This piece is about the recent not-so-excellent adventure of Andrey Makarevich, a Russian pop musician. Just to entice you to read further: I will eventually get to the juicy part where Makarevich boarded a train, drank a bottle of vodka and got a girl in trouble. But first some backstory…
People who have followed Mak’s career know that, back in his glory days (late 60’s and early 70’s), he was the founder of the popular rock band Time Machine (“Mashina Vremeni”), which was supposed to be the Soviet answer to the Beatles. Over the years and decades, an aging Makarevich has continued to plug away with his songs and ballads.
In recent years, Makarevich, like several other prominent Russian celebrities, took Ukraine’s side against Russia in the ideological war which developed after the Maidan coup of 2014. Most Russians including song writers enjoy a healthy freedom of speech, so contrarian views do not land a person in prison or insane asylum; however, the price an artist pays is in their popularity. As Russian audiences stopped coming to Mak’s concerts, the musician continued to cultivate fans elsewhere and has done several tours of the Ukraine. It seems like several of his tours has ended in some kind of scandal, with Makarevich either getting in a fight and getting beat up; or, in this case, of getting an ordinary girl fired from her job. In all cases of trouble, there seems to be one underlying factor: Alcohol.
What About That Incident in Kharkov?
Again, before I get to the story about the mysterious girl on the train… Let us all hop into our “Time Machine” and go back …. whooop whoooop whooop …. to a day in May of 2015. The mystery here is whether or not Makarevich got beat up on stage while performing a concert in Kharkov. Russian and pro-Russian press disseminated a Schadenfreud story of Makarevich getting “what was coming to him” while performing at a “closed” concert for Ukrainian military and ATO (“Anti-Terrorist Operation”) units in Kharkov sometime at or around May 9, 2015. Allegedly, some drunken soldiers leaped up on the stage, punched Makarevich in the face, and then broke the singer’s guitar over his head.
Subsequently, Westie press, including Stop Fake, indignantly refuted the account. In denying that this had happened, Makarevich perhaps “protesteth too much” when he declared: “I never gave any concerts in the Ukraine.” Clearly, Makarevich did give concerts in the Ukraine. In fact, his schedule for 2015 includes concerts in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov. The thing is, though, these concerts are in March, not May. If he stuck to that schedule, then Makarevich would have been in Kharkov on March 9. Not May 9. Or maybe he went back there in May, who knows? When StopFake declares triumphantly that the Russian press was forced to retract their story about Mak taking a beating, this is clearly an exagerration as well. For example, the Russian paper “Zvezda” did not so much retract the story as simply report the other side to it, namely Mak’s denial that the incident occurred. Be that as it may, if I had to bet money, I would bet that the incident most likely did occur; and also that it had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with alcohol.
Strangers on a Train
This story begins with Mak’s recent trip to Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, to play a gig. This happened just a couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of June. Makarevich was travelling by train, and the Ukrainian train apparently, even though the trip was significantly long, did not have a restaurant car.
Makarevich, not having packed a lunch and getting peckish, asked one of the train conductors, a young woman named Marina Stolkovskaya, to bring him some food. Marine, just trying to be helpful, brought the singer the only food which actually existed on the train, namely rations from the railroad workers own kitchen. The lunch consisted of the following (actually sounding delicious) menu:
Macaroni, stuffed cabbage, roasted chicken, tomatoes and black bread. Not satisfied to be singled out for such exceptional service, Makarevich was also able somehow (and this is the part of the story in dispute) to wash his dinner down with a 200-gram bottle of “Perepelka” vodka. All would have gone well if this wonderful dinner had been kept discrete, except that the singer could not resist bragging about it on his Facebook page.
So, I googled Perepelka vodka, and it claims to be distilled from the whites of quail eggs; a fact I find very difficult to believe; but be that as it may, it is said to be a good brand. The distributing company is called “Bayadera Group”, a Ukrainian company which was founded in 1991 and now distributes globally, in partnership with Remy Cointreau and Moet.
In any case, Andrey’s excellent dinner on the train soon spread like wildfire from his Facebook post into Ukrainian media. The incident came to the attention of the management of Ukrainian railways, the company “Ukrzaliznytsia “. Who decided to bring disciplinary action against the conductor, Marina, charging her with the sale of alcoholic beverages, something which is completely banned on the trains. In defending herself, Marina turned for help to the Ukrainian press and also issued an appeal to Makarevich himself, to stick up for her.
His conscience bothering him, Makarevich came to the girl’s defense, explaining that he had purchased the vodka himself – at a stall (and presumably brought it into the train in his baggage). Makarevich wrote a letter to the girl’s boss, begging him not to make a mountain out of a molehill. “Here’s the thing,” Makarevich wrote, “travelling in a train for a full 24 hours, a train with no restaurant car — that fact doesn’t seem to bother you. But the fact that the girl-conductor saved me from dying of hunger, that seems to bother you. And I appeal to you, on my behalf, to thank the girl for her humanity. And as concerns the vodka — you should just forget about that. Nobody on the train was selling vodka. Unfortunately.”
It is not known what was the outcome of this, whether the girl’s boss listened to Makarevich; whether the girl got to keep her job; whether in fact there is some illicit on-the-side sort of thing going on within the Ukrainian train cars. It wouldn’t surprise me, but in any case I think the main lede to this story is exactly what Makarevich said: How can a railway company expect travellers to ride for 24 hours in a train without a restaurant car or at least a snack bar? And the other lede being, maybe, that Makarevich is such a has-been now, that he is forced to endure these long train rides just to get a paying gig.