Dear Russian friends

The Sotchi games were nice (thank you), but this president of yours has abolished rights and freedoms gradually for years and has done roughly zero about the widespread corruption. And now he is starting his third war. Though he looked smart (and sober compared to his predecessor) when rising to power some 15 years ago, he has now not only become a threat to freedom in the Russian Federation, but a threat to lives and peace in several countries. You have to ask yourselves, is this guy still sober? And regardless of that, why is he still leading your country?

Your friend,
Andreas

Democracy Forum 2012 in St Petersburg

Last weekend, 23 to 26 August, Democracy Forum 2012 took place in Repino just outside St Petersburg. The forum was organized by the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC) together with the St Petersburg branch of the Russian Democratic Party Yabloko and invited a long range of NGOs active in St Petersburg. I attended the event together with company from Liberal Youth, SILC and Liberal Party colleague Haralampos Karatzas.

Besides listening to alot of interesting presentations and participating in democracy workshops, I delivered a presentation together with Haralampos on the organization and budget process of Haninge municipality. Instead of boring my readers with the contents of that, here are some nice pictures of my fellow democrats in Russia.

There also was a bit of #DemocracyForum twittering going on.

The visa process was long and strenuous. Half-way through we discovered that the process had been changed and we had to fill in a form online, print it and hand it to the embassy. Half-way through once again we were put to a halt because the embassy had decided political parties (Yabloko in this case) were no longer allowed to be inviting party for business visas. So we applied for turist visa with a purpose, as it’s called. In the picture, Andreas Froby is filling in the last obstacle before entering the otherwise lovely country of Russia, the immigration form.

 

Me and Haralampos giving our presentation on the organization and budget process of Haninge municipality.

 

Workshop planing a LGBT campaign.

 

Ksenia Vakhrusheva of Yabloko (Youth) giving a presentation on how to organize a campaign according to management principles.

 

Yabloko Youth representative Nikolay Artemenko and friends seriously getting into character in a role-play of a public hearing.

 

The fictional hearing really got people participating, at times to the extent that they were (as a part of the acting) thrown out. :)

 

Heliskiing in Georgia

Watch this exciting film about heliskiing in Georgia and dream away.

The charming country of Georgia, powder snow, alpine skiing, fantastic cousine, good drinks — that makes a fantastic vacation! I was in Mestia two years ago during summer and could see they’d just started to construct a skiing resort at that time. Gudauri is an established restort since many years. And with a helicopter, the seriously steep mountains of the Caucasus range are all yours. And why not heli across the border to do some skiing in Chechnya? :) I’ve heard it’s been done. Not by this organization, but I’m telling you it has been done.

When you’re done watching this, go on and watch the very exotic and well-produced video diaries of the Skiing the Silk Road project.

Invest in…

Easily accessible, WTO membership, favourable labour codes, educated population, low taxes, corruption free, possibility to own your own winery. These are some of the sales pitches from your favourite commercials — the “invest in…” commercials. Quite amusing!

Invest in Kazan (special Russian economic zone one)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQoL5QpiCec

Invest in Мурманск (special economic zone two, commercial in Russian)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fWeH7N7sXQ

Invest in Georgia (focuses on economic factors)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynihqPoG0Wk

Invest in Rostov-on-Don (techy, some speech would have been be nice)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7cz4OtYDeA

Invest in Moldova (short, cheap)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qdWyUlkygM

Invest in Albania (focuses on history)
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VCJt63M2j8

BBC documentaries

Today’s tip is going to be the BBC World Service MP3 library of documentaries. “After the KGB”, “Benazir Bhutto – The Investigation”, “The Kremlin and the World”, “Return to Kurdistan”, “Uncovering Pakistan” and so on. Do any of these sound interesting? Sure they do. Check them out. What I did was that I loaded by phone with this stuff to listen on the bus.

By the way, I didn’t realise this until now, but I actually traveled the Georgian Military Road this summer.

The Georgian Military Road as seen through a marshrutka window this summer.