Moscow’s “renovation” plans. Why many residents are unhappy.

I’ve been asked several times over the last month what’s the big fuss about the proposed plans to knock down several thousand of Moscow’s outdated (mostly from the 1950s and 1960s) buildings. Here is an article, in English, summarizing what’s wrong with mayor Sobyanin’s project. And here is another one from The Moscow Times explaining why scores of Muscovites are not that happy about the authorities’ big plans.

First coat-free day. Summer is here. And so are white nights. Yet still lots of snow.


Today, May 5, for the first time this spring, I took off my winter coat, and remained comfortable without it for a few hours while walking around the neighbouring Rovaniemi, Finland. Guess the polar summer is here.

Oh, white nights are have started too.

And first flies and mosquitoes, although still half-asleep and not at all aggressive, have been sighted as well.

Yet Kirovsk reports that the snowmobile season is still on however. Now may be about the best time to visit the region if you are looking for summer sun and winter fun.

Alexandra is now a member of a “foreign agent” organization

A few days ago, on April 20 2017, the Ministry of Justice declared the Kola Ecological Center, of which my mate Alexandra is a member, a “foreign agent” for receiving foreign financing and being engaged in political activity.

Its “political activity” appears to be taking part in public hearings where government officials were present.

The “foreign agent” status means, in addition to a serious stigma, a significant increase in the amount of reporting paperwork the NGO has to do.

The Kola Ecological Center is behind the eco-trails east of Kandalaksha and near Kolvitsa. They also orchestrated the construction of a WW2 memorial in Kolvitsa. These are the sort of things that stand out in their work, not attempting to influence Russian government officials using foreign funds.

Ice invasion

“In the winter of 1888, on the 5th (new style: 18th) of January, at about three in the morning, the residents of Kashkarantsy were awakened by a strange and terrifying noise of ice mountains of huge size moving onto their village from the sea, destroying barns, houses, and boats..”

Saw the same thing in its miniature version yesterday:

Beginning of Spring in the White Sea

It’s just a few pictures of our walks around Kandalaksha during March.

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“A Lake in the Sea” film from the “Nature Reserve Format” festival

Today we went to the “Nature Reserve Format” film festival in Kandalaksha. The best film shown, in the opinion of many, was “A Lake in the Sea”.

Just noticed that it is available on the Youtube with English subtitles, and am thus sharing it with you..

Spring is here: Two kids off to the sea on an ice floe

Spring’s traditional misadventure in the form of an unsceduled trip to the White Sea distances has apparently taken place today, with two kids taking off on an ice floe. Apparently it all ended well but I have no details.

Happens around this time of the year to quite a number of fishermen..

 

Foreigner access to Rybachy and Sredny

I’ve recently have been once again looking at the issue. It appears that the only way to get the FSB (former KGB) permit is via a local incoming travel agency. Those I’ve contacted (www.atv51.ru, snow51.ru, and www.m-tour.ru) would only arrange permits to the participants of their tours that start at ~$400/person. I’m continuing to look for one that would provide assistance with no strings in the form of tour participation attached.

Any hints or suggestions?

British cemetery in Murmansk

A couple of years ago I wrote mentioning the British Cemetery in Murmansk from the WW1 days. Recently I got a request for grave photos, and received the following story from Alexandra’s Murmansk acquaintances that I’d like to share with you:

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Free guide for English speaking travelers to Kandalaksha.

Here is a message from one of my English students:
 
My name is Irina and I’m studying English for the third year now. I freely read books and watch movies but I desperately need English conversation practice. If you are not afraid my bad English I will be your guide and show you around Kandalaksha.
 
I’ve been living here for twelve years and there hardly is a question about the town that I can’t answer. Where to stay, where to eat, what to visit, how to enjoy your trip – just ask.
 
Please email me mast.ruk@yandex.ru or call +7 911 3050721. I’m available on weekends.