Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

The train from Moscow to the Donbass & back


Global Network Board of Advisers member Leonid Ilderkin escorted me from Moscow on the 24-hour night train to the Russian border with the Donbass and back.  Here are a few of my observations from the ride.

  • Each sleeper compartment has four beds – two on the bottom and two on top.  A small table sits between the beds by the window.
  • Each coach on the train has 1-2 staff who provide sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels.  They keep the toilets cleaned and vacuum the hallway and the compartments along the journey.
  • The staff provides tea cups and spoons at the start of the journey and each coach has a large hot water boiler.  Passengers bring their own tea, sugar and food along for the trip.  Russians drink more tea than coffee.
  • Most people in the compartment share food with one another and talk throughout the trip.  They stand in the hall way and look out the window and talk there as well.
  • From the window I could view miles of green fields as the fall season is in full color.  I asked what was growing and was told it is 'winter wheat'.
  • Also in each direction you see many coal mines - some still functioning and others not.  But everywhere around Lugansk there were big hills of coal mining residue from more than 150 years of mining - some of them appeared to be almost mountain like.  A few of the piles were so old that trees and other vegetation were growing on top of them.
  • Labor leader Andrey Kochetov told a story about one of the mines.  On the very top of a tower is a big Red Star light from the Soviet days.  When a particular mine met its annual quota the light would flash.  It meant the workers had done a great job.  After the coup in Kiev in 2014 the Nazis came to Lugansk with tanks.  They had a day long contest to see which tank operator could hit the Red Star light.  The tower was riddled with holes from tank shells but they missed the target.  They did hit the homes of miners who lived in the nearby community and some of the miners and their families were killed.  The Nazis thought it was all great fun.
  •  At home I take the Amtrak train to Boston, New York and Washington frequently from Maine and can testify that along America’s rail lines are huge amounts of garbage.  Not so along the Russian railway lines.  Like most other places I have seen in Russia there is little to no trash.  On our way to the Donbass one morning about 7:00 am we stopped at one station and I noticed women there sweeping up cigarette butts.
  • On that same initial journey to the Donbass our fellow passenger in our compartment was a woman doctor from Irkutsk in the far eastern part of the country.  She was on her way to southern Russia for a warm holiday.  She offered to take my blood pressure and happily told me it was normal.
  • We had a long talk about life in Irkutsk with Leonid translating.  She showed us photos of her home, grandchild and her garden on her phone.
  • At one stop a hoard of local women were selling cooked food to passengers.  We bought a beautiful artistically decorated small loaf of bread with potato inside and a chicken/potato/cucumber dish.  Dinner for Leonid and I cost $4.
  • On our return we left Lugansk on a bus at 5:00 pm which took us to the border control.  We were first in line to pass through Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) immigration but our two bus drivers disappeared for an hour.  I think they went for a vodka.  Once we passed through there, we then had to wait another hour to get into the Russian entry immigration process.  We got off the bus with our luggage and I was the first in line at the booth but the woman immigration officer could not find any proof in the computer that I had exited Russia just days before.  So, I was taken to an office, the same room where I had spent an hour previously on my way out of Russia going to Donbass where I had to fill out a long questionnaire.  The man in this office asked me a ton of questions about where I was going next in Russia (which is Crimea) and what I would be during there (speaking at a conference in Yalta.)  So, in all it took us three hours to get through both immigration services.
  • We spent the night in a hostel just over the border inside Russia.  For two rooms in the very nice hostel it cost us Leonid and I $10 each.
  • Then the next morning we took a cab to the train station for the return 24-hour ride back to Moscow. The cab cost just over $1.
Bruce

1 Comments:

Anonymous Miapeace said...

Yep .. I can testify to a lot of that.. I thoroughly enjoyed my long journey on a not so flash train from Krasnodar to Moscow.. my guide Irina who dropped me off at the station in Krasnodar was alarmed as I had somehow booked myself on an old slow train (which wove in and out of Ukraine) but I loved the slow cruisy journey as I could take it all in comfortably and was also well looked after ❤️

11/2/19, 8:32 AM  

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