Lenin Jugend is 90

So, komsomol, aka VLKSM, is 90 years old. This time I will not write about history. I will leave this task to Sean's Russia Blog. Sean will do it better, he's not burdened by recollections. I have never been in komsomol. I can't say it was obligatory in mid-1980s, but not being a komsomol member was uncommon, not to say more. It usually brought an unpleasant surprise and suspicion. Like, if he's not in komsomol, he must have done something very bad. I didn't. On the contrary, I was a "political observer" in school. Worse than that, I was one of the best ones (I think I mentioned it before). To a certain degree, I was a problem for the school's administration. They pressed me to join VLKSM, but I kept kicking over the traces. Once, they lured me to a komsomol meeting. "It's an open meeting, and we've got something we want to discuss", they said. Okay. So, I came there and fifteen minutes I found out with surprise that they are talking about admitting me! Frantically, I tried to think something up to avoid it. And then a lucky star shone on me. A girl decided to ask me: "Tell us, why do you want to join the komsomol?" "Do I?" "Ah, so, he doesn't want to be with us, so let him go!" everybody shouted.

That was the end of my career in komsomol. Sometimes I think that that girl was too smart to make this mistake. I think she knew very well what I thought about komsomol and simply gave me a chance. If so, I thank her.

Some years later, when I graduated from school, I learned that a whole gang of the school's komsomol leaders were detained for robbing freight trains. I have no idea what happened to them, but I thought there was some logic in it.

On the other hand, my beloved wife was also a komsomol leader in her school. And I believe she was a good leader, fair and honest.

In the meanwhile, Lenin Jugend enjoy themselves: Russians remember Soviet youth organization on anniversary. And a blogging lady, one of the higher officials of modern komsomol, wrote about the convention:

On this day, all they gather in one hall: governors and ministers, former governors and former ministers, oligarchs and pensioners, functionaries and managers, bankers and scientists, cosmonauts and engineers, left and right, red, white and blue polka dotted, and all they extol the organization that made them real people.


There's something mystical when bankers and oligarchs, highest officials and people of power come to the stage and with fiery eyes, in a voice trembling from tears, talk about the battles for the Soviet power, about feats of labor, about the tents on the construction site of the Bratsk power station... Today all they are the veterans of komsomol.

I assume, some of those gonzels from my school might shed their tears on this feast, too. They would feel at home.

October 29 in Russian history. Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin.

Today, the Olympic Committee of Russia celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first gold Olympic medal for Russia.


Nikolay Aleksandrovich Panin-Kolomenkin won the Olympic gold medal in special figures (figure skating) in London.

Nikolay Kolomenkin was born in a village in Voronezh oblast in 1871. Skating was a common entertainment in Russian villages and Nikolay liked it. In 1882 his parents divorced and his mother took him to St.Petersburg. He graduated from the physical and mathematical faculty of the St.Petersburg University, worked in a state institution, continued skating and was interested in cycling. In 1897 he participated in a skating competition, but was not successful. To prepare for the next competition, he began training. He tied towels around his feet to enhance the balance. In the same year he became the champion of St.Petersburg, but by that time he chose to get a nom de plume (or, rather, nom de patin), Nikolay Panin.

Since 1901, Nikolay participated in championships of Russia and became the champion in 1901, 1902, 1903, 1905 and 1907. In 1903, when St.Petersburg celebrated its 200th anniversary, the International Skating Union decided to hold the world championship in the Russian capital. Panin competed with such famous skaters like the world champion Ulrich Salchow from Sweden, ex-champion Gilbert Fuchs from Germany, champion of Austria Max Bohatsch and champion of Germany Ernst Lassahn. Salchow became the new world champion and Panin won the silver medal.

In February 1908, before the Olympic games, Panin became the winner of the Alexander Panshin Cup in St.Petersburg, besting Salchow for the first time.

