Archive for April, 2009

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Farewell to a Russian Legend – Last Concert of “Prima Dona” in Odessa Tonight

April 30, 2009

Alla Pugacheva, who has just turned 60, has embarked on her fair-well tour of the former USSR.  Also known as “Prima Dona”, Pugacheva has a massive fan base across Russia and Ukraine and is one of the most successful artists from this region ever.

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Her career has lasted over 30 years and she has never dropped from the limelight.

Having already said goodbye to Kyiv, where the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko……..who is a massive fan…….and would be, as she perfectly fits the age range of Pugacheva’s fan base……got on stage and sang “Happy Birthday” to her………Yeh, it kind of turns “Happy Birthday Mr President” on it’s head with Monroe and JFK…..but there you go.

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Of course “Prima Dona” won’t disappear from public view……..she’s just not touring any more.  No doubt she will still be all over the TV…….and will probably host even more TV shows than she does now……..and it is almost guaranteed she will be wheeled out every Christmas for the “variety shows” on TV.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cqTBl3Fvr4

Her style of music is not to my taste………her daughter, Kristina Orbakaite is a little more so……..and definitely more pleasing to the eye……….particularly after her nose job ………promised the wife I wouldn’t mention the nose job as she is a friend of Kristina…………so Shhhhhh!!!……..I really am a bitch sometimes!

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Bucking the trend of older husbands and young wives………..or maybe that is just for old US men with young Russian wives……..Pugacheva’s current husband is in his late 30’s………..the same age as her daughter Kristina. 

Eh??……….No, no, no – No “mother and daughter” thing here you sick puppy……..Kristina is married to an exceptionally rich Greek.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ErF1ZjViDY

Above is a little duet between Mum and daughter………………Not that kind of duet – you really are sick!!!!

Anyway, the last concert from the “Prima Dona” takes place tonight at Palace Sporta in the Arcadia district of Odessa.

No – you won’t see me there………like a say, Alla Pugacheva doesn’t do it for me musically……….or any other way to be honest!!

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………Yeh, I know, I’m not sure her late 30’s husband wouldn’t prefer her to “stay on the road” a little longer too!!

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Blowing My Own Trumpet……Just This Once!!

April 29, 2009

Well, I am no Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie or Louis Armstrong……..but just this once I’m going to “blow my own trumpet”…………and hope that it doesn’t sound like one of those party toys where the thing unrolls a long paper tube to expose a feather on the end, simultaneously making the sound of a million angry wasps!!!

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Anyway, this is a metaphorical trumpet blowing……….rather than me physically attempting to get a noise from a trumpet……….which would obviously sound like a fart squeezing past somebody trying not to sh*t a breeze block!

Over the last few months, the good lady wife and I have got involved in a new Ukrainian charity called Obshestvo Zashhiti Invalsidov Ukraine…….Hmmmmm, yeh, I know, it doesn’t exactly just roll off the tongue does it.

With it being new, it wanted to “recruit” a few “movers and shakers” who also had the ability to get things done, rather than sit around talking about things all day.

Eh?……….Oh yes it is a registered charity in Ukraine………and is there to help the disabled………which for the most part are completely ignored…….to the point of no transport, no ramps, no toilets, no home improvements et al.  I have absolutely no idea how Ukraine will cope with 1 disabled person during the 2012 football tournament, let alone hundreds or thousands!!

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So, being an “old soldier” who converted a few bullets to brass in the face of those trying to do him harm……..it is, for me, a case of “there but by the grace of God go I” in many respects and is further highlighted when seeing crippled and limbless old soldiers in Ukraine literally begging for money in the streets…….to which I always give……..and it’s good for my Karma too.

Anyway, Ukraine has nothing in the way of facilities for the disabled person, either public or private……..unless you happen to rich enough to fit out your apartment…….but then of course you can’t get up the steps to actually get into the apartment in your chair………Don’t get me started!!!

However, we have had a minor success……..nothing major, nothing outstanding, things most people in European countries take for granted so much, they don’t even see them……..but……..

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The first and only public disabled toilet has been built and opened in Odessa…….and it is not a “hole in the floor”……read my “Needing to Pee…….or Worse” post.

