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.


November 27 in Russian history

To Marc, the marine.


(November 16 Old Style)

Peter I ordered to organize the first regiment of marines (naval infantry, as they are still called in Russian). The regiment included two battallions, five companies in each of them, 125 privates in each company. There were also 70 NCOs and 45 officers.

As a matter of fact, first detachments of marines appeared in Russia in 1668, when the first Russian navy ship, frigate Oryol (Eagle) was launched on river Oka. There were 35 riflemen (streltsy) on board of Oryol. Later, during the Azov campaigns, the "sea regiment" was formed from 4524 soldiers of Preobrazhensky and Semyonovsky regiments. Peter himself was the commander of the 4th company, under the name of Peter Alexeyev. During the Swedish war, since 1701, Russian army used special detachments on light boats to fight the Swedish ships on lakes Ladoga and Chudskoye. In 1703 Peter I participated in a boarding attack on two Swedish ships in the mouth of Neva river. Finally, after the defense of Kotlin island Peter decided to form a special regiment of naval infantry. Since then, November 16 is celebrated as the marine corps day in Russia.

By 1714, there were already 3,000 marines in the Russian army. During the battle of Gangut, the first major naval victory of Russia, they captured one Swedish frigate, six galleys and 6 lesser ships.

In 1799, the marines took hold of Corfu island and liberated the island from the Napoleon's troops. They participated in the battles on "dry land" during the 1812-1814 war, they fought during the battle of Borodino and finally entered Paris. After that war, the marine regiments were disbanded, but during the Crimean war 22 new battallions were formed. They played an important role during the Russo-Japanese war, in the WWI. After the Civil war, the bolsheviks disbanded the forces and they re-appeared only in 1939. During the WWII, almost 500,000 marines fought against the Nazis. They participated more than 100 landing operations. Currently, there are about 12,000 marines in the Russian army.


Mars 2 descent module crashed on Mars. The module carried a small rover which had to move around and transmit the pictures of the surface. Because of the computer malfunction the descent was too steep, the parachute did not open and the module's speed was too hign when it hit the ground. This way or the other, it became the first man-made object on the surface of Mars. In spite of the crash, the program was not unsuccessful. The orbiter funcioned properly till next March and reported a large amount of data. The first successful landing on Mars was delayed till December 2, when the descent module of Mars 3 achieved a soft landing and transmitted the first picture of Mars. The picture was broken, but a part of it was readable.


Russian history 50. Foreign policy of Ivan III. Mongols

Russian history 50. Foreign policy of Ivan III. Mongols

In the times of Ivan III there were three Mongolian hordes on the territory of modern Russia. The Golden Horde was torn by the feuds and was slowly dying. Near the Black sea the Crimean Horde was born in the XV century. It was ruled by the dynasty of Girai (the descendants of Haci Girai). In Kazan the natives of the Golden Horde founded yet another horde in the XV century. It united Finno-Ugrian tribes under the rule of Mongols. Using the internal problems and feuds among the Mongols, Ivan III managed to spread his influence onto Kazan and the khan of Kazan (the tsar of Kazan, as the Muscovites called him) became his ally and assistant. The relationships with the Crimean khan were also friendly, because both countries had one enemy, the Golden Horde, and opposed this enemy together. As for the Golden Horde itself, Ivan III stopped showing all signs of dependency. He did not pay tribute and did not visit the horde. A legend tells that once Ivan III threw the basma to the floor and tread it down (basma was a golden plate given by the khan to his ambassadors as a sign of their power).

Akhmat, the khan of the Golden Horde, understood his weakness and attempted to form an alliance with Lithuania, but since Lithuania refused to guarantee their assistance, he had to suffice with raids along the borders of Muscovy. In 1472 he came to the river Oka, but didn't attack Moscow and soon left. In 1480 he repeated this raid. He came to the river Ugra, near the border of Muscovy and Lithuania. Once again Lithuanians refused to provide assistance, and Ivan III sent a strong army against Akhmat. Both armies were standing against each other on Ugra, but neither dared to attack. Ivan III ordered to prepare Moscow for the siege and sent his wife Sophia from Moscow to the north. He was afraid of both the Mongols and his own brothers who, as he thought, might be plotting against him. For the Muscovites, his actions looked like cowardice. The archbishop of Rostov Vassian asked Ivan not to flee, but to withstand the enemy. But Ivan did not attack the Mongols. Having spent on Ugra some months, from the summer till November, Akhmat had to leave. Soon he was killed in a feud and his sons died during the war with the Crimean horde, and the Golden Horde finally broke up in 1502. This was the end of the "Tatar yoke" for the Muscovy. However, the problems were not over yet. The successors of the Golden Horde: the Crimean horde, the Kazan khanate and other small tribes living near the Russian borders and ukraines (lands near the border), continued to raid these ukraines, robbing and killing people. These raids continued for three hundred years more.


November 23 in Russian history


The Supreme Council of RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) adopted the new music of the national anthem of Russia.

The tradition of anthems appeared in Russia in the early XVIII century, with the accession of Peter I. There was no single specific anthem, but a number of pieces were performed. One of the best known predecessor of the anthems was the march of the Preobrazhensky regiment. This music is still performed during some ceremonies, for example on the parade on the Victory Day, May 9, when the Victory banner is brought in. The author of the music is unknown. German historians thought that it was written by Ferdinand Haase, but it doesn't seem probable due to some historical reasons. The alternative name is "The march of Peter the Great". It was included in the imperial catalog of military marches (kaiserlich russische Marsch-Sammlung) which became the base for the German Königlich-Preußische Armeemarschsammlung (AMS). So, the march became known in Germany and became the official march of some German detachments (like Infanterie-Regiment Graf Schwerin Nr. 14 (3. Pommersches) in Bromberg). In Russia, it was also the march of 10th New Ingermanland infantry regiment, 147th Samara infantry regiment and Vyborg garrison infantry battalion. The Spanish king Alfonso XIII asked Nikolay II for permission to use it as the march of the Guardie de Alabarderos. Lord Mountbatten heard this march in 1928 and asked king Alfonso if he might use it for the Royal Marines, and received the permission. The commanders of the marines didn't like the idea, but Mountbatten introduced this music in 1942 as the official music for his inspections in he army. The US Marine Band also played the march when Mountbatten visited them. In 1970 sir Francis Vivian Dunn composed the Mountbatten March, borrowing the introduction from the Preobrazhensky March.

Another popular predecessor of the Russian anthems was the song "Let the thunder of victory sound" (see also the Wikipedia page Grom pobedy, razdavaysya!). However, when emperor Pavel I succeeded Catherine the Great, he introduced a new semi-official music, the song called "How Glorious is Our Lord in Zion". The author, Heraskov, like Pavel I, was a frank-mason and this song contains some references to the traditions of frank-masons. (The scores and the text is here, someone J. Jumba even managed to copyright the transliteration :)). The music is usually attributed to Dimitri Bortnyansky, but a very similar melody was recorded as a German Lutheran hymn "Ich bete an die Macht der Liebe". This song was used in together with the official anthems till 1917.

In 1815, when Russia, Britain, Austria and Prussia created the Holy Alliance, the four countries decided that they should have a single anthem, based on the British "God, Save the King!", but with four version of the lyrics in four languages. Russian lyrics, "The Prayer of Russians" were written by famous poet Vasily Zhukovsky. The anthem was used till 1833, when Nikolay I offered Alexey Lvov to write a new anthem. The lyrics for the new anthem were also written by Zhukovsky, who borrowed the first line of the Prayer of Russians: God, Save the Tsar! On November 23, the emperor approved the new anthem, and on December 11, the first public performance took place in Bolshoi theatre. On December 25, when the anniversary of the victory over Napoleon was celebrated, the anthem "Bozhe, Tsarya Hrani!" was proclaimed the official anthem of the Russian empire. It was the shortest anthem in the world — there were only six lines.

After the February revolution of 1917, the anthem was abolished. In the first months after the revolution, the so called Workers' Marseillaise was often used. It had the same melody as La Marseillaise, but different lyrics. On January 23 (Jan. 10 Old Style) the 3rd Congress of the Soviets adopted the new anthem of the new state — The Internationale (music by Pierre De Geyter, words by Arkady Kots).

