December 28 in Russian history


In the night, Messina, a large Italian town in Sicily, was hit by the earthquake. Almost all buildings were destroyed. Of 160,000 people, 148,000 were killed and buried alive. In the morning, a huge tsunami finished the demolition. The railroad to Messina was also annihilated.

At this moment, a squadron of Russian training ships was in the port of Augusta, not far from Messina. When rear-admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Litvinov learned of the tragedy, he ordered the cruiser Bogatyr to stay in Augusta to provide radio communication between Calabria and Sicily, and the battleships Slava and Tsesarevich (also transcibed as Cessarevic, Czarevic, Tsessarevitch, etc.) and cruiser Admiral Makarov were to go at full speed to Messina for the rescue operations.

In Messina, they could not use anchors because the sea floor was still shaking. Immediately upon arrival, Russian sailors and officers began working at the site. The sailors recalled later the terrible sights they witnessed: people with torn away arms, killed spouses, lying in the bed that stuck under the fallen roof, dead bodies hanging from the windows... The rescuers had to work mostly with bare hands to prevent the tumbling ruins from completely falling apart. In the evening, one more earthquake destroyed the church of Annunziata di Cataloni and a number of Russian sailors were buried under the stones. Most of them were killed.

Soon, two Russian gunboats, Gilyak and Koreyets arrived to Messina to help the other crews.

By the evening, about 550 people were taken aboard Admiral Makarov who set to Napoli. The sailors assisted the doctors and worked all night, but in spite of their efforts 8 people died. In Napoli, Admiral Makarov took the cargo of food and medicine and at midday of 1 January. Late in the evening, Admiral Makarov departed to Napoli again with the second group of survivors.

On 30 December the Italian cruiser Vittorio Emmanuel came to Messina carrying the royal flag: Italian queen Elena (Jelena Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro) came to support the rescue teams. She spent her childhood in Russia and considered herself half-Russian. She visited battleship Slava, asked to call her Yelena Nikolayevna (she was the daughter of King Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro) and asked what she could do to help. Litvinov asked her to bring more bandages and medicine. Elena ordered to prepare a cargo of medicine in Napoli and Slava went there to bring it to Messina.

During the rescue operations, Russian sailors co-operated closely with British sailors from cruiser Sutlej.

On the 3 December the rescue works were over. Litvinov reported to St.Petersburg about 1,800 people saved from the ruins, but the total number was, probably, about 3,000. In St.Petersburg, a public committee "Peterburg-Messina" was founded to collect money for the citizens of Messina. Tsar Nikolay II donated 50,000 French Francs. Writer Maxim Gorky transferred the royalties for his new book to the committee. The French newspaper Figaro wrote later: "And a village of poor muzhiks lost in the steppes sent 21 ruble to Italy. Their poor village does not know the terrors of the earthquake, they live in a different climate, the speak different language, but it was enough for them to hear of a faraway people suffering from the earthquake and they offered their helping hand."

Update @23:45 2007-12-28: Here are two articles in Italian with photos of the Russian ships, episodes of the rescue works and the plaque set by the citizens of Messina in 1978 to commemorate the sailors of the Russian ships Bogatyr, Cessarevic, Makarov and Slava:

Un pò di storia: i marinai russi a Messina dopo il terremoto.
Solitudine e disperazione cedono il posto alla speranza: La flotta Imperiale dello zar getta l'ancora nel porto di Messina


December 27 in Russian history


On the next day after the Decembrists' revolt, Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich, the general-governor of St.Petersburg, lethally wounded during the revolt, died at his home.

Miloradovich was born on 13 October, 1771 in a family of emigrants from Herzegovina. He spent four years at the University of Königsberg, two years in Göttingen and then in Strasbourg and Metz. He participated in the Russo-Swedish war of 1788-1790. In 1796 he was promoted to captain, in 1797 — to colonel, in 1798 — to general-major. In 1798 he entered Austria with his regiment, in the next year he fought in Italy. He participated in the Italian and the Swiss campaigns of the army of Alexander Suvorov. He fought in the battle of Austerlitz. In the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-1812 the army he commanded liberated Bucarest. Finally, in 1810 he was appointed the governor of Kiev. During the 1812 war against Napoleon, he fought in the famous battle of Borodino, where he commanded the right wing of the First army. During the battle of Maloyaroslavets, he withstood the initial attack of the French army and protected the rearguard. In 1813, he was the first officer who was granted the privilege to carry the monogram of the emperor Alexander I on his epaulette. In 1813 he received the title of the count of the Russian empire.

On 31 August 1818 he became the general-governor of St.Petersburg and a member of the State Council. He was responsible for the security and emergency situations in the city and was the head of the city police. He also began improving the city prisons, trying to alleviate the situation of the prisoners, he organized an anti-alcohol campaign, reducing the number of taverns in St.Petersburg. He prepared a project of the abolition of serfdom and saved Alexander Pushkin from exile. He personally commanded the teams of firemen during the fires and led the rescue teams during the flood in 1824.

Miloradovich was also known to the citizens of St.Petersburg as womanizer and a gambler who had lots of debts. His love affairs with actresses gave food for the rumors. A popular anecdote tells that when Alexander I wished to support the general, he presented him a book with 20,000 rubles inside and said: "This book should interest you, general." When Alexander asked later if Miloradovich liked the book, the general replied: "Oh, yes! I am longing to read the second volume."

On 31 November 1825 (19 November Old Style), emperor Alexander I died in Taganrog. His formal successor, grand knyaz Constantine, depressed by the attempt of revolt in 1801 and the murder of his father, Pavel, abdicated the throne. In his will, Alexander named his next brother, Nikolay, his successor. The will was stored in the sealed envelope and its content became known only after his death and even Nikolay did not know that he was to inherit the throne.

So, after the death of Alexander, Nikolay gathered the people he trusted to discuss the plan of actions. However, Miloradovich refused to support him and claimed that he will only swear the allegiance to Constantine, the legal heir of Alexander I. Miloradovich controlled about 60,000 armed men and Nikolay, probably, felt quite uneasy. Miloradovich proposed to swear allegiance to Constantine, saying that if Constantine abdicates, it will be possible to swear again to Nikolay. Nikolay agreed and on 9 December they swore their allegiance to Constantine. So, Nikolay and Constantine abdicated in favor of each other and the interregnum began. Constantine was furious. When Nikolay asked him to abdicate formally, he sent a letter full of insults. The general public did not understand why Constantine refuses to come to Moscow and spread the rumors hinting that he was arrested or even murdered. Foreign newspapers published articles reminding that Peter III and Pavel I were assassinated.

At this moment, the Decembrists decide it's time to act. They planned to bring the armed soldiers to the Senate square, seize the Winter Palace and the fortress of St.Peter and St.Paul and to arrest the royal family. Most of them agreed to assassinat Nikolay and other members of the family, including Constantine. On 26 December, 3,000 soldiers and officers came to the Senate square. They were opposed by about 12,000 people who supported Nikolay. Probably, Miloradovich blamed himself for these events and he decided to quench the revolt himself. He came to the Senate square and attempted to convince the rebels to leave the square. At this moment he was lethally wounded: Peter Kakhovsky shot him in the back and, probably, Yevgeny Obolensky stabbed him with the bayonet, also in the back. During the mutiny that folowed, 1,271 man was killed. About 900 of them were idlers, who were trampled down in the stampede.

Alexander Gerzen, another famous theorist of revolution, wrote later that before his death, Miloradovich said: "There's a young man, son of my old comrade, and I think I saw him among the rebels. Tell the emperor that the dying Miloradovich asked to spare him." I don't know who exactly was this young man, but probably, Nikolay did spare him — only five leaders of the plot were executed: Pestel, Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Ryleyev, Muravyov-Apostol and Kakhovsky, the murderer of Miloradovich.

Scythian city?

The divers of the 2007 International Expedition of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic Institute to lake Issyk-Kul' (Kyrgyzstan) have found the traces of an earlier unknown civilization, dated approximately by 2,500 years ago. The heads of the expedition were Vladimir Ploskih (Kyrgyzstan) and Svetlana and Nikolay Lukashovs (Russia).

This civilization was comparable to the civilizations of the Northern Black Sea or the Mediterranean Egypt, said Nikolay Lukashov (link in Russian). The divers worked at the depth of 5 to 10 meters at the northern coast of the lake and found large walls, up to 500 meters long. The area encircled by the walls was some square kilometers. Near the walls, there were Scythian burial mounds with bronze axes, spear heads, knives, remainders of a bronze production and a golden rod — the ancient money.

Some finds are really intriguing. So, the bronze cauldron raised from the lake bottom is made of some separate parts welded together with the quality which is only possible to achieve using modern inert gas welding. The quality of the bronze mirrors and the ornamented harness is also astonishing.

Large ritual and living buildings were found nearby. In the next year, these buildings will be studied in details.

The uniqueness of Issyk-Kul' is that it is located at the crossroads of the human migrations, including Indo-Aryan tribes. Also, the water level in the lake is known to oscillate irregularly. Currently, the water level is relatively high and the lake may contain many more interesting archaeological sites, including the legendary fortress built by Timur, who kept noble prisoners and treasures in this fortress. Another secret of the lake is the monastery which is found in the Catalan Atlas (1375). The monastery is marked on the map with the words: "The place is named Isikol. Here is the monastery of the Armenian brothers where the remains of St.Matthew the Apostle are kept." Famous Russian geographer P. Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky found this inscription in the atlas and tried to find the ruins of the monastery, but failed. Probably, it is lying now below the surface of Issyk-Kul'.