The 1908 Summer Olympic games were held in London, from 27 April till 31 October. The Games were longer in those years. The Winter Olympic games did not exist in 1908, but the interest to the figure skating was so high that this sport was included in the program of the Summer games. The figure skating was scheduled on 28-29 October. Besides Salchow and Panin, among the participants there were Heirich Burger, who had won the silver medals of two world championships, Per Thorén, bronze medal winner, Geoffrey Hall-Say and Arthur Cumming, two outstanding British skaters. During the compulsory figures competition on 28 October, Panin performed very well, but the results were disappointing:

Results/Referee Grenader, Britain Horle, Sweden Hügel, Switzerland Sanders, Russia Wendt, Germany

Salchow loudly commented every movement of Panin and after a little scandal he was issued an official warning by the referees. Referees from Sweden and Switzerland (Hügel was a good friend of Salchow) gave only the fourth place to Panin, trying to push him further from the first place. Protesting against the bias, Panin refused to participate in the free skate program.

On 29 October, the sportsmen competed in compulsory figures. They presented the drawings of the figures they planned to demonstrate to the referees. The figures presented by Panin were so complicated that the some referees deemed them impossible. Salchow announced he would not take part in this part of the program and Panin became the champion with the best result in the history of compulsory figures: 219 points out of 240 possible.

Ironically, Panin-Kolomenkin never thought that he was a figure skater first of all. His favorite sports was handgun shooting. In eleven years (1907-1917) he was the self-perpetuating champion of Russia in the revolver shooting. And even in 1928, when he was 57 years old, he won the handgun shooting on the Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR (a kind of Olympic-like games, but not restricted to professional sportsmen, which was practiced in the USSR).

In 1915-1917 Panin-Kolomenkin was the head of the National Olympic Committee of Russia. In 1919-1930 he worked in some state financial institutions. Since 1930 he became a trainer in figure skating. During the War he was also a trainer, but not in sports. He taught guerilla war to the Soviet partisans. After the war he returned to the Lesgaft institute of physical culture and sports in Leningrad. Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin died in 1956.

Update @2008-10-29 14:22:33: A bit too late, I found a longer and a better article about Nikolay Panin: History of figure skating: Nikolay Kolomenkin. This is an excerpt telling the same story:

October 1908, London. Russia is represented by wrestlers A.Petrov, N.Orlov, G.Demin, E.Zamyatin and the only figure skater N.Panin. Among the participants in figure skating were seven time world champion and six time European champion Ulrich Salchow (Sweden), two time silver World medallist, silver and bronze European medallist Henry Burger (Germany), bronze World and European medallist Per Turen (Sweden), Irwin Brown (USA), Nicolai Panin, Arthur Cumming and John Hall-Say (Great Britain). Figure skating competition was included in the Olympic Games program for the first time. "Princess Hall", a covered London skating rink with artificial ice was chosen for its holding. Hardly could the Russian athlete, who recently defeated Salchow, perform the second compulsory figure - "the eight" -as the Swedish athlete shouted: - It's not "the eight"! It's curved! It was a lie. "The eight" was excellent. So, here is the psychological attack, - Panin thought. - Well, Mister Salchow, let's see if I swallow your bait. When Panin was performing his next figure Salchow shouted out: - He is not in a good shape! He can't do anything! And this time the judge still kept silence. Nicolai Panin protested. The Swedish athlete was reproved. One should see what followed then! The Swedish figure skater insulted and threatened Panin in reply. Finally Salchow was put into his proper place. This made him angry and he lost his control. As a result the Swedish athlete was not in his best form when performing some first figures. German judges Veldt and Sanders put Panin on the first place, Swedish judge Grenander put him on the second and Herle and Hugel, a Salchow's close friend, put the Russian athlete on the fourth place. The protest of the Russian team was left without attention. Panin declared then that he was not going to perform his free program: he didn't expect fair marks from Hugel and Herle. Then George Sanders, the Russian judge and a friend of Panin interfered. He managed to persuade Panin that the case with judges wouldn't repeat because Ulrich Salchow and Henri Brokau left the competition, as they understood how worthless it would be to continue. When Nicolai Panin was performing the last and the most difficult figure, "impracticable" according to the newspapers one could hear the stormy applause from the judges' box. His result was the best. Having gained 218 points Panin became the Olympic Games winner champion. That was his first Olympic gold.

