Friday was a holiday… National Unity Day. Two important things happened: I sort of became and activist and I fell in love.
I met with my new friend Katya in the morning to go to what she called a “meeting”, which is essentially the Russian word for “protest”. I was immediately interested; yes, of course I’ll go, thanks for the invitation! We arrived quite early, checked out the scene, and walked around a bit. Katya loves to take pictures; there was a group of police men standing in messy lines near the square and she approached them to take a photograph. Everyone was staring at her, but she still took the picture. Only after, as she was walking away did a man approach her. “Girl, who are you?” “I’m no one; just a student.” “Why do you want a picture?” “just because.” “I’m going to ask you to delete it.” He proceeded to walk away and made another man go up to Katya and watch her delete the picture. Then yet another man approach, silently. Katya was baffled, as it was the first time that’s ever happened to her. “Don’t worry,” I said, “it happens to us tourists and foreigners all the time.”
Some of Katya’s friends were there, and so I met them as we chit-chatted, waiting for the event to begin. I didn’t really know what to expect, and only realized actually what was going on as the event was taking place. A stage was set up and people were really starting to arrive. Suddenly, I saw lots of flags go up: United Russian, some that said
“Youth Guard” or something of that sort, and Nashi, a United Russian youth movement. Katya had a flag for her ecological group and she was the only private group there. Representatives from Yabolko were walking around, but were not allowed to have flags. Other political parties did not make an appearance. However, Yabolko’s colors are green and white, essentially the colors of Katya’s flag. People keep approaching us asking what the flag was about. Some men in all black, trying to look really important and cool came up to us a few different times, making sure we weren’t supporting a political party. Katya is great; she’s super energetic and optimistic. She walked around, handing out flyers, answering questions, talking to friends.
The stage turned out to be put to use. First, the mayor of Astrakhan appeared and said some nice words, then the leaders of these local groups: Nashi, United Russia and so on said their tid bits, and then a concert took place. There were some Russian acts, but it was supposed to symbolize the diversity of Astrakhan, so there were some historic dances and a Kazakstani duo who performed a nice few songs. They also gave out free oatmeal, snacks, and tea and produced in the Soviet style.
Katya successful handed out her flyers. She wanted me to join her,
but I was too nervous that people would ask me questions that I wouldn’t be able to answer and I would make a fool of myself. I promised to be more active next time. As Katya roamed around the crowd, I manned the flag and fell in love. He’s the director or leader or whatever of some local political group, I do believe Nashi. However, this is not important. What’s important is that he’s active, gorgeous, a great speaker, and good with people. And so, I fell in love.
oh and I’m going to join this Ecological organization.