Archive for History, Soviet Union

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.

Putin Says State History Textbooks Will Not Impose Ideology

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – January 17, 2014) President Vladimir Putin on Thursday defended planned standardized history textbooks, lashing out at some current teaching materials that he said criticize the Soviet Union’s role in World War II. The state textbooks, proposed by Putin last year, are expected to replace many alternative editions

Russia’s Missed Opportunities for an Even Larger Empire Lamented

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 13, 2014) Most Russians are profoundly aware of how much of their country’s empire fell away first after the 1917 revolution and then in 1991, but relatively few are aware of Russia’s numerous attempts, all of them ultimately unsuccessful, to establish Russian colonies further afield. How

Fury Over Biographical Stalin Calendar Published by Orthodox Church

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 8, 2014) A publishing house run by the Russian Orthodox Church has released a 2014 calendar devoted to Josef Stalin, unleashing a flurry of indignation among Russian bloggers and a discussion about the Church’s ties to the former Soviet dictator. The calendar, published by the Moscow-based

Ivan Kozlovsky: The man who refused to sing for Stalin

Bolshoi Theater file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yan Shenkman, RBTH – January 4, 2014) The legendary opera singer admired by Stalin, yet always resented being told what he could sing and what he could not. Ivan Kozlovsky (1900-1993) was a legendary opera tenor and a soloist at the Bolshoi Theater. He sang more than 50

West has been Against the Slavs for a Millenium, IMEMO Expert Says

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 6, 2013) Despite all the ups and downs in the relationship between the West and the Slavic world, changes that alternatively spark new hopes or new fears, the underlying reality, according to a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, is that “the anti-Slavic character

The blank poster: Russia heading into 2014

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

(opendemocracy.net/Chatham House – Roderic Lyne – December 25, 2013) Sir Roderic Lyne served as British Ambassador to Russia from January 2000 until August 2004, when he retired from the Diplomatic Service after 34 years. He now works as a consultant, principally advising businesses on Russia and the CIS. He was a member of the Chilcot

Russia’s year in review: terror, political surprises, and hope


(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – December 30, 2013) From the sudden release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky to the tragic events in Volgograd, here are 10 top headline grabbers for 2013 according to The Moscow News staff. 1. Khodorkovsky bombshell President Vladimir Putin’s decision to suddenly pardon oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was possibly the most unexpected news

RIA Novosti: Half of Russians Describe 2013 as Successful Year – Poll

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) ­ More than a half of Russians said they will remember 2013 as a successful year for them, an independent pollster said on Saturday. A total of 51 percent said the year was successful for them, 24 said it was unsuccessful and 25 percent had no answer. However, 30 percent

The Soviet Union, spy scandals, sex and UFOs: Top 13 stories of 2013

New Year's Eve on Red Square with Fireworks, Kremlin, Saint Basil's, Crowds

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Alexandra Guzeva, RBTH – December 30, 2013) As the year draws to a close, check out these 13 stories that RBTH readers found most interesting, engaging or thought-provoking in 2013. Most popular stories of 2013: Russia to ban cash transactions over $10,000 Russia beckons for Tebow Putin’s medical

Putin is the Nicholas II of Russia Today, Akhmetov Says

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, December 17, 2013) Vladimir Putin’s efforts to exploit “the energy” of Russian nationalism and Orthodoxy to shore up his regime strike many as clever and effective, but Rashit Akhmetov points out that they recall those of Nicholas II and may have the same result, undermining both the

Celebrating Aitmatov and his examination of collective memory

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Olga Fedina, special to RBTH – December 12, 2013) The author of the acclaimed novel “The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years,” would have been 85 years old on Dec. 12. When I was finishing school in the late 1980s, in the anarchic and utopian times of

Modern face of Russian communism

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Elena Bazina, special to RBTH – November 25, 2013) More than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian communists hope to return to power. The Communists who ruled Russia for more than 70 years are still the second most powerful political force in the country.

