пятница, 30 октября 2009 г.


This edition of the program is devoted to an extraordinary woman – Maria Bochkareva — better known in the West as the Russian Jeanne D’Arc. During World War I she signed up as a volunteer for the Russian army. Maria’s courage and bravery won her four Crosses of Saint George, one of the most prestigious Russian military awards.

Maria was born in 1889 in a village nor far from the city of Novgorod in north-western Russia. Later the family moved to Siberia in search for a better life. Maria got married at the age of 16 but was unhappy with her husband – a drunkard and a brute. Strong-willed, with a bent for self-sacrifice, Maria tolerated his harsh treatment, hoping that he would sober down, but unable to bear it any more, she finally left him. In vain she sought happiness in love: the men she loved only made her suffer. So she started thinking if there was some other field into which she could throw all her energy.

In 1914 Russia entered World War One. The situation on the Russian-German front was getting hard for the Russians. Reports about heavy casualties among Russian soldiers prompted Maria to join the army. As it turned our later, that was just what she had been looking for. When, in November 1915, she appeared before commander of a regiment stationed in the Siberian city of Tomsk and told him she wanted to go to the front, he wouldn’t even listen to her, but simply ordered her out. Unwilling to give up, Maria sent a telegram to Emperor Nicholas II in St.Petersburg. The Emperor cabled back, granting his royal permission to admit Maria as a volunteer into the Tomsk regiment that soon left for the front. A fearless soldier as she proved to be, Maria, hardly over 25, took part in bayonet attacks and reconnaissance squads, carried out the wounded under heavy enemy fire. She was wounded four times, two of them seriously. But some inner vitality put her back on her feet and she returned to the regiment to the rousing cheers of her comrades in arms. For her prowess and dauntless courage she got four Crosses of Saint George and was promoted from private to junior officer.

Maria became a legend in her lifetime. Reporters begged her for an interview. Her laconic, witty and image-bearing answers revealed an extraordinary personality looming though the shell of a free-and-easy fighter-girl.

There came the year 1917 and the news of the February revolution. The Czar abdicated and there was formed the Interim Government. All this caused unrest among the troops. Military failures and calls by Bolsheviks to lay down arms resulted in mass desertions. The new government invited Maria Bochkareva to St.Petersburg to report the situation on the front. She arrived at the General Staff. Wearing soldier’s boots and a uniform with the shoulder-straps of a non-commissioned officer, all four Crosses of Saint George shining on her bosom, with her service cap on, her face rough and weather-beaten, she had a strikingly masculine appearance. She announced her name in a coarse, mannish voice and only her eyes, gray and sad, betrayed her feminine origin.

Unembarrassed by the glamour and opulence of the Tavrichesky Palace and curious looks men in tail-coats darted at her, she declared that the troops were demoralized and suggested setting up women’s formations that would boost the troops’ morale. Her speech was so convincing that after a slight hesitation the government gave her the go-ahead to form a women’s battalion known as the Bochkareva death battalion. There was, indeed, something sinister in its name and in black shoulder-straps with an emblem showing a scull and two crossed bones, which symbolized the women’s readiness to sacrifice their lives for their homeland.

Maria issued an address to the women of St.Petersburg: “Citizens to whom the liberty and happiness of Russia are dear, hurry up to join our ranks before it’s too late. Don’t spare your lives…” Thousands of them — housewives, lyceum students, young ladies from noble families, workers and peasants – signed up for volunteer women’s formations.

One must give credit to the Bochkareva death battalion, it fought heroically and endured all hardships of warfare. They were in the trenches when news arrived about the Bolshevik coup in St.Petersburg. Bochkareva was arrested and her battalion was disbanded. When offered to take the Bolshevik side, she refused, saying that she was too tired of war. Not grounded in politics, though, she realized at the moment that while yesterday Russia had been fighting the enemy, now it was moving towards self-destruction. Unlike most men, she didn’t want to meddle in a fratricidal war.

