Archive for History, Soviet Union

Kremlin-Run Generational Change in Regime Reproducing Soviet-Era Nomenklatura, Pastukhov Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 14, 2014) A revolution is taking place in Russia, but it is not in the streets but in the halls of government where the Putin regime is bringing into positions of power a new generation of officials who are more like the Soviet-era nomenklatura than like

Moscow Times: Ex-Soviet President Gorbachev Says ‘Disunity’ With Russia Weakens Europe

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 16, 2014) Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev has called on Russia and the West to put an end to their war of words and retaliatory sanctions over Ukraine and discuss a practical solution to the crisis. “How can you conduct a dialogue if you ‘punish’ the people in power

Interfax: Europeans may have ancestors in Siberia – Russian Academy of Sciences

Siberian Natural Scenery, with River, Trees, Hills

(Interfax – October 14, 2014) A comparison of genomes of ancient Europeans and people living in contemporary countries has shown that a Siberian tribe is an ancestor of modern Europeans, said Olga Posukh, senior research fellow of the human molecular genetics laboratory of the Cytology and Genetics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian branch.

Honored Burials, Mass Grave for Theater Greats

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – October 13, 2014) Yury Lyubimov once told me about meeting the great director Vsevolod Meyerhold. This happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987. I paid Lyubimov a visit to talk about his old friend, the playwright Nikolai Erdman, but the conversation, naturally and fortunately, took plenty of detours.

Down with Lenin!

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

As they are toppled one after another in cities across the country, statues of Lenin are becoming an endangered species in Ukraine. But Lenin the political symbol is still alive and kicking. (opendemocracy.net – LEONID RAGOZIN – October 13, 2014) Inside a granite pyramid on Red Square, in front of the Kremlin wall, lies the

Nazi death squad leader: The musical

Map of Latvia and Environs

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – BALTIC BLOG: Mike Collier in Riga – October 9, 2014) If you are constantly battling to try and disprove Russian claims that your state is essentially neo-Nazi, it doesn’t help if an evening of musical entertainment then pops up giving Nazi death squads the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway musical.

RIA Novosti: Former Soviet Leader Gorbachev Out of Hospital, Back at Work

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

MOSCOW, October 10 (RIA Novosti) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told RIA Novosti on Friday that he has left hospital and is back at work. “Now I am out of hospital,” Gorbachev said. Answering a question about how he is feeling, the former Soviet leader stated that “well” would be an overstatement. “If I

Business New Europe: Lenin again! Lenin statue to be re-erected after toppling in Kharkiv

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Business New Europe – October 2, 2014) Kharkiv authorities have said they will re-erect the central square statue of Vladimir Lenin that was toppled by pro-Ukraine activists. Kharkiv deputy head Ihor Terekhov said that “understanding the illegality of the monument’s toppling, the city authorities have ordered scaffolding to be put in place around the pedestal

We have made today’s Frankenstein with our own hands

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Maxim Kantor – September 29, 2014) Maxim Kantor is a painter, novelist and playwright. His latest novel V tu storonu (In that direction), which explores the parallel between the financial crisis and a malignant tumour, will be published in Russia shortly. When communism ended, Russia’s people wanted democracy. Instead, they got the market

Another Lenin Down, but How Many More Remain?

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, September 29, 2014) The demolition of the statue of Lenin in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has attracted international attention, with some seeing this as a provocation by one or another side in the war in Ukraine and others viewing it as an indication of the maturation

Re: South shore of the Kola peninsula

Map of Russia

Subject: South shore of the Kola peninsual Date: Sat, 6 Sep 2014 14:09:31 -0500 From: William Brumfield <william.brumfield@gmail.com> David, below is announcement for the latest in my RBTH series. A stunning part of northwest Russia. Regards, William —— My current article for Russia beyond the Headlines is devoted to the south shore of the Kola

When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – August 27, 2014) When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers When the First Congress of Soviet Writers opened on Aug. 17, 1934 in Moscow, it marked a watershed in Soviet literature. The artistic freedom that had characterized the turbulent 1920s was

Opposition Must Admit Most Russians Were Deceived about What 1991 Meant, Eidman Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, August 20, 2014) “It is time to acknowledge the responsibility of the successful minority before the 90 percent of [Russian] citizens, whose hopes for a better future were deceived” following the collapse of the Soviet system, and for that minority to make changes “in the interests of

Interfax: Poll: Russians say Aug 1991 events are tragedy, not triumph of democracy

File Photo of Parliament Building Billowing Smoke in 1993

(Interfax – August 19, 2014) A relative majority of Russians (41 percent) see the August 19, 1991, putsch in the former Soviet Union as a tragedy which had harmful implications for the country and its people. The number has grown 14 percent in the past 20 years, from 27 percent in 1994, the Levada Center

The collapse of the Soviet Union: What was it — the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century or simply a major disaster?

