Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Burnt by the Sun"

This is an artistic depiction of ball lightning. This rare type of lightning does sometimes hover motionless in front of a window. I saw this myself once. A ball of bright light the size of a person's head paused and hovered for a few moments like it was looking in the window and then zipped off.

In the Russian film Burnt by the Sun, ball lightning is an important symbol for the terror visited on millions of people during Stalin's purges. The film tells the story of a family's last day together before the father, a retired Soviet general, is arrested by the Soviet secret police.

This is a good synopsis of the tragic story, which is based on the true-life experiences of a Russian family.

The title of the film is based on a song that was popular in the USSR during the 1930s. Here are the lyrics of that song:

This is our last sunday
This is our last sunday, today we will part,
Today we will go our own ways, forever

This is our last sunday, so give it only to me
Look tenderly in my eyes for the eternal while.

Now it's not the time for excuses, everything has been said,
Today a richer and better than me came
And with you, stole my happiness.

I have a last wish, this one and only in many years.
Give me this last hope,
And then let the world collapse

You ask me what will I do and where will I go
Where should I go - do I know?
Today there's only one ending which is-
well, nevermind

One thing is important, you must be happy
and don't worry about me.
But before everything ends,
Before the fate will us part
Give me this one last hope

This is our last sunday....

Short sound clip of Ta ostatnia niedziela (WMA format) [Wikipedia]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (11-20-06) reports that a former Russian spy, Alexandr Litvinenko has been poisoned in London:

"Litvinenko became violently ill just hours after meeting in early November with a man who purported to have information regarding the October 7 killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Doctors say the 43-year-old Litvinenko is suffering the effects of the toxin thallium, an ingredient in rat poison that attacks the nervous system and lungs....[other media reports say that he was poisoned with a radioactive material--polonium.]

Litvinenko, who defected to Britain six years ago, had angered the Kremlin in the past with allegations that his FSB superiors had ordered him to assassinate Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a longtime Kremlin foe.

He has since written a book accusing the security service of orchestrating a 1999 spate of apartment-block bombings in Moscow and other cities, which killed hundreds of people.

The Kremlin attributed the blasts to Chechen separatists and used them as a pretext for launching the second war in the North Caucasus republic.

Litvinenko also suggested the 2004 Beslan school siege may have been carried out on FSB orders.

In addition, he has alleged that Russian special services were behind the 2004 assassination in Qatar of former acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev. Two Russian intelligence officers were convicted by a Qatari court in Yandarbiyev's death.

The FSB has categorically denied any role in Yandarbiyev's killing and has rejected the rest of Litvinenko's claims as well....

Deputy Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today dismissed allegations that Moscow was involved in the poisoning, calling such suggestions 'nonsense.' Sergei Ivanov, a spokesman for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), told AFP his country's secret services 'have not carried out poisonings or any form of assassination in a long time.'

London's metropolitan police have opened an investigation into the poisoning." [Full Text]

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