Asgardia is a young and modern nation, with a considerable proportion of women, many of whom hold important positions and play a large role in the life of our community. Female representatives of our space nation are, in their majority, successful and accomplished people with an active position on life. They came to Asgardia with their ideas and their projects. We think that their particular views on the processes that are happening in Asgardia and around it may be of interest to many, including those who have not yet joined our community.
That is why we are beginning a new round of interviews with the "Women of Asgardia." In the framework of this project, we've asked the female representatives of the space nation to tell us about themselves and about what's led them to Asgardia.
Our first conversation is with an Asgardian Member of Parliament Svetlana Pchelnikova. She is also the President of the International Association of Doll Creators, a publisher of a book series about the art of dolls, a philanthropist, a curator of the Russian State Museum Tsarkoye Selo, creator of charity projects and international exhibitions, and the owner of one of the largest uniquely designed doll collections in the world.
- Mrs. Pchelnikova, having read your biography, it’s impossible to not ask about the accident. Judging by your previous interviews, it changed your life tremendously?
- The road… I love speed. 160 kilometers per hour on the highway. Loud music, a cigarette… I felt that I was able to break free. My car grazed the curb, began to skid and ended up in the ravine, flying 43 meters down, knocking down pine trees on the way. I was thrown out of the car, together with the seat, right before the car flew into the ravine. Then, as I was flying towards the bright light down the tunnel, I heard a voice: “The children need you. The children need you!” And it was as if I were turned back. I began to scream from pain, and then I lost consciousness.
I was like a broken doll, severely disfigured.
That’s how quickly it’s possible to go from a fun-loving, successful and careless woman to one who is a cripple. No one thought it would be possible for me to get out of bed again. And even when the surgery was scheduled to put a carcass on my entire spine, the doctors weren’t completely sure that I’d walk again.
Everything was broken: cerebral contusions, a shattered clavicle bone, my spine fractured in two places. I didn’t have a face – my lips had been torn off, my nose was put back together piece by piece. I only remember that I was cold even though I was in a warm hospital room. It was some kind of an internal type of cold, like in a coffin. I definitely don’t like to think about that…
Thanks to the advice of the psychologist Natalya Tolstaya – I was able to move past it.
- What moved you to take up dolls, of all things, after the accident?
- At first, I could only use my left arm. After some time, I regained mobility in my right arm. I had arms! There was so much I could do. The situation was 50/50: either I’ll be confined to a wheelchair for life, or I’ll have to have a surgery with minimal chances of avoiding disability. I refused the surgery and found the strength to get up on my own.
- My mom brought me a piece of playdoh to the hospital, to develop my fine motor skills, and I began to fulfill my childhood dream – molding doll figures.
Since I got a chance to begin everything anew, since I lived – I had to create dolls and help the children. Everything around me got covered in dirt, in dust, in porcelain – all the time I was sawing something, burning porcelain. That’s how my rehabilitation period began, when I was looking for myself.
- Will you talk a little about your charity work please, and in particular, about the “Doll Parade for Kids” project?
Once upon a time I spent ridiculous sums of money on expensive things. Bags… This was a fetish and the meaning of my life – to travel to Italy for the latest collection. I dreamt of different beautiful items. I was so shallow.
The accident changed the course of my life. Now I care not only about my own children, but about all the children. Ultimately by selling dolls, we are saving children’s lives.
As soon as I started making dolls, all of my friends responded positively to my idea. It often happens that people buy dolls just because they find out that some child needs help and they are ready to help. They ask for me to keep the doll and sell it again. That is what Nikas Safronov did – the most famous artist in Russia.
In 2007, we began the Doll Parade for Kids project. I started to provide basic models of the dolls which I designed, so that celebrities created the final character, and then I would sell the competed “star” doll in an auction. I should mention that the aid is always direct, that is, every donor knows the name of the child who will receive medical help based on the sold doll. A huge number of kind people responded enthusiastically. Star Doll Parade for Kids saved the lives of 146 little ones struggling with cardiological diseases. Actually, no one ever has refused to help us.
One of my dolls – “AstroDoll” – has been in space, on the International Space Station together with the European Space Agency astronaut from Belgium Frank De Winne. He is the goodwill ambassador of UNICEF Belgium, and took the logo of Doll Parade for kids with him to show that people worldwide should help children.
- It seems that from there we can draw a line to Asgardia. How did you become a resident of the space nation?
I’ve been drawn to the stars and space from childhood. As a child, I would spend nights lying down in the hay, staring up at the sky, making wishes. I still believe that I can reach any star, and that during a meteor shower it’s not the stars, but miracles, falling from the sky.
On a serious note – history and progress are made possible by dreamers and visionaries. As soon as I heard about Igor Ashurbeyli and his idea to create a space nation, I had no doubts. It’s begun! I immediately found the web site, signed up for the news, and now actively participate in all events. I have participated in different competitions and discussions. One for all, and all for one!
- As a result, you became not just a resident, but were elected as an Asgardian Member of Parliament. Why did you decide to become a parliamentarian?
The ideas of Asgardia are in line with my own dreams. I am for equal rights and possibilities for everyone, with peaceful skies above us. To make this idea come true, I’m willing to work hard and selflessly.
- Right now, the mayoral elections are taking place in Asgardia. How do you feel about them? What, in your opinion, do these elections mean for the space nation?
- I am very glad, because in every large city with a sufficient number of Asgardians, there will be a leader who takes initiative. This is a huge step in building our space community.
- What do you think the mayors strive to achieve?
- A mayor is a person who has sufficient knowledge and understands his/her region, the region’s needs and interests, and at the same time aims to build a free nation for everyone. The mayor’s actions are – initiatives, coordination, popularization, working with the people. This person should be honest, kind, open, inspired by the ideas of Asgardia.
- What would you like to wish to the election participants and the future mayors?
- To those who win in the elections – good and productive work, and for all others – new achievements. Asgardia needs people who are inspired and take action.
- And the last question: what do you see as your role in Asgardia’s future?
- I’m with Asgardia with all my heart and thoughts. I look towards the future with hope, and I’m ready to work tirelessly to change our reality for the better.
- Thanks very much for this interview.