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

Subject: The collapse of the Soviet Union: What was it — the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century or simply a major disaster? [Adomeit's second note] Date: Sun, 03 Aug 2014 From: Hannes Adomeit (hannes.adomeit@t-online.de) The collapse of the Soviet Union: What was it — the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century or

AW: 2014-#166-Johnson’s Russia List [Adomeit's first note][re: editorial policies, Putin, Soviet collapse, translation]

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: AW: 2014-#166-Johnson’s Russia List [Adomeit's first note] Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 From: Hannes Adomeit (hannes.adomeit@t-online.de) From a senior German Russia expert: I completely agree with the observation expressed in yesterday’s issue of the senior U.S. official and the senior U.S. academic about JRL’s loss of impartiality. The bias is also amply reflected in

language, again [re: Putin and Soviet collapse, translation]

Vladimir Putin file photo

Subject: language, again Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 From: Harley D. Balzer <balzerh@georgetown.edu> Patrick Armstrong issued a major attack on Aslund’s characterization of Putin’s comment about the destruction of the Soviet Union. He states: So it is now perhaps time to see what it was that Putin actually said. Here it is: first in Russian,

“Krupneyshaya katastrofa” translation

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Subject: “Krupneyshaya katastrofa” translation Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2014 From: Serge Markov <semar1@comcast.net> On the matter of Putin’s 2005 characterization of the fall of the Soviet Union, any educated native Russian speaker will tell you that krupneyshaya katastrofa can be rendered either as “a major” or as “the greatest catastrophe” depending on context. Methinks the

Debate over Putin quote on the Soviet collapse

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

Subject: Debate over Putin quote on the Soviet collapse Date: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:29:30 -0400 From: Steve Shabad <steve.shabad@verizon.net> As a Russian-English translator for my entire adult life (almost half a century), I feel compelled to weigh in on the debate between Anders Aslund and Patrick Armstrong over the famous Putin quote on the

Moscow Times: How & Why Russia Forgot The Great War

Romanov Family Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – August 1, 2014) Russia lost 3 million people in World War I. But it also provided examples of explosive military strength and economic resilience that would make any nation proud. And yet, though the 100th anniversary of the war – which Russia joined on Aug. 1, 1914

[Patrick Armstrong: re: Putin, Soviet Geopolitical Disaster:] DEADLY QUOTATIONS PART 2

Vladimir Putin file photo

From: Patrick Armstrong (gpa@magma.ca) Sent: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 Subject: DEADLY QUOTATIONS PART 2 A number of people have challenged my (and the official Kremlin translators’) choice of “a major” for “krupneyshey” in Putin’s famous sentence “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” I stand by

[Anders Åslund: re: Putin, Soviet Geopolitical Disaster:] RE: 2014-#166-Johnson’s Russia List/Patrick Armstrong

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

Subject: RE: 2014-#166-Johnson’s Russia List/Patrick Armstrong Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:31:4 From: Anders Aslund <AAslund@PIIE.COM> Dear David, Absurdly, Patrick Armstrong attacks me (JRL 166 #6) for translating Putin’s words “крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века” with the words “the collapse of the Soviet Union was the biggest geopolitical disaster of the century.”

Putin’s ‘Russian Spring’ Idea was Invented by Russian Fascists in 1920s

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, July 30, 2014) Commentators in Moscow and the West ever more frequently draw parallels between Vladimir Putin’s ideas and actions and those of fascist regimes in the first part of the 20th century, but few have focused on the fact that one of the Kremlin leader’s most-cherished

Interfax: Most Russians don’t hate WWII foes of Soviet Union – poll

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

MOSCOW. June 20 (Interfax) – Most Russians know WWII foes of the former Soviet Union but do not hate them. Yet a half blames the enemies for the deaths of millions of people, Levada Center told Interfax. The top five WWII allies of the Soviet Union mentioned by respondents in 130 populated localities in 45

Russia To Test Migrant Workers On Country’s History

Migrant Workers file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Farangis Najibullah and Umid Bobomatov – June 13, 2014) So you want to work in Russia? You may be a skilled bricklayer — but do you know when Ivan the Terrible reined in the boyars? Or when the Polish-Lithuanian forces were expelled from Muscovy? When Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg? No? Well

