Off to Russia today

I am off to Russia today.  I’ve submitted another article to Wikinews before I left, and we’ll see if it clears publication.  A friend has joked that my most recent articles have been “No one says anything.  No one does anything. Nothing has changed.”

A number of friends are concerned about the safety issues regarding going to Russia.  All responsible things done.  People know where I am staying, my train information and my plane information.  I’ve informed my embassy that I am going.  People inside my media organization know I am going.  All the logical steps I could take be safe have been taken.

Last night, I chatted with a Ukrainian affiliated with the team going with me to Sochi.  They are pretty much set to go, and in a healthy head space to go and do responsible reporting.  The only possible hangup at the moment is the Russian rail crossing situation: Will the border stay open between the Ukraine and Russia?  Will they be able to cross?  If yes, I should be meeting with them by the end of the week.  Fingers are crossed that my Ukrainians stay safe and the border remains open.

My goal is to try to keep blogging a bit about my experiences in Sochi, in addition to the reporting I am trying to do.  We’ll see what happens. 🙂

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The politics of the Sochi Paralympics

I should be reporting on this for Wikinews, but I am not.  At the present, despite the military situation in the Ukraine with what appears to be an effective Russian invasion? incursion? foreign power putting a military force into to protest its ethnic people who make up 60% of the local population… the trains between the Ukraine and Russia appear to be operating normally.  This includes in the Crimea and along other parts of the border.

Over in Canada, the Government has ordered their Ambassador to Russia to leave Moscow because of the ongoing situation.  On a Paralympic note, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has announced he and members of his Cabinet do not plan to attend the Sochi Paralympic Games because of the Ukrainian situation.

The United States Government has advised its citizens to avoid the Ukraine (especially the Crimea region), and the USMNT has moved a game scheduled for today to Cyrpus (where a referee was recently beaten).  No extra alerts for Americans going to Russia though. I’m not feeling particularly unsafe about going, but I am a bit queasy given everything.  Russia is not LGBT friendly.  The USA doesn’t have a particularly good relationship with Russia at the moment, and Russia culturally has always been held up as one of the great threats to the United States.  I grew up in the dying throws of the Soviet era, but I can remember the picture painted of Russia, and it wasn’t pleasant.

That said, on a Paralympic level, I have information on tickets to the opening ceremony.  I have registered to attend the IPC Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  I’ve watched a ton of Team USA Paralympic videos. I’ve read more on the rules of the various sports and the classification process.  I feel ready and knowledgeable, and like I should be able to do some good reporting.

And we’re go for Sochi :D :D

It looks like the accreditation for the Ukrainian Wikinewsies has arrived in Kiev.  Despite paying €48 for expedited mail, it arrived two weeks after it was sent.  (This doesn’t mean the Ukrainians have the accreditation, merely that the accreditation got off the plane.) The accreditation arrived today. The Ukrainians got a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation to cover their Sochi expenses.  They have their travel arranged.

I’ve got my transportation booked.  I should have a “lovely” train ride across Russia, (30 hours, third class seat) but the experience should still be awesome.  I’ve got a hotel booked.  I’m seriously thinking about packing.  I’m working on a todo list and remember this fact list.

Remember:

1. Before getting on the train, I will need to go to the ticket desk and exchange my internet ticket for a paper ticket for the train.
2.  Meals on the train cost about €15.
3. Train bathrooms apparently get dirty quickly after leaving the station.
4. The fare on the express train on the route Domodedovo – Paveletskiy station, Vnukovo is about 640 rubles round trip.

To do list:
1. Print out basic Russian phrases for pointing at to get service.
2. Figure out where my seats on the train actually are.
3. Buy bottled water before getting on the train.  Bring snacks for the train.  Food options are limited.
4. Pack some baby-tissues, toothpaste and toothbrush.

Outside of that, I’ve updated Wikinews:Sochi Paralympic Games, and posted on the watercooler for Wikinews to let potential reviewers know what is going on.  I’m also trying to work on a copyright notice for all my pictures for Wikinews.  I am having some problems with the template.  Any assistance in fixing this would be appreciated.