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Connections Are Everything

Published: May 17, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



Photo: Mark Fischer / Flickr

Связи: connections

Back in the old days of Soviet rule, everyone needed one thing to survive: блат. This word, so satisfying to say — try it! — meant pull, an "in," connections. Блат got you tickets to a closed screening of a Hollywood film. Блат got you a tin of powdery but potent instant coffee from India. Блат got your kid a place in a preschool. But when the planned economy fell, it took блат with it. Now if you want something, you go buy it. You don't need блат with the sales clerk.

But if блат disappeared, связи (connections) are eternal. And luckily for all of us language-hoppers, they are pretty universal, too.

Связи — note the plural — are connections, contacts, people you know, relationships. Я хочу устроиться на работу в этой фирме. Нет у тебя там связей? (I'd like to get a job in that company. Do you have any contacts there?)

Sometimes the relationship connoted by связи is one of patronage. As usual, context is everything: Он поддерживает очень хорошие связи с местной администрацией (He's been cultivating an inside track in the local administration).

Связь (singular) is some kind of connection. It might be invisible: На сцене она умела сразу установить связь с аудиторией (On stage she could immediately establish a bond with the audience). It might be a bond of friendship or professional interests between individuals, institutions or countries: Количество внутренних и внешних — межрегиональных и международных — связей нашей компании постоянно возрастает (The number of our firm's domestic and foreign — inter-regional and international — relationships is constantly growing).

Or it might be something more intimate. Связь, sometimes modified with the word любовная (amorous), is any kind of extramarital relationship. Её муж, не зная о прежней нашей связи, старается познакомить нас (Her husband, who doesn't know that we had an affair, is trying to introduce us to each other). When связь is modified by the adjective половая (sexual), we are talking about a physical relationship without much emotional attachment. And случайная связь (literally an incidental contact) is what English speakers call a one-night stand.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during today’s Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the center’s Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonight’s performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Center’s Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodina’s website for more details.



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