On December 14, 1943, the Politbureau of the Central Committee of VKP(b) adopted a new anthem. The music was written in 1936 by Alexandrov and the lyrics were written by Lebedev-Kumach, the author of multiple super-optimistic Soviet songs. In 1943, S.Mikhalkov and G. El-Registan wrote the new text. The first public performance was on the New Year night, January 1, 1944. This anthem is also called the Stalin's anthem, because of the lines "The great Stalin raised us to be true to the people and inspired us to work and to perform feats". These same lines became the reason why since 1955 the anthem was performed without the lyrics, the music alone. In 1977, this verse was replaced by a new one, written by the same authors, Mikhalkov and El-Registan. The new verse contained no names.

At last, in 1991, when Russia was liberated from the Soviet power, the state commission chose a new anthem. It was the Patriotic Song, written in 1834 by famous composer Mikhail Glinka for his opera "Life for the Tsar". This anthem had no lyrics, even though one project was approved. On November 23 it was adopted by the Supreme Council, and on December 11 — by president Yeltsin.

When a new president came to power in 2000, he announced that a new anthem is needed. The opponents of the Patriotic song said that this song cannot be attributed to Glinka with certainty and that this was an unfinished work, which Glinka rejected. I have no idea how they managed to reconcile these two contradicting statements. Some people said that this anthem is a copy of a Polish religious hymn, that it has no Russian character. Since the new president never cared about logic and explanations, the "new" anthem was chosen, with the same Soviet music and almost the same words, slightly modified by the same S. Mikhalkov. This anthem was heavily criticized by Memorial society, Moscow Helsinki group and other anti-Soviet human rights activists. Grigory Yavlinsky from the Yabloko party said: " We protest against the adoption of the Stalinist anthem, which is stained with the blood of tens of millions of our citizens."

A radio programme broadcasted by the official Radio Russia in 2006, said that "no country, especially a great country, would use an unfinished work, whose author is not known and the artistic quality is dubious, as its anthem... The history of the state anthem of Russia will continue when the high idea of the state will finally be formed in the conscience of the Russian society. When such new state idea, uniting all citizens, will appear, a new anthem will become necessary."

I sincerely hope that this time will never come, but I still feel sick of the sound of the Soviet anthem and I think that the time to get rid of it has come a long time ago. Want to know my opinion on the best anthem? No problem. Here it is:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

If some links do not work or if you want to find more recordings of all the anthems, see here.

Duma elections

Farid Babayev, a candidate of pro-democratic party "Yabloko" in Dagestan, was wounded by four bullets. The gunman was not detained. Babayev is now in hospital and his condition is "serious but stable".

The chairman of the Political Council of SPS (Union of Rightist Forces) party Nikita Belykh said on November 20 that his party is attacked by the Russian power. He said that some SPS candidates, including the leaders of the regional branches in Pskov, Ulyanovsk, Dagestan, Krasnodar and other places, were forced to leave the party under the pressure of the state officials. Currently, SPS has only 85 regional branches and the law requires that the party with less than 80 regional branches may not participate in the Duma elections. November 16 was the last day when the candidates could refuse to participate in the elections. After this date, the pressure on the SPS candidates stopped.

The Political Council of SPS adds that more than 15,000,000 copies of leaflets and newspapers of SPS were arrested and the typographies were closed. The PR companies are "advised" not to work with SPS. The press-release also mentions arrests of the party activists, searches in their apartments, arsons of the party offices and private apartments, violent attacks on the campaigners, etc. Russian EMERCOM (Ministry for extraordinary situations) runs training missions near the SPS headquarters. Unknown people demonstratively write down the plate numbers of the cars arriving to the HQ. Anti-SPS propagandists accuse the party in the propaganda of extremism and homosexualism, left populism and bribery.

Tonight, another anti-SPS campaign was started in Moscow. In the middle of the night, unknown people called the cell phones of the citizens and ran a recorded message offering them to vote for SPS. According to the information supplied by SPS, they have a copy of the plan of the election campaign of United Russia, which features "actions against the telephone terrorism of SPS".

The Perm regional office of the Public Prosecutor reported that they have found the office of SPS "shadow HQ", where they discovered unnamed documents. These documents confirm that SPS has spent 1.5 million rubles above the limit defined by the law. In Tomsk, the local newspaper of SPS was arrested. The court has ruled that the comparison of the Russian authorities and Hitler is illegal and anti-constitutional.

The things could be even worse, though :). The SPS election TV clip was discussed by the Central Election Committee. The so called Democratic Party of Russia accused SPS in the violation of the law which prohibits negative information and comments about other parties. The Election Committee dismissed the accusations.

Now, some more polls. VTsIOM sociological centre (whose board of managers includes some representatives of the presidential administration) reviews the results of the TV debates. During the last week (from November 10 till November 17) the number of people who watched the debates, has increased from 10-13% to 10-20%. 20% watched the debates of Liberal-Democratic party (a week ago there were 13%). 15% watched the Communist party (12% last week) and the Fair Russia (10% a week ago). 10% saw the debates of SPS and Yabloko. 9% followed the debates of Patriots of Russia and the Civil Force. 6-8% watched the Party of Social Justice, Agrarian party and Democratic party. The most stunning results were achieved by United Russia. 8% saw their debates (13% last week). Perhaps, I should remind that United Russia refused to participate in the debates. In spite of this brilliant isolation, 69% of those who "saw" their debates liked them, which is the best result. The only party whose approval rate has increased is the LDPR (from 39% to 51%). The Agrarian and the Communist parties have stable approval rates (60% and 47%). All other parties approval rates have decreased. The Democratic party has 19%, Yabloko has 26% and SPS has 28%.

"Public Opinion" foundation (FOM) forecasts the following results of the elections. Turnout will be 58-59%. Of them, 62% will vote for United Russia, 11% for the Liberal-Democratic party, 10% for the Communist party, 7-8% for Fair Russia, 2-3% for the Agrarian party, 1-2% for SPS and for Yabloko, 1% for the Patriots of Russia, less than 1% for Civil Force, Democratic party and Party of Social Justice.

The poll held by Levada Centre gives the following results. 67% for UR, 14% for the Communists, 6% for LDPR, 4% for Fair Russia. 48% think that the elections will only imitate the political struggle, but the seats in Duma will be assigned by the power. UR and FR are seen as new parties with fresh ideas, while the Communists, LDPR, SPS and Yabloko have the image of "outdated" parties.


Elections: More dirty tricks

(All links below are in Russian)

In the town Balashov, Saratov region, people who planned to vote for Spravedlivaya Rossiya (Fair Russia) receive letters with condolences on the death of their relatives. All their relatives were alive. The fake letters were "signed" by Zinaida Samsonova, the candidate of Fair Russia.

Spam e-mail messages signed by SPS party (Union of the Rightist Forces) are being sent by unknown people. The messages contain links to a web-site which imitates the official web-site of SPS, but opens a large number of pop-up windows and alert messages with SPS slogans which virtually block the browser.

In Perm and Orenburg, citizens receive receive letters demanding to donate to SPS with threats to fine them if they don't pay. The envelopes also include fake discount cards with the information that the discounts are sponsored from the SPS electoral fund. Also, filled bank transfer blanks are included. The blanks contain correct bank details of the SPS account, but there are neither signatures, nor official stamps of the SPS on the blanks.

In St.Petersburg, the city officials campaign for the pro-Putin Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia) even in churches. When the activists of Fair Russia asked about 10,000 citizens of St.Petersburg whether they felt any kind of pressure from the officials demanding them to vote for United Russia, 35% said yes, and 32% more said that they heard such stories from their friends or relatives. In Mozhaisky Military Academy the students are informed that their future job will depend on who they vote for. Workers of kindergardens report that the officials oblige them to participate in advance voting and to fill the election bulletins at work, in the presence of the superiors. The Vaileostrovsky regional health service offices demand the physicians to carry on propaganda for the United Russia. The local administration of Kalininsky district threatened to fire the school teachers who will not vote for the UR.

