I’ve been thinking about Russia a bit lately. The other day I saw a documentary about living in Moscow on SBS. Basically, the story was about ‘business stealing’ in Moscow. It seems that if you have a bunch of private security doods (ie private police force), you forge some proof of ownership documents (including those documenting the sale of a business), have a contact or two in the government, you can simply walk into a business with your private police force and take over. Then it belongs to you. If you sell it on, the person who buys it legally owns it, because they bought it in good faith. There are next to no legal options for the person whose business you’ve stolen. And if you want some land somebody’s house is on, you simply burn down the house. Because, under Russian law, if your house burns down, you no longer own the land.
There are some corruption issues in Russia atm.
Then we saw that Night Watch film. And I thought about the people in that documentary when I saw that film. I bet the ordinary Moscow citizens wish there was a watch for Russian businessmen and politicians.
And then I was thinking about the Russian lindy hoppers. Each year at Herrang there are a bunch of Russian lindy hoppers. They’re subsidised by the Herrang organisers because the Russians are so economically rooted. As a consequence, there are some seriously kick arse Russian lindy hoppers. I wonder about this… should Australian visitors to Herrang be sponsored as well, because they don’t have the money to travel to Herrang? I know that the Swingapore people offer scholarships to promising dancers each year – they have all their dance classes paid for, and have to do classes in all sorts of dance styles (not just lindy) at the studio, which does salsa, hip hop, etc as well as lindy.
And then there are a few Russian people living in my area – I hear them talking in Russian on the tram or bus every now and then.
On a slightly different tack, I knew a Polish woman about my age (or a bit older) when I was at unimelb. She told stories about compulsorary military training when she was at high school. It was like me having to learn to use a machine gun and a rocket launcher. She told this story as well (and I paraphrase):
When I was in primary school, we had to go a long way to school each day. In winter, the snow was very heavy and it was hard to get there. We used to catch a bus that was old and didn’t run very well. One day the bus didn’t come because it had been blown up. So we couldn’t get to school on the bus any more – we had to walk. In the winter, we often couldn’t get to school at all
And this was a story by a young woman just like me, sitting in a conference room with a bunch of other pgrads who were going to be hosts at the open day. Can you believe that story?
I often think about how Poland wants to become part of the EU (I don’t know if they are yet – I haven’t checked). And about Turkey. The other night we saw a film on the ABC which starred Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald, which was an odd, quiet film about a shy, awkward English public servant who worked for the councellor of the exchequour (sp?) and met a girl in a coffee shop whom he invited to come with him on a business trip to Reykjavik in Iceland. Turns out it was the G8 meeting. And they were discussing extreme poverty. And this girl is so outspoken about poverty she’s asked to leave. It was an interesting film. Mostly about this man’s utter discomfort with human relationships, and with this girl’s obsession with children. It was called The Girl in the Cafe. We only saw it by accident, but it was interesting.
Iceland seems cold. I once saw a film called Cold Fever about a Japanese guy who has to travel to Iceland to do some rites in memoriam to his parents who died there. That film is quite lovely – sort of cold and still and eery.
Yeah, anyway, there’s no point to all these stories, really, I’m just kind of thinking about these cold, snowy countries and places I haven’t been. But have seen in films and on telly.