Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Unity Day

Today (4 November) is a public holiday in Moscow – Unity Day. 

Most people also took yesterday off, which means the city has been pretty quiet, as many people take advantage of the four day break to head out to their dachas (a house with a plot of land). Moscow is surrounded by numerous villages of dachas – in Australia we might call them weekenders – and it sometimes seems that almost everyone has one. Most Friday afternoons the roads are clogged worse than usual as people drive out to their dacha to do some gardening, painting, relaxing and whatever else one does in such places.

We had coffee first thing today and then did some shopping. I was surprised at just how quiet it was, even allowing for the dacha exodus. Returning to Mayakovskaya metro station I found out why – there were many thousands of people in Tverskaya Ulitsa with Russian flags and bunches of red, blue and white balloons celebrating Unity Day.

After taking a few photos I was motivated to find out what Unity Day is about. What I write next is plagiarised straight out of Wikipedia. I, at least, admit this – there have been revelations recently about members of the Russian Duma (parliament) who have engaged in fraud and plagiarism to obtain university degrees.

 Unity Day commemorates a popular uprising which expelled Polish invaders from Moscow in 1612. It is called Unity Day because all classes of society, from tsar to serf, united in the effort. During the Bolshevik years the day was replaced with a commemoration of the Russian Revolution. In 2005 the traditional holiday was reinstated. This did not make those remaining Communists in Russia very happy.

Age shall not weary them. A small group of diehard communists gather regularly in Plochad Revolutsi (Revolution Square) near the statue of Karl Marx
  Apparently only about 4% of Russians know what the holiday actually commemorates. I won’t be too critical of that though. I have spoken to Australians who don’t know who the first governor of Australia was (come on guys – he came out with the First Fleet – rhymes with fill up) and watched a You Tube video of Americans unaware of what the DC stands for in Washington DC (and it’s not Dodgy Congressmen). There are people everywhere who don’t make much of an effort.

For the younger generation, the hammer and sickle adorned red flag seems to be a thing of the past

Entrance to Tverskaya metro station. Bad day to catch a train.
The ever security conscious Russians (the word on the jackets is 'police')

OK, I know I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and young people keep looking younger with the passing years, but aren't these guys a bit short to be in the army

Map of a part of Ukraine known as Crimea painted up with the colours of the Russian flag and being carried by a guy dressed up as a Russian bear. I find it ironic that a day commemorating the expulsion of invaders from Russia is being used to celebrate the invasion of a neighbouring country by Russia. I confess Russian foreign policy completely baffles me - their actions over the past 12 months may have poisoned relations with Ukraine for decades, if not longer.

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