The victory at the Olympic Games uncovered Panin's incognito. An unpleasant surprise awaited Panin "the triumph of Russian sport" (as journalists called him) in St. Petersburg. Up to that moment Nicolai Panin was safely protected from undesired talks about his pseudonym at his work place. But the secret was disclosed. The director of the department where Panin worked received a page from a newspaper. There was a big photo of a figure-skater performing some difficult pattern on the ice. The photo was encircled in red. The text below said that it was Nicolai Panin, many-time champion of Russia who had just became the gold medallist at the IV Olympics Games in London. The director was stricken by the resemblance of the champion with Nicolai Kolomenkin - an assistant of tax inspector. - You must stop skating right away, - demanded irritated director from Panin. - It is incredible - a department worker appearing in tights before public!.. - It is useful for health… body development… And of course the honor of the Russian State on international arena. Is it bad? But the director didn't want to hear anything at all. - Either the department or sport.


Burials of Crimean khans found near Bakhchisaray

Tatar-Inform news agency reported yesterday that the archaeologists working in Crimean village Salaciq (Salachik), near Bakhchisaray, found eighteen coffins with the remains of first khans of Crimea. The coffins were found in the basement of the mausoleum of khan Haci Giray (Khaji Giray).

This is the first burial of the khans of 15-16 centuries that was found intact, not devastated by the robbers in the last 500 years. It was located near the Zincirli (Zinjirli) Medrese university, founded by khan Mengli Giray in 1502.

The scientists say that among those buried there are Haci Giray, the founder of the Crimean khanate, his son Sahib Giray, who founded the town of Bakhchisaray, his grandson Gazi Giray and others. The tomb was found by serendipity, during the restoration works in the mausoleum. The entry was blocked for the time being and the research will continue later.

Source: В Бахчисарае обнаружены ханские захоронения


Soviet tanks T-34 and BT-7M: Photo albums

These two albums include techical data (in Russian), photos from tests, photos of the tanks and their internal construction:

T-34 (19Mb PDF)

BT-7M (22Mb PDF)


October 21 in Russian history. Andrey Tupolev.


The first flight of ANT-1, the first airplane designed by Andrey Nikolayevich Tupolev. Tupolev was appointed the head of the aviation department of TsAGI (Central Institute of Aerohydrodynamics) in 1918, when he was 30. In 1922 he formed the Tupolev Construction Bureau and in one year they designed and built the first Soviet whole metal airplane, ANT-1.

Wikipedia dates this event by 20 October, but this date is wrong. It happened on 21 October.


Fourteen years later, another event happens in the life of Andrey Tupolev. Tupolev, who had already been awarded with the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star and two orders of the Red Banner of Labor, was accused of being an organizer and a leader of the Russian Fascist Party together with another famous airplane designer, Vladimir Petlyakov. Both were arrested.

Under the pressure, Tupolev "confessed" he had been a French spy since 1927. In 1939 he was transferred from a jail into so called "Tupolev's sharashka" (officially called TsKB-29, the Central Construction Bureau 29), where he became the chief designer. The trial took place in May 1940 and he was sentenced to 10 years of prison (which he had to serve in the sharashka, of course) and 5 years of deprivation of civil rights. In July 1940, though, he was released, but continued to work in TsKB-29.