After she was released, Bochkareva decided to go to her village. It was a terrible journey. She nearly died when Bolsheviks threw her out of a railway carriage. Crippled and penniless, she eventually came home.

In 1918 Maria traveled to the United States at the request of the anti-Bolshevik White Army command to obtain financial and military aid. On July 10th she was received by the then US President Woodrow Wilson. He said it was a great honor to him to meet the lady officer who had covered herself with glory and that in America they called her the Russian Jeanne D’Arc. To his question “who is right and who is to blame in Russia?” Maria answered evasively that she knew little about the matter and wouldn’t like to get into an awkward situation. At the same time she asked for guns, tanks, food supplies and troops, which left no doubt about her political sympathies. Maria’s eloquent description of war-ravaged Russia produced a deep impression on the Americans. President Wilson pledged support.

From America Bochkareva went to Britain on a similar mission. After a brief audience with King George V, she returned to Russia. Even though her sympathies lay with the “white”, Maria stubbornly refused to take part in the war against the Bolsheviks. Her stand irritated the “white” command, and, finally, they decided to get rid of her. Maria went back to Tomsk where she changed military uniform for civilian clothes, got herself a bright kerchief and began attending church. The church atmosphere, the quiet signing of the chorus, the flicker of candle lights, gave her comfort and relief and gradually the heavy burden of the past relaxed its grip on her heart.

Once a boy in the street asked her: “Granny, give me a penny for a honey-cake”. Maria slipped coins into this hand, and, back home, glanced at herself in the mirror. She didn’t like what she saw. Untidy hair with streaks of gray made her look well over 50.

In December 1919, when the Bolsheviks entered Tomsk, Maria Bochkareva was arrested and executed by shooting as a sworn and bitter enemy of the Soviet power. She was 32…

Source:The Voice of Russia

четверг, 29 октября 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

“Vivid and precise, the Russian language abounds in proverbs. There are tens of thousands of them. They fly from one century to the next, from one generation to another, as if on wings.

“From the depth of time we are reached and touched by human joys and suffering, laughter and tears, love and wrath, faith and unbelief, truth and lie, honesty and deceit, hard work and sloth…,” wrote Mikhail Sholokhov, a classic of Soviet literature, about folk wisdom expressed in Russian proverbs.

Concisely and vividly the proverbs express the national Russian character. Like this one, “Talent without work isn’t worth one grosh (or penny)”.

Russians are richly endowed with a versatile mind, ingenuity, and creative powers; yet it is owing to their hard work and persistence that they have accomplished so much in culture and science and have contributed so generously to the world civilization.

And those of us who are prone to laziness and sloth are reminded by folk wisdom that “Without effort, you can't even pull a fish out of the pond. (which is close to “No pain, no gain.”)

Russians are known for their love of freedom. Russian history is filled with the fight for freedom and independence. However, the Russian soul values the unrestricted inner freedom so much more than the outer freedom guaranteed by society to law-abiding citizens. When you are free to be who you are, free to feel, free to act, then, as the folk wisdom sums it up so well, “As hard as your lot may be, you are free”, or — Freedom to a bird is dearer than a cage of gold”. That is why when fighting for their freedom, Russians did not spare their lives: “Better death in battle than life in the barracks” goes the proverb.

Love of freedom was also expressed in two most important qualities of the Russian national character — patience and endurance, for an ability to endure hardship, suffering, and privation is a victory in itself. There is a proverb to illustrate this, “Put up with it, Cossak, and you’ll become a chieftain”.

Russian hospitality is legendary. Expressed in it is the people’s magnanimity and generosity. A couple of proverbs on the subject: “Not rich yet hospitable”, “The best treat is for the guest.”

The age-old custom to welcome guests with bread and salt is very much alive today. Bread and salt are at once a greeting, a welcome, and a wish of well-being and prosperity for the guest. Without bread there is no life, and no Russian meal. A proverb goes, “It’s a wretched dinner if bread is not served.” And another — “Bread is at the head of everything.”

