-terrestrial wayfarers.

I recognized the name of the person described as the founder and executive director of the PAC, which I will change to Scott Beagle “to protect the innocent” as well as my own butt from being sued.

I met Scott – if it’s the same guy -- when I was living in Washington, D.C. in the early ‘70s. He was a really cute, suave, audacious hunk in his early 20s whom I immediately developed a crush on. Since we both spoke a few words of Russian, it gave me an excuse to pursue him – to no avail, since he turned out to be incorrigibly straight. All the cute ones were.

Scott seemed quite bright and innovative. But he was also something of a drifter and a flim-flam artist. He had gone through college on a student loan, and was assiduously dodging the payment notices, which having no fixed address rendered substantially easier.

In fact, since he was a good friend of one of my housemates, Blair H., he was crashing nightly on our couch.

He was also the proud owner of an aging ’51 Oldsmobile, which he was very fond of. The 6-bedroom group house we rented was near 16th St. NW, where parking was easy at night, but you had to move your car before the 6 a.m. rush hour.

His intention, of course, was always to get up and move his car before the bewitching hour, but he usually didn’t make it, because he and Blair would sit up and B.S. – an art at which Scott was a deft practitioner -- till the wee hours of the morning. Then he would oversleep and add another parking ticket to his growing collection.

He was heartbroken when his car was towed.

He disappeared shortly afterward and turned up in California or somewhere as a tennis bum -- a handsome, tanned jock who earned his walk-around money by teaching rich dowagers the fine points of the noble game.

When I returned to America for a New Year’s visit in 2001, I asked Blair about Scott. “Oh, he’s still around,” Blair said. “He’s heavy into flying saucers.”

So I am certain it was the same Scott Beagle.

At the UFO conference, according to the Post article, Scott declared “the secret world will fall. We want the truth embargo to end.”

So I found the e-mail address of the UFO PAC and of its executive director, and immediately fired off an e-mail to re-establish contact.

It returned at once: MAILBOX NOT FOUND.

Oh dear, still no fixed address? Once a flim-flam artist, it seems, always a flim-flam artist.

Or maybe the aliens got him.

UFOs in Russia are reported in the sensational press with about the same frequency as in the U.S. tabloids, my students tell me.

Among the last batch of books I bought at Shakespeare & Co. used book shop before the bureaucrats murdered it (Chapt. 136, Shakespeare follows Khodorkovsky) was an interesting little tome called UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union by a couple of Frenchmen, one described on the book jacket as a “renowned UFO investigator” and the other as a science writer for Le Figaro.

They visited Russia in 1990, in the early days of Glasnost and just before the collapse of the Soviet regime, to try to verify a slew of reported UFO sightings – both recent and historic.

What I found most fascinating was an account purportedly entered in the records of the Monastery of St. Cyril in 1663.

The purported translated text quoted in the book is a report from “your humble servant” Ivachko Rievskoi to highest church officials describing what “the farmer Lievko Fiodorov, from the village of Mys,” had related to him:

On Saturday, Aug. 15, 1664, the faithful from the district of Bieloziero had assembled in great numbers in the church of the village of Roboziero. While they were inside a great sound arose from the heavens and numerous people came out of God’s house to watch it from the square….

At noon a large ball of fire came down over Roboziero, arriving from the clearest part of the cloudless heavens. I came from the direction whence winter comes and it moved toward the lake, passing over the church.

The ball of fire measured some 140 feet from one edge to the other and over the same distance. Ahead of it, two ardent rays were extended.

Two hours later it reappeared over the nearby lake, darting from south to west before, at a distance of about 1500 feet, it “disappeared….But it came back again, to the great terror of all those who watched it, moving to the west and remaining over Roboziero for an hour and a half.”

According to the account, its radiating heat burned fishermen in their boat on the lake.

The account concludes: And I, your servant, dispatched a messenger to the priest of the district of Bieloziero who confirmed in writing that what was related had taken place.