Soviet writer and poet Felix Chuyev, the author of many pro-Stalinist books, once asked Vyacheslav Molotov, the head of the Soviet government in 1937, why Tupolev, Korolyov and many other outstanding engineers were repressed. Molotov replied: "They talked too much. And their circle of friends... They didn't support us. All those tupolevs were a very serious problem for us. For some time they were our opponents, and some time was necessary to bring them closer to the power. We couldn't condone with the chances that they could become especially dangerous. You can't do politics without that. They couldn't build communism. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov used to show his finger at the portraits of Lenin and Stalin and say to his students: `This is who made our life so terrible', and he was the open adversary, who is easy to understad. And Tupolev belongs to the kind of intelligentsia which is indispensable for the Soviet state, but deep inside they opposed us. In their personal life, they carried out the destructive and debasing work. Or, if they didn't, they thought so. And they couldn't live otherwise. "

People say that when the Central Committee of the Communist Party demanded Tupolev finish his work on a new airplane by the time the party congress had to begin, he replied: "Postpone the congress, then." Some days later some party boss called again and ordered that the airplane must be in the air by the day the congress begins and Tupolev agreed, surprising his colleagues. When the congress began, a group of party leaders arrived at the airfield and saw an empty fuselage being carried through the air by two helicopters.

New book based on declassified documents about the beginning of WWII

An interesting article appeared in The Sunday Telegraph: Stalin 'planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact'.

Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler's pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany's other neighbours.

The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.

The new documents, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, show the vast numbers of infantry, artillery and airborne forces which Stalin's generals said could be dispatched, if Polish objections to the Red Army crossing its territory could first be overcome.

But the British and French side - briefed by their governments to talk, but not authorised to commit to binding deals - did not respond to the Soviet offer, made on August 15, 1939. Instead, Stalin turned to Germany, signing the notorious non-aggression treaty with Hitler barely a week later.


The Soviet offer - made by war minister Marshall Klementi Voroshilov and Red Army chief of general staff Boris Shaposhnikov - would have put up to 120 infantry divisions (each with some 19,000 troops), 16 cavalry divisions, 5,000 heavy artillery pieces, 9,500 tanks and up to 5,500 fighter aircraft and bombers on Germany's borders in the event of war in the west, declassified minutes of the meeting show.

But Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, who lead the British delegation, told his Soviet counterparts that he authorised only to talk, not to make deals.

(Read the full text here)

Lev Sotskov is the author of a number of books on Soviet history, including Operation Tarantella (about Soviet spies in the Cold War Britain) and Unknown Separatism in the Service of SD and Abwehr (on collaboration of separatist movements in Soviet republics with the Nazis). He also participated in the preparation of the collection of documents titled "Baltic Countries and Geopolitics". His books perfectly fit the mainstream of modern Russian interpretation of history: Soviet Union as a victim of the Western politicians who set Hitler at the innocent USSR by selling Czechoslovakia in Munich. In spite of this, the documents used in his books are usually reliable, as far as I know and his new book might be interesting. One just has to be careful with the conclusions.


Victims of Batu Khan found?

Archaeologists made a discovery in Vladimir, that ignites imagination. They found five bodies, not properly buried, but lying in a little hole, covered by the a layer of ashes. There were no signs of the violence. Then two more bodies were found. Preliminary analysis says that they belong to women and children and dated by 13th century.

On 7 February 1238, the Mongol army led by Batu Khan captured and sacked Vladimir, a city some 200 kilometres east from Moscow (more about these events in the articles: February 7 in Russian history and Russian history 33: Tatars and Batu Khan).

So, a plausible version of the events that led to the death of these people goes like this. When Batu Khan came to Vladimir, he destroyed the nearby villages. Five women and two children tried to hide in this cavity under the oven. When the fire started, the house fell and entombed them alive. Probably, they suffocated in the smoke. The cause of death and exact dating will be established during the investigation held by the Moscow Institute of Archaeology.

Source (in Russian): Во Владимире нашли захоронение восьмивековой давности.

Some WWII memorabilia

Some books printed in the USSR for the Soviet Army:

"В помощь партизану" (Instruction book for partisans) (1942, 140 pages) and "Спутник партизана" (Partisan's Guide) (1942-43, 358 pages) — how to find the enemy, to destroy a warehouse or an airdrome, to explode railways, bridges and locomotives, description of Soviet and German weapons.

Russian-German and Russian-Finnish phrasebooks (both — 1941). "Where are the German troops?" "Which direction?" "You lie!" "Calm down!" "You have nothing to be afraid of!" "The Red Army will come soon!"

