понедельник, 30 августа 2010 г.

Barynya is a fast Russian folk dance and music. The word barynya (Russian: Барыня, landlady) was used by simple folk as a form of addressing to a woman of higher class, a feminine form for the word "barin", landlord.

A number of Russian folkloric dance ensembles bear the name Barynya.

The Barynya dance is an alternation of chastushkas and frenetic dancing.

The Barynya chastuskas used to have the refrain, kind of "Барыня, барыня, сударыня-барыня", "Barynya, barynya, sudarynya-barynya", or "Барыня ты моя, сударыня ты моя". The content was often humoristic, even lewd.

The dancing was without special choreography and consisted mainly of fancy stomping and traditional Russian squatwork – knee bending ("вприсядку", vprisyadku).

There are a number of scenic, more refined versions of the dance.



среда, 18 августа 2010 г.

Russian-Fires.ru, the First Ushahidi Experience

There's been a lot of criticism of the official response to the fires, which were sparked by a heat wave and later blanketed the Russian capital and many other cities in poisonous smog.

Screenshot of “Help Map”, source: russian-fires.ru

Continuing wildfires in central Russia [EN] have shown that the Russian blogosphere is capable of fast mobilization, cooperation and solidarity when it comes to natural disasters. The RuNet Echo team not only observed the blogosphere’s reaction to the wildfires, but became one of the few centers of coordination of volunteers and victims of the disaster [EN].

Following several weeks of unusual heat, Russian forests started to burn. Almost simultaneously, wildfires started in different places. Sudden and deadly (over 50 people have died so far, thousands have been left homeless [RUS]), they have wiped out a number of villages, leaving nothing behind. While regional city forums have been coordinating firefighting efforts since late July, Moscow’s blogosphere reacted only with copy-pasting of pictures of the disaster. On July 29, however, it became obvious that the disaster was nationwide, and it was then that the coordination of help started. LJ community pozar_ru [RUS] was launched, where volunteers began to publish reports of fires approaching villages, calls for help and offers of aid. Several bloggers, especially o_liska [RUS], i_chersky [RUS] and doctor_liza [RUS], took initiative of coordinating volunteers.

On July 31, RuNet Echo’s co-editor Gregory Asmolov wrote on his blog [RUS] that in times like these the “Ushahidi system” could become helpful in bridging volunteers and victims of the wildfires. On the same day, Marina Litvinovich asked [RUS] if there were any volunteers to implement Ushahidi. Gregory wrote to me, asking if we could do it. My initial reaction was, “No, it would take us at least a month to start it.” Then, on Sunday afternoon, after realizing that Ushahidi was easily installable, I wrote to Gregory: “Why not? Let’s try.”

It took me one day to register a domain “russian-fires.ru,” install the Ushahidi package and get things running. On Monday, I published a post at Habrahabr [RUS], a Russian IT-community website, inviting administrators, designers, moderators and everyone who could help to join in. Right after the announcement, I received dozens of offers of help – both with the moderation and with technical support (about a hundred help offers so far). The post itself received 84 comments. Bloggers were reposting and asking others to repost [RUS] the link to the site.

Teafortwo wrote [RUS]:

"Проснитесь! Людям нужна помощь. Россия горит и только всем миром можно потушить пожар. Не спите! Кому-то именно в эту секунду нужна Ваша помошь!"

"Wake up! People need help. Russia is burning and only together we can extinguish this fire. Don’t sleep. Someone needs your help this very second!"

Users were invited to upload reports (the form is here) and to map fires, smoke, calls for help, offers of help, and to report aid centers (37 categories were created). The reports were made in different forms. For example, Vladimir from Stockholm wrote:

"Я сам москвич, но давно не живу в России – есть желание помочь соотечественникам деньгами – ибо прочие способы недоступны.
Предоставьте, пожалуйста, валютные реквизиты для перечислений."