Conclude the book’s authors: “It is noteworthy that the people involved, including the author of the report, thought they were preserving the record of a sign from God. They were transmitting it to the highest authority of their church, and the penalties for distortion would have been severe. What we have here is a valuable report from the depth of tsarist Russia describing the UFO phenomenon in its full glory with its most modern characteristics.”

If this isn’t an elaborate hoax – and I, of course, have no way of knowing -- it’s a remarkable record of a strange occurrence and certainly gives serious pause to consider.

It also would mean that flying saucers weren’t invented by the American pilot Kenneth Arnold in 1947, but may have been checking things out on Planet Earth for centuries.

I’ll believe UFOs exist when I see one. In the meantime, I think it’s possible – though extremely improbable -- that some beings from somewhere far away go for Sunday afternoon joy rides through the cosmos and drop by just to see if intelligent life has yet developed on Earth.

Satisfied that it hasn’t, they go looking elsewhere.

If Scott Beagle had a fixed e-mail address, they’d probably contact him.

Dictating history textbooks is one of the final stages on the route to dictatorship, and the Putin regime has now passed that milestone.

Putin initiated the process almost four years ago when he banned a textbook alluding to a charge that “a police state was formed in Russia” when Putin came to power, and inviting students to “prove or disprove” a journalist’s statement about Putin’s “personal power and authoritarian dictatorship (Chapt. 28, Day of the Turkey).”

In banning the textbook, Putin declared that the purpose of school texts should not be only to provide historical facts, but also to “…cultivate a sense of pride among youth in their history and their country.”

The budding ban has now come to full flower. A conference for history and social science teachers last month was presented with A Modern History of Russia, 1945-2006, authored and edited solely by Kremlin political operatives.

No recognized historian was involved in the compilation or the writing of the “history.”

The only historian cited in the book is Anatoly Utkin, directory of the Center for International Research at the Institute of U.S.A. and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, but he told the Moscow Times that he had no involvement in the book, although “maybe some of the authors have read some of my books. I’ve written 45.”

The teacher’s manual states the book is designed “to create a strong civic outlook (translated: ‘sense of jingoism’ in each graduate.” It is concerned, it unabashedly admits, “not so much about the facts, but about their logic and consequences.”

This is indeed a new milestone: History without facts. Even Putin didn’t suggest that.

An example of history without facts occurs in the section covering the Putin presidency, entitled “Sovereign Democracy,” which is the name coined by Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the Putin administration, to describe the Putin twist on the word “democracy.” No one has sufficiently defined it, but it seems to involve freedom of expression as long as it doesn’t offend the ruling autocrat.

Surkov himself wrote the chapter. In explaining the arrest and imprisonment of Yukos Oil founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest oligarch, and the effective transfer of his company to the State, the chapter explains that “…A government that had become stronger sent business an unambiguous message: Obey the law, pay your taxes, and don’t try to put yourselves above the government.

“They took the hint,” the section concludes.

“I don’t like the way they are imposing their vision of Russian history,” Izabella Ganovskaya, dean of the Institute for Upgrading Teaching Qualifications in Yekaterinburg, told the MT. “They are all trying to promote a manual providing a tendentious and shallow view of history.”

New history textbooks are certainly needed, said Roy Medvedov, one of Russia’s most respected historians. “All the textbooks we have had have either contained the ‘Soviet lie’ or the ‘anti-Soviet lie,” he told the Moscow Times.

And now, it seems, there is a new category in the pantheon of history textbooks: The neutral Putin lie.

Pavel Danilin, author of the chapter on political science and a manager of a political think tank with strong ties to the Kremlin, has also given some indication of how complaints and dissatisfaction with the propagandized textbook among teachers and academics will be dealt with.

“You can vent your spleen as much as you like,” he told teachers on a recent blog posting on LiveJournal. “But you will teach children in line with the books you are given and in the way Russian children need.”

And Russian children need patriotic dedication and devotion to their ruling autocrat. Not facts.

How to reduce the number of Russian human rights cases going to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, Austria, is still preoccupying Putin and his operatives.

