Apr 102008

I’ve been showing my parents some of the things one can find on YouTube and Internet television. Mostly it’s been Bach music clips of various kinds that I had been bookmarking in preparation for their visit– child keyboard prodigies, ancient organs, choral groups, etc. But Dad was also interested in foreign movies. He has macular degeneration such that he can’t read words on the screen unless they are very large, but he can recognize faces and seems to be able to make out a lot of other details. There are a few Russian movies on YouTube, but not much in the way of really good stuff. I have to read the subtitles to him, so it’s somewhat of a cacophony — people speaking Russian while I’m reading English subtitles as well as I can in a much less expressive voice. And then if I get a coughing fit that’s leftover from my recent bout with bronchitis and pneumonia, Myra steps in and reads for me.

I told Dad that one can’t watch the news on RTR Planeta for long without seeing Vladimir Putin, and indeed we did get to see him on the evening’s news. It seemed to be in a story connected to the Russian opposition to the U.S. and NATO. Then we watched some teevee from Hong Kong, and then I stumbled on a German television station that featured naked women dancing. Myra ordered me to close it quickly, though she found it somewhat amusing. After that I was more careful about not just picking stations randomly, but I was gunshy and didn’t find much.

Finally I remembered the documentary, Kalinovski Square. That was a success. It sustained everyone’s interest. We watched the first four parts tonight and will continue tomorrow. Myra and I had watched it together once, and I had watched all of it at least once more for the language-learning. Mom came and got interested, too. It has to be difficult trying to get the full meaning out of my reading of the subtitles, when even the subtitles are probably an inadequate translation of the original Russian. It’s a shame Dad can’t read them, because it’s very humorously done — in a dry, ironic fashion — even though it’s about a very serious subject. Just the same, everyone was fascinated (and appalled at Alexander Lukashenka).

One thing that’s disappointing is to see that some of those segments haven’t been viewed by more than 500 people — and I’m probably at least three of the 500 myself. The documentary is banned in Belarus. One can learn from it not only about Belarus but general principles about how democracy is suppressed.


  • I saw the same documentary, Kalinovski Square, just recently. I haven’t been or have any relation to the region, but I was amazed to see this documentary. Your right, it’s hard to understand, that there aren’t more who are watching it. I passed it on to some family members, who was just as amazed as myself. Under the same profile, I could see there was another short documentary ‘A lesson of Belarusian’ if you have seen this? It has this link:

  • Reticulator

    No, I hadn’t seen that documentary, but I just now watched the first segment. It helps fill in some of the missing information that the Kalinovski Square one left out. Thanks for calling my attention to it.

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  • Natan Kumanov

    An interesting note on language. An American says, “… how democracy is suppressed …”. A Russian says in the same situation, “… how people are suppressed …” A wrong impression of mine? Merely a coincidence? A real revelation?