There is now, an electronic sliding door, push your Kopeks in the hole, disabled toilet meeting all EU standards in the park on Gorsad opposite the Neapolitan restaurant.  It even has instructions for use, not only in Russian, but German, English, Turkish and French on the outside telling you how to open up this little Tardis.

So we have a little victory………not much of one……….but we have one………and it is there……..and it is working………but it is still the only public disabled toilet in the City………FOR NOW!!!!

What?……..What’s a Tardis?………You don’t know about Dr Who?  Here’s a pic of the Tardis……….and Google Dr Who……….I know you know how to!!

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Anyway, trumpet has now been blown, dear readers………and in the words of DJ’s Smashy and Nicey……..”It’s for charity mate!”

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Corruption Can Be A Pain In The Arse!!!!!

April 28, 2009

As you know dear readers, having followed this blog from the start, in Ukraine it is about who you know, not what you know, when it comes to getting things done……..or you have to resort to paying bribes “administrative fees”.

…….What?……First time you’ve read this blog?…….Hmmmm, you’ve got some catching up to do then……..in fact, I’m not sure I want you to read it if you’re joining the other 2000 monthly readers only now!!

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Ok……..I accept it didn’t come up on your search engine before……..that’s a reasonable argument………because I know nothing about SEO.

Anyway, as my regular readers are aware……..I’m doing an apartment refurb in the city centre……..which is always fraught with danger when it comes to “officialdom” and “bribery”………makes me think of Depeche Mode’s song Everything Counts…….sing-a-long with me…….”Grabbing hands, grab all they can, all for themselves, after all, it’s a competitive world”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smja5QnFR9U

Anyway, I turn up to site today to find a “Prohibition Notice” on the door stating we can no longer work!!

Wtf?………..

The notice goes across the seal of the door, so there is not way of entering the apartment without breaking it………very CSI.

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Of course, the name of the city engineer is on the notice……….but no f*cking phone number or address…….so I spend most of the day, trekking around the ZHEK and DEZ trying to find this engineer………who I find out, not only put the seal over the door, but acted like Hitler towards my workmen and even threatened to have them taken away by the police!!

This, of course, is Ukraine, and even the Ukrainians don’t know their rights………….since when can you be arrested for working? 

Obviously working can be considered a crime in the UK, when there are all those lovely benefits available to you for sitting on your fat arse all day being “unemployed”, watching re-runs of Oprah and Jerry f*cking Springer………..thanking those stupid enough to actually work and pay taxes to support your 40 a day habit, fish & chip life style……….and not forgetting your every Thursday “half price booze night” at the wrongfully named “Working Man’s Club”……………considering you don’t f*cking work!!!

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So, my ill-informed workforce stop work……..let this twat seal the apartment with enough tape and stickers to make it look like a crime scene in which Vlad the f*cking Impailer had turned the entire population of Odessa into a kebab within the confines of the apartment……and are actually pleading with this jumped up City Engineer not to call the police and have them taken away!!!

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I eventually find the department this twat works for………but he’s not in………he’s out somewhere…….probably trying to f*ck someone else over……..but I get his mobile number.

I then telephone this clown and ask why I have a f*cking prohibition notice on the apartment. 

“Because you have extended the balcony and you don’t have permission”

“Get your f*cking arse back to the apartment I am working at now…………we’ll see who doesn’t have permission!!”

“You have permission?”

“Bet your life on it sunshine”

“Oh, Ok, you can take the notice down”

“No, no my friend………I know what you f*ckers are like…..I’ve been in Ukraine long enough to know that if I break the seal………permissions or not, then I am screwed………so get your arse back there and take it down because you put it up………before I phone a friend and you find that not only my guys are not f*cking working!!”

So I return to the apartment……..get the people next door to wait and witness who breaks the seal before we get back to work.

20 minutes later, what looks like a spotty little teenager comes waltzing up the stairs……..and my guys tell me it is the engineer.  He is maybe 5’4″ tall and 22 years old……at a push…….so he’s a PORG and obviously suffers from “little man syndrome”.  I am now expecting him to start with “I represent the Lolipop Guild, the Lolipop Guild, the Lolipop Guild”……….

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Eh?……….PORG is a Person Of Restricted Growth.

“Before you even f*cking start”…..says I……..”Since when have you had the power to get my people arrested for working?”………..No answer.

