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An endless weekendless December

19/12/201113:30
An endless weekendless December
David Burghardt

All right enough already! The Russians have destroyed every single weekend this month for me. Why can’t they schedule all their protests during the week so I can have a break?

It all started on December 4 (Sunday) when the elections for the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, were underway. I was called into work to cover the exit polls and the beginning of the official ballot counts, which kept me at work until midnight, and also triggered my last blog about how elections work here in Russia.

And then on December 10th (Saturday), the people became angry over the elections and received permission to hold a protest of up to 25,000 people. I was called in again to help out, mostly editing material we were putting out on RIA’s English website and also fielding phone calls from our English-speaking correspondents who were at the protest venue. They’d call in and give me quotes over the phone that I hurriedly typed on my computer and sent to one of my coworkers, whoever was writing that particular angle of the protests. That kept me busy until about 8:00 p.m.

The head of the Foreign Language News Desk last week decided that we need to cover the following Saturday (December 17) protests on camera in six different languages direct from the protest site. So that Saturday, my German, French, Spanish, Arab, and Chinese coworkers and I took off for Moscow’s central Bolotnaya Square just a couple hundred meters from the Kremlin to cover the event. When we got there, the camera crews were already set up and cameramen were sliding in and out of the crowd and getting interviews from participants and on-lookers alike.

It was a cold and extremely windy day and we were all standing in the middle of a bridge over a canal, which made it even colder. We huddled together, jumping up and down to stay warm until it was our turn to step in front of the camera, take off our hats and belt out the latest events on Bolotnaya Square. Though we stood on the bridge for several hours periodically getting updates on the current event, no one really complained because we were all in the same boat and would have to stick it out together. This was a much smaller protest with the official numbers from police reports standing at 1,500 protesters, though the organizers, the Yabloko party, said the crowd had reached around 10,000.

The end of this week on Saturday, yes, December 24, will be the largest protests that Moscow has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow City Hall has granted permission to hold protests with up to 50,000 participants. I have a suspicion that these protests won’t be as peaceful as the last one because once you get a number out there like that in the freezing weather, all hell can break loose at any moment. The six of us foreigners will once again take on the task of covering the news from the protest site for several hours in the cold. During the protests, I’ll be calling in to the English Desk to give them updates of what’s happening there and somewhere along the line will be going live on the radio in Washington, DC. Though any journalist wants the news to be exciting, I think I can speak for all my foreign colleagues that we don’t want to see any violence…we’re hoping it’s going to be peaceful.

And last but not least, the final weekend that just happens to be December 31, I’ll be handling the English news desk single-handedly from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, when I’m replaced by one of my American compatriots who will bring in the New Year at work when his shift ends at midnight.

But not all is lost…January 1 through January 10 is a holiday in Russia and I can finally catch up on all those missed weekends. Why do the Russians have to have protests on the weekends? I should ask them to reschedule for Tuesdays…..

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RIA NovostiDavid BurghardtAn endless weekendless December

13:30 19/12/2011 All right enough already! The Russians have destroyed every single weekend this month for me. Why can’t they schedule all their protests during the week so I can have a break?>>

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  • arnoldvinette@yahoo.comSpecial request for David with regards to Putin
    06:48, 22/12/2011
    David I came across the following documentary created by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

    It is about Vladimir Putin and how he came to power in Russia.

    Since I do not know anything about Vladimir Putin and Russian history (other than RIA Novosti articles) can you please review this documentary or another RIA Novosti researcher and comment on its validity.

    By the way this is very relevant to the Russian Presidential elections in March 2012.

    Other Western / English RIA Novosti readers may be interested in this English-Canadian documentary on Vladimir Putin as well.

    The link is for www topdocumentaryfilms com.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-putin-system/

    Thank you for your consideration and that of RIA Novosti.

    When it comes to Russia I am always suspect of western sources of information (American and Canadian) due to western government propganda campaigns.

    Thank you for reviewing this documentary and your comments on it if you are allowed.

    Arnold Vinette
    Ottawa, Canada

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