It’s Saturday, which means only one thing
It’s Saturday; this can only mean one thing - Parkrun. And what kudos to run in Moscow. Plus meeting a fabulously inspiring young man passionate about raising awareness about Climate Crisis.
We were up early and got to Sokolniki Park, where 38 local people greeted us warmly. Many of them were stretching, looking very keen. The route was somewhat complicated, down one path, turn right, back onto the lane then left…and that’s where I went wrong. I was so far behind the group that I didn’t realise I needed to turn somewhere, and with a small group, there weren’t many marshals.
After quite a long time, I saw runners coming towards me, including Tim. He clapped my hand as he ran passed and informed me I had gone the wrong way. Damn. I carried on, along one path, down another and then saw a lady come out of a different route behind me. She had definitely been 50km ahead of me at one point. What to do?
I wanted to be fair and also get my 5km in, so turned around, ran back past her and then, when I was a good 50km behind her, turned around, eventually finishing the race to a loud cheer. I came 1st of the females in my age group. Ok, I was the only female that old! And 38th out of 40. I was pleased, I am trotting more than I am walking now. Tim came a respectable 26th, third in his age group (I think there were more than three though!) What a lovely group of people, they invited us to drink some delicious non-alcoholic gluhwein and apple cake. We did notice the bottle of vodka and saw at least one person having a swig. Yikes, at that time of the morning and after a run!
We had a lovely stroll around Sokolniki Park and suddenly heard music playing out of speakers; Tim whisked me into his arms and waltzed me around a lake. As the music changed, he altered his dance moves into a quick-step. I was very impressed. We then found a hollow "moon" which was painted inside. Can you spot Wally in the top photo?
The rest of the day was mainly relaxing. It had been fairly full-on since leaving Bahar in Holland, and I hadn’t slept well for the last few nights. We find it essential to have some chillax time. Mind you, I did search high and low for an earring and also my snood. Both lost! The only thing I can think what happened was I pulled off my thick wool jumper (a purchase in Minsk, it’s very cold here) and my earing and snood popped off somewhere — feeling very miffed.
The previous day, we somehow had come across a guy on Instagram who was protesting here in Moscow about climate change. I sent him a message to see if he wanted to meet. Arshak Makichyan kindly agreed. Our journey to meet him in a vegan café took us to Tsvetnoy Bul’var metro. Similar to St Petersburg, many of the train stations here in Moscow are renowned for their fantastic décor. Luckily this one is included on the list. A stunning stained-glass mural greeted us as we walked down the stairs to the platform, and on each column was a smaller work of art.
What an inspiring young man is Arshak. He has been standing in a Moscow square every Friday for 31 weeks holding a sign which says “Strike for Climate”. No-one else can join him; in Russia, you can only demonstrate singularly. Any other activists need to be at least 500m away and cannot look as if they are affiliated. The consequences in Russia is that you can be arrested and beaten, unlike England, where we have freedom of speech and demonstration. Over 1,000 people in London have been arrested as part of the XR demonstration, but I am sure there have been no beatings. (Mind you, Belgium police have been rather brutal)
Arshak shared with us that Greta Thunberg moved him to take action. He is a violin graduate from the Moscow Conservatory but has put his career on hold to be an XR activist. He was invited to the recent UN Youth Climate Summit in New York, however getting a visa in a matter of weeks is near impossible to do.
We discussed what we have learnt about climate change, the difference between how Russia and the UK are dealing with the crisis and how he can build momentum in Russia, despite the tight legal restrictions and harsh potential consequences.
Russia is already experiencing climate changes including melting ice in the Arctic, extensive rainfall causing flooding and high temperatures in the summer causing forest fires. And according to a 2018 poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 86% of Russians have noticed serious changes in climate. However, on a positive note, wheat production has risen.