Update @ 23:38 2007-12-27: Here's a link to the same article in English: Remains of ancient civilisation discovered on the bottom of a lake


Russian history 53. The autocracy of the rulers of Muscovy and Moscow as the third Rome

As we have seen, the state of Muscovy was formed from the principality of Moscow by annexation of other appanages of the Northern Rus, lands of Novgorod and some Russian principalities of Lithuania. The knyazes of Moscow called their lands their patrimony. When they annexed other principalities, they proclaimed the new lands their patrimony, too. And when they demanded that Lithuania should cede Russian towns, they insisted that the whole Rus was the patrimony of their forefathers. So, the patrimonial system was spreading from Moscow to all Rus and the knyazes thought of themselves as the owners of the country. This view was also adopted by the citizens of Rus, who knew that they live on the land of the great knyaz and only use it due to his generosity. For this reason, the authority of the knyazes was almost unlimited — not only did they rule the country, but they were the owners of the country. Later, when the knyazes of Muscovy headed the Russian liberation movement, they became the national leaders, suppported by the popular masses. Ivan III refused to accept the king's title from the emperor of the Holy Empire, because he needed no permission to rule on his own land. Foreign ambassadors wrote that Vasily III had the authority no other monarch had. The autocracy of the rulers of Muscovy had the patrimonial origin and the national essence.

It happened when other Orthodox countries were in decline or about to fall. The Turks occupied the Asian provinces of the Greek empire and entered Europe. In the end of XIV-early XV centuries they subjugated the Slavs of the Balkans and encircled Constantinople. The Greeks sought for help even in Rome (see chapter 45), but nothing helped and in 1453 Constantinople fell. Not a single orthodox country remained in the East. Only Muscovy had an orthodox ruler and their own metropolitan. It was growing and getting stronger, united all Russians under one ruler and liberated itself from the Mongolian occupation. Since the earliest times, when Rus converted into Christianity, Russians took it for granted that all Orthodox Christians have a single leader — the Greek emperor (called caesar or tsar) and the single church. Constantinople, the capital of the Greek empire, was called Tsargrad (tsar town) in Russia and seen as the capital of the Orthodoxy. Now that Constantinople was seized by the Turks, the only large capital in the Orthodox countries was Moscow. Ivan III and Vasily III adopted the role of the successors of the Greek rulers. Ivan III married a Greek princess, adopted a Greek coat-of-arms and proclaimed his son Dimitri the tsar. Both Ivan and Vasily sometimes called themselves tsars. On the other hand, for the Greeks and Balkan Slavs, who visited Rus, the knyazes of Muscovy were the last protectors of the Orthodoxy and the heirs of the Greek emperors. Russian literature of that period often discussed the idea of the continuity between the Byzantine empire and Muscovy. So, a monk from Pskov, Philotheus wrote a letter to Vasily III, arguing that the old Rome was the first centre of the world, Constantinople was Roma nova (the new Rome), and now Moscow became the third Rome. "Two Romes have fallen, the third still stands and the fourth will never be," wrote Philotheus. Other writers called the grand knyaz the tsar of Orthodoxy, Moscow — the new Tsargrad and the Russian people — "the new Israel", the people chosen by god to head the Orthodox Christianity. The writers attempted to provide grounds for this idea, using the legends about when sacred objects miraculously moved from Greece to Rus (like the Tikhvin icon of St. Mary. Another legend told that the apostle Andrew visited Rus, blessed Kiev and prophecyed that the true religion will find the home in Rus. It was also told that the imperial insignia were given by the Greek emperor Constantine Monomakh to knyaze Vladimir Monomakh. Indeed, the so called hat of Monomakh is still stored in Moscow. Finally, one more legend told that the Russian dynasty originated from the first Romans and Roerik (Ryurik) was a descendant of a brother of emperor Augustus. The conclusion was that Muscovy has the priority among all Orthodox countries and that the Russian church was the only Orthodox church that retained the purity and independence.

The grand knyazes who believed they were the saviours of the Orthodox Christianity, supported unanimously by the whole nation, now wished to become the tsars of Orthodox world. Their authority became the autocracy. However, in the end of the XV century the boyars begin to oppose the autocracy



I found this joke at a Russian history forum and thought I have to share it :)

November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution. The military parade at the Red Square in Moscow. Napoleon and Murat are among the invited VIPs: ambassadors, chairmen of the communist parties and so on. Napoleon reads "Pravda" newspaper and Murat observes the parade in excitement.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these brave soldiers! If we had a battallion of such soldiers, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!" Napoleon keeps reading Pravda. The Kantermirov tank division enters the Red Square.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these tanks! If we had one of them, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!" Napoleon keeps reading Pravda. The mobile tactical missiles slowly enter the scene.

Murat: "Your Excellence, look at these missiles! If we had just one of them, we could have won the battle of Waterloo!"

Napoleon raises his eyes, watches Murat sadly and finally utters: "Mon cher, if we had a newspaper like Pravda, the world would have never known that we had lost at Waterloo..."


The books for the next year

Today my wife sent me to the bookstore to buy books that will be her New Year present to me. A common and very comfortable practice in our family :).

I spent about three hours in the bookstore and here's my choice:

First, the three volumes of "The Russian Revolution" by Richard Pipes. I've heard a lot about Pipes and read some interviews with him, but never read his books. If what I read is true, I strongly disagree with the Pipes' views of Russia and Russian history. Moreover, I think that our concepts of democracy are irreconcilable. Okay, I know, I am not a specialist in political studies, nor in the history of democracy and he, probably, knows better. This way or the other, his book on the Russian revolution is one of the most authoritative studies in this area. Russian historians have not produced anything comparable with this book yet and I am sure it will provide a lot of information to think about.

Second, there are two books from a new series "The witnesses of the epoch". The first one is the recollections of Katerina Breshko-Breshkovskaya, a participant of the early revolutionary movement. The book was published in English under the title "The Hidden Springs of the Russian Revolution". It covers the period from 1873 till 1920. She tells the story of her own life and analyzes the failures and achievements of the socialist movement in Russia.

The second book from the same series is "The Great Russian Revolution" by Victor Chernov, a minister in the Provisional Government and the chairman of the Constituent Assembly. I hope this book will help me understand the causes of the revolution better.

And, finally, "The Medieval Venice" (Venise au Moyen Age) by Jean-Claude Hocquet. About a year ago I tried to find books about the Italian "maritime republics" and, at last, here's one of such books. I am very curious about these formations — how did they function, were they really republics, what was the role of the educated people in these countries?

Unfortunately, I will have to wait till the New Year before I manage to peek into these books :).

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it and those who don't!


December 22 in Russian history

The ExecutedToday.com, thrilling as always, writes today about the mock execution of Fyodor Dostoevsky and 20 more participants of the Petrashevsky circle:


The formal charges brought upon Dostoevsky were quite bizarre: he listened to a story that criticized the army; had in his possession an illegal printing press; read an open letter to the circle from Belinsky to Gogol which excoriated the church and government; and participated in a regicide plot. The latter accusation Fyodor Mikhailovich vehemently denied, for indeed he was not a bloodthirsty revolutionary, but a proponent of the peaceful Christ’s teaching (this affliction with Christian philosophy was incidentally somewhat of a mauvais ton among the predominantly atheistic circle).

It always seemed to me that Dostoevsky’s participation in the Petrashevky circle was a tribute to the epoch’s fad. It was the imperfections of human nature, not the peculiarities of a hypothetical social structure, that concerned him greatly. The world’s wrongdoings result from something rotten in a man’s soul, and once those internal blemishes are erased, the external harmony emerges. “Beauty will save the world”, a cliché instilled in every Russian by a literature teacher in 10th grade, a phrase attributed to Christ-like kniaz’ Myshkin, and one of Dostoevsky’s most important statements: inner beauty is vital, the rest is a consequence.

Read the full article here.


December 20 in Russian history


(7 December Old Style)

90 years ago the Council of the People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) approved the proposal of Felix Dzerzhinsky: "We must adopt all methods of terror, to devote all our strength to it! Don't think that I am looking for a revolutionary justice, the justice won't fit our goals. I demand for one thing only — the punishment for the activists of counter-revolution." And Sovnarkom established VCheKa, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Speculation, and Sabotage. In 1918 there were about 600 extraordinary commissions in the regions of Russia. Cheka did not start killing people from the very first days. The Provisional Government abolished capital punishment and Cheka found it impossible to restore it so soon. The methods used by the early Cheka included confiscation of property, exile from the Soviet Russia, publication of the proscription lists (lists of the enemies of the people) and deprivation of rationing (which was equal to the capital punishment in the days of starvation). Quite soon, though, on 21 February 1918 Sovnarkom adopted a decree titled "The Socialist Fatherland is in danger!" Foreign spies, counter-revolutioners and even debauchees were to be shot on spot.

The first chairman of Cheka was Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Pole who never had a job or education, who never worked, but was a "professional revolutioner". By the way, the unusually high percentage of representatives of national minorities often attracted the attention of historians: Poles, like Dzerzhinsky or Jozef Unszlicht, Latvians, like Jakobs Peters, Martins Lacis, Jan Berzin, Estonians, like Victor Kingisepp… According to O.Kapchinsky, who published the book "The State Security from the inside. National and social structure" (Moscow, 2005), up to 70% of the workers of the Cheka core belonged to ethnic minorities.

Dzerzhinsky, unlike many tyrants, did not care about comfort or luxury. He wore military uniform and did not use cars, preferring long walks alone. He was a good psychologists, like many his colleagues. He preferred long political discussions with the arrested enemies to tortures. He offered them tea and some of them even survived after these tea-parties. In the years of the NEP (new economic policy) he often came up with reasonable ideas and offered to use elements of market economy. Dzerzhinsky was the head of the commission on homeless children and saved many of them.