“The far right, gangsters, and monopolists”: the Soviet interpretation of the Kennedy assassination

Map of Ranges of Soviet Missiles on Cuba

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Ivan Tsvetkov – November 22, 2013) Dr. Ivan Tsvetkov is an associate professor at the School of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University and an expert in U.S. domestic policy. Thanks to John F. Kennedy’s actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which allowed the Soviets to save

‘Stalingrad’ Blockbuster Revives Russia’s Trauma, Glory

Battle of Stalingrad file photo

(Voice of America – James Brooke – November 19, 2013) A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors. Seventy years have passed since

Exhibition Shows Russian Leaders, From Romanovs to Putin

Romanov Family Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – D. Garrison Golubock – November 20, 2013) Moscow has a reputation for lines, yet even seasoned city dwellers were surprised to see the massive lines that formed in the first week of November in front of Manezh, snaking all the way to the State Historical Museum and then back around

Descendant of Tsarist Duma Speaker to Head AmCham in Russia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – November 19, 2013) U.S.-born banker Alexis Rodzianko has been elected president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, or AmCham, the chamber said Tuesday. The previous president, Andrew Somers, announced earlier this year he would be departing to launch a new strategic consulting firm. “We have the greatest confidence

RIA Novosti: The Many Uses of Monarchy in Russia

Romanov Family Photo

(RIA Novosti – Konstantin von Eggert – November 11, 2013) Konstantin von Eggert is a freelance commentator and consultant. In 2010-2013 he worked for Kommersant FM radio in Moscow as a commentator and as Editor-in-Chief. Even if he is styled as the “president,” the head of the Russian government’s executive branch is a de facto

The Zone

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Ola Cichowlas – November 9, 2013) Ola Cichowlas is a British-Polish freelance journalist. She covers Russian regional politics and the arts in provincial Russia. The northern territory of the Perm region is known as ‘the Zone’ ­  a remote region of prison camps and correctional facilities. Ola Cichowlas came to know it quite

Interfax: Over a quarter of Russians don’t object to restoration of monarchy – poll

Romanov Family Photo

MOSCOW. Nov 10 (Interfax) – About 28% of Russian citizens do not object to the idea of restoring the monarchy, said VTSIOM pollster General Director Valery Fyodorov. “Twenty-eight percent of the respondents polled in March supported this idea, or, at least, do not object to it. But no one in this group is an active

Romancing the Revolution; Russians may not celebrate the start of the Revolution officially, but that has not stopped them from finding ways to revel in revolution.

Romanov Family Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Chris Fleming, special to RBTH – November 7, 2013) Dr. Chris Fleming is a senior lecturer in Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney. For much of the twentieth century, Russians celebrated the October 1917 Revolution ­ the event which brought Lenin and his party

Interfax: Russian Communists celebrate 1917 revolution, call for dismissal of government

Romanov Family Photo

(Interfax – November 7, 2013) The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) marked the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution on 7 November with rallies in Moscow and other towns of Russia, privately-owned Interfax news agency reported the same day. The CPRF has collected over two million signatures asking for the dismissal of the

A memorial day few Russians want to remember

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Julia Reed in Moscow – November 7, 2013) “Who was killed in your family?” A man in a beret in his early 60s asked me as he joined the long queue of people. We were both attending the annual recital of the names of the victims of political repressions

RIA Novosti: Yeltsin’s Grandson Developing Hollywood WWII Film

Movie Theater file photo

WASHINGTON, November 5 (RIA Novosti) ­ Boris Yeltsin, the grandson and namesake of Russia’s first president, is producing a movie titled “Night Witches” about female Soviet pilots during World War II and has recruited an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter to pen the screenplay, the US entertainment website Variety.com reported. The project is based on the true

Russia Beyond the Headlines: History meets high technology at Romanovs exhibition

Romanov Family Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galina Zhikhoreva, special to RBTH  – November 5, 2013) “My History. The Romanovs”, an exhibition to mark the 400th anniversary of the Russian imperial dynasty, opened in Moscow Manege this week. It features 3D installations, animated collages, and interactive content. More than 15,000 visitors crowded the halls of