Kind-heartedness, charity, an exceptional ability to empathize, understand, respect, and accept other ethnic groups the way they are, enabled the Russian nation to create a multinational state in which various ethnic groups live freely side by side. Russians always strive to maintain genial relations with their neighbours. For them, as the proverb goes, “It is bad to offend a neighbour.”

A Russian person is typically devout, even if unconsciously, because of his Orthodox Christian roots. Orthodoxy has played a significant role in shaping the nation as a whole, and this deep-seated trait of the national character has found its expression in Russian folklore.

Russians say, “Conscience is the voice of God”; and, “He who puts his trust in God will never perish.”

Folk wisdom is expressed not only in proverbs but in parables as well. They express profound spiritual truths in an allegorical way. Here is one of them.

“Once upon a time there lived two pots. Their master was a water-carrier. They hung on the ends of a pole the water-carrier put across his shoulder. One of the pots had a crack in it, the other was flawless. The good pot kept all the water poured into it, whereas the cracked pot could only keep half of the water. The defective pot was ashamed of its imperfection. It realized that it couldn’t perform its duty. So one day it shared its concern with the water-carrier.

“Why don’t you throw me in the garbage? Because of my disability you waste your efforts.”

The water-carrier replied, “Look at the path that leads up from the river to the house. What do you see?”

The pot noticed that beautiful flowers were growing on one side of the pathway, whereas the other side was covered with weeds.

“Have you noticed,” asked the water-carrier, “that flowers only grow along the side of the pathway that has been watered through your crack?”

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 27 октября 2009 г.


In the year 1782 a monument to Peter the Great, the founder of St.Petersburg, was erected on the Senate Square west of the Admiralty. Dominating its western side is the building of the Senate, hence its name – the Senate Square.

During Napoleon’s invasion of 1812, Czar Alexander I, fearing the city might fall over to the French, ordered to move Peter’s bronze statue to a northern province. At about the same time, a Major Baturin, meeting with Alexander’s close friend Duke Golitsin, told him he had a strange dream: the Bronze Horseman, or the statue of Peter the Great, comes down from its cliff-like pedestal and heads for the palace, while Emperor Alexander walks out to meet him. “Young man,” says Peter, “just look what you’ve done to Russia. But as long as I stay where I am, my city has nothing to fear!” and he turns his bronze horse and gallops back, the hooves clanking heavily over the cobbles. The Duke reported Baturin’s shocking dream to Alexander, whereupon the Emperor cancelled his order, and the statue was left where it was.

The Senate Square saw the first armed insurgence by revolutionary noblemen against autocracy. Staged on the 14th of December, 1825, it went down in history as the Decembrists’ revolt.

Having defeated Napoleon in 1812, the Russian army liberated both its homeland and Europe from the ambitious dictator. Russian officers returning from the overseas campaign brought home war trophies and progressive ideas. While abroad, they got acquainted with European lifestyle and western philosophy – both had profound influence on the Russian nobility. Lacking understanding of the historical, geographical and ethnic differences between Russia and Europe, the reformist-minded youth was totally dejected by a striking contrast between the Western and Russian way of life. Brewing discontent among a certain part of the younger nobility led to the appearance of secret societies, one of which — the Northern Society founded in St.Petersburg – consisted of moderate reformists who pursued the goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy modeled after the English version.

In November 1825 Emperor Alexander I died unexpectedly in Taganrog. Earlier his brother Konstantin abdicated from the throne, but the abdication wasn’t announced. The army and citizens swore allegiance to abdicated Konstantin. Soon after that, however, they had to take another oath of allegiance – to Nicholas I. Revolutionaries from the Northern Society made use of the power vacuum to plot a revolt. They circulated rumors among the troops that there had been no abdication and that Nicholas simply seized power, while Konstantin was away. The revolt was scheduled on December 14 when the troops were to give allegiance to Nicholas I.