The director-manager of the "Siberian Coal Energy Company" Alexander Loginov received the following letter from the Kemerovo regional office of the United Russia:

Your refusal to financially aid the the regional office of United Russia in the election campaign to the 5th State Duma is considered as a refusal to support President V. V. Putin and his creative policy.

I feel obliged to inform the President's Administration and the Governor of Kemerovo region on your position.

The letter is written on the official blank of United Russia, has the signature of the regional party leader, the official stamp and the registration number. The copy of the letter is here.

The results of this ultra-aggressive campaign have been demonstrated by the recent public opinion poll held by VTsIOM. 55.9% of the interviewees said that they will vote for the United Russia. 5.8% support the Communist Party, 4.7% support Liberal-Democratic Party, 4.9% will vote for the Fair Russia. The threshold for eligibility to win seats in Duma is 7%.


New dirty tricks in the election campaign

I was told yesterday of new leaflets posted on the walls in one of the districts of Samara. The text was like this: "Dear citizens, the Union of the Rightist Forces (SPS) informs you that we have asked AIDS-infected people to participate in our campaign to disseminate printed materials and to participate in the public opinion polls as interviewers. Please, be tolerant towards them."

Considering the AIDS-phobia, imagine the reaction of the average people when an SPS interviewer would knock their doors... I've never heard of such tricks before.

Russian history 49. Family and court of Ivan III

The unusually fast growth of Muscovy was accompanied by important changes in the court life. Ivan's first wife, daughter of Boris, knyaz of Tver, Maria Borisovna, died in 1467, when Ivan III was less than 30 years old. They had one son, Ivan Ivanovich Molodoy (the Young). This was also a period of the fast growth of the diplomatic relationships between Moscow and the Western Europe. The Pope hoped to bring Muscovy under his control and he offered to arrange the marriage of Ivan III with the niece of the last emperor of Constantinople Zoe-Sophia Paleologue. After the Turks seized Constantinople in 1453, Thomas, the brother of the killed emperor Constantine Paleologue, escaped to Italy. He died and his children were raised at the court of the Pope in the spirit of the Union of Florence, so the Pope hoped that after this marriage Sophia will introduce the Union of Florence in Rus. Ivan III agreed and in 1472 Sophia arrived to Moscow. However, the Pope's hopes were not fulfilled. The papal ambassador did not succeed. Sophia did not even attempt to raise this question. This marriage brought no results to the European catholicism, but there were certain consequences for Muscovy.

First, it assisted the relationships between Muscovy and the West, particularly with Italy. There were Greeks and Italians among the Sophia's retinue. Many others arrived later. They worked for the grand knyaz as architects and engineers, at cannon factories and mints. Sometimes they became Ivan's ambassadors to Europe. The Italians were called "fryazins" in Muscovy (from fryag < franc). The names of Ivan Fryazin, Marc Fryazin, Anthony Fryazin were known in Moscow. The best known Italian architect was Aristotle Fioravanti, who built the Uspensky (Dormition) cathedral and the Palace of Facets in the Moscow Kremlin. Kremlin in general was reconstructed and ornamented by the Italians. Besides the Italians, the Germans also were numerous in Rus, but they were not as respected as specialists. Only German doctors were especially respected. There were also many noble foreign guests (like Sophia's relatives) and ambassadors of the Western European countries. By the way, the ambassadors of the Roman emperor proposed Ivan III to accept the title of the king, which he rejected. A new ceremonial ritual for the foreign ambassadors was developed, and it was totally different from the one used in the times of the Mongol occupation. The life of the court in general changed, became more complicated.

Second, the Muscovites explained the changes in the character of Ivan III by this marriage. They spoke that since the arrival of Sophia and the Greeks, "the land was confused and great misfortunes came with them." The grand knyaz was not as easily accessible as before, he often angered and punished the boyars. It seemed that he began to think of himself as of the heir of the Greek emperors and adopted the Byzantine coat-of-arms, the double-headed eagle. In the end of his life, Ivan III ceased all contacts with Sophia. They disagreed on the question of the succession. Ivan the Young died in 1490 and he had one son, Dimitri. But the grand knyaz already had another son, Vasily, born by Sophia. First, Ivan III preferred Dimitri and sent away Sophia and Vasily. He proclaimed Dimitri the tsar (note, not the grand knyaz, but the first tsar). A year later, though, the things changed. Dimitri was exiled and Vasily got the title of the grand knyaz and became the co-ruler of Ivan III.

The Muscovites used to blame Sophia for the multiple novelties at the court and for the changes in the behaviour of Ivan III. Her influence, however, should not be overestimated. Had it not been for her, the grand knyaz of Moscow would still recognize his own new power and the relations with the West would still develop. These events naturally fitted the direction of the Russian history, which made the grand knyaz of Muscovy the single ruler of the Russian nation and a neighbor of some European countries.

November 20 in Russian history


Nine years ago, at 0940 (Moscow time), the first module of the International Space Station named "Zarya" (The Dawn) was launched from Baikonur launch site. It was designed and built in Moscow, in Khrunichev Space Center, but the construction was funded by NASA and its status is somewhat ambiguous: it belongs to the USA, but on the plans it is often drawn as a part of the Russian segment of the ISS. This way or the other, this is not too important now, when it turned from the hub of the station to a mere passageway between Zvezda and Unity. Zarya was built in time, but launched 17 months past the scheduled date, due to the delay of the Zvezda module, caused by insufficient funding. Two weeks after Zarya was in place, Unity was attached to it.

In spite of the continuing criticism of ISS program in the USA and lack of attention to it in Russia, I am absolutely sure that this was a step in the right direction. Rovers and landing and orbiting unmanned missions are extremely useful, but only manned flights will eventually lead to the settling and developing of the outer space. And without each other, USA and Russia would not be able to complete anything equal to the ISS. USA provided funding and the Shuttles, while Russia contributed her immense experience in building and maintaining orbiting stations and the reliable Soyuz and Progress vehicles to keep it running. I am just a bit afraid that the ISS will end up as the only example of that close cooperation in space :(.

However, the ISS is still under development, and two weeks ago Russian Federal Space Agency has announced that by 2011 Russia will attach three more research modules and increase the staff from 3 to 6 people. The ever increasing participation of European and Japanese space agencies will make sure the ISS will still work even if NASA withdraws from the program.


November 19 in Russian history

Could there be some sense in astrology? Hardly. But this day, November 19, seems to be a good day to be born. It's the birthday of many outstanding people, like Mikhail Lomonosov, Ivan Kruzenshtern, Meg Ryan (I hope you'll pardon this little sign of my tender affection for this lady :). Also, today is the birthday of another famous Russian scientist.


On this day, 85 years ago, Yuri Valentinovich Knorozov (or Knorosov) was born. At least, according to the documents. He insisted that he was born on August 31, but celebrated none of these dates. He was born in Ukraine, near Kharkiv, in a Russian family. His grandmother was an Armenian actress, widely popular in Armenia. The family legend told that she was a Turkish orphan, adopted by an Armenian merchant. Before the adoption, she used to sing and dance on the streets. One of the favorite childhood stories often told by Knorozov was that when they played croquet with his brothers, the ball struck his head and he almost lost vision. As he used to joke, the doctors restored the vision, but he became a decipherer. The family survived the famine of the 1930s. He was almost expelled from school for his eccentric behaviour, but it's hardly possible that he was just an average street boy. He was a good violinist, painter and he wrote romantic poems. His violin was broken in 1941, during the war, but he preserved it till his death.

In 1940, Yuri left Ukraine and entered the Moscow university, where he studied ethnography. He specialized in Egyptology and was deeply interested in shamanism. Then the war began. His mother stayed on the occupied territory and this became a serious obstacle for his career. He was not allowed to hold the exams for the candidate's degree (a rough analog of the master's degree in the Anglophonic countries). Knorozov went to the army as an artillery spotter. He survived and in 1945, in a Berlin library he stumbled upon a book with the reproductions of three Mayan codices. He was intrigued and took the book. In 1946 he resumed his studies in Egyptology and started working on comparative cultural studied in Sinology. His thesis, however, was a work on shamanist practices. He visited Kazakhstan, where he participated in esoteric rituals of Sufis. The Sufist shaman, porkhan prophesied in trance, but his clairvoyance was, probably, insufficiently well trained and Yuri was slightly disappointed. At about this time, Yuri read a book by Paul Schellhas, title "The decipherment of the Mayan writings — an unsolvable problem?" The penultimate adjective sounded like an insult. He abandoned the studies of shamanism (the result was the break up with his professor, Sergey Tolstov). Fortunately, another professor, Sergey Tokarev, helped Knorozov and found a job at the Ethnographical Museum in Leningrad for him. The museum was founded as a personal museum of emperor Alexander III and there were enough rooms for the personnel. Knorozov lived in one such room.