All books are scanned in DjVU format and compressed with RAR archiver. You will need a DjVU viewer to open them. You can find one here or here. This program will help you extract files from the archive.


October 14 in Russian history. First scientist on an aerostat. Admiral Ushakov.


(3 October Old Style)

Birthday of Yakov Dmitrievich Zakharov, Russian scientist, chemist and pioneer of aeronautics. In 1785 he entered the Göttingen University. Having returned to Russia, he sent his work, titled "Specimen chemicum de differentia et afffinitafe acidi nitrosi cum aliis corporibus", to the Russian Academy of Sciences and in 1790 he became an adjunkt (assistant professor) of the Academy. In 1798 he was promoted to the academician (full member).

He was interested in the recent developments in aeronautics and, especially, in the usage of hydrogen in balloons. On 31 July 1803 (Old Style) he set an experiment in large scale production of hydrogen, which he later described in his paper "On the decompounding of water in a very large vessel by means of overheated iron". He made enough hydrogen to launch a 35 feet balloon.

In 1804 Yakov Zakharov organized and participated in the first flight on scientific purposes in an aerostat ever. The Academy arranged a contract with a Flemish aeronaut E. Robertson and on 30 June Zakharov flew to 2550 meters. The flight took 3 hours and 45 minutes. 100 puds (1600 kg) of iron raspings were used to produce the hydrogen for the balloon. During the flight, Zakharov measured the temperature, pressure and magnetic field and calculated how they decrease with altitude. He also took two birds to observe their flight on high altitude. Using a speaking trumpet, he measured the time for the sound to reflect from the earth and return to the balloon, calculating the height. To a certain degree, it was the first sonar.


(2 October Old Style)

Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov, one of the best Russian admirals ever, died in his village Alekseyevka in Mordovia. His most famous victories were in the battle of Fidonisi, the battle of Tendra, the battle of Cape Kaliakra and the liberation of the Ionian islands.

Here's an article about Ushakov, taken from Voice of Russia website:

Fyodor Ushakov, one of the very best naval commanders Russia ever had, just like Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov was widely touted as “invincible”. Attesting to this is the unheard of before fact where Fyodor Ushakov’s fleet, by twice outnumbered by the Turks, lost a hundred times less men. Without losing a single ship, Ushakov routed the Turkish navy sinking more than 50 enemy ships and restoring Russia’s dominion on the Black Sea.

Fyodor Ushakov was born into a family of country gentlemen in central Russia in 1745. After finishing the naval Cadet Corps in 1766, the gifted young warrant officer was given the plum job of commanding the yacht of Empress Catherine II. The appointment promised brilliant career opportunities for Ushakov at the royal court but he still asked to be sent to the Navy. Shortly after Fyodor Ushakov, already a Captain Second Rank, got an appointment to the Black Sea Fleet where he immediately busied himself with building up the navy and training the naval staff. His arrival coinciding with a cholera epidemic, Ushakov promptly ordered his unit into a special encampment with stringent hygienic controls and thus managed to check the spread of the deadly disease. Fyodor Ushakov always cared much for his men’s physical and moral condition.

Back in those days European and other navies, above all the British, consisted of a motley assemblage of sailors forced into slave laboring on the ships and only very rarely allowed to step ashore. There was a small cadre of women allowed on board to entertain the sailors and tend to the wounded during the war. Forced to live in such inhuman conditions, the sailors often went berserk much to the amusement of their commanders who rationalized that the more furious their crews were the better they would fight. Ushakov flatly disagreed. He made sure no woman was allowed on aboard but arranged for special settlements to be built for his sailors ashore so that the people could live a normal family life. Each time the sailors went out to sea their families received all the help they needed. Ushakov also worked hard to keep his men away from the usual debauchery of the port cities. He tempered his kind attitude by no-nonsense exactingness though. He was even more demanding of his officers all this resulting in sailors readily fulfilling orders and the squadron fighting with clockwork precision.