“How can you slap a prohibition notice on here when I have the documents allowing the work?”

“Nobody normally bothers”…….comes the reply.

“Well I f*cking have………and here the are!!”

Ok, you can work then……….and breaks the paper seals on the door and looks at me…………..and looks at me………and looks at me some more.

He is obviously waiting for me to show my “financial gratitude” for letting me work again, having now removed the seal.  The whole point of the seal in the first place, was of course, for me to show my “financial gratitude” by him allowing me to continue as he assumed I would not have the permissions to extend the balcony.

Eventually, I said, “That’s it?……..I can work now?”

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At this point he realised that nothing was coming his way……..and having all the documents necessary……..had to reluctantly agree I could.

I would dearly like to have made him pay for the lost time any money his little “stunt” had cost me……..but somethings are better left!!

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Oppps!! – Bit Of An International Relations Disaster

April 27, 2009

This, no doubt, will be a costly mistake!!

One of the major “tabloids” in the UK did an article on lie detectors and pedophilia in the past few days and needed a photo for the story.

Being the lazy and “piss poor” journalists they are, they surfed the net to find a picture of someone taking a lie detector test………..Now if it were me, and my “mug shot” appeared in an article about “pedophilia” I would be outraged…….as well as probably being wrongfully labelled as such by the local populous and being subjected to violence and further smears……..amongst many other repercussions…………

The picture they published was this………….

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……..and the guy is not a pedophile………he may be many things………but not a kiddy fiddler!!!

Who is he?……………..His name is Leonid Chernovetsky…………..and he happens to be the Mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capitol city and therefore one of the most powerful, rich and well-known Ukrainians on the face of the planet.

Now, everyone goes to the UK courts for “damages” over slanderous or libelous comments made about them from anywhere in the world……..regardless of any UK involvement………such is the way the law is written. 

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Specifically, it doesn’t matter who said or wrote what, or where on the face of the planet it happened, the nationalities of either or any party involved, you can seek damages through the UK courts should you wish, over what damage your reputation has incurred……where ever it occurred.

You can now expect that this particular “tabliod newspaper” will be going to get an absolute hammering very soon from an extremely pissed off Mayor in Ukraine!!!

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National Speed Limit Changes – Ukraine

April 27, 2009

Now, whilst the government has to “shoe horn” legislation through to try and get more IMF money via executive order from Ms Tymoshenko……..being as dis-functional as it is………the new national speed limits are ratified and announced…….strangely whilst parliament is in recess…….hmmmmmm.

Anyway, the speed limit in all of Ukraine’s cities has been reduced to 60 kph…….which is exactly 37.28 mph.

Still too fast?……….Well, if anyone could actually reach that speed in a Ukrainian city centre they would actually be fairly happy………

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I jest not, when I say you will walk faster than the city centre traffic.

The limit for motorways has been raised from 110 kph to 130 kph……..or 68.35 mph to 80.78 mph…….which for a country larger than France legally saves a lot of time on the long stretches between towns and cities here……..

………Well it would, but the only road recognised as a motorway is a 20 minute stretch between Kyiv and Boryspil Airport throughout the entire country. 

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All the other hundreds of thousands of kilometers of long, straight, featureless roads between the major towns and cities, are not being recognised as motorways………and remain at 110 kph.

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Yep, thanks a lot!!!

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Visa Updates – Ukraine……….Again!!

April 26, 2009

Ok, this post is not for those coming here on the current Visa-less 90 day stay…….but those here with Visa’s intending to stay more than 180 days per year……..now that’s narrowed down my readers for this post already.

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To get straight to the point, regardless of which Visa you hold, be it Private, Business, Private Entrepreneur et al, after 180 days in Ukraine you are here illegally, even if your Visa is a 5 year Multi-Entry Visa…………unless you are registered with the OVIR………That is it.  That is the law……..There is no getting around it!!

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The first confirmed “deportation” of an American with a Visa has been reported at Odessa Airport because they had not registered with the OVIR and had been in the country totalling more than 180 days in the year…..even though they were not concurrent but sporadic throughout the last 365 days. 

In other words, despite his Visa, and despite not staying 180 days in a row, the number of days he had spent in Ukraine within a 365 day period exceeded 180 days allowed without OVIR registration……and he was sent back to the USA……..at his own cost!