In 1947, he finished his dissertation on the De Landa alphabet, a work of Diego De Landa, who recorded some Mayan symbols and proclaimed that he knew the phonetic meaning of these symbols. This "alphabet" was far from being a real alphabet, it was incomplete, contradictory and in some places just wrong. However, Knorozov was sure that it was the only real key to the Mayan writing system.

In 1952, he already had the first results of the decipherment and published a paper titled "The ancient writing system of Central America". In 1955, he was ready to defend his dissertation. The dissertation was titled simply "Relación de las Cosas de Yucatán as an ethno-historical source". Actually, it was the proof of the phonetic nature of the Mayan writing system. As Knorozov told later, when he went to the hearings, he didn't even know how it all might end. The problem was that one German wrote in the XIX century that the phonetic writings can only exist in the state societies. He also was sure that there were no states in the pre-Columbian America. The worst thing was that this German was Friedrich Engels, the alter ego of Karl Marx. The speech of Knorozov was 3.5 minutes long and after this speech he received not the candidate's degree, but the doctor's degree.

In 1956, Knorozov visited an international congress of American studies in Copenhagen, but after this congress till 1990 he was not allowed to leave the USSR. He didn't even know about the invitations sent to him by the foreign academic institutions. Fortunately, the Western scientists, like Michael Coe and David Kelly, quickly understood what was the problem and came to visit Knorozov in Leningrad. Of course, some scientists refused to accept Knorozov's work. Eric Thompson, the leading specialist in Maya studies since 1930s, whose many years of work were suddenly lost because of Knorozov, tried to convince other historians that his opponent's views are erroneous (has anybody got the text of his famous letter to Michael Coe?). However, even he had to accept the achievements of Knorozov later.

In the early 60s Knorozov was offered to participate in the development of a computer program that should translate Mayan writings. A group of computer programmers from Novosibirsk used his materials to build a database of the Mayan symbols. Some time later, they proclaimed that they have developed the "theory of decipherment" and published Knorozov's data as their own. They even presented these four volumes to Khrushchev. The specialists understood very well that there was nothing new in this "research", but the general public (including Khrushchev) was impressed. Probably, this story was the reason why Knorozov received the State Award of the USSR only in 1975.

The Mayan writings were not the only field of his research. He used the same methodology, called positional statistics, to study the Easter island writings, Harappan writing system, Mesoamerican writings, general semiotics, archaeoastronomy, shamanism and many other exotic areas. Knorozov also worked in social sciences. He maintained that the social systems have some crucial features that differentiate them from the biological systems. He worked on the theory of communication and the theory of collective. In 1973, he published an article "On the questions of the classification of signal systems" and insisted that it was co-authored by his cat, Asya (full name is Aspid, Russian for "asp") and her kitten, Fat Kys. He was a great cat lover and sometimes even confused his interlocutors by expressing his emotions with mewing :).

Yet another of his eccentricities was that he asked his colleagues to call him Don Jorge. Nobody dared to, though, not even foreign visitors.

Knorozov had his own theory on the peopling of Americas. In the early 1980s the generally accepted date of the earliest migrations was about 20,000 years ago. Knorozov was sure that 40,000 years is closer to the real date and every year organized expeditions to the Kuril islands to search for evidences that would support his theory.

In 1990, Knorozov for the first time was able to visit the land of Maya — Guatemala and Mexico. Later, since 1995, he came to Mexico some more times. In 1995 1994, he was awarded the Order of Aztec Eagle. In his speech, he said: "Mi corazón siempre es mexicano", "I am always a Mexican in my heart." (note the comments below, though)

Three volumes of his works were being in print in Mexico, the government of Guatemala planned to invite him to award another order, the Harvard University prepared the Proskuriakoff Award for him, when Yuri Valentinovich died of pneumonia on March 30, 1999, alone, in the corridor of one of the Leningrad hospitals. Now, the Center for Mesoamerican Studies in the Russian State University for the Humanities is called the Knorozov Center.


November 16 in Russian history

November 5 Old Style.


Peter I wrote in his diary: "Today we have layed the foundation of the Admiralty House and celebrated at an osteria. The length is 200 sazhen, the width is 100 sazhen." (One sazhen is 7 English feet, or 2.13 meters) The Admiralty House in St.Petersburg, now known as simply the Admiralty, was then a shipyard. Peter I dreamed of making Russia a naval power and a shipyard was one of the first steps towards this goal.

St.Petersburg was founded on May 27 (16 Old Style) 1703 and in the very first days Peter I and his aide Menshikov found a place for the shipyard. Even before it was founded, Peter I named it the Admiralty shipyard and this part of the city, located between rivers Neva and Moyka, was named the Admiralty island. The first plan was made by Peter himself and it is now stored at the Central Navy Archive. The Admiralty House consisted of a number of adjacent buildings, including forges, slipways, docks and various workshops, warehouses and administrative buildings. The slips were long enough to build ships up to 70 feet long.

In 1719, the first small tower was built. In 1727, Ivan Kuzmich Korobov was appointed the chief architect of the Admiralty. He restored the old buildings and built some new ones. Among other things, he built a new Admiralty tower. He prepared two projects of this tower and the empress Anna chose the one with a tall spire. The tower was ready by 1732-34 and in 1738 the last painting works were over. The building looked about the same way as it looks now. The spire had a golden weather vane in the form of a three-masted ship, which was modelled after the first frigate built by Peter I. The name of the author of this idea is not known, but the ship became one of the symbols of St.Petersburg.


Pepsi announced that they are about to begin producing and selling Pepsi Cola in USSR in exchange for the exclusive rights for the distribution of "Stolichnaya" vodka in the USA.

This was not the first time when Pepsi came to the USSR. In 1959, there was a huge national exhibition of the USA in Moscow. Donald Kendall, the president of Pepsi, was a good friend of Nixon, who was one of the organizers of the exhibition and asked him to do everything possible to make sure Nikita Khrushchev visits the stand with the Pepsi production. So, Kendall got a chance to demonstrate Pepsi to Khrushchev. Khrushchev was presented with two samples of Pepsi Cola, one was made in the USA and the other was made in Moscow especially for the exhibition. Of course, Khrushchev said that the second one was much better :).

Kendall did his best to get Pepsi to the new market. Tommy Thompson, the ambassador of the USA in the USSR, gave him two interesting ideas. First, said he, Russians don't like usual contracts, they prefer bartering. And second, they are just wild because of the "Smirnoff" vodka, which is sold in the USA. So, it was decided that Pepsi and the USSR will exchange vodka and Pepsi Cola, liter for liter. 10 factories were built in various Soviet cities to produce Pepsi Cola.

Well, where's Pepsi, there's Coca, of course. So, Coca's Austin was a friend of Jimmy Carter. Carter appointed him the chief of the American-Soviet trade council, replacing Kendall. To avoid the direct conflict with Pepsi, Coca was only allowed to produce Fanta in the USSR.

Soviet parents tried to save their wallets from the children, who asked for Pepsi Cola and Fanta. There wer scary rumours that a shaving razor, when put into Pepsi Cola, dissolves in one night. A similar story was told about a woman who by chance dropped a piece of meat into Pepsi and the meat turned into a jelly.