Back in those days Turkey was ruling supreme on the Black Sea. Ushakov and his squadron became the first to dent the Ottoman domination smashing the Turkish fleet off Fidonisy Island. Other grand victories followed and before long the once formidable Turkish navy all but ceased to exist. Several years later a rash of Napoleonic wars that engulfed Europe in the wake of the French Revolution forced Russian Emperor Pavel I to dispatch Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov to Northern Italy and Admiral Ushakov into the Mediterranean to take on the French who had fortified their positions on the Ionian islands. This time round Turkey and Russia were fighting hand in hand and Ushakov led a joint Russian-Turkish flotilla to engage the French troops who had dug themselves in on the Mediterranean islands. Several artful landing operations later the French were forced to vacate the islands and fall back. In that naval campaign Fyodor Ushakov distinguished himself in the assault on the impregnable fortress on Corfu Island and its subsequent capture in 1799. Getting word of that momentous victory Alexander Suvorov, now a Generalissimo, wished he had fought in that battle even as a midshipman. Shortly after capturing the Corfu Island and the Ionian Islands the Russian squadron commended by Admiral Ushakov drove the French out of Rome and Naples. These victories led to the establishment of the so-called Seven-Island Republic – a Greek Orthodox state and a protectorate of the Russian Emperor Pavel I.

Fyodor Ushakov was a very religious man always ready to help those in need. A bachelor and a Spartan in his everyday needs, he never missed a single church service. Playing flute was his only diversion and he was working hard to instill Christian values in the hearts and souls of his men. The Europeans were quick to appreciate the well-mannered and neatly attired Russian sailors. And also their cold-blooded reserve and unbending perseverance.

Upon his retirement in 1807 Fyodor Ushakov settled down near a monastery where his uncle, a monk, was buried, and spent this ebbing years in daily prayers.

In 2000 Admiral Fyodor Uhakov was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in a much deserved acknowledgement of this great warrior and a devout Christian…

wikipedia adds an interesting piece of information:

Distinguishing features of Ushakov's tactics were the using of unified marching and fighting orders, resolute rapprochement with the enemy forcies on a short distance without evolution of a fighting order, a concentration of the basic efforts against flagships of the enemy, reserve allocation («Kaiser-flag squadrons»), a combination of aim artillery fire and maneuver, chasing the enemy up to its full destruction or capture. Giving great value to sea and fire training of staff, Ushakov was the supporter of generalissimo Suvorov's principles of training of sailors and officers. Ushakov's innovations were the one of the first successful development of naval tactics from its "line" to manoeuvring concept.

Manoeuvre used by Ushakov in Battle of Cape Kaliakra (1791) was also successfully used by British vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson in Battle of the Nile (1798) and Battle of Trafalgar (1805.)

Does anyone know if Nelson was really familiar with the tactics of Ushakov?


Computer game Commander Stalin

Commander Stalin.

Here's a little bit from the main article:

The game is set in the Soviet Union ruled by Stalin. The player is Stalin. It must organize the state, industrialization and turn it into a major power. This should effectively manage their resources, creating a broad base of social support (workers), launching the existing industry and develop science and technology.

If you advance in the game remain in power as a great leader. But things do not end here. The Soviet Union is now a superpower and the shadow of World War threat to the world. Despite your peaceful intentions, you will be attacked by Nazi Germany. There's nothing you can do about it except defend.

Luck comrade!

I'm not a gamer, but this one might be interesting, just loot at these screenshots :).


Other blogs: A blog on Bulgarian history

Vladimir Georgiev recently visited our history forum Sima Qian Studio to announce his blog on Bulgarian history: Bulgarian History. There are only four articles there, but I hope he will make the blog an interesting source of information. The history of Bulgaria has enough events to provide the topics for a blog. Good luck, Vladimir!.


October 7 in Russian history. Eugene Onegin. Komuch in Samara.


(25 September Old Style)

(the image on the right is a character from a computer game Eugene Onegin, made in the genre of anime.)