The Red Terror began officially on September 2, 1918, soon after the attempt to assassinate Lenin, but even earlier Lenin insisted on the mass terror and executions. Sovnarkom introduced the capital punishment and granted the permission to execute people without trial to the local Cheka commissions. On September 5, commissar Petrovsky ordered to take hostages from the families of bourgeois and army officers. On September 8, first concentration camps were established. On September 18, Grigory Zinovyev, the leader of communists in Petrograd, said in his speech: "Our task is to lead 90 million people out of 100 million citizens of Soviet Russia. There's nothing we can tell to the others. They are to be exterminated." In the first days after the adoption of the Sovnarkom decree, 600 people were executed in Moscow, 900 in Petrograd, 400 in small Kronstadt. Altogether, more than 50,000 people were killed in the autumn of 1918. First, the executions were public, but later Cheka came to the conclusion that disappearing people influence the public psychology more effectively. Since then, in every city where the Red Army entered, mass executions were held. So, 4,000 people were executed in Astrakhan, 3,000 in Kiev, Kharkiv and Arkhangelsk, 2,200 in Odessa, 2,000 in Novorossiysk, etc. Since active counter-revolutioners mostly joined the White Guard, these victims were mostly innocent people, like chambermaids in cooks from the hotels where white officers had lived.

In the end of the Civil war, when bolsheviks took Crimea, one of the largest massacres took place. Bela Kun, the Hungarian communist who was in charge of the Crimean executions, said: "Crimea is a bottle which not a single counter-revolutioner will escape." According to the Soviet data, about 80,000 people were killed in Crimea.

Russian historian Ivan Melgunov wrote in his book "The Red Terror in Russia" that the total number of victims of the people executed by Cheka is around 482,500 people. We should remember also that Cheka was not the only organization that had the right to kill. So, the Special Commission, created by Denikin, estimated the number of victims of the Red Terror as 1.7 million people. Similar figures were given by a group of British specialists in 1923.

In 1922 Lenin began the campaign to expropriate the "treasures of the church". During this campaign, 8,600 clerics were executed and 15,000 more died in concentration camps and prisons.

Since 1917 till 1953 about 10-12 million people were killed, died in Gulag and in jails or died because of the hunger caused by the policy of prodrazvyorstka (food expropriation). Since 1953, the repressions fade away. However, since 1953 till 1988 about 2,000 people were found guilty in treason, anti-Soviet propaganda and "slandering the Soviet state". Some of them were sentenced to death. About 500,000 more people were "prophylacted" — officially warned by KGB to stop their inappropriate or illegal anti-Soviet activity.

Unhappy birthday, you bastards!


Russian history 52. Grand knyaz Vasily III Ivanovich

In his will, Ivan III finally established the monocracy in Muscovy. Ivan's elder son, Vasily III, inherited the rights of the ruler. Ivan left 66 towns to Vasily, and only 30 small towns to his four brothers. Vasily had the right to run the mint and to define the foreign policy. The title of the grand knyaz could be inherited only by Vasily's children. The other sons of Ivan agreed not to claim this title. So, Vasily was the ruler and his brothers and other relatives were his subjects.

Vasily was not especially gifted and his activity was actually the continuation of what his father had not time to complete. So, having subjugated Novgorod, Ivan left self-government in Pskov. The life in Pskov gave no occasions for interference. There were no feuds. Being constantly threatened by Lithuania and the German knights, Pskov always supported good relations with Moscow and was ruled not by elected knyazes, but by the deputies appointed from Moscow. The obedience to the grand knyaz did not protect Pskov from the arbitrariness of these deputies. They complained to the grand knyaz, while the deputies in their letters to Vasily accused them of disobedience. Finally, in 1510, Vasily III abolished veche in Pskov, took the veche bell to Moscow and removed 300 families from Pskov to Muscovy and sent an equal number of families from Muscovy to Pskov. Pskov did not resist.

The same was done in Ryazan. Ivan III seized one half of Ryazan and left the other half to the young knyaz of Ryazan Ivan, his grandson, but ruled the whole Ryazan alone. When Ivan of Ryazan grew up, he began thinking of autonomy, but Vasily arrested him and adjoined his lands to Muscovy in 1517. Like in Pskov, the inhabitants of Ryazan were removed to other lands and new settlers were sent from Muscovy. This was done to prevent possible revolts and attempts of secession.

Finally, in 1523, Vasily leveraged the quarrels among the knyazes of Seversk to drive them away and to annex their lands. So, all the appanages were abolished and the remaining knyazes had no special rights in their lands and served the ruler like other boyars (aristocrats).

Vasily's foreign policy also continued the policy of his father. Muscovy continued to attract the aristocrats from Lithuania (knyazes Glinskies). As the result, the relations with Lithuania remained hostile. Twice Vasily waged wars with the grand duke of Lithuania Sigismund I, son of Casimir and brother of Alexander (see chapter 41). In 1514 Vasily took hold of Smolensk, strategically important city. Lithuanians attempted to return this city, but failed, and in 1522 they had to sign a truce, seding Smolensk to Muscovy "till the eternal peace is reached". The peace, however, was not reached for more than a century, because Lithuania and Muscovy could not establish a border that would delimit the contested, mostly Russian, lands. The relations with the Crimea did not become better. Frienship with Crimea evaporated in the times of Vasily, and the influence of Moscow in the Kazan khanate was not strong. Both Crimea and Kazan continued raiding Russian lands. The southern borders of Rus were attacked by the Crimeans, while the lands of Nizhny Novgorod and Kostroma — by the Tatars from Kazan and their subjects, Mordovians and Cheremissians. These raids prevented Russians from colonizing fruitful area of black earth south of Oka river (so called "dikoye pole", "wild field") and the forested lands behind Volga, along rivers Unzha and Vetluga. Moreover, if the Tatars were not met by the border guard, they continued the raid and sometimes they even reached Moscow. Vasily attempted to influence the politics of the Tatars. It worked in Kazan, but not in Crimea, which was too far from Moscow. Vasily III could only send gifts to Crimea trying to keep them away and send the army every year to the southern border, which went along middle Oka river and was thus called "the shore". Also, in the most dangerous places along Oka Russians built stone fortresses, inaccessible for the Crimean Tatars, like Kaluga, Tula or Zaraysk.

Vasily III was married on Solomonia, who belonged to a boyar family of Saburovs and they had no children. Nevertheless, Vasily didn't want to leave the throne to his brothers Yuri and Andrey, because, in his opinion, they proved their inability to manage their parts of the country. From the permission of the metropolitan Daniil, he sent his wife to the Suzdal monastery under the name of Sophia. After that, he married Yelena Vasilyevna Glinskaya, who belonged to the family of Russian aristocrats from Lithuania, who pledged allegiance to Vasily. Vasily and Yelena had two sons, Ivan and Yuri. The elder of them Ivan, was only 3 years old when Vasily died in 1533.


December 18 in Russian history


I have never heard before of the events I am about to describe and it was a completely unexpected discovery.

A couple of weeks earlier, the body of Edmondo Asare-Addo, a student of Kalinin Medical Institute from Ghana, was found near Moscow. On 18 December, African students in Moscow organized a rally in memory of Asare-Addo on the Red Square. They were convinced that their mate was stabbed by a Soviet student. The accounts of this rally are extremely scarce. I have found only three sources. One of them is a transcript of a program by RFE/RL, broadcasted on 19 December 1963: Africans March on the Kremlin:

Radio Free Europe/Munich

Non-Target Communist Area Analysis Department

Background Information USSR

19 December 1963


The numbers  involved in yesterday's protest
march  by African  students  to the  Kremlin
suggest  a  high  degree of  solidarity  and
organization on their part in the face of an
parent  miscarriage  of  Soviet justice.  At
present  there are  only about  1400 African
students  in the  USSR, and  since  500 took
part in  the demonstration (New  York Times,
19 December 1963) it  seems that more than a
third  of  all the  Africans  now at  Soviet
universities      believe     first     that
Mr.  Asare-Addo  was  murdered and  secondly
that the  motive was at  least partly racial
prejudice,  Since some of  the demonstrators
came from  points as remote  as Tashkent and
Odessa it is clear that they were protesting
against  discrimination  in  general  rather
than  out of  sympathy for  the dead  man in
particular,  whom they almost  certainly did
not know.

The  degree of organization  involved points
to the  failure of the  long-standing Soviet
policy  of refusal  to  recognize the  Black
African  Students  Union.  This refusal  can
only  be explained on  the grounds  that the
Kremlin   feared    the   emergence   of   a
non-communist, pan-African  body which might
present  unwelcome  political  demands.  The
march  on December  18th shows  that  such a
body, with  a high degree of  cohesion, is a
de  facto  reality  even  if at  present  it
operates without using the name of the BASU.

One  of  the questions  raised  by the  mass
movement  of  African  students  to  Moscow,
naturally    enough,   is    how    it   was
financed. The stipend paid by the Kremlin to
the   Africans  at   Kiev   University,  for
example, is 90 rubles a month. Yet a Russian
student is paid only  24 rubles a month, and
still  manages to  live  tolerably. The  jet
fare from Tashkent  is only about 45 rubles,
and  therefore it  is not  difficult  to see
that the demonstrators could well have flown
to Moscow at Khrushchev's expense.

There have  been signs recently  of a Soviet
intention to  reduce some of  the privileges
granted to foreign students,[l]


[1] See  Izvestia, 27 November  1962, letter
from V. Zorin.

[page 2]

and the aftermath of the protest march seems
likely  to lead  to tighter  restrictions in
the short-term  future. As for  the students
themselves,     their     conviction    that
Mr. Asare-Addo was  murdered and the contest
between  it and  the official  medical claim
that there were  "no signs of violent death"
are  bound to  increase their  doubts  as to
their own physical safety. Already they feel
not only that  the Russian workers are often
hostile  to them, but  also that  the police
turn a  blind eye  in any brawl  rather than
offer  them  adequate  protection.  The  net
result is  likely to be  less enthusiasm for
Soviet higher education in the future.

