Delfi begins to publish a series of materials of the project “Postbelica” Russian journalist Vladislav Moiseev and Lithuanian photographer Arturas Morozovas. For ten days they travelled through Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and today we begin to acquaint you with what came of it.
Underground Parking trendy business center of premium class cars is a toy “Fiat” catastrophic colors. Red, orange pea with a large logo of the Lithuanian magazine for teenage girls at the door. If hunter Thompson’s suggested to go to this Kentucky to do the reporting from the races, he would have shot himself in the head, not waiting 67th birthday. But we had to go around on this “ladybug” Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and to understand something about their life.
Arturas many times in all these countries initially reacted to our project with skepticism: he doubted that I would see something new that caught his photographic eye. I’m in the Baltic States not previously visited and did not even know what to call these three independent States “Baltic States” is not very politically correct. But I explained that it was a painful splinter of the Soviet past.
Two of our previous project — “where Russia” and “Crimea” — though perfectly readable, but hardly anyone liked it. Pleasant there was a little. We tried to reduce the degree of madness, fueled by propaganda from both sides, to show the tones and semitones, but only more irritated with representatives of the polar points of view. We often wrote that it would be nice to ride through Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and to show the darker side of life in these countries with all their problems and pain points. I was sure that this project will not take place. But here we are in Vilnius, underground Parking, loaded our faithful ridiculous car and start the journey.
We again received no job or direction — we just had to see and understand how many places and people to go beyond the comfortable binary oppositions “enemy-friend” that constantly generates all these great fighting news. That Lithuania is building a giant wall on the border with Russia, is suffering, but suffering the pressure of tarpaulin boots NATO and shaking in uncontrollable bouts of Russophobia. About Latvia, which got stuck in the Soviet era, discriminare the Russian-speaking population in General, and will soon become extinct. About Estonia, which has absorbed drugs, Nazism, and God knows what. And, of course, about Russia, which is what builds Europe and America intrigues, secretly controls everything and that’s all annexing or at least crack its mythical hackers.
I have been in many European countries, but was moved predominantly on planes and trains. That’s probably why in my head I had a pretty idyllic postcard picture is typical of Europe — the modern capital with its old town and several skyscrapers, clean streets, free English, gingerbread provincial towns, the relative cultural homogeneity does not contradict the relative openness and tolerance. But traveling by plane or train deprives the element of chance, opportunity suddenly to turn off the motorway onto a country road and see a completely different reality, which often do not even suspect the people themselves where you suddenly came to be.
All these two thousand miles that we left behind, I kept thinking about one. If all Russians and Europeans coming of age mandatory for the state account were sent to the rally all over the continent, there would be no wars and hatred, discord and turmoil. It is very easy to despise someone you’ve only seen on TV, who never spoke, never sat in one bar and had nothing to do. But it is necessary to go to such a journey — not tourist places, and streets and backyards, as the head instantly clears up and there is unexpected empathy.
All the way I’m not left completely genuine surprise, as far as Russia and the Baltic States are similar. And it’s not because of the common Soviet past — we just have different experiences. Talking about contrasts. Moscow and Arkhangelsk oblast differ as much as Vilnius and Eastern Lithuania’s border, and the second largest city of Latvia has nothing to do with a semi-abandoned village somewhere in the Outback. One day we visited the lovely Kaunas with its cathedrals, hipstercrite institutions and buildings in the style of art Deco, and abandoned ramshackle homes, abandoned by people a long time ago.
No unwashed Russia, and prosperous Europe or, conversely, a flourishing Empire and the decadent West. We crossed the border of Lithuania and Latvia in a strange place called Egypt. His whole story is that during the next military conflict, someone came by and destroyed the Church, and then it was rebuilt. Now Egypt looks very grim, he is inexorably rooted in the past, unlike its African namesake.
About the same impression and the border of the two States-there was infrastructure, and some kind of life, now only ruins, and old, littered with debris and mangled wooden house on the hill looks like a sentence the old world that needed at border posts, fences and barbed wire.
After leaving Egypt, we soon came to a large marble star of David. On entrance to Daugavpils we were greeted by a memorial to the Jews murdered during the Nazi occupation. There was the border of ghetto living which left only a hundred people. Now there is a prison. This amazing place is dire one of its kind, and it’s hard to believe that someone here is smart enough to keep people, even dangerous to society. But it’s true.
Daugavpils — Moscow miniature city-a layer cake: there are historical monuments, and miserable Soviet box, natural rustic house, a typical European bourgeois areas. All this mixed in some weird proportion and is slightly puzzling. Arturas with some viciously endlessly squeezing the trigger of the camera, and constantly raises his eyebrows. He’s never been here before and, to put it mildly, I was amazed what he saw.
Daugavpils — the second largest city in Latvia, more than fifty percent of the population is Russian, and this is easy to guess, without looking at Wikipedia. Only the middle of the day, we heard the Latvian language from young people in a cafe “Hedgehog in the fog”. Local election campaign was in full swing, a barrage of propaganda in Russian. In the pile of meaningless papers I found a “Euro-skeptics”, their leaflet called for withdrawal from the European Union and NATO, the introduction of its own currency and the conservative turn. The authors demonstrated a transcendent level of chauvinism and xenophobia, directly linking homosexuality and pedophilia. Of course, the skeptics do not overcome the five percent barrier.
We stopped at a small boat station. Arturas went on shore to take pictures, and I remained in the car. Suddenly in the window knock. Sad, red-faced man with a bold look clearly wanted to clear the air. I took off my glasses and prepared, but the gloomy stranger just wanted to talk. He talked about how incredibly hard life in Latvia, as he kicked in the face and became a victim of judicial tyranny in the style of “Leviathan” as it took such a life, work for peanuts, problems in the family. In the end, the stranger said that I will not go to any election because they do not believe all these rogues and thieves. It was fuckin ‘ strange: last time I heard such stories recently, but in a depressing Russian hinterland, around the same words and the same intonations.
After the boatyard we went to a bar. I calmly walked to the table, but Arturas stuck at the entrance again and furiously clicked the camera. It was the fact that in the design of this place was too much of Soviet symbols: the hammer and sickle, military uniform, a bust of Lenin, Stalin’s image. All this Flirty side by side with all sorts of curiosities like figures exhibitionist, which on cotton showed your body and natural Museum exhibits old household items.
— That place just might not exist in Lithuania, — raised his eyebrows in surprise Arturas.
Why? What’s wrong with him? Museum any game.
Look at this Soviet symbols. It’s as if somewhere opened a bar festooned with swastikas and Nazi form.
For some time I insisted that it’s just the accumulation of every moderately valuable stuff, and no one is trying to proclaim Soviet values, as is often the case in nostalgic Russian eateries a La “the Soviet times” or “Kalinka-Malinka”, where you can find not only the portraits of all Soviet leaders, but the boxes for anonymous denunciations. However, Arturas shook his head and insisted that even such a playful nostalgia legitimizes, humanizes the bloody history of the twentieth century.
At the end he asked me, I would put up with that in my town there would be a bar, decorated in the Nazi style. I am stuck and didn’t know what to say. On reflection, I said that I would be damned unpleasant, but I wouldn’t ban it within private ownership. Nobody was there to buy beer, and perhaps this bar would be picketed all day and night. That’s just impossible to stop people from thinking whatever, even the most unpleasant way. When there are such bars, it is a problem of society, which is making insufficient effort to explain to everyone that represented Nazism, and why flirting with his symbolism — it’s not cool.
The school was closed. We were approached by a waitress. She calculated and told us that before there was based the Gestapo, and the district still can hear the screams of tortured people. That night I realized that it would be a very odd trip.