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Moscow Sep 27, 2014

Акция Скорби (Action of Sorrow) on Poklonnaya Gora (translated something like a Bowing Hill), a patriotic area north west of Moscow relevant to the Napoleonic wars and the 1812 battles in defense the capital. Now all wars are celebrated there including the current stance against the West, which–according to the Kremlin propaganda–wants to take over Russia via Ukraine. Moscow Police (and Russia Today, of course!) estimated 17,000 people, I got there shortly before its start at 7pm. Throughout I could barely register a few thousand. Moreover, despite the various flag display, I’ve discerned very little authentic enthusiasm. Vladimir Putin has to work much harder to convince the public that the US presents imminent military threat to Russia. Although some at the gathering, like me, just came to commemorate the 3500 death in East Ukraine, victims of the Putin ambition.

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A motley collection of banners, and on the right, three old ladies with the Communist Party flag.

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The banner that calls on Russia to unite it with Ukraine as “we are one.”

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Glorious conclusion: blood-colored fountains (although I was told they are always red at night) so Russians won’t forget that they may need to defend Moscow with blood at any moment the Kremlin decides the enemy is at the gates.

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Although not a conclusion for me. Right before I left the premises, a middle-aged dude with a yellow and black striped flag (a symbol of empire, a grandiose version of the Georgy Ribbon–military honor of Russia from Catherine the Great on) ran to me shouting “Сучка оранжевой революции” (The bitch of the Orange Revolution). I did have bright orange sweater on, as a commemoration of the  Kyiv revolution of 2004, when Ukrainians first rebelled against the Kremlin-imposed president. It was my private commemoration though. It has been ten years, and the then orange of freedom has now been replaced by the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.

Other random people ran to the man’s call, and I thought (like most Russians I often think in literary quotes so this one was from Ilf and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs, “Сейчас будут бить, и возможно ногами), “They will beat me up.” But the nearby policeman (lucky for me, there were numerous) intervened. He ordered the potential attackers to disperse, and kindly ushered me into the subway, “Проходите, девушка.” Please go, young lady.

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Reuters, Moscow Sep 21

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I am a young lady! The policeman was barely in his 20s, he did not remember the Orange Revolution, and saw my orange outfit as nothing more but a fashion statement. Sanctions or no sanctions, Hollywood is always in fashion, and Russians are great fans of Orange Is the New Black.