At  present there  are an  estimated 11,0000
foreign students in  the USSR, compared with
46, 000 in  Britain alone. The adverse ratio
for the USSR is therefore already strikingly
large  when the propaganda  flourishes which
accompanied  the   inauguration  of  Lumumba
University  (the most  segregated university
in  Europe[2] are  recalled.  In March  1963
about one-sixth  of the African  students in
Sofia  left   Bulgaria  in  protest  against
Zhivkov's  efforts to break  the All-African
Students  Union. It  will be  interesting to
note whether a  similar exodus from the USSR
develops  as  a  result  of  "The  death  of
Mr. Addo and the inept efforts of the Soviet
authorities  to break  up the  march  to the

It   is  understandable   that  Khrushchev's
militia should  have been taken  by surprise
in  this   case.  Alter  all   the  MYD  has
remarkably  little experience  of organised,
genuine  political   proteat.  Although  the
major result of December 18th is the loss to
the  Soviet image  in  Africa, an  important
by-product  will be the  increased awareness
of   the  Moscow   population   as  to   how
demonstrations  are  staged  by  independent
political  movements  in  free countries.  A
second  side-effect will  be  greater public
appreciation   of   African  resentment   at
discrimination  in   the  USSR.  Regrettably
racial tension  is rising in  Eastern Europe
as a  result of the events  in Sofia, Prague
and Moscow this year. The lesson to be drawn
is  that the problem  is universal,  and not
confined  to South  Africa  or the  southern
part  of the United  States as  Moscow would
have the world  believe. Higher education in
London or  Leningrad brings social, cultural
and technical benefits  to the students from
the  underdeveloped countries,  but  it does
not of itself  bring political advantages to
the  donor country.  Moscow is  learning its
lesson    in    this    respect    extremely
slowly.  Yesterday's  protest  march on  Red
Square may help to drive it home.



[2] There are 2600 colored students and only
400 Soviet citizens at the University.

The second article was published in Time magazine on 27 December 1963:"We Too Are People". Here are some excerpts:

Not since the Trotskyite riots in the 1920s had Moscow seen anything like it. While crowds of Russians watched with amazement, more than 400 African students last week battled Red cops in the streets, inside Red Square itself, right past Nikita Khrushchev's own office window. "Moscow — A Second Alabama," said one crudely lettered sign, in Russian and in English. "Stop Killing Africans," warned another placard.

Mourning Bands. The race riot was touched off by the mysterious death of Edmond Asare-Addo, 29, a second-year medical student from Ghana who was studying at Kalinin Institute, about 100 miles northwest of the capital. On the eve of his marriage to a Russian girl, the student's body was discovered near the railroad tracks of a suburban Moscow station. The Soviet police claimed that Asare-Addo, drunk, had fallen down in the 11°-below-zero weather and frozen to death. But Ghanaians, who knew that the marriage was fiercely opposed by the girl's Russian friends, insisted that the youth was stabbed below the chin and tossed into the snow.

Prague has erupted in two race riots within two years. Last February in Sofia, Bulgarian militiamen wielded clubs against 200 Ghanaians who were marching down the main street demanding nothing more than their own campus organization. In Moscow, Africans have been smoldering for years over thinly disguised racial discrimination. Except for a token number of Russian students, the dining rooms and dormitories of Lumumba U. (which Africans sardonically call "Apartheid U.") are segregated. Africans find it difficult to date a Russian girl. Students squirm at the stares they get in public and object to poor service they often receive in restaurants. Despite professions of brotherhood, many Russians still think Africans are half-civilized strangers who have just emerged from the jungle.

Pravda commented (in Russian):

The reactionary circles in the West, who oppose the education of the specialists from the young countries of Africa and Asia, spread absurd information about the allegedly "unfriendly attitude" of the Soviet people towards the African students who study in the USSR. This time a sad accident which led to the death of a student from Ghana became an occasion for a new campaign of slander.

Since the information of such events was not available from the official Soviet sources, I assume that these two articles were based mostly on the direct information from the rebelling students and, in part, on rumors. Considering the amount of mutual slander in the years of the Cold War, we could doubt the objectivity of this information. So, the report of the Soviet police is indirectly confirmed by the known fact of a mass celebration of Kenya's independence which took place on the night when Asare-Addo was killed. Another thing worth to be mentioned is that someone invited the students to the embassy of Ghana to receive the Christmas gifts. There were no gifts in the embassy and the indignant students demanded that the embassy provides them with financial support. When the embassy refused, they went to the Red Square. Let's not forget also that the opposition to Kwame Nkruma was gaining strength in these years and they might provoke the events, trying to raise the discontent among the students. And one more point. From my purely subjective POV, the prevailing attitude of the Soviet citizens to the black people in 1960s was very positive. Perhaps, it might be apprehended as a "positive racism" — in spite of the warm feelings, the distinction between the white and the black was still drawn clearly. Of course, this does not exclude possibility of racial crimes, but the last quoted paragraph of the article in Time ("In Moscow, Africans have been smoldering for years over thinly disguised racial discrimination") was by no means true.


Soviet dissident and human rights activist, Vladimir Bukovsky, who had been imprisoned in the USSR, was exchanged in Zurich for former leader of the Chilean Communist Party Luis Corvalán. 21 years later, Vladimir Bukovsky plans to become a candidate on the Russian presidential elections of 2008 — probably, the only honest candidate. See the article in Wikipedia about Vladimir Bukovsky for more information about this outstanding man.


December 17 in Russian history


Early in the morning, at about 3:30, ten to twenty armed masked people entered the hospital of the International Committee of the Red Cross located in village Noviye Atagi, Chechnya, and killed 6 workers of the hospital:

  • Fernanda Calado, an ICRC nurse of Spanish nationality, 49 years,
  • Ingeborg Foss, a nurse from the Norwegian Red Cross, 42 years,
  • Nancy Malloy, a medical administrator from the Canadian Red Cross, 51 years,
  • Gunnhild Myklebust, a nurse from the Norwegian Red Cross, 56 years,
  • Sheryl Thayer, a nurse from the New Zealand Red Cross, 40 years,
  • Hans Elkerbout, a construction technician from the Netherlands Red Cross, 47 years.

A seventh delegate, Christophe Hensch, was heavily wounded in the shoulder but survived.

The hospital was opened on 2 September, 1996. The chosen location was not controlled by the federal forces. Soon after it was opened, problems began. The web-site GlobalSecurity.org gives the following timeline of the preceding events (source: Chechnya. The White Book. Russian Information Centre, 2000):

  • September 17, 1996
    At 17.00, commander Khattab, accompanied by a group of his militants, enters the compound of the ICRC hospital and, using threats, demands that ICRC symbols be removed from the ICRC hospital within two days.
  • September 18, 1996
    At 14.00, Khattab accompanied by 15 armed men, enters the compound and takes a compromise decision to reduce the number of ICRC red crosses in the hospital compound.
  • September 18, 1996
    At about 20.00, a shot is fired from the road in the direction of the residence of foreign staff in front of the premises of Finnish nurse Asko Kuly.
  • September 19, 1996
    At about 20.20, there is another shot fired in the direction of Asko Kuly's premises. As reported by the village commandant, both shots appear to have been made from identical arms and one place.
  • September 26, 1996
    Magamet, commander of Novye Atagi, kidnaps from the hospital two foreign personnel, Marc Ahermann and Enzo Porcelli, whom he releases six hours later after talks with the ICRC and after the government intervenes. It seems the kidnapper was sacked from his post of village commander: but later he poses as a state security member.
  • September 25, 1996
    The Novye Atagi hospital depot is broken into and a certain amount of food stocks of foreign personnel is stolen.
  • October 25, 1996
    At about 5.00 a group of armed men enters the hospital premises for foreign staff. They attack two guards and one foreign staff member, with a gun pressed against his temple. They steal radio equipment and leave a note with threats, accusing the ICRC of spying.
    Mr Shamolt Ibragimov and interior bodies of Shali conduct an investigation. The ICRC is informed that the attack was carried out by commander Ruslan Alikhodzheu and the radios were offered for sale at the Shali market.
  • November 25, 1996
    At 8.00 a group of armed men takes away a local staff member -- ICRC interpreter Musar-el Yuskayev from the hospital. Musar returns to work the next day and says he was detained by the DGB over a criminal charge -- extortion from a resident of Starye Atagi. He says he must appear before a court in Grozny.
  • November 26, 1996
    A former local ICRC staff member, a guard named Suleiman, who was hired on the recommendation of commander Yusif and then fired for attacking a woman staff member, enters the hospital compound and strikes a foreign staffer.
  • November 27, 1996
    At around 24.00, there is an armed scuffle in front of the hospital between a group of unidentified armed men and supporters of the local commander. Things do not go so far as shooting and the groups go different ways.
  • December 16, 1996
    The ICRC chief delegate receives a letter with threats allegedly signed by the village commander and administrator.

Immediately after the murder both Chechens and Russians began their own investigations. Ond of the suspects, known under nom-de-guerre Ibn al-Khattab (or simply Khattab), refused to witness and prohibited his subjects to do so. After that, the government of the Chechen separatists proclaimed that the crime was organized by Russians. Aslan Maskhadov, the leader of the separatists, awarded Ingeborg Foss with the highest order of the Chechen republic.

In 2004 and 2005 Russian police arrested two people who allegedly participated in the crime. One of them, Adam Dzhabrailov, has confessed that he participated in the murder of three Britons, Peter Kennedy, Darren Hickey and Rudy Petschi and a New Zealander Stan Shaw in 1998. There were no news about Dzhabrailov since April 2005.

