Women’s March on Madison + Link Up

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Hi all! I would like to let you know right away, this is a post featuring photos from Women’s March on Madison that took place on Saturday.

As someone who came from a country where women have very few rights, where patriarchy reigns, where gay people can’t express their feelings towards each other, where foreign exchange students get harassed, raped and killed, I marched! I marched because I can make a difference. I marched because I am a citizen. I marched to support. I marched to spread love. I marched for a better future.

I didn’t march to show hate, to support one side over the other. I marched for equality, rights and freedom for all.

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I want to end with this quote – The Devil whispered in my ear, “You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.” Today I whispered in the Devil’s car, “I am the storm.”

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Oh, Russia!

I try to stay as far away from politics as I can. But the most recent parliament (duma) elections in Russia didn’t go by unnoticed. And if I wake up at 5 am to read twitter, and then spend a good hour watching different news videos on what has really happened, and browsing LiveJournal (the most popular blogging platform in my home country) for updates and pictures from the elections, it’s worth blogging about. I voted on Friday, we had an opportunity here in Minnesota, because Seattle consulate representatives were in town. I don’t think I would’ve been that interested in the results, if I haven’t voted myself. And mind it, I still write Russia, as my country of citizenship, and probably will for quiet a while.

 When I was a senior in college, everyone I knew, esp. people who worked for the government or different social institutions, were forced to vote for Putin and United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya), we were also told to bring “I voted” stickers to our dean, and those who didn’t got in trouble. Another urban legend from those elections has something to do with factory workers in Moscow (as prosaic as this sounds) – those “lucky” members of the society were forced to take pictures of their ballots and passports, before those went into the urn. Talk about freedom of vote here.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Putin, Medvedev, or United Russia all together. When I was about 7 I saw Zhirinovsky on TV, and his charisma worked. I even convinced mom to vote for his party in the early 90’s. Then he kind of started to spiral down, there were incidents when he spilled OJ on other members of the Parliament. And that’s when I realized, I will not vote for an attention whore, even though that attention whore is a guy.

When these elections came around I wanted to vote more for the experience of it. It’s always cool to do something for the first time, and be able to use my Russian passport in the US.

And then the hell broke lose. It all started with one of my Facebook friends posting this:

A photo by Dmitri Surnin, who volunteered as an independent observer at one of the voting sights. The results that you see here are drastically different from the results he saw on the website of the Election Committee. The word spread around, social networks are a great thing after all. The bloggers joined in. And eventually protests started happening. Arrests followed. Here are some videos that believe me have me glued to the screen, wide eyed.

And while a lot of people are hoping for the best, some are foreseeing Lybia’s fate for Russia. I am just hoping that some day when I want to go visit  Russia, there will be something better to come back to!

xoxo,

ZhenyAH!