After failing to disbar one of the Russia’s most active and successful lawyers in bringing cases before the Court (Chapt. 254, Apartment prices confirm “most expensive” status), Russian authorities, furious about the growing number of cases and the number they are losing, are now eyeing a different tack.

The chairman of the Constitutional Court is calling for legislation forbidding appeals to the Court of Human Rights before all remedies are exhausted before all Russian courts.

Just days before, the Strasbourg Court found Russian authorities responsible for the 2002 murder of a former speaker of the Chechen Parliament and ordered Russia to pay his mother $ 54,000.

Human rights activists contend that the high number of appeals from Russians to the European Court simply reflects the rampant injustice of the Russian court system. The Court has ordered Russia to pay hundreds of thousands – perhaps by now millions – of dollars in damages over the past several years.

One of Moscow’s most notorious cruising spots, the park near the Kitai-Gorod metro station, is in the process of being “cleansed” by Russian Orthodox homophobic teenagers who are now being joined by skinheads, who have added gays as a target of their violence – usually reserved for dark-skinned immigrants.

The anti-gay campaign was sparked, the Orthodoxers say, by the attempted gay demonstration in May (Chapt. 250, Second attempt at a gay parade thwarted).

Since June 12, they have been gathering every evening at a Kitai-Gorod park monument to the Russo-Turkish war – which also serves as an Orthodox chapel – with a “small, but growing contingent of nationalists, politicians and other sympathizers to assert that Russia is unwilling to embrace the rights of sexual minorities,” the Moscow Times reported.

The cruising area long ago supplanted the area in front of the Bolshoi Theater as Moscow’s favored cruising area. It also has a reputation as a gathering place for rough trade. There have been a lot of reports of pick-ups there poisoning, robbing, and occasionally murdering the guys they go home with. I would never go there. I’ve never had to resort to cruising there, although it’s the spot where former lover Maxim picked up Misha for me.

The Orthodoxers assert that gays are the aggressors. They “have occupied this territory,” one spokesman for a parents’ group told the MT, and have turned it into a den of prostitution and drug dealing. “The place where our kids used to stroll is now home to all kinds of vulgar acts.”

They claim that the gays are intimidating them with violence, and to “protect” the righteous and defenseless youth, growing ranks of nationalist skin-heads have begun joining them.

According to the Moscow Times, a “particularly nasty brawl” involving about 100 people occurred last month. One Armenian was reportedly stabbed. Since then, the MT reports, riot squads have been patrolling the park to keep both groups out.

One 19-year-old Orthodox Christer protested the “very shocking” activities that were occurring in the park, which included “kissing – and not only!”

She defended the May Orthodox assault on the gay demonstrators. “If we allow such events in Moscow, we will show everyone that we will become just like the rest of Europe. Our country is special. We have cultural values.”

Like denying human rights.

Another return to Russia’s “totalitarian past,” protest human rights activists, is embodied in a proposed new law that would jail vagrants and beggars.

The proposal originated with Moscow’s railway police chief, who protested that “normal people” should not “have to contemplate these human beings – if you can call them that” because they infest railway and metro cars with lice.

He advocates returning to the Soviet policy of jailing homeless people and beggars for a year and sentencing them to forced labor.

Human rights advocates say it is “just a new tool to strengthen police control over society” and a “return to totalitarian laws.”

There are 4.5 million homeless in Russia, says Maxim Yegorov, head of the organization “Shelter” in St. Petersburg, which helps homeless people there – largely with the help of donations from the European Union and European charities.

Yegorov contends the authorities are simply trying to “put an end to a problem they cannot resolve in a humane way.”

See also related pages:
Chapt. #258 - Putin wraps himself in a constitution he doesn’t believe in
Chapt. #256 - Independence Day: Why is there tyranny?
Chapt. #250 - Second attempt at a gay parade thwarted
Chapt. #136 - Shakespeare follows Khodorkovsky
Chapt. #28 - Day of the Turkey

This day years ago:
2005-7-17: Chapt. #147 - Russian Justice? “Equal Opportunity Bribery”