Russian history 51. Foreign policy of Ivan III. Lithuania and Livonia. Relations with the West

The relationships between Rus and Lithuania in the times of Ivan III and Kazimierz (Casimir IV Jagiellon), son of Jogaila, were not peaceful. Lithuania tried to undermine the strengthening Muscovy by supporting Novgorod and Tver and incited the Mongols against Muscovy, but was not strong enough for the open warfare. After Vytautas, the complicated internal situation in Lithuania weakened the country. Many knyazes who did not support Polonization and the Catholic influence joined Muscovy (see chapter 41). Conflicts with Muscovy were too dangerous for Lithuania, but after the death of Casimir (1492), they became inevitable. Casimir's son, Jan I Olbracht (John I Albert of Poland) , became the king of Poland, and Lithuania elected his brother, Alexander Jagiellon, as the knyaz. Leveraging this disagreement between Poland and Lithuania, Ivan III started a war against Alexander, and Lithuania had to cede formally the lands of the knyazes who had already pledged allegiance to Ivan (Vyazemskies, Novosilskies, Odoyevskies, Vorotynskies, Belevskies) and recognized his title of "the Lord of all Rus". The peace was confirmed by the marriage of Alexander, son of Kazimierz, and Helen (Yelena), daughter of Ivan III.

Alexander was a Catholic, but he promised not to force his Orthodox wife to convert. However, he had to break his promise because of the pressure of his Catholic environment. The life of Yelena Ivanovna was sad and her father's demands that she should be treated better, were in vain. On the other hand, Alexander was also annoyed by Ivan accepting new knyazes who refused to stay in Catholic Lithuania. So, knyaz Belsky and knyazes of Novgorod-Seversky and Novgorod-Chernigovsky who possessed huge patrimonies along Dnieper and Desna rivers. The war between Muscovy and Lithuania finally becam inevitable. It started in 1500 and continued till 1503. Lithuania was supported by the Livonian Order and the Crimean khanate supported Rus. Muscovy was stronger than Lithuania and the Livonian Order and the truce signed in 1503 confirmed that the new lands belonged to Muscovy. The Livonian Order also lost. Earlier, Muscovy was slowly losing to the pressure from the West, but since Ivan III Muscovy fights back, returns some lands earlier conquered by the Livonian knights and even claims all Russian lands.

Waging wars with his Western neighbors, Ivan sought for allies in Europe. He sent ambassadors to Denmark, Hungary, Venice and Turkey. Strengthening Russian state was entering the European international stage.


December 14 in Russian history


Soviet polar expedition reaches the Southern Pole of Inaccessability, the point of the Antarctic which is the farthest from the ocean coasts of the continent. The coordinates of the point are 82°06′S, 54°58′E. Actually, various calculations may give slightly different results, but the term Pole of Inaccessability is generally applied to this point, where in 1958 17 people led by Yevgeni Ivanovich Tolstikov.

Tolstikov visited the point a year earlier, in December 1957, but the aeroplane did not land, it was a reconnaissance flight.

2007 1965

After two weeks of the scientific research, the team left the base. The hut where they lived is now covered by thick layer of snow. It was still on the surface in 1965, but the 2007 expedition of Team N2i found only the Lenin's bust seen above the snow. The photos show the difference.

By the way, Wikipedia states that it was the Second SAE (Soviet Antarctic Expedition), but this is wrong, it was the Third SAE.


Alexey Gastev

One of my favorite blogs, Languagehat.com, writes today about Alexey Gastev (Proletkult, Uchraspred, D-503). He quotes Richard Pipes who quotes Gastev and suggests that "this nightmare, in which one Western historian perceives a "vision of hope," provided material for Evgenii Zamiatin's anti-utopian novel, We":

The psychology of the proletariat is strikingly standardized by the mechanization not only of motions, but also of everyday thinking. . . . This quality lends the proletarian psychology its striking anonymity, which makes it possible to designate the separate proletarian entity as A, B, C, or as 325, 075, and 0, et cetera. . . . This signifies that in the proletarian psychology, from one end of the world to the other, there flow powerful psychological currents, for which, as it were, there exists no longer a million heads but a single global head. In the future this tendency will, imperceptibly, render impossible individual thinking.

Gastev's TsIT (Central Institute of Time) prepared recommendations on the scientific organization of labour for the Soviet factories and offices. Lenin used to have one of their reference cards pinned on the wall. In 1924, TsIT organized a commercial company, "Ustanovka", which allowed the institute to function without the financial aid from the state. They taught workers, engineers and officials to organize their time, to optimize production lines and conveyors. More than 500,000 people became students at TsIT's courses.

In 1928, Alexey Gorky visited TsIT and was so deeply impressed by the what he saw and heard that he embraced Gastev and said: "I can see now why you have left literature. It's worth it." Gastev's poetry was often called "the hymn to the heavy industry." Some of his verses have something in common with Walt Whitman: "The concrete is the idea of our working construction. Fed by the feat and the death, I work." Or this one: "I walk everywhere with my hammer, my chisel, my drill -- across the world. I step across borders, continents, oceans. I make the whole globe my motherland."

His best known poetic books, written in the period of Proletkult, are "The poetry of the workers' strike" and "A pack of orders". I don't know if these verses were ever translated into English, so here are two my lame attempts.

Order 04

Prisms of buildings.
Pack of twenty blocks.
Put it under the press.
Flatten it to a parallelogram.
Squeeze it to 30 degrees.
Remake the block-tank
into a worm-gear.
Diagonal movement.
Cut the streets without a shudder.
One thousand calories more for the workers.

Let's erect monuments

To the AMOEBA — who gave us reaction.
To the DOG — the greatest friend who calls us to the excercise.
To the MONKEY — the hurricane of live movement.
To the HAND — the miraculous intuition of will and construction.
To the SAVAGE — and his stone strike.
To the TOOL — as the banner of the will.
To the MACHINE — the teacher of precision and speed.

Gastev was arrested in 1938 and died either in 1938 or in 1941.

More verses by A.Gastev in Russian.

Chechnya: before the war began

To continue the yesterday's topic of Chechnya, here's a link to the web-site of Yuri Kondratyev, also known as Roy Conrad, Russian-Canadian journalist who currently lives in Korea: Roy Conrad. Till 1993 he lived in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. In 2000 he wrote a book about his life in Grozny and why he had to leave. The book is available online: Grozny. A Few Days...

However, the book is not the only thing that deserves attention there. Roy Conrad has collected the testimonies of many former citizens of Chechnya: Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Armenians and others, including Chechens. These accounts may explain why Russian army and police had to return to Chechnya on 11 December 1994. Here are some excerpts from this article titled "Russians! Don't leave, we need slaves!"

Mr. D. Gakuryan, former Grozny resident.

“In November 1994 my Chechen neighbors threatened me with gun and then kicked me out of the apt. and settled down there.”

Ms. P.Kuskova, former Grozny resident.

“On July 1, 1994 four Chechen teens broke my arm and raped me not far from “Red Hammer” plant when I was coming home from work.”

Ms. N. Trofimova, former Grozny resident.

“In September 1994 Chechens stormed my sisters apt. (Ms. Vishnyakova). They raped her in the presense of her children, beat her son and took away her 12-year old daughter Helen. She never returned home.

From 1993 my son has been severely beaten and robbed by Chechens.”

Ms. Khrapova, former Gudermes resident.

“In August 1992 our neighbor Mr. Sarkisyan and his wife were tortured and set on fire alive.”

Ms. Vdovchenko, former Grozny resident.

“Some days ago, early in the morning my neighbor, a KGB officer, Mr. Tolstenko, was kidnapped by armed Chechens. Later, his mutilated corpse was found. I was told about this by Ms. O.K.” (It really happened in Grozny in 1991)

Ms. Nazarenko, former Grozny resident.

“I stayed in Grozny until November, 1992. President Dudaev was indulgent towards all kinds of crimes against Russians and Chechens were never punished for that. Quite unexpectedly the principal of Grozny State University, Mr. Kan-Kalik disappeared. Later, his corpse was accidentally found in a forest in a pit. He was murdered because he didn’t want to quit his position.”

Ms. Chekulina, 1949 – y.o.b.

“I left Grozny in March, 1993. My son was robbed 5 times, his clothes taken. On his way to school, the Chechens beat him severely, broke his skull, threatened with knife. I was beaten and raped also only because I’m Russian. The Dean of my son’s faculty was murdered. Before our departure from Grozny, my son’s friend Max was killed.”

Ms. Yu. Plentyova, 1970 – y.o.b.

“In the summer of 1994 at 1 pm on Khrushchyov Square I witessed an execution of 2 Chechens, 1 Russian an 1 Korean. It was performed by 4 Dudaev’s guardsmen, who brought the above mentioned victims in foreign made cars. One car which was passing by during the execution was damaged and the driver sustained injuries.”

Mr. A. Fedyushkin, 1945 – y.o.b.

“In 1992 disguised armed Chechens hijacked my relative’s car in the village of Chervlyonnaya. In 1992 or 1993 2 armed Chechens tied up my wife (1949 – y.o.b.) and my older daughter (1973 – y.o.b.) and raped them, then they stole our TV, gas range and disappeared. The attackers were wearing masks.

In 1992 in the village of Chervlyonnaya my mother was robbed by some Chechens. They beat her and took away her icon, and a cross.

My brother’s neighbor went driving outside Chervlyonnaya village and disappeared. This car was later found in the mountains and his corpse – in the river 3 months later.”

Ms. Fefelova, former Grozny resident.

“Our neighbor’s daughter, a girl of 12 years old, was kidnapped by Chechens. Later, they started sending them pictures of her being raped and tortured. They demanded a ransom.”


December 12 in Russian history


ExecutedToday.com writes today about the execution of Ivan Sulyma, a Cossack commander, in Warsaw:

It was 12 December Old Style and 22 December New Style, and it goes slightly against my habit of using only New Style, but, of course, I just couldn't miss the chance to quote Jason's blog again.

Sulyma was a partisan of the militant unregistered Cossacks, fresh from war against the Ottomans. He returned to find that Poland had thrown up a fortress controlling the Dnieper, with an eye both to checking Cossack provocations against the now-peacable Turks, and to controlling internal Cossack disturbances.

