Wednesday, 31 July 2013

It's better to see once than hear a hundred times

Лучше один раз увидеть, чем сто раз услышать.

Transliteration: Luchshe odin raz uvidet', chem sto raz uslyshat'

This is so true - you can know a fact to be true, and understand it, but sometimes seeing a thing or experiencing it can lead to a greater or deeper understanding

I've found myself using this Russian proverb quite a lot lately, as i've flailed around trying to come up with satisfactory English equivalent - "seeing is believing" doesn't quite cut it for me; as it seems to close, in sound and meaning, to "I'll believe it when I see it"  which seems to cast doubt on a fact rather than suggest the opportunity for deeper understanding, which the Russian proverb gives. (There is of course "a picture is worth a thousand words" - but I've only just remembered it. 31 Oct 2013)

I've found this to be true even with the simplest of things. Eg i know potatoes grow in he ground and can be grown from other 
potatoes,  but when I dug some up from my garden that had grown from discarded potato peelings, I had a bit if a eureka moment, a little bit if pleasure as some neurons were fired up in some dark corner of my brain. I'm easily pleased . A eureka moment - an enlightenment , an awakening - incidentally does anyone know whether Buddha (awakened one) shares the same etymology as the Russian word to wake. - budit?  Seems obvious that it does.

Anyway, for me, a trip to Russia offers any number of such moments where seeing once does indeed seem far better than hearing (or reading about). I remember such an occasion when i stopped in Moscow in 1993 on a family homestay visit (incidentally the family were called Kalashnikov) I had long known that Russian cars did not have wiper blades attached to the windscreen wipers - at one time they were in such short supply, that if you left them on, someone would nick them. To avoid this, Russian drivers would remove them and store them in the boot of the car until they were needed I.e. when it starts to rain. A few drops of rain on the windscreen and the driver would immediately pull over and park the car, get the wiper blades out of the boot and attach them,then continue with the journey. Knowing this, I was thrilled when the driver, who had collected me from Sheremetyevo had barely left the car park compound when it started to rain, immediately stopped the car in the side of the road and proceeded to attach his wiper blades - brilliant!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Russion Opposition Leader - Navalny found guilty by Russian Court

I don’t know the whole ins and outs of the embezzlement case against the Russian opposition blogger, Alexei Navalny, but I found it depressingly predictable that Navalny was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to prison.  It raises more worrying questions on the independence of the Russian Courts and the extent to which the Russian state, in particular Putin, is cracking down on all form of dissent and opposition to the regime.

On a positive note, Navalny has been released, pending appeal, which means he can still stand as a candidate in September’s Moscow mayoral elections. The thousands of demonstrators which took to the streets last night protesting the guilty verdict -  descending on Manezh Square and blocking traffic on Tverskaya - might have been a factor in the authorities allowing his release.

Navalny and his codefendant and business partner, Pyotr Ofitserov, stood accused of embezzling 16 million rubles ($490,000) worth of timber from a state-owned company in 2009, were found guilty of the charges and sentenced to five years in prison.

Many observers said was part of a politically motivated crackdown on dissent by the Kremlin, especially since Navalny was charged with the offences just one day after he was registered as a candidate for the Moscow mayoral elections.  

There are many curious facts on this case which suggest that the charges were fabricated and the case against Navalny and Ofitserov were politically motivated – you can read more about this on The Medeleyev Journal Blog:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dave's Russia Page relaunched!

Originally established in 1999, but no updates since 2003, Dave’s Russia Page is back – now on its own domain and ad-free site:  I chose “” because I Iove the film and the book of that name, and I have a page and a blog dedicated to this movie.

But in general, this is my site dedicated to all things Russian. I try to cover a variety of subjects relating to Russia - its language, culture, history, politics and anything that is of particular interest to me. 

The site was originally hosted by at, and is still there at that location, but it is an advert-ridden site with annoying pop-ups.  I am in the process of transferring all the content from that site to include in the new location.  So far, I have only transferred the Home page, "Why Russia?" and "About Me".  I will transfer the other main features shortly.  All of the other content: news, economy, photos and miscellaneous sections will be put in an archive section of the new site.