Oligarchic Capitalism Blamed for Loss of Russia’s Position in Former Soviet Republics

Map of Former Soviet Union

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, June 12, 2014) The Russian Federation, by focusing on the construction of “oligarchic capitalism,” essentially “threw all the union republics” to their own fates, and as a result, the governments and peoples have turned away from Moscow and ethnic Russians are fleeing back to Russia, thus further

As Putin Pursues Imperial Goals, Fewer Russians Regret End of USSR

Map of Former Soviet Union

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, June 11, 2014) Even as Vladimir Putin pursues what many see as an effort to restore an empire centered on Moscow, polls show that ever fewer Russians regret the end of the Soviet Union – something the Kremlin leader has said was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of

D-Day at 70: Russia’s role in opening up the Western front

D-Day Cemetery file photos

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – John Naughton, special to RBTH – June 5, 2014) By weakening the German army and keeping it occupied on the Eastern Front, Soviet Russia prepared for the way for the Allied success of D-Day in the West. The retired Royal Navy cruiser the HMS Belfast fired its six-round

‘Donkey Heart’ Shows Soviet Past Behind Family Turmoil

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Elizabeth Kaplunov – May 27, 2014) As the Soviet Union fades from the memories of the youngest generations of Russians, it still underpins the consciousness of their parents. The play “Donkey Heart,” written by Moses Raine and directed by his sister Nina Raine, focuses on the psychological setup of a

The collapse of the USSR and the illusion of progress

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(opendemocracy.net – John Weeks – May 26, 2014) John Weeks is Professor Emeritus, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, and author of ‘Economics of the 1%: How mainstream economics serves the rich, obscures reality and distorts policy’, Anthem Press, published earlier this year. The collapse of the USSR was the occasion for

Interfax: Russians get ready to celebrate Victory Day – poll

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

MOSCOW. May 7 (Interfax) – Victory Day is one of the most significant holidays for Russian citizens, which is widely supported by people, Levada Center sociologists said citing the results of many years of polls provided to Interfax. According to the information of sociologists, in the past years the majority of Russian citizens, 70-72%, celebrate

Mass Grave in Moscow Suburbs is Among Russia’s Holiest Sites

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Annin – May 7, 2014) On May 10, the Russian Orthodox Church will hold its annual special service in the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors in Butovo, a little-known site that is home to Russia’s largest collection of holy relics. In the forest near old Butovo, about 5

The abuse of history in the Ukrainian crisis

File Photo of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Riding in Convertible

(opendemocracy.net – Marco Siddi – May 5, 2014) Marco Siddi is a DAAD fellow and research associate at the Institute for European Politics in Berlin. Previously, he held a Marie Curie Fellowship at the universities of Edinburgh and Cologne, where he is completing his doctoral dissertation. His research focuses on relations between Russia, the European

Creative Unions Seen to Back Kremlin Views

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 28, 2014) Last week, the State Duma gave its final approval to a bill introducing criminal penalties for “spreading lies” about the Soviet Union’s role in World War II. The legislation, under which offenders face up to five years in prison, has prompted renewed allegations that

Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment

Back side of House on Embankment (central part), view from Patriarshy Bridge pedestrian walkway, from Wikimedia Commons, user NVO, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Moscow,_House_on_Embankment_back_side.jpg

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – April 16, 2014) This huge apartment block across the river from the Kremlin is one of the enduring symbols of the Stalin era. In the 1930s the apartments inside were allocated only to senior officials and the Soviet elite, but when many of them

Book Review: What Can We Learn From the Crimean War?

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – D. Garrison Golubock – April 15, 2014) As President Vladimir Putin mobilizes soldiers on Russia’s Ukrainian border and NATO threatens consequences for any interference in eastern Ukraine, the atmosphere of angry rhetoric and brinkmanship seems frighteningly similar to the imperial squabbles of the 19th century that led to the Crimean

Revisiting the adage ‘trust but verify’

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Nora FitzGerald, RBTH – April 2, 2014) Suzanne Massie is ‘the greatest student of the Russian people’. The United States and Russia have hit a new nadir in relations, and jokes about Cold War II are familiar fare on Late Night television. Suzanne Massie’s long-anticipated personal memoir, “Trust

Russians Increasingly Nostalgic for Soviet System, Poll Finds

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, February 27, 2014) An increasing share of Russians say they are nostalgic for the Soviet system with the number indicating that they support for democracy and free markets or the political system they now live under has fallen in recent years, according to the results of a