Sulyma sacked the fortress, slaughtering its 200 inhabitants, but the disturbance was quickly put down and loyal registered Cossacks handed over the rebel. By the late 1630’s, Poland had imposed a peace of arms on the region … but hardly a secure one.

Read on.


(29 November Old Style)

Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich, a Russian ultra-right politician, one of the founders of nationalist, semi-fascist organizations like Union of the Russian People, The Black Hundreds and Union of Archangel Michael, wrote in his diary:

I was busy all morning today: first, we went with my wife to the Alexandrovsky market to buy dumbbells and chains…

Doesn't seem to be an everyday business for a member of the State Duma, does it? Some days earlier, on November 19, he said in his speech in Duma:

The tsar's ministers who have been turned into marionettes, marionettes whose threads have been taken firmly in hand by Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna—the evil genius of Russia and the tsaritsa … who has remained a German on the Russian throne and alien to the country and its people.

By this time, Purishkevich, prince Yusupov and Grand Knyaz Dimitri Pavlovich had already agreed to assassinate Rasputin. The chains and dumbbells were to be tied to the legs of Rasputin's body before drowning the corpse in an ice-hole.


On 12 December, the talks between the representatives of the Russian government and the Chechen separatists were planned. However, on 11 December, the army and the police forces entered Chechnya and "to establish constitutional order in Chechnya and to preserve the territorial integrity of Russia."

When I started this blog, in February, I posted a translation of an article by Timur Aliyev, the editor-in-chief of Chechen Society. He recalls the first days of the war, the gradual, surreal transition from relative peace to the state of war. I still think this article is one of the most important articles I posted here since then. In February, though, this blog had only a few readers and you have, most probably, missed Timur's recollections. If so, please, read it: War in Chechnya: the beginning.

That scary history...

St.Petersburg online newspaper fontanka.ru announced the opening of a new tourist attraction, called "The Neva horror. The cyberspace of fear". The main source of inspiration for the designers was the history of St.Petersburg. 1,300 square meters of the show will teem with special effects, holographic images and mirrors. There will be 13 rooms illustrating the events like the imprisonment of princess Tarakanova, murders of the emperor Pavel I and Grigori Rasputin, death of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and others. One notable exception is a fictional crime of Rodion Raskolnikov.

I can only wonder what effect of such show might have on the foreign guests. On the one hand, of course, it might raise the interest to the Russian history, but for too many people, I'm afraid, it will remain the main source of their knowledge. Qualibet. I mean, whatever. I just hope they'll hire a couple of historians as consultants.

If you happen to visit the show, don't forget to say "Horrorshow, droog! Ocean horrorshow" when you leave. :)


December 7 in Russian history


This day is usually celebrated as the birthday of the State Hermitage Museum. On this day (perhaps, some days earlier) 225 paintings by famous Dutch and Flemish painters were delivered to St.Petersburg. The empress Catherine bought them in Berlin. These paintings became the basis of her private collection. They were placed to secluded rooms of the royal Winter palace and for this reason became known as the Hermitage. Actually, the exact day of the founding is not known, but this day (25 November Old Style) is the day of St. Catherine, and it was thought to be a good idea to celebrate the founding of the Hermitage on the day of the saint patron of its founder.

Catherine continued to build up the collection and by 1774 there were 2,080 paintings in the Winter palace. It could have been even larger, had it not been for the wreck of Vrouw Maria.

A very good article on the history of the Hermitage museum was written by Dr. Vladimir Matveyev: Treasures of the Hermitage:

The foundation of the Hermitage is traditionally dated to 1764, when the first acquisition — a collection of 225 paintings by Western European masters — was delivered to St. Petersburg. Given her vast resources, Catherine II was able to secure most of the treasures that were offered to her, and when Frederick II of Prussia fell into financial difficulties and was unable to purchase the collection of paintings which the Berlin dealer Johann-Ernst Gotzkowsky had formed for him, Catherine bought it instead. The collection contained several masterpieces, including Frans Hals's "Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Glove".

The Hermitage collections grew rapidly. The first catalogue, published in 1774, numbered over 2,000 canvases. Apart from the acquisitions of major collections, individual paintings, many of which are now internationally-recognised masterpieces, were purchased for the Museum from private sources and at auction. Catherine II also commissioned a number of celebrated artists to provide works expressly for the Russian collection. Thus, Boucher painted his "Pygmalion and Galatea" for St Petersburg's new Academy of Fine Arts; Chardin painted his famous "Attributes of the Arts" for the Conference Hall of the Academy (although this remained in the Hermitage); and Sir Joshua Reynolds painted his allegorical picture "The Infant Hercules strangling the Serpents", which symbolized Russia's growing power.

The fine art treasures amassed by Catherine II were originally accommodated in the rooms of the Winter Palace, the main residence of the Russian tsars, which was built on the banks of the river Neva in 1754-1762 to the designs of the architect Francesco Bartolommeo Rastrelli. As the collection grew, successive buildings were added: the Small Hermitage in 1764-1775, designed by Yury Felten and Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe; the Old (Large) Hermitage in 1771-1787, also designed by Yury Felten; and the Raphael Loggia, added onto the latter building alongside the Winter Canal, its first-floor gallery being a replica of the one painted by Raphael and his pupils in the Vatican Papal Palace.

In 1852, a major development in the history of the Imperial collection was inaugurated by Nicolas I when a new museum building was opened to the public. Called the New Hermitage, it had been built in 1839-1851 to designs by the Munich architect Leo von Klenze. The portico facing what used to be Millionnaya Street was adorned with ten huge Atlantes, carved out of blocks of granite by the sculptor Alexander Terebenev. With the construction of the new buildings, an up-to-date inventory and catalogue of the Museum's collections was carried out, a task made even more necessary by the palace fire. For the first time Russian art was acknowledged with its own department, as were classical antiquities. The two galleries in the Small Hermitage, now left vacant, were to house the Romanov family portraits and the Memorial Collection of Peter I from the Kunstkamera, together with the collection of jewellery.

read on...


November 29-30 in Russian history

This article was written by Mosquito and originally posted at Sima Qian Studio forum:

A little bit late but better late than never:

November Uprising and Polish-Russian war 1830-1831

After the fall of Napoleon, in 1815 after Congress of Vienna, on the part of the territory of Grand Duchy of Warsaw was created Kingdom of Poland. The kingdom was in personal union with Russia, Tsar of Russia was the king of Poland. Kingdom had its own constitution, administration, parliament and army.

In the third decade of 19th century violating the constitution by the tsar-king became notorious. The rights of opposition were being limited, Polish army was getting angry, especially because of the behaviour of Grand Duke Constantine – brother of tsar, Governor of Kingdom and Commander in chief of Polish army. Altough Constantine married Polish woman and often was showing pro-polish sympaties, he in the same time behaved in the way that Polish officers were not able to accept. In the Polish army with its old Commonwealth traditions and Napoleonic traditions it was not tolerated that Russian duke dare to insult or even slap in face a soldier or officer, what angry Constantine was sometimes doing. It was normal in the Russian army that generals, marshals or members of Tsar’s family could do everything with officers but in the Polish army it was the worst thing one could do to officer because it wasn’t possible to duel with the commander. When one slapped cadet committed suicide and shot himself, officer corps stared to plan rebellion.

Polish army was small (about 40.000 soldiers) but well trained, many of high rank officers were veterans of Napoleonic wars who were fighting against Russia in Napoleon’s Great army. For example general Josef Chlopicki was a general of Napoleonic army who fought in Spain and later in Russian campaign, was wounded at Borodino. General Jan Zygmunt Skrzynecki was an officer of Napoleonic army who in 1813 in the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube saved Napoleon from being killed or captured. General Dwernicki – also an officer of Napoleonic army was decorated by golden cross of Legion of Honour personally by Napoleon. So was general Pradzynski decorated by Napoleon with the golden cross of Legion of Honour for the bravery in the battle of Leipzig.

The year 1830 was very important in western Europe. There was revolution in France and also the Belgians revolted against the Dutch. To Poland came news that Tsar (and king of Poland in the same time) decided to sent Polish army to Belgium and France to put down the revolutions. On the 17 october 1830 Tsar ordered mobilistation of Polish army and preparation of finances of Kingdom for war. Using Polish Army to revolution in France and Belgium would have been another violation of the Polish constitution.

The whole situation, especially the news that Polish soldiers are supposed to fight against French (considered by Poles as friends) and Belgians, the behaviour of Constantine, the violation of law by tsar put the young officers on the verge of rebellion.

The revolt was started in the night 29th – 30th November in Cadet school. Lieutenant Piotr Wysocki leaded the cadets against Russian troops and took over Warsaw. The rebels took also the residence of Grand Duke Constantine but he escaped in women's clothing.

None in Warsaw was prepared for it. Polish government, Polish generals, most of the Polish people knew nothing about cadet’s plans. Polish people were divided. Many didn’t want the war with Russia. Many even didn’t want to get independence from Russia. Most of people agreed that Polish soldiers cannot be sent to France and Belgium and that Tsar must obey the constitution.

Constantine was ready to forgive the rebels and promised that the matter would be amicably settled, but radical parties objected and demanded a national uprising. Fearing an immediate break with Russia, the Government agreed to let Constantine depart with his troops.

General Chlopicki was given the office of “Dictator of Uprising”. Chlopicki didn’t belive in victory, but agreed to take command temporarily. He had retired from the army because of the chicanery of Constantine. He overestimated the power of Russia and underestimated the strength and fervor of the Polish revolutionary movement. He accepted the dictatorship essentially in order to maintain internal peace and to save the Constitution.

First Poles wanted to negotiate with Tsar and demanded that Lithuanian will be joined back to Polish Kingdom and that Tsar will obey constitution but Tsar refused and demanded the complete and unconditional surrender of Poland and announced that the “Poles should surrender to the grace of their Emperor”. Poles refused and general Chłopicki resigned the following day from the Dictator’s post.