"I’m a Muscovite, but for a long time I don’t live in Russia – I’m willing to help my compatriots with money – because all other means of help are unavailable. Please provide me with details for a bank transfer."

And here is a report from the village of Borkovka, which had burned down:

"Люди спасались бегством налегке, взяв с собой только документы. Не было не одного автобуса, кому посчастливилось впрыгивали в автомобили, кому нет, бежали пешком. Положение сейчас самое тяжелое у бабушек и малограмотных людей, они в основном приютились у несгоревших соседей. Регистрация на помощь организована в Лазурном, до которого надо добраться. Люди не понимают, что им надо ехать и где-то регистрироваться на помощь. Молодежи легче, они понимают, как действовать, а бабушки просто беспомощны. Есть категории людей, которые нуждаются в поддержке, есть семьи с маленькими грудничками, которым помощь в 10 тыс руб от государства сейчас мало поможет.
В общем у людей не осталось ничего , кроме паспорта"

"People were fleeing with little luggage, only with documents. There was not a single bus, the lucky ones were jumping into cars, others had to run by foot. Currently, the worst situation is with the elderly women and people with little education, most of them are hosted by their neighbours whose houses didn’t burn down. Registration for help is organized in Lazurny, a village to which one should get first somehow. People don’t understand that they have to go somewhere and to register in order to get help. Young people understand what to do, but elderly women are helpless. There are categories of people who need support, there are families with little babies, and the government’s help – 10,000 roubles [about $300] won’t help a lot. People have nothing left except for their IDs."

With support also came popularity: within a week, the site has received about 101,000 unique visitors and about 262,000 page views. At the same time, the site has received about 614 reports so far, with about 50 reports being added each day.

With support also came popularity: within a week, the site has received about 101,000 unique visitors and about 262,000 page views. At the same time, the site has received about 614 reports so far, with about 50 reports being added each day.

Due to the overload of the platform we had to find better hosting. This was the first lesson: people who want to install Ushahidi should seriously consider finding a powerful server to host the platform. In times of crisis, when there’s an overload of information combined with the lack of truly helpful information, Ushahidi systems will be in great demand. Hence, overloads are quite possible.

As Anna Vrazhina, a RuNet observer at Lenta.ru, noted [RUS]:
"Историю проекта “Карта помощи“, запущенного 2 августа, вообще стоило бы внести в учебники по Веб 2.0, если бы таковые существовали в природе."

"The story of the “Help Map” project, which was launched on August 2, should be included in Web 2.0 textbooks, if any [such textbooks] existed."

By the end of the first day, “Help Map” team [RUS] (the title proposed by one of the commenters instead of the “Russian Fires,” the initial name) grew from two persons (Gregory Asmolov and myself) to nearly 20 (and a lot more now), some of whom were journalists, while others were web administrators, web programmers and moderators from various places in Russia. I didn’t have time for security or background checks – I was giving access to our admin panel and FTP access to everyone who asked for it. And it worked – none of the people who offered help did any wrong to the website. Another conclusion to be made: trust is crucial when starting an Ushahidi-based system (or any crowdsourcing project) from scratch.

Although the initial installation was pretty easy, technical problems did arise later. Most of them had to do with internationalization and localization. Ushahidi is a great platform, but non-Latin implementations of it still need a lot of work. Part of the text had been encoded by Gregory Asmolov for the Kyrgyzstan election project [RUS]. Another unfortunate problem was Ushahidi’s poor documentation and community support [EN]. Another lesson: for now, those who implement Ushahidi should be prepared to rely on themselves only.

Technical help is a weak point in the platform. It can be solved easily, however, but joint effort is needed. Everyone can help by simply supporting the community forum, granting organizations – by funding plugin design and hosting, mobile and Internet providers – by offering Ushahidi-ready hosting plans.