November 15 in Russian history


Yemelyan Pugachev was brought to Moscow in the iron cage. The leader of one of the most successful rebellions of Russian peasants was caught by his own mates on September 19 (September 8 Old Style) 1774 near river Bolshoy Uzén. The traitors took him to town Yaitsky Gorodók. Pugachev attempted to escape twice, but did not succeed. On September 25 he was given away to the soldiers. On September 28 he was interrogated personally by Alexander Suvorov, who was ordered to put an end to the rebellion after he helped Russia to win the first Russo-Turkish war. An iron cage was made to transport the rebel to Simbirsk (modern Ulyanovsk), so tight that the he couldn't straighten up. In Simbirsk Pugachev was tortured and he slandered himself. Later, in Moscow, Pugachev and some of his friends, Perfilyev, Shigayev, Podurov and Tornov, were sentenced to death. He was to be quartered, decapitated and his remains were to be burned. The empress Catherine secretly ordered the executor to decapitate Pugachev and other rebels before the quartering to decrease their suffering.


Captain Alexander Mozhaisky is granted the five-year "privilege" (patent) for an aircraft.

Mozhaisky was born in 1825. He was a naval officer and participated in the travel of frigate Diana to Japan in 1853-1855 and made the first description of the Aral Sea and river Amu-Darya in 1858. He began working on the heavier-than-air flying machine in 1876, but the first ideas were developed was early as in 1855, when Mozhaysky began to study the flight of birds and kites. In 1872 he deduced a formula of proportion between the rising force and the air drag for different attack angles, 11 years earlier than Otto von Lilienthal. In 1876 he built a large kite and flew on it. In the same year he built a flying model of the airplane, powered by a clock spring. The model carried 1 kilogram of cargo and flew with 5 m/sec speed.

In 1882, the airplane was ready. It was powered by a 10 horsepower steam engine, had a boat-fuselage, suitable for water-landing, three propellers and the steering system. It was the first flying machine with a fuselage. Mozhaisky also prepared a set of avionics devices: compass, speedometer, altimeter and the bombsight.

During the test, the airplane hopped into the air, but the wing was damaged during the take-off and after 20-30 meters it landed safely. Mozhaisky concluded that the power of the engine was not enough and decided to replace it with a more powerful model. He ordered two 15-kwt engines at the Obukhovo mechanical plant, but unfortunately, he died in 1890.

The exact plans of the airplane were lost, but the drafts found in the XX century, made it possible to reconstruct the machine. In 1979-1981, the specialists from TsAGI institute built a model of the Mozhaisky airplane, tested it and concluded that with a better engine, it could have flown.

Mammoth hunters' camp site found in Russia's Far East

Via Archaeblog

News agency Novosti reports

KHABAROVSK, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - Archaeologists have found a 15,000 year-old hunters' camp site from the Paleolithic era near Lake Evoron in Russia's Far East, a source in the Khabarovsk archaeology museum said on Monday.

"The site dates back to the end of the Ice Age, a period which is poorly studied" Andrei Malyavin, chief of the museum's archaeology department said. "That is why any new site from this period is a discovery in itself."

The site, found during a 2007 archaeological expedition to Lake Evoron, is the largest of four Stone Age sites, discovered near the Amur River so far, and was most likely established by mammoth hunters.

"We came to this conclusion after studying flint pikes, arrowheads and a stone scraper," Malyavin said, adding that a comprehensive archaeological excavation could take a couple of years.

In 2006, archaeologists discovered an Iron Age burial mound around 2,500 years old containing a unique fragment from an iron dagger, which had been preserved in the Amur Region's acidic soil.

Map of Lake Evoron at Google Maps


Russia and Finland agree on recovery of Vrouw Maria

On October 9, 1771, a Dutch ship Vrouw Maria sank in the Baltic Sea, near the banks of south-western Finland. The ship's cargo included, among other things, works of art bought by the empress Catherine the Great in Amsterdam: silverware, etchings, paintings, including some works by Rembrandt. The paintings were packed into soldered waterproof lead containers and they may still be intact. In 1771, Finland was a part of Sweden, and Russia attempted to reach an agreement with the Swedish authorities and to recover the lost treasures, but the talks failed.

In 1999, the ship was found by Finnish explorers. For some time the discoverers attempted to get the permission from the government of Finland to recover at least something, but the permission was not granted and the cargo was proclaimed the property of Finland.

However, due to the insufficient financing, the Finnish government did not start the salvage works at the site of the wreck. Recently, Russian Ministry of Culture together with Swedish partners offered to launch the joint operation to rescue the ship's cargo, since the hull, still almost intact by now, is slowly falling apart and the treasures may be lost.

Today, the Finnish News Agency STT has reported that "Finland and Russia have reached an agreement on the lifting and restoration of the Vrouw Maria" and adds that the proposal includes a plan to turn the ship into a floating museum, which will sail between the ports of the Baltic sea.

Russian newspaper Noviye Izvestiya has a somewhat longer story, but it's in Russian.

Read more on Vrouw Maria:

The Vrouw Maria of 1771 – An example of documentary research

Wreck of the Vrouw Maria

Wikipedia: Vrouw Maria

Video made by the divers who found Vrouw Maria


Russian history 48. Joining the appanage duchies

Ivan III continued to annex the appanages to his lands. The remaining little principalities around Yaroslavl and Rostov that were still independent, pledged their obedience to Muscovy and promised to serve him. Having become the servants of the grand knyaz of Moscow, they retained their lands, but these lands were not the appanages anymore, they lost the last signs of independence and became simple patrimonies, votchinas. They were the private owners of these lands, and the grand knyaz was their Gosudar. So, all the little principalities were subjugated by Muscovy, only Tver and Ryazan remained relatively free. These "grand principalities" that once opposed Muscovy, were now weak. The last knyazes of Ryazan, brothers Ivan and Fyodor, were nephews of Ivan III (sons of his sister Anna). Neither their mother, nor themselves never expressed their disagreement with Ivan III and he was, as a matter of fact, the actual ruler of Ryazan. Fyodor died childless and bequeathed his half of the principality to Muscovy. The second brother, Ivan, also died young, but he had a little son, Ivan, whose regents were his grandmother and her brother Ivan III. Ryazan was now fully controlled by Muscovy. The knyaz of Tver Mikhail Borisovich also submitted to Ivan III. The army of Tver accompanied the Muscovites during the campaign against Novgorod. Later, in 1484-1485, their relations deteriorated and Mikhail allied with Lithuania, hoping to achieve protection from Muscovy. Having learnt of these contacts between Mikhail and Lithuania, Ivan III started a war against Tver and won. Mikhail escaped to Lithuania, and Tver was incorporated by Muscovy in 1485. The process of the re-unification of Russia was over.

This policy of the unification also attracted the knyazes who ruled the lands that belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Knyazes Vyazemskies, Odoyevskies, Novosilskies, Vorotynskies and others left their knyaz and became servants of the Ivan III. This transition became one of the reasons why the knyazes of Muscovy considered themselves to be the lords of all the Russian lands, including those belonging to Lithuania. These lands, in their opinion, had to join the united Rus.


Russian history 47. Subjugation of Novgorod the Great and the Novgorod lands

We have seen in chapter 27 that in the struggle between the "better" people and the "smaller" people was typical for the political life of Novgorod in the last years. This enmity often grew into open feuds, weakened the principality and made it an easy prey for the mighty neighbors — Muscovy and Lithuania. All knyazes of Muscovy attempted to bring Novgorod under their control and waged wars which ended usually with their victories and contributions payed by Novgorod. When Vasily the Dark defeated Shemyaka (see chapter 45), Shemyaka fled to Novgorod. Vasily seized the city and forced the Novgorodians to pledge obedience to Moscow. These attacks of the Moscow knyazes made Novgorod to seek protection from the Lithuanian knyazes. Lithuania, on the other hand, also did their best to subjugate Novgorod and to make them pay contributions and provided little assistance against Moscow. The Novgorodians came to the conclusion that their position between two strong enemies will not give them any chances to retain the independence and that only a permanent alliance with one of these neighbors might provide for the continuation of the Novgorod as a state. Two parties were formed in Novgorod: one of them proposed an agreement with Muscovy, the other one — with Lithuania. The former party included mostly the "smaller" people — peasants, workers, craftsmen and small merchants, while the latter party was supported by the aristocracy and rich merchants. For the "smaller" people an alliance with catholic Lithuania meant a betrayal of their religion. Boyars, led by the family of Borétskies, strived to keep the old state of Novgorod which Muscovy was to destroy. After Vasily the Dark captured Novgorod, the support of the pro-Lithuanian party grew. In 1471 Novgorod, led by the Borétskies, signed a treaty with the knyaz of Lithuania and the king of Poland Kazimierz, son of Jogaila. Kazimierz promised to protect Novgorod from Moscow, to appoint his deputy in Novgorod and to observe the liberties of the city.