The parliament was taken over by radical parties which passed the Act of Dethronization of Nicholas I, which ended the Polish-Russian personal union and was a declaration of war on Russia.

Poland wanted to move the war to Lithuania but Russians were faster. The Russian army of 115.000 soldiers under the command of Field Marshal von Diebitsch crossed the Polish border. The first major battle took place on 14 February 1831 at the village of Stoczek. General Josef Dwernicki defeated Russian division. The following battles of Wawer and Bialoleka were Polish victories too but not decisive enough to stop the advance of Russian army.

On 25th February Polish army of 40,000 fought a Russian army of 60,000 in the battle of Olszynka Grochowska. The battle was a tactical Polish victory. Both armies withdrew after two days of fighting. 7.000 Poles and 10.000 Russians died on the battlefield, Russian field marshal Diebitsch had to retreat and Warsaw was saved. But Polish army was much smaller than Russian and for Poles it was really a Pyhrric victory. Not only big part of the Polish army died but also general Chlopicki was wounded and general Skrzynecki took the command over the army.

Polish generals made the plan of counteroffensive but gen. Skrzynecki was afraid to take initiative and lost the best moment to defeat Russian army. Finally he agreed to attack Russian forces but it was too late. Polish armies took many victories over Russians but in the battle of Ostroleka numerically superior Russian army defeated Poles and broke the morale of Polish army.

In September 1831 Russians took Warsaw and majority of Polish army crossed the border with Prussia.

Alltogether in the war took part about 70.000 Polish soldiers and 180.000 Russian soldiers.

The war became famous in all the Europe. In most of the European countries public opinion was on the Polish side while goverments were supporting Russians.

French poet Casimir Francois Delavigne composed famous Warsaw Song of 1831 which that time became well know in all the Europe and was translated on many languages:

Today is a day of blood and glory,
That it be a day of resurrection!
Gazing at France’s star,
The White Eagle launches into flight.

And it, inspired by hope,
Calls to us from on high:
"Arise, oh Poland, break your chains,
Today is a day of victory or death!"

Hey, whoever is a Pole, to your bayonettes!
Live, freedom, oh Poland, live!
Let this worthy battle cry:
Sound forth to our foes!

Oh Frenchmen! Are our wounds
Of no value for you?
At Marengo, Wagram, Jena,
Dresden, Leipzig, and Waterloo
The world betrayed you, but we stood firm.
In death or victory, we stand by you!
Oh brothers, we gave blood for you.
Today you give us nothing but tears.

Hey, whoever is a Pole, to your bayonettes!
Live, freedom, oh Poland, live!
Let this worthy battle cry:
Sound forth to our foes!
Sound forth to our foes!

List of the more important battles:

  • Battle of Stoczek – 14th February 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Dobre -17th February 1831– Polish victory
  • I Battle of Wawer – 19th February 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Nowa Wies – 19th February 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Bialoleka – 24th February 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Olszynka Grochowska – 25th February 1831 – undecided, Polish tactical victory
  • Battle of Pulawy – 2nd march 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Krukow – 3 march 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Markuszow – 3 march 1831 – Polish victory
  • II Battle of Wawer – 31 march 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Dab Wielki – 31 march 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Domanice – 10th april 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Iganie – 10th april 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Poryck – 11th april 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Wronow – 17th april 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Kazimierz Dolny – 18th april 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Boreml – 18th april 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Sokolow Podlaski – 21th april February 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Mariampol – 21th april 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Firlej – 9 mai 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Polaga – 10 mai 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Tykocin – 21 mai 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Nur – 22 mai 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Ostroleka – 26 mai 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Rajgrod – 29 mai 1831 – Polish victory
  • Battle of Vilnius – 17 August 1831 – Russian victory
  • Battle of Rogoznica – 29 August 1831 – Polish victory
  • Defence of Warsaw– beginning of September 1831 – Russian victory


November 30 in Russian history


On the night 29-30 November, about 12,000-15,000 Jews from the Riga ghetto were taken to Rumbula forest and shot by the Sonderkommando Arajs, one of the bloodiest killing teams of the WWII, named after Viktors Arajs, a Latvian SS-Sturmbannführer. On December 8, the remaining Jews were also killed there. The total number of victims is not known precisely. The German officers told later that they used 25,000 bullets, one bullet per victim. Brigadenführer Walther Stahlecken spoke of 27,800 murdered people. Of all those who were taken to Rumbula, only 3 managed to escape. One of them, Margers Vestermanis, is the director of the Riga Jewish Museum now. He co-wrote the article about Riga ghetto at deathcamps.org:

On 19 November 1941, working Jews were separated from the rest of the ghetto population and moved to a section in the northeast corner of the ghetto that had been cleared for the purpose. This area became known as the “Small Ghetto.” On the night of 29-30 November, the western section of the “Large Ghetto” was surrounded and the Jews gathered into groups of 1,000. The Jews had been told that they were simply being sent to a new camp nearby and to pack a 20-kilogram suitcase for the trip. Some people who had heard about the “resettlement” and interpreted this in fact to mean the physical liquidation of the Jews, decided to commit suicide. The next morning the groups were taken to the Rumbula Forest, 8 km from Riga, and shot. Large pits had been prepared for the purpose. Many people were killed on the ghetto streets or in their houses in the course of the Aktion. The drunken Latvian policemen, commanded by Herbert Cukurs, a famous former Latvian pilot who in 1933 flew over Africa and during the war was a German auxiliary police officer known as “The Butcher of Riga”, killed all the elderly Jews from the old people’s home. On that day, and continuing on 8 and 9 December, the entire population of the “Large Ghetto” was murdered, including most of the members of the Ältestenrat, the historian Simon Dubnow, and Rabbi Manahem Mendel Zak, the Chief Rabbi of Riga. In total, 27,800 Jews were killed in the Rumbula Forest in these Aktionen. One of the few survivors was Frida Frid-Mikhelson:

“Our column was divided up and everyone was ordered to undress… The Germans kept prodding us with their rifle butts closer and closer to the pit… Jews were already walking there one at a time, and vanishing behind the precipice – one could only hear the rattle of automatic rifles…I ran up to the officer who was in charge of the execution…He hit me in the head with his pistol, and I fell down. I was right next to the pit where the dead were being thrown. I pressed myself to the ground and tried not to move. A half hour later I heard someone shout in German: `Put the shoes here!’ By this time I had already crawled back a little. Just then, something was being thrown at me. I opened one eye slightly and saw a shoe lying next to my face. I was being covered up with shoes…Shots resounded quite close to me, and I could distinctly hear the last cries of people, the moans of the wounded who were thrown alive into the common grave. Some died cursing at their executioners, others died remembering their children and parents, others read prayers aloud…

… By evening the shooting had stopped… I decided to crawl out from under the pile of shoes… I crawled over to another pile – it was men’s clothing… I put on someone’s trousers and jacket and tied a big kerchief around my head… I came across a blanket cover, wrapped myself in it and began to crawl…”

Frida Frid-Mikhelson was sheltered by two Latvian families, the Berzins’ and Mezulis’, and later by a group of Seventh Day Adventists, who hid her and supplied her with food throughout the entire period of German occupation.

In addition to the killing sites at Rumbula and Bikernieki, concentration or labour camps were established in the vicinity of Riga at Kaiserwald (Mezaparks), Salaspils and Jungfernhof (Jumpravmuita), where executions were also carried out.

See also the article Remembering Rumbula by Michael Tarm, who interviewed Margers Vestermanis. The author talks also on the further life of one of the murderers, someone Konrads Kalejs, and ponders on the implications of the Kalejs case for the Latvian society.

Another very good overview of the Holocaust in Latvia is the illustrated article The Killings at Riga at HolocaustResearchProject.org.

On November 29, 2002, the president of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga and the prime-minister Einars Repše opened the memorial to the Jews of Riga ghetto and other victims of the Nazis killed in Rumbula.


Russia limits access to Internet. More on the election campaign.

Today an Internet service provider in Rostov-on-Don, company UTK, limited access of the subscribers to the web-sites of the Russian political opposition: kasparov.ru (site of Garry Kasparov) and nbp-info.ru (the site of the prohibited National-Bolshevik Party). The requests were redirected to pro-Putin web-sites. Some hours later the redirection was cancelled. Now, the access to the oppositional web-sites is open.

The Moscow hosting company Masterhost has shut down the web-site of the left opposition forum.msk.ru after the request of the police. The web-site published an interview with a candidate to Duma Vasily Shandybin, which was classified by the Central Election Committee as "an illegal election campaign material". Earlier, the police contacted Anatoly Baranov, the editor of the web-site, demanding that he deletes the interview. He refused and the police asked the hosting company to block the whole web-site. Baranov has announced that he considers these demands to be censorship and that the web-site will be relocated to another server outside Russia.

The Chita office of the Prosecutor General accused the Chita branch of Sibirtelecom telco of spreading extremist information, texts calling for terrorist acts and spreading hatred and hostility towards certain people and groups of people. The investigation has determined that they "provide data transmission services and access to the sites containing these materials. Thus, Sibirtelecom assists to spread the information contained on these web-sites which is directed against Russian Federation, incites social, racial and religious hostilities." Basically, Sibirtelecom was condemned for the presence of extremist web-sites in the Internet.

Some more news on the election campaign.

Four SPS candidates to Duma, Tatyana Ignatyeva, Tatyana Kopteva, Rodion Brekhach and Denis Shenin, were beaten last evening in the centre of Moscow. The police refused to comment on the event.

Vladimir Bukovsky, writer, dissident and the presidential candidate, was stopped by police for crossing the street in the wrong place. Yesterday, he met the SPS leaders and his consultations with the Yabloko party were scheduled for today. The police checked his documents and ordered him to follow them to the police department. After a short discussion, Bukovsky was released.