In Boldino, now a village in Nizhny Novgorod oblast, Alexander Pushkin wrote the final lines of Eugene Onegin:

And my companion, so mysterious,
goodbye to you, my true ideal,
my task, so vivid and so serious
and yet so light. All that is real
and enviable for a poet,
in your pursuit I've come to know it:
oblivion of life's stormy ways,
sweet talk with friends. How many days
since, through the mist that dreams arise on,
young Tanya first appeared to me,
Onegin too -- and there to see,
a free romance's far horizon,
still dim, through crystal's magic glass,
before my gaze began to pass.

Of those who heard my opening pages
in friendly gatherings where I read,
as Sadi sang in earlier ages,
``some are far distant, some are dead''.
They've missed Eugene's completed etching.
But she who modelled for the sketching
of Tanya's image... Ah, how great
the toll of those borne off by fate!
Blest he who's left the hurly-burly
of life's repast betimes, nor sought
to drain its beaker down, nor thought
of finishing its book, but early
has wished it an abrupt goodbye --
and, with my Eugene, so have I.


90 years ago, the Red Army occupied Samara, my home town. For some months of 1918 Samara was governed by the members of the Constituent Assembly, the last democratic organ of Russia, dissolved by the bolsheviks in January 1918. The foto on the right was made on that day, after the Red Army entered the city (foto taken from here).

In June 1918, five delegates of the Assembly, members of the socialist-revolutionary party (SRs), came to Samara and organized the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly, or Komuch. Their names were Vladimir Volsky, Ivan Brushvit, Prokopy Klimushkin, Boris Fortunatov and Ivan Nesterov. They attempted to restore the democracy and to defend the revolution from the bolshevik coup. Wikipedia writes:

Komuch's executive body was the Council of Department Heads under the lead of Yevgeny Rogovsky. Having seized power with the help of the Czech Legion, Komuch announced "reinstatement" of democratic freedoms: they formally established an 8-hour working day, permitted worker's conferences and congresses of peasants, kept plant and factory committees (fabzavkomy, or fabrichno-zavodskiye komitety) and trade unions. Komuch abrogated the Soviet decrees, returned all the plants, factories and banks to their former owners, declared freedom of private enterprise and reinstated zemstva, city dumas and other establishments. Paying lip service to socialization of land, Komuch, in fact, provided landowners with an opportunity to take away their confiscated lands from the peasants and, also, harvest the winter crops of 1917. Komuch sent punitive expeditions to the rural areas of Russia in order to protect the property of landowners and kulaks, recruit and later mobilize people for the so-called People's Army.

Owing to the military support from interventionists and kulaks and Red Army's weakness, Komuch's power spread into the provinces of Samara, Simbirsk, Kazan, Ufa and Saratov in June-August of 1918.

The Committee attempted to balance between the two strongest powers in Russia: the bolsheviks and the mostly monarchist White Guard. The SR party, which dominated the Constituent Assembly, was the party of peasants, but Komuch failed to convince the peasants in their ability to provide security and prosperity. Bolsheviks had already issued their Decree on Land, abolishing the private property on land and giving the private lands to the peasants. The Decree also said that "the question of compensation shall be examined by the Constituent Assembly", but the Assembly had no chances to discuss this question. So, the peasants had more reasons to trust the bolsheviks than the SRs. Wikipedia concludes:

However, by the early November, the peasants became convinced of Komuch's counterrevolutionary nature and grew wary of it, organizing occasional resistance. In September, Komuch's People's Army sustained a number of defeats from the Red Army and left a major part of Komuch's territories. On September 23, Komuch yielded its power to the Directory of Ufa after a State Conference between the Komuch itself and the Provisional Siberian Government, which would prove to be powerless and short-lived. Both regimes were made to become the new Provisional All-Russian Government (PA-RG).

After Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak's coup, the Directory and other establishments were dissolved by General Vladimir Kappel in November 1918.