When Moscow learned of the treaty, it was seen as a treason of the grand knyaz, the orthodox faith and the Russian people. Ivan III wrote a letter to Novgorod, asking them to reconsider their decision. When they refused to, he gathered a council of military, official and religious leaders of Rus, read them a list of the misdemeanours of Novgorod and asked the council whether he should start the war immediately or wait for the winter, when rivers and moors would freeze, to alleviate the military actions. The council decided not to wait. The campaign was organized as a religious war. The chronicles said that as Dimitri withstood godless Mamay, so knyaz Ivan went against these converts from the Orthodoxy to Catholicism. The Muscovite army under the commandment of knyaz Daniil Holmsky entered the Novgorod principality along some routes. One group defeated the Novgorod army on the banks of lake Ilmen. Another group crushed the main Novgorod forces on river Shélon. Boretsky was caught and executed. The road to Novgorod was opened and Lithuania did not help. The Novgorodians had to ask Ivan to forgive them. They promised to abandon the attempts to ally with Lithuania, to sign eternal union with Moscow and to pay a huge sum of 15½ thousand rubles. Ivan returned to Moscow and the old feuds resumed in Novgorod. The citizens of Novgorod began to send complaints to Ivan III to Moscow and in 1475 he returned to Novgorod to dispense justice. Since he had no reasons to assist the aristocrats, the Novgorodians began coming to Moscow every years to ask Ivan for justice. During one of these visits, two Novgorod officials addressed Ivan III as Gosudár, while earlier he was always titled Gospodín. The difference was huge. In the old Russian language, gosudar meant "master, owner". This word was used by servants to address their master. Gospodin, on the other hand, was just an honorary title given by free people to other free people. So, the Novgorodians called their own city "Gospodín Veliky Novgorod" (Lord Great Novgorod). Ivan III used this occasion to put an end to the liberties of Novgorod. His ambassadors came to Novgorodians and asked what did they want from Ivan III by calling him their gosudar. When the Novgorodians replied that nobody gave these officials the right to recognize Ivan as their master, Ivan accused them of lying and besieged the city. He demanded for obedience and proclaimed that the Novgorod state will be based on the same principles as Muscovy: there would be no more locally elected posadniks and no more veche. In January 1478 Novgorod had to agree to these terms. The bell that used to call the people to veche was taken to Moscow. The family of Boretskies and their head, widow of the posadnik Marfa Boretskaya (Martha the Mayoress, Marfa Posadnitsa), who was thought to be the leader of the anti-Moscow party, were also taken to Moscow. After the city all other Novgorod lands were also brought under the rule of Moscow. Of all these lands, only Vyatka dared to oppose Ivan III, but in 1489 the army led by knyaz Daniil Shchenyátya seized Vyatka.

In the first year after the subjugation of Novgorod, Ivan's rule was peaceful. However, a year later, when Novgorod attempted to return their independence, Ivan captured their archbishop Theophil (or Theophilos, Feofilos) and sent him to Moscow. Archbishop Sergius was put in his place. Many boyars were executed, even more were removed from Novgorod to the east, to the lands of Muscovy. Gradually, all the "better" people were removed from the city. Their lands were distributed between the servants of Ivan III settling in Novgorod lands. The life of the "smaller" people turned significantly better and they welcomed the changes brought by the knyaz of Moscow. They were organized into peasant communities typical for Muscovy. When Ivan III sent the German merchants away from Novgorod, the trade between Novgorod and Europe, which layed the foundation to the independence of Novgorod, dropped to zero. Pskov retained a certain degree of the independence for some more time, but demonstrated the obedience to Muscovy.


November 9 in Russian history


Gleb Kotelnikov patented the first knapsack parachute.

Gleb Yevgenyevich Kotelnikov was born in 1872 in St.Petersburg. His father was a mathematician, a teacher of math and physics. His mother was a daughter of a serf peasant. She was a good painter and singer. Gleb, probably, inherited her artistic inclinations. He sang and played violin. On the other hand, he was a fencer and liked working with mechanical devices. In 1894 he graduated from the Kiev military school of artillery. He was in the military service till 1910, when he understood that he always dreamed of an artistic career and went to St.Petersburg to become an actor. He joined the company of the theatre Narodny Dom.

These were the years of the dawn of aviation. Aeroplanes and air shows were very visited by thousands of people, the pilots were more popular than artists. Kotelnikov was also interested in aviation. In September 1910, on one of these air shows, Kotelnikov became a witness of the death of captain Matsiyevich, whose aeroplane fell apart at the altitude of 400 meters. Kotelnikov was so deeply impressed by the event that he recalled the lessons of his father and began contemplating on the devices that could save the life of the pilot.

The umbrella-like parachutes used by early ballooners, like Blanchard and Garnerin, were unusable in the tiny cockpits of the aeroplanes. Something else had to be invented. Once Kotelnikov saw how a woman produced from her doll-bag a huge shawl made of thin silk. It gave him and idea and in some days he made a model. A toy man had a helmet with a dome-like parachute inside. Kotelnikov took his eleven year old son and they went to their suburban house, where they tested the system. It worked perfectly. However, when he calculated the size of the parachute necessary to save a man should be no less than 7.5 meters in diameter (50.7 m2). It was too much for a helmet. Curiously enough, this helmet scheme was patented in Germany in 1919.

Finally, Kotelnikov came up with the idea of the knapsack parachute. He made a metal knapsack where the parachute was located on a shelf supported by two springs, which had to push the parachute away when released. Kotelnikov also invented an effective and safe suspension system with suspension lines and risers, which provided a way to control the descent. The edge of the canopy was enforced with a metal wire, which helped the canopy to open faster.

The military officials, though, were quite sceptical about the invention. Some of them said that the pilots legs will be torn away at the moment the canopy opens. Others argued that the system was not reliable. The model tests were not convincing and in summer 1912 Kotelnikov built a full-scale model, named RK-1. The military "specialists" refused to test the parachute on a aeroplane, insisting that the aeroplane would go out of control after the jump. Finally, Kotelnikov convinced them, but prior to the final tests, he decided to check if the parachute is strong enough. He attached it to a car and used it to halt the running machine. It gave him an idea to used the parachute as an emergency brake for cars and aeroplanes, but the aviation "specialists" ridiculed him out and he didn't claim this patent.

At last, in June 1912, in a village named Salizi, near from Gatchina, a 76-kilogram mannequin survived a number of tests when released from an aerostate at various altitudes. On October 9, the first tests from an aeroplane were held. In spite of this success, the Russian air forces refused to use the invention. In January 1913, Kotelnikov's business partner, half-Russian, half-German Wilhelm Augustovich Lomach, presents the parachute at a competition in France. A Russian student Ossovsky jumped with the parachute from a 53-meter high bridge and landed safely. The jump was repeated several times. Kotelnikov could not attend the competition and Lomach used the opportunity to sell the two test parachutes to an unknown country. Since mid-1913, the copies of the RK-1 were already widely used in Europe.

During the WWI the Russian government finally decided to order a large lot of RK-1. In 1923 Kotelnikov modernized his parachute and patented RK-2. Then came RK-3 with the soft knapsack. In 1924 he made RK-4 for cargo. In 1926 Gleb Kotelnikov presented all his inventions to the Soviet government.

During the WWII, Kotelnikov lived in Leningrad, where he survived the blockade. He moved to Moscow, where he died on November 22, 1944. The village Salizi, where the first test took place, was renamed in 1949 to Kotelnikovo.

