All alone or all together?

Tatjana Ždanokas office is the office of an old lady. She needs more than five tries until she finally manages to pick up her smart-phone. Her assistant is ill today, she seems to be helpless without her. Every time I visit the Parliament to interview MEPs, their assistants come down to the lobby, sign me in and guide me through the security check. Today, Mrs. Ždanoka comes down to the lobby herself and somehow she seems to be lost between all the young assistants, moving faster than her and knowing better what to do.

Her office is located at the very end of a corridor. Posters of Scotland and Catalonia decorate the walls. Mrs. Ždanoka is a member of the “European Free Alliance Group” which stands for the self-determination of the regions in Europe. But what Mrs. Ždanokas really cares about are the stateless Russian speaking people in Latvia. In our talk later she will always come back to them, no matter the topic. The whole corridor and her office are really quiet. Since her office is located at the building’s corner I would have loved to check the view but all windows are closed with white curtains. Just artificial light illuminates the room.

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There is nearly none square centimeter of plain white wall in her office. All is covered with pictures of Russian orthodox saints. The handout “Introduction to the European Free Alliance Group” tells me that one of Mrs. Ždanoka’s hobbies is knitting, so I guess that the colorful, a little kitschy, embroidered landscapes in-between are self made. She wears a colorful, fuzzy cardigan. She is over sixty years, so far the oldest MEP I interviewed. Her Russian accent reminds me of an old lady I baked cookies with in a kitchen with streamed windows in Latvia.

But even though Mrs. Ždanoka might look like a grandmother baking cookies for her grandchildren she isn’t harmless. Her opinion isn’t quite usual here in Brussels and during the long talk she gives me exactly what I’m searching for: Her vision for Europe. Continue reading

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