Very soon the peasants learned that the real intentions of the bolsheviks had very little to do with their proclamations and decrees. In March 1919 they revolted. Some time ago I wrote:

1919: A peasants revolt, known as the chapan war, begins in the village Novodevichye in the Samara province (chapan is a peasants upper dress). The main reasons were the prodrazvyorstka (the governmental program of food expropriation, when all peasants were obliged to sell what the government considered a surplus to the government for a fixed, very low price), control over the Soviets established by bolsheviks, the red terror and the persecution of religion. In just a few days, the peasants managed to create a new political, social and military structures. A peasants' army was formed, the Soviets were re-elected and a newspaper was organized. The newspaper wrote that the rebellion is not directed against the Soviets, but against "the power of tyrants, murderers and robbers -- communists, anarchists and others, who kill people, take the last grain and kettle, destroy icons", etc. The revolt was led by the Union of Toiling Peasants, a mix of a trade union and a politicized co-operative, created during the revolution of 1905 and not controlled by any political party. There were about 150,000 people participating in the revolt and it was the largest peasants revolt in Russian history. Unfortunately, the rebels had only some hundred rifles and some machine guns. Others were armed with axes and pikes. And yet, they managed to establish control over Stavropol (modern Togliatti, the city where I was born). The province was located on the borderline between the Red and White armies and the rebellion was very dangerous for the bolsheviks. The revolt was suppressed in March 1919 and thousands were killed.


October 1 in Russian history. NKVD Jazz. The Communist Pater Noster.


1098 years ago, the Saracens besieged Constantinople. The Orthodox Christian legends say that on this day a miracle had happened:

On Sunday, October 1 at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ, who was a Slav by birth, saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. The Virgin Mary asked her son, Jesus Christ, to accept the prayers of all the people entreating him and looking for her protection. Once her prayer was completed, she walked to the altar and continued to pray. Afterwards, she spread her veil over all the people in the church as a protection.

St Andrew turned to his disciple, St. Epiphanius, who was standing near him, and asked, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?" Epiphanius answered, "Yes, Holy Father, I see it and am amazed!"

Some Christians, though, say that it happened in 10th or even 5th century, but these dates are just as good as this one :).

The christian holiday is held on this day, 1 October (14 October Old Style)

In 1158, knyaz Andrey Bogolyubsky built one of the most interesting Russian temples to commemorate the intercession, The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River.


The band with an awkward name "the First Eccentric Orchestra of the Russian Federated Socialist Republic - Valentin Parnakh's Jazz Band" gave the first ever jazz concert in Russia. This day became the birthday of the Russian and Soviet jazz. Valentin Parnakh was also the first man who wrote the word 'jazz' in Russian: джаз.

By the way, the names of Soviet jazz bands were sometimes even more curious. Do you know what was the name of the first jazz band in Samara? It was "Jazz Orchestra of NKVD", directed by M. Zon-Polyakov. At the end of the war they became the first musicians who played Caravan, Stardust, Moonlight Serenade and lots of other evergreens in our city.


70 years ago the State Publishing House of Political Literature published the book that became the cornerstone of the Soviet history: The Short Course of the History of VKP(b) (The All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks)). The book was written by a special commission of the Central Committee of the Communist party. Stalin himself carefully revised the text, rewriting the parts that did not correspond to his goals. The words "Short Course" became a byword that referred to any rigid set of rules that anyone is supposed to know. It was sometimes called "the communist Pater Noster".

The first publication of the Short Course was in Pravda newspaper, since 9 September to 19 September 1938. On 1 October, the Short Course was published as a book. Groups that studied The Short Course were organized on all factories, in kolkhozes, universities, schools and even in kindergartens. Collective readings took place in the factory shops. The text was not subject to intepretation or retelling. Misquoting the Short Course was a political error.

The decree of the Central Communist of the Communist party that ensued said that the publication of the book was the largest event in the ideological life of the party, because the party had received a new mighty ideological weapon, the encyclopedia of the basic knowledge of marxism-leninism. The members of the party were now armed with the knowledge of the laws of the social evolution and the political struggle, the tool to increase the political vigilance of the communists and non-party members.

In 15 years, since 1938 to 1953, the Short Course was published in 301 editions, making the total number of more than 42 million copies.