But contrary to all expectations, most of the troops, except just two regiments, did swear loyalty to the new emperor. The insurgent units then marched onto the Senate Square where naval guards and many onlookers joined them. The crowd shouted: “Hurrah, Konstantin”, “Hurrah, constitution!” The regiments, in full battle array, were waiting for further instructions from their leaders. The latter, some of whom backed down at the last moment, failed to seize the initiative. Troops loyal to Nicholas I surrounded the rebels on all sides of the square. When St.Petersburg’s governor, Count Miloradovich appeared before the soldiers, calling on them to return to barracks, two officers fired mortally wounding him.

The incident predetermined the outcome of the revolt. The Emperor first moved cavalry units against the rebels and then crushed them by artillery fire. The same night first arrests were made. About 300 members of secret societies and some 700 soldiers and officers were arrested. Later five of their leaders were sentenced to execution, and the rest were condemned to penal servitude or exiled to Siberia.

In 1925 the Senate Square was renamed Decembrists’ Square in commemoration of the first armed rebellion against supreme power in Russia.

Source:The Voice of Russia

пятница, 23 октября 2009 г.

Dr.Evgeny Botkin

(image from www.pravoslavie.ru)

Dr. Evgeny Botkin (1865-1918)

It is hard to imagine a physician who took the Hippocratic Oath more seriously than Dr. Evgeny Sergeevich Botkin, physician to the last Tsar Nicholas II.

His devotion to Nicholas, Aleksandra and their children cost him his marriage and eventually his life. Despite his enormous sacrifice, little has been written about him. Anyone acquainted with the facts of his life and the details of his service to the Imperial family must consider his efforts heroic.

Dr. Botkin was born in St. Petersburg in Russia in 1865. His father, Dr. Sergey Petrovich Botkin (1832-1889), who served as physician to both Aleksander II and Aleksander III, is considered the father of Russian medicine.

Dr. Evgeny Botkin’s brother, Pyotr, who served as Russian Minister Plenipotentiary in Lisbon, described him as a “studious and conscientious” child who had “a horror of any kind of struggle or fight.”

While studying at the Academy of Medicine, he suffered temporary expulsion for his spirited defence of fellow students who had run afoul of the college administration. As one of five elders elected by his class, he sent a petition to Aleksander III defending the students. Although the Tsar was moved by the sentiments expressed, he could not grant a petition from students and the elders were expelled. It was not uncommon for ‘trouble makers’ from good families who could not be openly arrested to simply disappear at the hands of the secret police.

S.P. Botkin knew that even his prominent status as a physician to Aleksander III could not guarantee his son’s safety. He urged Evgeny to maintain a low profile and to avoid going out alone at night. The five young men met for dinner on the day of their expulsion and vowed to meet annually on that date. All five were soon readmitted to the Academy. True to their word, the elders met every year to dine together and have a group portrait taken. If a member was deceased, the others would include a photograph of him in the group portrait. Botkin attended every gathering from 1889 through 1916.

Upon graduation from the Academy of Medicine in 1889, Dr. Botkin was offered the post of physician to Tsarevich George Aleksandrovich, which he declined, preferring to continue his studies in Berlin and Heidelberg.

After returning to Russia, Botkin lived in near poverty. At that time it was difficult for physicians to make a decent living in Russia since they were not permitted to bill patients for services but were expected to care for anyone requiring medical treatment regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Later he became a lecturer at the Academy of Medicine and was appointed Chief Physician at St. George’s Hospital, a position which provided a modest income for his wife Olga and for their children Dmitry, George, Tatiana and Gleb.

Image from www.old-picture.com

During the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905, Dr. Botkin served as a volunteer at the front aboard the St. George’s Hospital train. He was later awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of St. Anna for his distinguished war time service and appointed Chief Commissioner of the Russian Red Cross.

In 1907, Dr. Hirsch, Tsarina Aleksandra’s personal physician, died. In 1908, Dr. Botkin was appointed to fill the vacancy. Anna Vyrubova, Aleksandra’s friend and confidante, who was sent to convey to Botkin the news of his appointment, reported that “he received the news with astonishment almost amounting to dismay.” Having grown up the son of a court physician, he realized how demanding the job would be. Age had made him more conservative and more religious, traits which allowed him to adapt to life at court. While he must have been flattered by the Tsar’s confidence in him, he felt “a great burden, a responsibility towards not only the family, but the whole country.”

