Russian-Language Blogs: Miscellanea (2)

Victoria Shcherbina (LJ user saint-autere) reacts to the news of the August 22 TU-154 crash in eastern Ukraine, which killed all 170 people on board, by writing (RUS) about the death of her father – IL-86 navigator Valeriy Shcherbina – in a crash at Moscow's Sheremetyevo four years earlier, on July 28, 2002.

Her post has already received 1,682 comments

[…] Papa was gone. But he did have a premonition… On July 15, two weeks before the crash, on the 30th anniversary of [my parents’] wedding, when they were at a restaurant, he suddenly began speaking about it, about his death: what would need to be done, how he would like to see it. Mama interrupted him, but he managed to continue with this topic.

It's true that their equipment was on the verge [of collapse]. The crashed IL-86 RA-86060 was made in 1983 and had flown 18,370 hours – and this type of plane can be used for 20 years. Only the so-called human factor was capable of dealing with problems arising in the air, not vice versa, as is commonly believed. How many times he spoke of those problems! One of the scariest episodes happened during the flight over the ocean, from New York, USA, to Shannon, Ireland. It was a miracle that they reached their destination, they did it [manually], because the navigation broke down and they were going blind. He didn't worry for his life, but for the lives of 350 passengers behind him.

He used to say: “I'll go quickly… I'll crash… I'll be shown on TV… Your children will be proud of their heroic grandfather!” And this is what did happen.

He promised to bring mama a bouquet of exactly 30 flowers from Sochi, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their wedding. They must have been gladioli… Here, they aren't as beautiful, and they are expensive, too…


I was there, at the site of the air catastrophe, in the fall of 2002… I wanted to see it… By that time, I was prepared to see it. It is so close to the airport. The snow covered all the horror a little and only a modest cross stood over the dug-up part of the field and the forest. The ground still smelled of kerosene, and there were still torn pieces of metal underneath my feet. And above my head, very low, flew the planes… Up and down… I'll never be able to forget this.

Both crashed planes belonged to the St. Petersburg-based Pulkovo Airlines, a company saint-autere has no kind words about:

Do you know what a pilot's life is worth in our country? Because, it turns out, pilots are insured! The whole $3,000 received each family of the dead pilots, regardless of the number of people in these families. And do you know how much the company received for the plane – because it was insured as well? Two million dollars, which is twice as much as the plane's remaining cost. So it's a very profitable business to lose a plane! Well, they also had to pay the pilots’ salaries to the relatives, as [the law] requires, but it's incomparably less than the profit they received, isn't it!

A 28-year-old graduate of St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Equipment, saint-autere goes into a lengthy explanation of the technical issues neglected by Pulkovo Airlines, which may have led to the plane crash that killed her father. She also writes about the biased coverage of the tragedy and her futile attempts to restore justice.


LJ user nl (Norvezhskiy Lesnoy, whose blog is rated (RUS) by the Russian search engine Yandex as the 5th most-read blog) comments (RUS) on the coverage of the plane crash and the complex relationship between the mainstream media and bloggers:

[Radio Echo of Moscow], in a story on the TU-154 crash near Donetsk, quotes from this post, attributing to it like this: “as they write in blogs.” I remember how some seven years ago, NTV [people] would rather shoot themselves than cite as a source, using this formula instead: “as has been reported on the internet” – and Lyokha Andreyev suggested that in response, we should replace our links to NTV with this: “as some chick in the TV set reported…”

A discussion follows on how some LJ users’ nicknames are just too obscene, unpronounceable or don't make sense at all to be cited as sources by the “serious” media. Still, according to nl, it's really up to the journalists – and some do deserve praise:

[…] Stories on how it is inhumanly difficult to pronounce urls are as many years old as Sasha Plushchev's [LJ user plushev] recitations of the most [unpronounceable] site addresses on his [radio program] Echonet.


A 26-year-old Chechen journalist Elina Ersenoyeva was kidnapped in Grozny on August 17, in broad daylight, and is missing still. Russian online publication reported (RUS) that Ersenoyeva, a freelancer for the Chechen Society newspaper and a representative of an HIV/AIDS prevention project, could have been married to Shamil Basayev, allegedly killed by the federal forces in July.

Timur Aliev (LJ user timur_aliev), editor-in-chief of the print/online weekly Chechen Society (Chechenskoye Obshchestvo), writes on his blog (RUS) that the allegations of Ersenoyeva's ties to Basayev only aggravate the already difficult situation :

For the last few days I've been busy with Elina's case more than with anything else. At first, I was answering phone calls and meeting with journalists, telling them what I know about the kidnapping of this female journalist. Simultaneously, I was trying to give some advice to Elina's mother, Rita, who was also constantly calling me and stopping by at the office. The woman was catastrophically helpless – only on the fourth day it turned out that she hadn't yet reported the kidnapping to the [Ministry of Internal Affairs]. We've also helped her to write a letter to the prosecutor's office – she didn't know where it's located. Her husband, from whom she is divorced, was of little use, too – when Rita fainted in our newsroom and a thin intern and I barely managed to drag her to the couch in the office next door, he just stood there and [did nothing], while the girls were calling the ambulance, fanning her with a fan and pouring [a heart medicine] for her.

In general, both parents, instead of [persistently visiting various law enforcement officials], the [Federal Security Service], and getting the relatives involved, kept coming to us – help us, save us, recommend something, find a way for us to meet with [Ramzan Kadyrov]. I told them to visit Elina's primary place of work – the youth affairs committee – because Ramzan loves them, and they'll find a way for [the parents] to meet him. But they [the parents] were saying – no, they won't help.

It's been a couple days, though, since Rita stopped coming. On the first day I thought that maybe it's because the mobile connection was terrible – impossible to reach anyone by phone. Today, however, I received many calls, but not from Elina's mother.

Anyway, I was even more busy today than in the previous days. Reports have appeared that Elina is Basayev's widow. And everyone started contacting us for comments.

At first, it seemed funny to me – to imagine Elina in this role was difficult. She was spending all her time in her youth committee, and even Ramzan stopped by there pretty often, and sometimes Elina wrote something for us, and she attended UNICEF's seminars from the committee – and it seemed she wouldn't have the time to take walks in the mountains with Basayev.

Then I felt uneasy – when people are calling you about it, you turn into a person who has to provide some explanations. I re-direct all callers to [Elina's] mother and to her primary employers – like, what nonsense, please contact them for more details, I don't know anything – but they are still calling me.

What's going to happen tomorrow, I don't know.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.