RIA Novosti: With Lenin’s Changes Removed, Tsarist Obelisk Unveiled Near Kremlin

Patriarch Kirill file photo

MOSCOW, November 4 (RIA Novosti) ­ The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and senior Russian officials attended the opening of a resurrected Tsarist-era obelisk outside the Kremlin walls Monday. The monument was originally unveiled 99 years ago to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Russia’s Romanov dynasty, but its Tsarist iconography was removed in 1918

The Soviet Legacy: The Impact of Early Bolshevik Law Felt Up to the Present

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Ekaterina Mishina – November 1, 2013) The early Soviet criminal norms formed the basis for arbitrary interpretation and selective application of the law, as well as for judicial arbitrariness. IMR Advisor Ekaterina Mishina, a prominent Russian legal expert, contends that the legacy of that era is still being

Where Beria’s Limo Still Runs But Isn’t Seen – Moscow at Halloween

File Photo of Partial FSB Headquarters Building Facade

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 31, 2013) Muscovites interested in ghosts don’t need to go to Transylvania. They can find plenty right at home this Halloween, even if many in the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian government denounce this holiday as alien and “extremist” (globalsib.com/18692/ and religiopolis.org/publications/6936-hellouin-2013.html). In an article on

Victims of Soviet Repressions Remembered

File Photo of Prison in Russia with Wall, Barbed Wire, Guard Tower

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 31, 2013) Events were held around the country Wednesday to commemorate the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions, which is devoted to those affected by political persecution in the Soviet Union. Hundreds of people held a rally in central St. Petersburg near the Solovetsky Stone, a

RIA Novosti: Russian History Gets State-Approved Outline

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) ­ A state commission Wednesday issued a draft outline for a line of unified history textbooks to be published in Russia on the Kremlin’s order. The draft will be filed Thursday with President Vladimir Putin, who ordered its creation last February, said a spokesman for the Russian Historical Society. A

Interfax: Unified history textbook concept endorsed, forwarded to president

File Photo of U.S. Diplomat Teaching Class to Russian Students

MOSCOW. Oct 30 (Interfax) – A concept of a unified history textbook was endorsed at an expanded meeting of the Russian History Society and forwarded to the president for consideration on Wednesday. “Completing the work on the concept and forwarding it to the president in line with his instructions, we are completing only the first

Russian Church advises Lenin advocates think about burying him

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

Moscow, October 29, Interfax – The body of Vladimir Lenin, the mastermind of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which lies still in the Mausoleum on the Red Square, should sooner or later be buried, the Synodal Department for External Church Relations’ head Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said. “Debates on this issue will certainly continue. Probably, some

New Way of Teaching History to Be Finalized by Next Month

Map of Western CIS/FSU and European Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Natalya Krainova – October 24, 2013)  Government officials, lawmakers and education officials will finalize changes to the way history is taught in schools by Nov. 1, State Duma Deputy Speaker Lyudmila Shvetsova said Wednesday outside a roundtable discussing new state textbooks. New textbooks teaching children of various age groups a

Snowden – the only Solzhenitsyn we deserve

Edward Snowden file photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitry Babich, special to RBTH – October 21, 2013) Dmitry Babich is a columnist for Voice of Russia radio. Is the former NSA analyst a modern-day dissident? There are many interesting similarities between Edward Snowden and the famous Russian dissident writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). The most recent example

Thanks to Putin’s Policies, Russian Federation Will Share Fate of USSR, Borovoy Says

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Valdai Club 2013 Meeting, Adapted from Screenshot of Valdai Club Video at youtube.com

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, October 21, 2013) Because Vladimir Putin has reversed the steps Boris Yeltsin took in the direction of federalization and has been able to restore “the empire in the most petty details,” the Russian Federation “inevitably faces” the same fate that the USSR met with in 1991, according

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