Tsarevich Aleksey was seen by Dr. Vladimir Derevenko, who was hired by Botkin as an assistant. His calm and personable manner made Dr. Botkin the perfect physician for the Tsarina, who had definite ideas about her ailments and did not like to be contradicted. Her symptoms convinced Aleksandra that she had a heart condition, although Botkin believed her symptoms were due to a ‘nervous condition’ brought on by stress and anxiety.

He usually visited her twice a day at 9 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. Botkin often conversed with Aleksandra in her native German and due to his fluency in foreign languages, he sometimes served as an interpreter when she received foreign visitors.

Members of the imperial family and most members of their household liked and respected Dr. Botkin. The Imperial children were especially fond of him and made him an unwitting partner in one of their games: “A tall stout man who wore blue suits with a gold watch chain across his stomach, he exuded a strong perfume imported from Paris. When they were free, the young Grand Duchesses liked to track him from room to room, following his trail by sniffing his scent”.

Lili Dehn, lady-in-waiting to Aleksandra, described him as “a clever, liberal-minded man” whose “political views were opposed to those of the Imperialists” but whose devotion to the Tsar made these differences seem unimportant.

Some courtiers believed that Dr. Botkin told Aleksandra only what she wanted to hear and that he coddled her, thereby enabling her to avoid her official duties. Others distrusted him because he was on friendly terms with Anna Vyrubova, although their relationship rapidly deteriorated when he refused to befriend Rasputin.

Gleb Botkin reported that Rasputin once sought his father’s medical advice on some pretext. After examining Rasputin, Dr. Botkin told him he was perfectly healthy and to avoid calling on him again. From that day on, whenever the two met, “each man turned away his head pretending not to see the other.”

Dr. Botkin’s days were devoted to the care of the imperial family. At night, he kept up with his students from the Academy of Medicine, fulfilled his obligations to the medical societies to which he belonged and pursued his philanthropic interests.

The demands of his position and the devotion with which he performed his duties eventually cost him his marriage. His wife and children accompanied him on the Imperial trip to the Crimea in the fall of 1909, but Olga saw so little of him that she left after three weeks.
In 1910, she had an affair with their children’s German tutor, Friederich Lichinger, whom she later married. Botkin reluctantly agreed to a divorce and retained custody of their children. Olga died in Berlin during the collapse of the Third Reich.

Gleb and his sister Tatiana met the Tsarevich and young grand duchesses for the first time in person at Livadia that fall and were often invited to the palace to play. It was at Livadia that the Imperial children were introduced to Gleb’s stories and drawings about an imaginary planet of toy animals led by a tsar bear. Years later during their Siberian exile, Gleb continued to amuse the Imperial children with these stories.

The outbreak of World War I in August of 1914 found all of the Botkins involved in the war effort. The Tsarina sent Dr. Botkin to Yalta and Livadia to establish hospitals, his elder sons Dmitry and George were at the front, and Tatiana volunteered as a nurse at the Catherine Palace Hospital.

That December, Dmitry, a lieutenant in the Cossack regiment on the eastern front, was killed in action.
Dr. Botkin never faltered in his commitment to relieve physical suffering but after 1914, he lived an increasingly spiritual life and concerned himself with the health of his patients’ souls as well as that of their bodies. It was his spiritual commitment which gave him the strength to endure exile. George, a volunteer with the Fourth Rifles of the Imperial Family, was seriously wounded but survived the war. He was imprisoned and shot by the Nazis during World War II.

When the revolution broke out in St. Petersburg in March of 1917, the Provisional Government placed the Tsarina and her children under house arrest. Botkin stayed with them. Botkin helped Aleksandra through the abdication of Nicholas on March 15, and the Tsar’s return to Tsarskoe Selo on March 22.
He lived under house arrest at the Aleksander Palace with the Imperial family from March until August, accompanying the family and their servants into exile at Tobolsk in north-western Siberia. Gleb and Tatiana were allowed to accompany their father and all three lived together in two rooms of Kornilov House across the street from the former Governor’s Mansion where the Imperial family was confined.