New Suzanne Massie Book – “Trust, but Verify: Russia, Reagan, and Me”

File Photo of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at Table Signing Documents

Subject: New Suzanne Massie Book — “Trust, but Verify: Russia, Reagan, and Me” Date:     Fri, 21 Feb 2014 From:     Mitchell Polman <mitchpolman@gmail.com> Suzanne Massie, author of “Land of the Firebird”, has written a new book on her days as an informal advisor on the Soviet Union to President Reagan.  It is a fascinating account of

Ten more well-known Russian words

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexey Mikheev, special to RBTH – February 20, 2014) Following the publication of my earlier piece “The 10 most well-known Russian words”, readers have responded with suggestions of more Russian words that have become known and used internationally. So in response to these requests I have written about

RIA Novosti: In Olympic Sochi, Stalin’s Sanatoria All But Forgotten

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

SOCHI, February 17 (Kevin O’Flynn and Howard Amos, RIA Novosti) – It was once the pride and joy of Stalinist Sochi, a grandiose palace for workers to recover from their labor in mines and factories, a mythical showcase resort for a society that didn’t truly exist. But the Ordzhonikidze Sanatorium stands empty now, a metal

Interfax: Moscow commission rules not to reinstall monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanskaya Square

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) – The Moscow City Duma’s monumental art commission unanimously decided on Tuesday not to return a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, a prominent Soviet statesman and founder of the Soviet security services, to Lubyanskaya Square in central Moscow. “Taking into account the current circumstances in society, I propose refraining from returning the

Pussy Riot Invades America and Everything in Russia is Awful as Putin’s Olympics Begin: A Historical Perspective

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

Subject: Pussy Riot Invades America and Everything in Russia is Awful as Putin’s Olympics Begin:A Historical Perspective Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2014 From: Sarah Lindemann-Komarova <echosiberia@gmail.com> Pussy Riot Invades America and Everything in Russia is Awful as Putin’s Olympics Begin: A Historical Perspective By Sarah Lindemann-Komarova [Siberian-based civil society development activist] Over the last few

One of Two Remaining Marshals of the Soviet Union Dies

Soviet Insignia, Drawing of Vladimir Lenin

MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) – Vasily Petrov, one of two remaining marshals of the Soviet Union, the highest Soviet military rank, died on Saturday at the age of 98. “We’ve suffered a great loss,” the head of the Russian Military Commanders Society, Nikolai Deryabin, told RIA Novosti. Petrov, born in the Russian Empire’s North

RIA Novosti: Russian Prosecutors Check TV Channel Over WWII Poll

St. Petersburg

MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – Staff of an online TV station in Russia face a threat of up to two years in prison after prosecutors announced an “extremism” investigation Thursday into an opinion poll concerning World War II. The liberal Dozhd (“Rain”) channel triggered the ire of conservatives by asking on its website whether

Interfax: German president recalls war, Leningrad siege with shame, sorrow

St. Petersburg Landmark

MOSCOW. Jan 27 (Interfax) – German President Joachim Gauck has expressed his sorrow in recalling the atrocities of the war Germany was waging against the Soviet Union and extended sympathy to the survivors of the siege of Leningrad in a letter sent to the Russian president on the occasion of the 70th anniversary since the

Putin Pays Respects to Brother, Victims of Leningrad Siege

St. Petersburg Landmark

MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin honored the victims of the Siege of Leningrad, including his brother, at a ceremony in St. Petersburg on Monday. Putin walked with several dozen siege survivors in a procession through the Piskaryovskoye cemetery as part of a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the lifting

What do today’s Russians think about Lenin?


(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – January 21, 2014) The leader of the revolution has turned into an ordinary historical figure for younger Russians. Today’s generation of Russians have rather mixed feelings when it comes to the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution. The issue of burying Lenin’s body, which is

Interfax: Putin explains need to purge history textbooks of “ideological junk”

Putin Descending a Staircase file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 16, 2014) The need to design a single Russian history textbook has arisen because there are many teaching aids containing “ideological junk”, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. “The most important thing was that, under the system of certification of, let us say, teaching materials that went to schools, there occurred things

Transfer of Lenin’s body will improve situation in Russia – Human rights ombudsman

Lenin Mausoleum on Red Square, Kremlin Walls, Sentry

(Interfax – January 21, 2014) Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said a decision on the transfer of the body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin from the mausoleum and the elimination of the necropolis on the Red Square may be made in the nearest future. “The Red Square is not a place for a cemetery.

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