Russian history 46. Grand knyaz Ivan III Vasilyevich, significance of his rule

The heir of Vasily the Dark was his son, Ivan Vasilyevich. Vasily had made Ivan his co-ruler and gave him the title of the grand knyaz before Vasily died. Having grown up in the hard times, clever boy became experienced in politics. When he became the knyaz, his lands were surrounded by other Russian principalities: Novgorod, Tver, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Ryazan. He subjugated them either by force or by peaceful agreements and in the end of his rule Rus only bordered with other peoples: Swedes, Germans, Lithuanians, Mongols. In the early years, Ivan was one of many Russian knyazes. Now that he put them under his rule, he became the lord of the whole nation. His politics inevitably had to change from feudal to national.

This change made him oppose the old system of appanage and vassalage. He limited the rights of lesser rulers. In his will, he left the throne to his elder son Vasily and gave nothing to the younger sons, making them simple aristocrats in the service of the grand knyaz. This was the politics of monocracy, when the grand knyaz was the single ruler of all the people, including other knyazes and boyars. The monocracy led to the changes in his court. The growing importance of the grand knyaz had to be expressed in pompous rituals, multiple titles and ranks of the servants, various symbols of the lord's power.

The foreign politics had also changed. Rus was totally liberated from the Mongolian occupation. The defensive attitude towards the expansion of Lithuania was replaced by active politics. Ivan III claimed the Russian lands that were ruled by Lithuania since Gediminas. He also led active politics against the Livonian Order.

The unification of the Northern Rus was started under Dimitri Donskoy (Dimitri of Don) and finished under Ivan III. So, Ivan III may be named the founder of Muscovy.


Some more on November 7

Radio Libery recently ran a program on the celebration of the anniversary of the revolution of 1917 (see the full transcript if you can read Russian). This day was quite special in the USSR, not only as a historical date, but also as a milestone, a line drawn to calculate the preliminary results of the year. To fulfil the annual plan by this date was a matter of pride for every director of an enterprise or a kolkhoz, every party official planned a pompous and symbolic event. I prepared a random selection of events that happened on November 7 in various years. Some of these events were taken from the RL program.


Lenin opens a concrete memorial plaque on the Red Square: "To those who fell in struggle for peace and brotherhood of nations". He also opens a monument to Marx and Engels. In the evening he speaks at the concert for the Cheka officials:

No wonder that we hear attacks on Cheka from both enemies and friends. […] It is important for us that Cheka puts into practice the dictatorship of the proletariat. There is no other way to liberation of the masses but the violent oppression of the exploters.

Premiere of "Mysteria-Buff" by Mayakovsky in Petrograd. In Tsaritsyn, 152 White Guard soldiers and officers were executed as a revenge for the murder of a worker.


"Pravda" newspaper publishes the article "Economy and politics in the age of the dictatorship of the proletariat" by Lenin. Trotsky, awarded with the Order of the Red Banner reports of the liberation of the city Gdov.


The Red Army begins attack of the positions of the White Guard in Crimea. The first electic power plant opened in the city Ust'-Sysolsk (where's it?). Vladimir Dzhunkovsky, former general-governor of Moscow, sentenced to the imprisonment in a concentration camp till the end of the Civil war, is "amnestied". He is released from the camp and sentenced to 5 years of the non-free labor. In 1937 he will be arrested again and in 1938 — executed.


Lenin publishes the article "On the meaning of gold now and after the victory of socialism", where he promises that "when we win all over the world, I think, we will make gold lavatories on the streets of some large cities." In the evening, Lenin attended a ballet where Isadora Duncan danced under "The Internationale" and shouted: "Bravo, bravo, miss Duncan!" In Crimea, The All-Crimean Constituent Congress of the Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Soldiers' and Sailors' Deputies begins.


The Moscow Comintern radiotelephone station begins work. The Far Eastern Republic is abolished. Trotsky commented: "Russia has got back the road to the Pacific."


The OGPU (the new name of Cheka) presents a report to the Politbureau of the Communist Party, where they ascertain that "the economic position of the workers has deteriorated", the influence of the anti-Soviet elements has increased, the workers are discontent because the bureaucrats have better food supply, the peasants starve.


OGPU reports that "one of the recent achievements was the introduction of agents among the clergy and religious citizens. The number of spies in Russia has increased by 6 times in 1924. […] Also, one thousand of agents among the clerics were prepared who are ready to convert to atheism at any moment."


In the end of November OGPU reported of the strikes: "In November, there were 11 strikes among the metallurgy workers, where 944 people participated (in the last year there were 10 strikes and 616 participants. […] The number of strikes among the textile workers has increased from 9 in October to 10 in November, the number of participants grew from 347 to 2535."


The emigrant pro-Kerensky newspaper "Dni" congratulates the readers: "One year less till the liberation of Russia!"


The Communist opposition protests afte Trotsky was expelled by the Central Committee. The demonstrators were dispersed by force. "The sortie of the opposition has failed", wrote the newspaper Izvestiya.


Stalin writes in "Pravda": "We are becoming the country of metal, automobiles, tractors. And when the put the USSR in a car and the peasants in a tractor, may the venerable capitalists try to catch up with us!"


The first automatic kerosene dispenser installed at a kerosene booth in Moscow. It was broken on the same day, dismantled and taken away.


10 astronomers of the Pulkovo observatory are arrested. Nikolay Kozyrev was found guilty in the following crimes: he was a proponent of the theory of the universe expansion, thinks that Yesenin is a good poet and Dunayevsky is a bad composer, disagrees with the opinion of Engels that "Newton was an inductive ass". Kozyrev was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was released 5 years later. Three of these astronomers were executed.


During the anniversary banquet Stalin says: "Anyone who encroaches by his actions and thoughts — yes, thoughts! — upon the unity of the proletarian state, will be ruthlessly destroyed!"


Marshal Blukher was killed when interrogated by Cheka. "Pravda" and "Izvestiya" publish the article "Night over Europe" by Ilya Erenburg, where he writes about the inability of the European countries to oppose fascism. Soon, when the relations between USSR and the Nazi Germany changed, the article was banned.


Vyacheslav Molotov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, says: "The rulers of Poland were proud of the stability of their country and the might of their army. However, one blow of the German army, and then the Red Army, was enough get rid of this abnormal child of the Versailles treaty, that lived by exploiting the people of other nations."


Stalin is proclaimes the honorary citizen of Budapest, as a sign of gratitude for the liberation of fascism.


During the military parade, the Soviet wonder, 20-meter long, 420mm mortar is demonstrated. The Western engineers were sure that this was a fake gun. In some way, they were right. It worked, but the mass production turned out to be impossible.


The first color TV broadcast — the anniversary parade.


A group of Moscow art students tear and throw away the red flag from a building. Perhaps, they were just mhaving fun, but they were sent down from the college. In Uralsk, in the night someone poured tincture of valerian on the tribune on the city square. In the morning, when the demonstrations had to begin, the tribune was surrounded by hordes of stray cats. The celebration was cancelled.

November 7 in Russian history at ExecutedToday.com

Sean Guillory who runs Sean's Russia Blog has discovered a new blog, called ExecutedToday.com. Here's a quote from the About page:
Executed Today is a blog of history, sociology, biography, criminology, law, and kismet — an unrepresentative but arresting view of the human condition across time and circumstance from the parlous vantage of the scaffold.
So what is it?
Executed Today is a daily chronicle — each day the story of an historical execution that took place on this date, and the story behind it.
Today's article is about Richard Sorge, famous Soviet spy who worked in Germany, China and Japan, provided invaluable information on the German and Japanese military plans and was executed together with his assistant Hotsumi Ozaki on November 7, 1944 in Japan. A great article and a very interesting blog.

November 7 in Russian history

Contributed by Mosquito:


I really didn't want but I have just watched new Russian movie "1612" and I simply had to write about it ;)

On November 7 in 1612 Polish garrison in Moscow surrendered what marked the end of Polish occupation of Russia and became national holiday in Russia.

The story is so long and so complicated that I'm not sure where to start. It would be probable best to start from begining and im going to use one of my older articles about this event.

The story begins in the palace of Adam Wisniowiecki (powerful and rich Polish magnate) in 1603 in his private baths. The legend, probably false, tells us that one of the servants of Wisniowiecki was doing everything wrong what made his lord angry. Usually in such situations nobles were slapping faces of their servants and that was also what Wisniowiecki did. But his servant said that if his lord knew whom is slapping, he would never dare to slap his face. So Wisniowiecki asked his servant who the hell he think he is. The answer amazed him. Servant said that his name is Dimitri and that he is a son of Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. But majority of historians rather think that Dimitri came to Wisniowiecki and asked for support.