Dr. Botkin unsuccessfully attempted to convince Aleksander Kerensky, President of the Provisional Government, that instead of Siberian exile, Aleksandra and her children should be sent to the Crimea for health reasons. In Tobolsk he argued for better food and more comfortable conditions for the prisoners and complained to the Commandant about the rude treatment the family received from their guards. His request that the family be permitted to spend one hour a day walking in the garden was granted, but permission was refused for Aleksandra and Aleksey to sit on the balcony when they were too ill to walk.
Even gaining permission for the family to open a window during the sweltering summer evenings was a battle. The Imperial servants were permitted to go for walks in town but forbidden to enter the homes of private citizens. Dr. Botkin and Dr. Derevenko were the exceptions since the shortage of doctors meant that their services were needed by local residents.

The fact that he was able to continue his work as a physician and had his children near him made exile easier for him to bear.

Nicholas, Aleksandra and members of their retinue divided up responsibility for the children’s education. Dr. Botkin tutored them in Russian. During this period Gleb continued to create stories and drawings for the Imperial children about his toy animals and added to the plot the story of a revolution and a monarch’s struggle to regain his throne.

On April 26, 1918, Dr. Botkin left Tobolsk with Nicholas, Aleksandra, Grand Duchess Marie and other members of the household. Believing they were bound for England via Moscow, Botkin left a letter for his children assuring them that they would join him in England. Commissar Yakovlev told them that Nicholas would be tried in Moscow and sentenced to deportation along with his family. The others stayed behind with Aleksey who was recovering from a fall and was too ill to travel. When the party arrived in Tyumen on April 29, Botkin was suffering from liver colic brought on by many hours of travel over bad roads.

Image from www.old-picture.com

On May 3, 1918, the Imperial household had been sent to live at Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. During the seventy-eight days of confinement in Ipatiev House, Dr. Botkin often spent his evenings with Nicholas and Aleksandra. They passed the time together talking, playing cards and listening to Nicholas read aloud. Botkin often spent the night sleeping in Aleksey’s room. On June 23, Dr. Botkin suffered a recurrence of colic severe enough to require a morphine injection and was ill for five days. Aleksandra sat with him for much of that time.

In the early morning hours of July 17, 1918, Botkin was awakened by Commandant Yurovsky and told to inform the prisoners that the White Army was approaching and that they must be moved to the basement for their own protection. Forty minutes later, Dr. Botkin was murdered by a firing squad along with the Imperial family and the remaining members of their household. Botkin was shot twice in the abdomen; one bullet hit his lumbar vertebrae and the other his pelvis. A third bullet hit his legs breaking his kneecaps and legs. He was also shot in the forehead.

The whole Imperial family were killed on the night of July 17, 1918, in the cellar of Ipatiev House".

Image from www.rusbereza.ru

Later, White Army investigators found the following unfinished letter, which Dr. Botkin had begun writing to his brother Alexander:
“I am making a last attempt at writing a real letter – at least from here – although that qualification, I believe, is utterly superfluous. I do not think that I was fated at any time to write to anyone from anywhere. My voluntary confinement here is restricted less by time than by my earthly existence. In essence I am dead – dead for my children – dead for my work … I am dead but not yet buried, or buried alive – whichever, the consequences are nearly identical … The day before yesterday, as I was calmly reading … I saw a reduced vision of my son Yuri's [George’s] face, but dead, in a horizontal position, his eyes closed. Yesterday, at the same reading, I suddenly heard a word that sounded like Papulya. I nearly burst into sobs. Again – this is not a hallucination because the word was pronounced, the voice was similar, and I did not doubt for an instant that my daughter, who was supposed to be in Tobolsk, was talking to me … I will probably never hear that voice so dear or feel that touch so dear with which my little children so spoiled me … If faith without works is dead, then deeds can live without faith [and if some of us have deeds and faith together, that is only by the special grace of God. I became one of these lucky ones through a heavy burden – the loss of my first born, six-month old Serzhi*] … This vindicates my last decision … when I unhesitatingly orphaned my own children in order to carry out my physician's duty to the end, as Abraham did not hesitate at God's demand to sacrifice his only son.”

