The idea behind this weekly column is to explore the six Eastern Partnership countries “beyond the Kremlin” (so, beyond Lukashenka, beyond Saakashvili…). Too often, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are presented one-dimensionally or distorted by the western media. Eastern Notebook juxtaposes Culture with culture, and brings together reflections from inside and outside the region.
Ukraine’s Catwoman. Ahead of Ukraine’s parliamentary elections in October, the campaign has been getting catty. One set of billboards, in Dniprodzerzhynsk, eastern Ukraine, showed an old lady holding a cat with the slogan: “I found out my grandson voted for the Party of Regions, so I rewrote [my will] to give my house to the cat.” (Note: the Party of Regions is currently the government party in Ukraine). The poster has sparked a range of satirical replies, collected here by RFE/RL with English translations. Meanwhile, the billboard itself has been taken down, for mysterious reasons. As for the elderly lady: the photo was apparently taken from the internet without her knowing, and she lives in Russia, not Ukraine. Watch her surprised video online (if it is her…).
Ancient Alphabets. Armenia and Georgia are each proud of their unique – and separate – alphabets, which have passed their national literature from generation to generation for centuries. You can learn how to write the beautiful Armenia and Georgian letters via online videos (I have suggested two here). As a point of interest, a special Armenian font has been developed online, in which the Armenian letters are designed to look like Georgian ones (which are characteristically round-looking, curly). The logo on the page literally spells Gamarjoba, the Georgian word for “hello” – yet it is written here with Armenian letters, not Georgian ones.
Singing Siberia. After this week’s overdose of Pussy Riot, it’s nice to see a bit of Russia Beyond the Headlines (the name of an online portal). Far away from Moscow, in the Altai region of Siberia, the locals are having their own sing-along. The music ensemble Altai-kai is well-known for its mystical “throat singing”, and is even performing at a festival organised by the Moscow Conservatory (follow the link to listen to their music). After Russia’s Buranovskiye Babushki entry in Eurovision song contest this year, this could be an exciting candidate for the 2013 competition.
…and more music from the Altai Mountains:
Don’t miss Annabelle’s Eastern Notebook next week.