As an active participant of the events, I witnessed a genuine citizen and media interest in our project. Various newspapers wrote pieces about Russian-fires.ru, while Yandex, Russia’s most popular search engine, added markers from our map to their pozhar.yandex.ru portal, bringing more publicity to our project. A Russian hosting company offered us powerful hosting, and an SMS-portal provided us with their free service.

As the team of “virtual firefighters” grew bigger, Gregory Asmolov came up with an idea of creating a coordination center, arguing that it would give a new impulse to the site and to the whole mission of coordinating volunteer efforts. Anastasiya Severina, Gregory’s friend, took the responsibility of setting up the “Help Map” headquarters in her own flat. Responsibilities of the Ushahidi moderators include not only moderation work of approving messages, but also the validation of messages. In order to validate messages efficiently, one needs to contact people who leave reports at the site. Conclusion: the online part of Ushahidi is only a tip of the iceberg, a lot of work has to be done offline.

To draw a bottom line, the secret of such fast online popularity is that the project has filled the coordination gap and satisfied the demand for information. A lot of people expected such a project to come from the government. Bablopobeditzlo wrote [RUS]:
" А в МЧС такой проект […] никто не догадался создать?"

"And why didn’t the Ministry of the Emergencies come up with such a project?"

Gregory Asmolov, also commented on his blog [RUS] on the role of Ushahidi as a civil society tool, revealing the society’s potential for solidarity and self-help:

"Пожары в России показывают что в Российском обществе заложен большой потенциал взаимопомощи. Как мне кажется, это потенциал обострен еще тем, что многие россияне осознают что власть не дееспособна, и в этой ситуации, единственное решение это брать ситуацию в свои руки. Однако, потенциал взаимопомощи – это здорово, но чтобы взаимопомощь была эффективной нужны механизмы, которые позволят ей таковой быть. И именно в этом стратегическая роль Ушахиди. По сути , Ушахиди, выступает в данном контексте как институт гражданского общества. Это первые шаги к реальности в которой общество формирует альтернативные власти механизмы и институты, чтобы заполнять вакуум на месте государственных структур."

"Wildfires in Russia show that there’s a great potential for mutual aid in the Russian society. It seems to me that this potential is even stronger because many Russians realize that the government is incapable of functioning, and the only option in this situation is to act independently. However, while the potential for mutual aid is great, to make this mutual aid effective, mechanisms are needed in order to make it function. And that’s the strategic role of Ushahidi. As a matter of a fact, Ushahidi becomes in this context a civil society institution. These are the first steps to the reality in which the public forms alternative mechanisms and institutions, in order to fill the vacuum of government structures."

“Help Map” is the first implementation of “Ushahidi” in Russia. And, hopefully, not the last one. We hope that following the success (and, speaking of statistics, it is a success) of the “Help Map” project, the system would be used by other volunteers in Russia. In the country this huge, map-based coordination is of great importance.

Syndicated from: http://GlobalVoicesOnline.org: Russia: Russian-Fires.ru, the First Ushahidi Experience


пятница, 13 августа 2010 г.

The Three Saviours

In the month of August there are three holidays related to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, which in church parlance are called the First Saviour, the Second Saviour and the Third Saviour. All three feasts of the Saviour connect between them the days of the Dormition Fast, which lasts from August 14th to the 28th.

The First Saviour is the feast of the Presentation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross, celebrated on August 14th. The presentation took the form of a ceremonious procession, in which the Lord’s Cross was carried out on this day (August 1st by the old calendar) in Constantinople and in Russia. The feast commemorates the following historic event: the Greek King Manuel and the Russian Prince Andrei Bogolyubski once happened to go to war on the same day – the former against the Saracens and the latter against the pagan tribe of the Bulgars.

Both the Greek king and the Russian prince had the habit, whenever they went to war, of taking with them an icon of the Holy Virgin with the Infant Christ, and of carrying a cross in front of the troops. That day, August 1st, while fighting with the Bulgars, the Russian troops saw that from the icon of the Holy Virgin there emanated fiery rays which shone over the entire army.

Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky is victorious in battle with God's help

The wondrous sight filled Prince Andrei with such fervor, that with the help of God he won a complete victory over his enemies. On that same day, the Greek King Manuel saw a similar miracle from the icon of the Holy Virgin among his own troops – the emanation of the fiery rays, shining over the entire army, and on that day he, too, was victorious against the Saracens. The king and the prince informed each other about the victories they had won with the help of God, and about the miraculous emanation from the icons of the Holy Virgin and Child. In honor of this event, the first of August was decreed a holiday, and to commemorate the power of the Cross which had helped the Christians vanquish their pagan foes, the priests carry the Cross out of the altar and lay it in the middle of the church to be venerated by the faithful. This day also marks the beginning of the Dormition Fast, which lasts only two weeks but is just as strict as the Great Lent.

Makovsky A.V

In Russian folkore the feast of the First Saviour is associated with the custom of eating freshly-gathered honey, after having it blessed in church, and with the following events in nature:

The bee stops bringing honey to the beehive
Bee-keepers cut open the hives.
Swallows and martins fly away on the First Saviour.
Roses stop blooming and cold dews cover the grass.
On the feast of the First Saviour there are universal church processions to bless the waters of streams and rivers.
On this day horses and other cattle are usually bathed for the last time.

On August 19th (the 6th by the old calendar) the Second Saviourthe Transfiguration of Our Lord is celebrated. This important event in Christ’s life on earth occurred not long before His Crucifixion. In order to sustain His disciples’ faith when they would see Him suffering, the Lord first showed them His divine glory. Taking along three of His disciples – Peter, John and James, the Lord ascended a high mountain, called Mount Tabor, to pray. While Christ was praying, the disciples fell asleep from fatigue. When they awoke, they saw that Christ was transfigured: His face shone like the sun, while His garments had become radiant as light. Two prophets – Moses and Elias – appeared to Him in their heavenly glory and spoke with Him about His forthcoming suffering and death. Seeing all this, the disciples’ hearts were filled with extraordinary joy. When they saw that the prophets were about to withdraw from Christ, Peter, trying to hold them back, cried out: “Lord! It is good for us to be here; if You wish, we will make three tents here: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elias.”

Suddenly a bright cloud enveloped them and out of the cloud they heard the voice of God the Father: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” In great fear the disciples fell to the ground.

Blessing the fruit on Transfiguration Day

Christ came and touched them, and said: “Arise and do not be afraid.” The disciples arose and saw Christ in His usual appearance. Through His glorious Transfiguration the Lord also showed us how mankind will appear in future life, in the Heavenly Kingdom, and how our entire world will then be transfigured.

In Russian folkore the feast of the Second Saviour is associated with the custom of eating apples and other fruits that had been blessed in church, and with the following events in nature:

Ripe apples are picked on this day and blessed in church.
The nights are becoming cold.
The cranes begin to fly away.
It is customary not to eat any fruits or vegetables before the Second Saviour, except cucumbers.
On the feast of the Second Saviour even a beggar will eat an apple.

The Third Saviour is the commemoration of the Image of our Lord Not-made-by-hands, celebrated on August 29th (the 16th by the old calendar).

This image of Christ appeared under the following circumstances: during Christ’s life on earth, there lived in the Syrian city of Edessa a certain Prince Augarus. He suffered from an incurable illness - leprosy, so that his entire body was covered with terrible sores, while internally he suffered from complete paralysis. Rumors of Jesus and His great miracles reached Augarus, who became filled with a fervent desire to see Christ and be healed by Him. However, being unable to travel to Judea himself, he wrote a moving letter to Jesus Christ, in which he wrote the following:

“Rumors have reached me about You and Your glorious miracles, how You heal illness without medicine or treatment, - You make the blind see, the lame walk, You expel demons, cleanse lepers, heal paralytics with a single word and resurrect the dead. Hearing about You, that You perform such wondrous miracles, I came to the following two conclusions about You: You are either God Who has descended from heaven, or You are the Son of God. For this reason I humbly appeal to You, to make the effort to come to me and heal my incurable illness from which I have suffered for so many years. I have also heard that the Jews hate You and wish to harm You. I, however, have under my rule a city, though small, but beautiful and having everything in abundance; come to me then, and live with me in my city, in which both of us will find all that we need.”