After death of Ivan the Terrible the power was held by regent Boris Godunov. It is said that he has killed the sons of the tsar because wanted to be the tsar himself. It is not sure if Wisniowiecki's servant was really the son of tsar or not. Historians are still quarrelling about it.

But Wisniowiecki was pleased knowing that his servant is the righteous tsar of Russia. Polish nobles were very eccentric people. They liked everything what was strange, unusual and rare. They often kept on their courts dwarfs, unique cripples, sometimes even african animals such like for example giraffes. Everything what could have amaze their neighbours or make them envy was most wanted. First thought of Adam Wisniowiecki was probably "Wow! i have tsar of russia, noone in my province can have better pet than this". When Wisniowiecki told his friend, voivod Mniszech about his tsar, Mniszech invented plan to invade Russia and make Dimitri really a tsar. For making Dimitri tsar of Russia they demanded huge areas of Russia, a lot of cities, titles and affcourse a mountains of gold. This was especially important for Mniszech who although powerful and senator of Polish Republic, was completely ruined. The daughter of voivod, Maryna Mniszech was supposed to marry with Dimitr and to become new Russian empress. Dimitri together with Wisniowiecki and Mniszech started recruiting men for campaign. Thousands of poor and landless Polish nobles were coming to join them, after them came Cossacks from Ukraine and even Tatars. Bandits and infamis'es, criminals of all types, unemployed mercenaries. Everyone who had only life to loose, wanted to get the gold of Russia. The army finally had 5000 soldiers, maybe undisciplined but experienced. One can say, that 5000 against all Russia is not much. But in this case was enough.

Dimitri, Wisniowiecki and Mniszech were afraid of defeat before they entered Russia. When were crossing Ukraine were in danger that another powerful noble Janusz Ostrogski will attack their army with his private forces, because Ostrogski was their enemy and didnt like the idea of their expedition (in fact like the good enemy he didn't like any of their ideas). But finally without being attacked they achieved Russian border and felt safe, at least from other Poles. Russian cities were surrendering on their way. Finally tsar Boris Godunov sent against them his army under command of prince Mscislavski but Poles obliterated them. Later there was a second battle which nobles lost, were routed and almost disintegrated but reformed after getting news about death of tsar Boris Godunov. All Russian garrisons were surrendering and joining to puppet tsar Dimitri, who finally entered Moscow and crowned himself. It was year 1605 AD. Maryna Mniszech became his wife and empress. After their success even more of poor Poles and cossaks came to Russia to invaders. But Poles and cossacks didn't come to Russia for fun. In other words, they were raping thousands of women, murdering thousands of people, plundering, pillaging and burning russian cities and villages. Most of them didn't want to stay there with Dimitri and Maryna, their plan was to come back to Poland rich, very rich. Behaviour of Poles and of Dimitri who was doing moreless the same what his Polish friends raised rebelious moods between Russian boyars and paesantry. The plot was started by boyar Vasili Shuisky. He leaded the people of Moscow, boyars and paesants against Poles, killed many of them and murdered tsar. The empress Maryna Mniszech and most of the Poles who were in Moscow were imprisoned. Vasili Shuisky made himself new Tsar.

Dimitri Tsar of All Russia was dead. Polish nobles decided that if they cant have old Dimitri, they must make new one. They picked russian named Ivan Bolotnikov and claimed that it is their old Dimitri who haven't been killed in Moscow but escaped. As Polish commander Stanislav Zolkiewski wrote "Second Dimitri didn't even look similar to first Dimitri. The only thing in which they were similar was that they both were men".

This time even more Poles came to Moscow and even more powerful nobles joined to second false Dimitri. Tsar Vasili IV (Vasily Shuisky) send all his armies against the Poles. It was year 1608. The private army gathered by Roman Rozynski defeated the army of Tsar Shuisky in the battle of Wolohov and marched toward Moscow. Next in the battle of Khodynka another Russian army, commanded by prince Skopin Shuisky (relative of tsar) was obliterated. Tsar Vasili IV wanted to make peace. As a gesture of good will, he released empress Maryna, her father Jerzy Mniszech and all the Poles he had. He sent Russian troops and ordered them to escort "empress", her father and Poles to the border of Polish-Lithuanian Republic. On the way they were caught by some Polish ruffiants who were pillaging countryside and brought to the main polish camp. Here all the people wittnessed a romantic scene. Maryna recognised "second Dimitri" as her original husband. In echange for 300.000 rubles in gold and 14 castles in Russia Jerzy Mniszech also recognised him as his old son in law. The private armies of false Dimitri and Polish nobles started siege of Moscow. During the siege situation has changed. The parliament of Republic and the king declared war against Russia. Royal army under command of hetman Zolkiewski left Poland and marched toward Moscow. It caused great disorder in all the private armies that were besieging Moscow. Their "excursion" was illegal, their puppet tsar was unwanted. Nobles were afraid for their lifes and soon started deserting and joining to the royal army. King of Poland wanted to make a tsar himself. False Dimitri fled from Polish camp. In 1610 Zolkiewski and his royal army of 7000 soldiers in the battle of Klushino defeated joined armies of Russians and Swedes (all together 35000 soldiers) because Swedes also wanted to get part of Russia. Considering Poland as more dangerous enemy they offered their help to Russians. But after Russian/Swedish defeat, there was nothing between Polish Royal army and Moscow which Zolkiewski captured.

The nobles and their army were panicked. It was looking like that they are the next target of Zolkiewski and king's army. Polish official army and private armies of Polish nobles were about to start the fight one against each other. In this moment one of the most influent leaders of "private army" Piotr Sapieha surrendered and offered his own services together with all his men to Zolkiewski. The private war was over. Prince Wladislaw (later king Wladislaw IV of Poland), son of Polish king was crowned for Tsar of Russia (in absentia, he wasnt in Moscow). Garrison of about 7000 soldiers was left in the city under command of oficer Aleksander Gosiewski. The rest of Polish army left. Polish soldiers in Moscow were left alone and not payed. Part of them revolted and as well as commander Gosiewski left the city and marched back toward Polish border, pillaging and looting everything on their way. About 4000-5000 soldiers was still in the city. The people of Moscow started to rebel and more were coming from the rest of Russia to join them. One of the survivors of Polish garrison wrote: "Only in Kitajgrod (one of the disctrics of Moscow) we killed 6000-7000 rebeliants". Poles controlled Cremlin castle and area around it. In the begining of September small Polish army arrived but wasnt able to fight its way trough the city. After bloody battle Hetman Karol Chodkiewicz retreated. He had not enough infantry and his cavalry, so succesful on the battlefield, proved to be unable to fight on the streets, being an easy target for people of Moscow. Starved Polish garrison was left without any help. From the survivors we know about the horror which took place in besieged Cremlin and its area. First the defenders have eaten their horses, next dogs, cats and in the end even rats became rare. Russians were attacking often, defenders had no more gunpowder. Polish soldiers were in the nights leaving castle and hounting for besieging Russians, capturing them, taking back to Cremlin and eating. Finally when became to weak they started to eat their servants and even their commrades. One of the survivors wrote : "Truszkowski, lieutenant, has eaten his two sons, there was also another soldier who eat his son, whoever was able was hunting for people to kill and eat them". Another wrote: "One of the soldiers wanted to surrender his post, was tried for treason, executed and we have eaten him".

On the 1st November Poles were forced to retreat to Cremlin. On the 3rd November Polish commanders decided to surrender. 3 days later they negotiated the conditions of capitulation. Russians sweared to not kill Polish soldiers and to treat them well. After surrender captured Poles were divided on 2 groups. One was given to Cossacks and another to prince Pozharski. All those left under cossack control were tortured and murdered in the terrible ways for many days. The rest was dieing from hunger and disases, some survived and were released after 7 years. One unit was lucky, sent ouside Moscow was liberated by unit of Polish cossacks.

I know that this article is too short and that many things were not described. And don't forget that it is only one of many ways to describe those events.