November 29 in Russian history

Once again kudos to Jason, who runs ExecutedToday.com. Today he wrote an article about Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.

Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya

Zoya was one of the most famous partisans in the USSR and, of course, her life and death were mythologized. So, in one of the first articles published in 1942, the author told that the during the tortures the fascists asked her where is comrade Stalin, and she replied that comrade Stalin is vigilant on his duty. In 1990s many newspapers (mostly tabloids) published articles about Zoya based on dubious new documents. Some of them concluded that her death was the result of the careless decision of the commanders who sent children to death, that it was some other girl, that there were no Nazis in the houses that she burned, others claimed that she was schizofrenic. These sensations were not confirmed later.

Her last photo

However, these fake stories launched some serious investigations. So, the facial expertise confirmed that it was really Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. There were two versions of why she was caught. First, a member of her group, Klubkov, who was caught first but managed to escape later, was accused of betraying her. He was executed in 1942. However, he was, probably, forced to slander himself during the interrogations in the Soviet counter-intelligence. The German documents stated that she was captured after one of the village residents, Sviridov, noticed her and reported to the Germans. It became known that after she was seized, some women, who had earlier lived in the houses occupied by the Nazi soldiers and burnt by the partisans, attempted to attack her to avenge for their houses.

The remaining part of her story, including her last words, is true and complies with the testimonies of the residents of Petrishchevo.

Zoya's brother, Alexander, was killed in Vierbrudenkrug, near Königsberg, on 13 April 1945.

November 29 in Russian history


The Soviet information agency Sovinformbureau published the report titled "Feeble-minded fascist counterfeiters":

The proverb says: "When god want to punish the people, he makes them demented." The Hitlerites who manage the fascist propaganda, have lost the last remainders of the sense of humour. The frauds they fabricate amaze with the stupidity and poverty of intellect. So, after the publication of the note of People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs comrade V. M. Molotov "On the disgusting atrocities of the German powers to the Soviet prisoners of war", which has denounced the murderous acts of the German fascist rascals, the Hitler's criminals attempt to diminish the impression produced by this truthful document on the international public opinion. They try to slip away by making silly and giftless excuses, like petty swindlers. This time they found no better idea than to use the son of the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs comrade V. M. Molotov, allegedly taken prisoner, as a "disprover".

Picking a rascal who sold himself to Gestapo, the fascist fools proclaimed the scoundrel the son of Molotov, Georgy Molotov, and staged the following farce. The rascal was brought to the German journalist, in front of whom he began to "refute" the facts stated in the note of V. M. Molotov, that is, began to "prove" that the black is white and that the hitlerites are not animals and cannibals, but meek lambs.

The illiterate speech of that hitlerite broadcasted by radio demonstrates his obvious problems with Russian language. So, instead of the Russian word "zheleznodorozhniki" (railroad workers) he used the word "transportniki" (transportists), and so on.

When arranging this most stupid farce, the hitlerite counterfeiters failed to take into account the fact that V. M. Molotov does not have a son, and never had.

What a bad time the Hitler's gang has if they have to resort to so awkward tricks.


The newspaper Vecherniy Leningrad published a satirical article titled "Near-literary drone".

Some years ago, a young man who called himself a poet has appeared in the near-literary circles of Leningrad. He wore velveteen trousers and always carried a briefcase stuffed with papers. In winter he didn't wear a hat and the snow fell freely onto his reddish hair.

The friends called him simply Osya. In other places he was titled with his full name — Iosif Brodsky.

Brodsky visited an association of beginning writers at the Culture Palace of the First Five Year Plan. But the poet in the velveteen trousers decided that working in the association was not a job for his generous nature. He even told the beginning writers that the study in this association allegedly constrains the creativity and he will climb the Parnassus alone.

What did this self-confident youngster have to bring into the literature? He had a dozen or two of verses written in a thin school notebook, and all of them demonstrated the deficiency of his worldview. "Cemetery", "I'll die…" — by these titles alone we can judge the works of Brodsky. He imitated the poets who advocate the pessimism and lack of trust into the man, his verses are a blend of decadence, modernism and unconcealed gibberish. His wretched imitations looked pathetic. Though, he could not create anything independent. He had neither knowledge nor culture for that. What knowledge can a man have, who did not graduate the secondary school?

Who are the supporters of Brodsky? Marianna Volnyanskaya, who abandoned her old mother for the bohemian life, her friend Nezhdanova, an evangelist of yoga and various mysticism. Vladimir Shveygoltz, whose face is often seen on the satirical posters published by the people's druzhina, criminal Anatoly Geyhman, parasite Yefim Slavinsky who prefers to lounge about in various expedition for a couple of months and not to work in the remaining time. Among the best friends of Brodsky there are a pathetic near-literary person Vladimir Gerasimov and a fence of foreign clothes Shilinsky, known simply as Zhora.

This group not only lauds Brodsky, but tries to disseminate his works among the youth. Someone Leonid Aronzon reprints them on a typewriter and others fob them off.

Brodsky self-esteem was demonstrated on February 14 during the young poets' party in the Gorky Palace of Culture, where Brodsky read his sepulchral verses. Someone in the hall correctly assessed them, shouting "This is gibberish, not poetry!" "What is allowed to Jupiter, is not allowed to the ox," he replied. What an impudence! A frog imagined itself Jupiter.

The gibberish is just one part of Brodsky's "innocent" hobby. In one of the verses he wrote: "I love the foreign homeland." You can see now that this pygmy climbing Parnassus is not that harmless. He is extremely candid. He doesn't love his homeland and does not hide it. More than that! For a long time he planned to betray his motherland. On invitation of his friend Shakhmatov, who is now sentenced to jail, Brodsky visited Samarkand, bringing his thin notebook with verses and a "philosphical" treatise by someone Umansky. The gist of that "treatise" was that the youth should not recognize their debt to the parents, the society, the state, because it would constrain their freedom. Shakhmatov and Brodsky met an American in the hotel Samarkand, who agreed to publish the treatise in USA. In the last moment, though, Brodsky and Shakhmatov chickened out.

There, in Samarkand, Brodsky attempted to bring into life his plan of the betrayal of his Motherland. Together with Shakhmatov, he visited the local airport to hijack an airplane and to leave the USSR. They even chose an airplane, but noticed that there is not enough fuel and delayed their plans.

Since Brodsky is still young, many his misdemeanours were pardoned. He was warned of the responsibility for his anti-social activity. However, he drew no conclusions. He continues to parasitize. This healthy 26-year old guy avoids the publicly useful work for four years.…

Obviously, we have to stop fussing over the near-literary drones. People like Brodsky have no place in Leningrad.

One month later, in January 1964, the same newspaper published the readers' letters: "Nothing will save Brodsky and his supporters from the judgment of public opinion. … The drone Brodsky has lived at the expense of society long enough. Let him work. And if he doesn’t want to, he has only himself to blame for the consequences."

Nine years later Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky, one of the greatest Russian poets, was expelled from the USSR. In 1987 Josef Brodsky, one of the greatest American writers, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. When asked if he Russian or American, he usually replied: "I am Jewish — a Russian poet and an English essayist."


Duma elections

Farid Babayev, the leader of the Yabloko party in Dagestan, who was shot some days ago, has died.

On Monday evening the TV Channel One broadcasted a clip where two actors who looked a bit like SPS leaders Belykh and Nemtsov recall the 1990s with nostalgy: "We are against the cult of personality, we are for the cult of cash!" says one of them. "We liberated the country from salaries and pensions," adds the other. The authorship of the clip is unknown, but it may be found on the web site of the so called Democratic party.

The federal office of SPS was attacked and sacked by unknown people. The doors of the apartments of the SPS activists were painted with graves and crosses.

The Moscow publishing house "Evropa" presented two book called "The enemies of the plan of Putin" and "The Fake structures. The ghosts of Russian politics". The presentation was attended by the infamous PR specialist Gleb Pavlovski. Both books maintain that the oppositional forces are a marginal, false opposition.

SPS was fined 50,000 rubles by the Krasnoyarsk court. The ruling said that the newspaper of SPS contained commercial ads. The SPS HQ in St.Petersburg was attacked by unknown people who threw manure at the office door.

The United Russia refused that they are sending letters to commercial structures demanding to sponsor their campaign. They said that the letters published in the Internet are fake and that the signature of the leader of the Kemerovo regional branch Dyudyayev. However, Dyudyayev, the author of the famous letter to the Siberian Coal and Energy company, confirmed that he signed this letter, but said that he didn't threaten those who refuse to participate.

Garry Kasparov, arrested during the Dissenters' March this Saturday, is still in custody. His lawyer, Olga Mikhailova could not visit him before the trial. Kasparov was found guilty based on the witnesses' statements, including two police reports written by one person, but contradicting each other. Vladimir Ryzhkov, member of Duma, attempted to visit Kasparov, but was not allowed to, in spite of his official status which gives him the right to visit prisoners. Kasparov's old opponent both in chess and in politics, Anatoly Karpov, made a fine gesture by visiting Kasparov in jail. However, he was not allowed to see Kasparov.

Kasparov's movement United Civilian Front (OGF) started a picket at the doors of the police department demanding to liberate Kasparov. The picket where only one person participates need not be preliminary approved by the authorities, so only man was standing there. However, he was joined soon by some vagrants who carried hand-made signs with similar demands. On this basis, the OGF protester was detained, since he was not alone any more.

The communists of Kamchatka announced recently that they have the information that the governor ordered the regional authorities to secure at least 80% of votes in favor of United Russia. As a result, more than 50% of the candidates of Fair Russia refused to enter into the election contest and the party will not participate in the elections. The vice-governor Drozdov ran a meeting with the directors of local typographies and warned them that every typography that would print a single leaflet of a party other than UR, will be closed.