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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

It's the Balkans, Jumbo Size

The former Soviet Union is often compared to the former Yugoslavia. Just look: Serbia is obviously Russia - not the richest, but the biggest; not the nicest, but the center. Croatia is Ukraine, with Dubrovnik as the Crimea and Tito, a Croatian, as Brezhnev, a Ukrainian.

Slovenia, relatively rich and under German influence, is the Baltic countries, of course. Montenegro, always loyal to Serbia and sometimes even more conservative than the senior partner, is Belarus. Kosovo, a smaller area that wants to separate and join its blood brothers in Albania, is, apparently, Moldova. Macedonia is more or less like Central Asia - relatively quiet, Tajikistan aside, and remote.

Finally, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is like in the Caucasus - the populace thirsty for revenge and trigger-happy, and then there is the Moslem-Christian opposition. An impressive comparison, isnt it?

The Congress of People's Deputies seems to be a nice one. They did not manage to overthrow Yeltsin - they were short four votes or so, and they adopted private ownership of land. The Man of the Congress is, unquestionably, Anatoly Shabad, a democratic deputy, who started a fist-fight with some "patriot" - right on, brother! I hope that for the next Congress they bring tear-gas sprays, legalized now by Yeltsin's decree as a self-defense measure, and turn the Kremlin palace into chemical-warfare battlefield.

Another important thing about the recent Congress is the language of the deputies. This time, in some speeches, they used real people's language, which included idioms and other verbal constructions based on a popular four-letter word. Judging by live broadcasts, there were no attempts by the chairman to stop the usage of this rough Russian lexicon - which is yet another triumph for democracy.

Finally, I enjoyed watching the National Salvation Front demonstrators in Red Square. Their chant: Deputat, deputat, eto tvoi Stalingrad! (Deputy, deputy - this is your Stalingrad! ) is worthy of becoming the hook line in some red-hot disco hit.

The best newspaper ad I've seen recently, reads: "Guaranteed winning in roulette. Call Sergei 12: 00-3: 00 A. M". Why not play and win yourself, Sergei? Weird.

Bogdan Titomir, rap superstar of Russia, has played a series of concerts at the Olympic Stadium. I must say that he is not just another manufactured pop idol - all image and no brains - completely manipulated by his management. From my several talks with him I've concluded that he is smart and calculating. He is also non-drinking, nonsmoking and hard-working - a true Russian pop yuppie.

Titomir's ambition is to fill the spiritual vacuum in young Russian's heads with his ideology, the one he calls "high energy" Basically "H. E". is about being positive, enterprising, healthy, making money, having fun and safe sex. According to Bogdan, his mission is both appealing for millions of lost youngsters and useful for the country, so he expects "hi-energy clubs" to replace fast-forgotten Communist Youth committees.

However, judging by his recent shows this is very unlikely to happen this season. Despite massive advertising and bombastic stage production, the stadium, on most nights, was three-quarters empty. For Bogdan Titomir's team this was totally discouraging news - not so much because of the substantial financial losses, but rather because something that was promoted as the future of Russian pop/youth/nation has met with so little interest.

Is it that the audience is not yet ready for hi-energy, preferring to wallow in the mire of alcohol without either money or condoms? Or the ticket prices - around 250 rubles - which young would be entrepreneurs cannot afford? Or simply the fact that Bogdan Titomir is known for not singing live, just dancing and miming to a tape? In any case, here is a good example of erratic Russian pop ways: what is always in the media and in the charts is not necessarily popular, and what is hip does not necessarily touch the heart.

I finally have got my voucher. The line was very small - only three people for two box-office windows. I decided not to invest the thing or sell it, but to keep it in my collection of transitional period relics - along with metallic metro tokens.