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So what does it take to get OVIR registration?

Firstly you need to register with another government department called the ZHEK………which involves your landlord, if you are renting like most Expats staying here for more than 180 days per year, going with you and registering you at their apartment.

Simple?……..Indeed it is…….except that most landlords will not want to do this because they will not be declaring your rent as income to the Tax authorities…….so will point blank refuse!!

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If you find someone who will register your at their property with the ZHEK, you then take the registration to the OVIR……another governmental agency, who will register you in Ukraine and extend your “days allowed” by another 6 months……..making you good for 1 year legally.

OVIR registration takes 1 week……..so start the process about 10 days before you get to 180 days.

There is………as there always is in Ukraine, a slight problem should you have reason to leave Ukraine after your OVIR registration has happen………..in that it is automatically cancelled when you leave Ukraine for whatever reason.

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“This is a pain in the arse and not fair” I hear you cry!!

Well, it is not that bad……….If you have kept your OVIR registration up to date prior to leaving, regardless of how many days you have been in Ukraine before you left………you have 10 days upon returning to renew your OVIR registration.

Yes, it is your choice to do this, you are correct, you are already back in Ukraine and nobody will know if you do it or not……..until you leave next time, are fined for not registering and subsequently refused entry to Ukraine next time you try!!

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So, having gone through all the correct channels, got all the necessary registrations……..only to have to “pop to Berlin” on business………thus cancelling immediately your OVIR registration because you left Ukraine, you are now faced with a 10 day window to go through the whole process…….again……which wouldn’t be so bad, if your company had not decided that you will be going to Berlin every month for a day or two…….life really can be a bitch can’t it?

Fear not.  There is no need to go through the landlord and ZHEK procedure again as long as the registration with the ZHEK is still valid.

If your ZHEK registration has not expired, your Visa has not expired, you simply need to……..let me rephrase that………you simply MUST return to the OVIR within 10 days o return and get a small stamp in your passport which states they know you are back, all registrations are in order and you are good for another 180 days from this date…..or to the date of your Visa expirey, which ever is the sooner.

Clear as mud?………Well, if you have any problems, pop me a comment, get yourself down to Odessa from Kyiv and for a “fee”, my wife will hold your hand through the process and keep you on the “right side of the law”…….Ok?

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Lyaya Kolobok – Russia’s Most Famous “Madam” – Biographical Film

April 26, 2009

Every country has a “famous Madam”……like Madam Cyn, Mattie Silks, Babe Connors, Josie Arlington, Tessie Wall, Polly Adler and the Everleigh Sister etc etc……..the list is endless.

Most famous “Madam’s” however have either retired from the profession, or have shuffled of their mortal coil and met their maker with a big syphilitic smile on their face before becoming immortalised in print or on the “silver screen”

……….Yeh, yeh, Ok……today it is a digital video camera and a “blog”…….but being immortalised “in print” and on the “silver screen”…….sounds much better Ok?

Anyways, unlike the other famous “Madam’s”, Lyaya Kolobok is still very much alive…….and far from retirement……and indeed likes to work on the “shop floor”……so to speak…… every now and again too.

How do I know this?…….Well there was a “Making of……” about the film on TV last night and Lyaya’s thoughts about the film, together with visits to her brothel, interviews with her “girls” etc etc.

The film is called “Проклятый Рай”……..or  “Damned Paradise” in English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9B87LAnLgs

That’s a little clip in which everyone keeps their clothes on……..most of the time anyway.

The question of course is, how can they make the film now, with Lyaya still not only working as a “Madam” but also on the “shop floor” when she feels like it?……Will there be a sequel when her career eventually comes to an end……..showing how it comes to an end?

Lyaya has amassed a small fortune over her “working career” and is a $ millionairess apparently.

However, before you start searching for her phone number in Moscow or email address in the hope of some “rumpy pumpy” with a famous Russian “Madam”…….I think it only fair to say, that although she may have been as pretty as the actress who plays her in the film when she was in her youth, she has been at this “game” a very long time and not only will it be like “throwing a french fry down the main street hoping to touch the sides”……..

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…….but her youthful looks and figure have now given way to time………and she currently looks like this………..

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……..Yeh, that’s what I thought too……..best put your “Mouse back in the house”!!

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