Together with this missive, Augarus at the same time sent a talented artist to the Palestine, commissioning him to paint the face of Christ on an icon. So great was Augarus’ love for Christ, which was inspired by his faith in Him, that he wished at least to see His image. By God’s will the painter, despite his best efforts, was unable to depict the face of Christ, but Jesus Himself washed His face in water and dried it with a cloth, leaving a miraculous imprint of the Divine face on this cloth.

The earthly visage of our Saviour, reconstructed from the Shroud of Turin

Then the Lord sent this image to Augarus together with His reply, which was as follows: “Blessed are you, Augarus, not having seen Me and yet having faith in Me, for you shall inherit life eternal! You write for Me to come to you, but I must accomplish that for which I have been sent, and then I must return to My Father Who had sent Me. And when I will ascend to Him, I will send you one of My disciples, who will completely cure you of your illness.”

This took place after Christ’s ascension, when the Apostle Thaddeus came to Edessa and baptized Augarus, who came out of the baptismal font completely renewed, both in body and soul. Having become cured of leprosy, Augarus wrote on the Image Not-made-by-hands: “O Christ, our God, whoever has faith in Thee shall not be put to shame,” decorated it and placed it over the city gates. In 944, when the Turks attacked the city, this miraculous image of the Saviour, together with the letter which He had written to Augarus, were transported from Edessa to Constantinople. This event is commemorated as the Translation of the Saviour and is celebrated on August 29th.

In Russian folklore the Third Saviour is also called “The Saviour on linen”: first of all, because of the linen cloth on which the image of Jesus Christ was imprinted, and secondly, because it was the village custom to associate this holiday with the sale of linens and canvases.

Walnuts ripen for the Third Saviour.
Pies are baked from fresh flour.
For the First Saviour we stand on water, for the Second Saviour – we eat apples, for the Third Saviour – we sell canvases in the green hills.


среда, 11 августа 2010 г.

The fire victims need help

FFA raises funds for forest fire victims in Russia

The Fund for Assistance to ROCOR opened a campaign to help the victims of forest fires in Russia.

“St. Apostle Paul tells us: ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ’. Our Fund decided that it is important to lend our support to the Russian people at this difficult time“, said Archpriest Victor Potapov, Executive Director of the Fund.

On Sunday, His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and all Russia appealed to all Orthodox people to help the victims of forest fires in Russia, and pray for rain.

“We call upon the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, whatever nationality they may be, to help us collect funds and respond to His Holiness’s worthy appeal“, said Fr. Victor.
Protracted abnormal heat, dry weather and high winds have lead to wide-spread forest fires all over Russia. According to the Russian Emergency Ministry, forest fires have covered more than 121,000 hectares all over the country.

“People have died, hundreds have lost homes, thousands remain without a source of income”, said Patriarch Kyrill. “Many of the victims are older people, who have lived off their land their whole life. There are also many children, because whole villages have been destroyed”.

The Patriarch has issued an ukase for holding a special plate collections all over Russia for the next three Sundays to benefit the victims.

To make a donation now, click here.

Please make out checks to the Fund for Assistance to ROCOR, memo “Victims of wild fires” and send to

Fund for Assistance to ROCOR
75 E 93 St
New York, NY 10128

For donations in Euro's:

Beneficiary Bank:

OJSC Bank Petrocommerce

S. W. I. F. T.: PTRBRUMM Acc. № 6231605608

EUR J. P. Morgan AG, Frankfurt am Main


Сurrent account 40703978000100001493

God bless you!