Day three in Moscow...for those of you following at home, here are the following:
a) The emergency forced diversion of flight 46, bound from Atlanta to Moscow to JFK on November 30 in connection with a problem with pressurization. We were met by NYPD, FDNY and other emergency services...it was nice to know things were all under control. It was easier to transfer all of us to another plane en masse than to fix the problem, so they DID move all of us to another aircraft and we flew off. Finally arrived in Sheremetevo airport at 3 pm Saturday, rather than 11.
b) First visit to Red Square and the glimpse of an outsized billboard proclaiming, "MOSCOW IS VOTING FOR PUTIN" on election day, and then declaring WHICH LIST Moscow would be voting for(#10). An inspiring show of democratic spirit, especially since there wasn't any mention of other parties there. These folks know whom and what they want. They have ALREADY decided. Now just imagine seeing "SEATTLE IS VOTING FOR BUSH!!" in Pioneer Place, and you'll have a feel for the atmosphere here!
c) Close encounter with a Putin supporter near the election victory stand at St. Basil's cathedral yesterday. The victory stand and concert stage were in place well before the votes were counted, which I found rather interesting...anyway, I couldn't read the slogan alongside "OUR VICTORY," and I leaned over a barricade to squint at the left hand side. Bad mistake. One of the Putin youth took me for a wrecker or assassin or something and corrected me by waving a truncheon in my face. I took the hint and moved on, but there was something about those legions of bright-eyed youth in white sheets(?) with Putin's portrait on them. Verrry interesting...
d) The attempt to move through Red Square tonight after visiting one of the archives. All access to the Square was shut off, and police checkpoints established, because the Putin youth were enjoying yet another victory rock concert that surely shook Lenin in his mausoleum inside out. My friend and I ended up walking about two miles out of our way because of said police checkpoints...reminded me of the Paul McCartney concert in '04, when we appeared to be blocked out of our hotel for the night. What a country!
e) I forgot point E. Time to end this Russian day and night.
And so how's dead week going? Bet there are none of you dealing with police checkpoints on campus...and a cheery "do svidaniia" to all!