In 1981, along with Nicholas, Aleksandra, their children and servants, Dr. Botkin was canonized a martyr by the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia. On July 17 1998, the eightieth anniversary of his death, Dr. Botkin’s remains were buried with those of the Imperial family and their servants in the Catherine Chapel in the cathedral of the Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul. His granddaughter, Marina Botkina Schweitzer, attended the funeral with her son Constantine. Along with the Imperial family and those who were murdered with them, Dr. Botkin was canonized a ‘passion bearer’ (one who met death with Christian humility) by the Russian Orthodox Church on August 19-20, 2000 at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.


четверг, 15 октября 2009 г.


In February 1837 Russia mourned the death of its most beloved poet Alexander Pushkin. In those days, so full of sorrow, the attention of the public was attracted by a verse of a young poet, Mikhail Lermontov. In this poem, dedicated entirely to Pushkin’s death and called “On the Death of the Poet,” the young Lermontov expressed his bitterness and anger over the attitude to Pushkin in high society, where they justified the poet’s murderer. The authorities responded by deporting Lermontov in exile to the Caucasus, where a war with the Chechens was on. Strange as it may seem, that very exile made the poet famous.

Mikhail Lermontov was born in Moscow, in 1814, into a noble family. His ancestors on his father’s side came from an old Scottish dynasty, the Lermonts. Members of the dynasty were scattered throughout the globe and one of the branches settled in Russia and came to be known as Lermontovs.

His mother died when he was three and the boy was raised by his granny, who was so doting on him that took him away from his loving father. Later on his father would write in his will: “You have wits, my boy, so don’t you ever neglect them but beware of wasting them on useless things: this is an innate gift and you’ll report to God on how you used it one day! You have a good heart, my dear. Thank you, my dear, for your gentle love and attention.”

Undoubtedly, the family drama had an impact on the future poet. He grew up an impressionable introvert, nervous but sensitive to other people’s pain. That’s why his younger days’ lyrics are so painfully tragic and full of profound emotion.

At 16, Lermontov read a book about Byron and was greatly impressed. He envied this British fellow, who died in Greece, during the Greeks’ liberation struggle. Byron’s works had a lasting effect on Lermontov and in many literary reviews the two go together as close spirits. When identified with Byron, Lermontov said: “Not Byron – of different kind chosen of fate, yet still unknown, outcast as he and driven from home. Yet Russian I – in heart and mind!”

Lermontov was dreaming of a literary career but became an officer graduating from the Guards Officers and Cavalry Cadets School. Exiled to the Caucasus for his verse on Pushkin’s death, Lermontov found himself at the core of the Russian army’s military operations against the Chechens. For courage in action he was repeatedly nominated for government awards in the form of orders and golden weapons. But Emperor Nicholas I had his own view of Lermontov and crossed his name out of the lists of candidates. The poet was upset, since a higher rank would enable him to retire and take up literary work. Nevertheless, while in exile Lermontov produced the best of his works, such as the romantic poems “Mtsyri” and “The Demon,” the psychological novel “A Hero of Our Time,” stories and verses that brought him fame.

According to contemporaries, Lermontov was not an easy-going person. Clever and sarcastic, he was difficult to make friends with but was, nevertheless, sensitive to love and endlessly devoted to those who had managed to make it into his heart. That very devotion made him demanding. A false note in a relationship caused him to withdraw into himself and struck him off balance to a point where a start-over became unthinkable. In that case he turned sarcastic sparing neither himself nor the people around him. He grew sick of the high-flown and immoral atmosphere he had to live in. His always-present snigger drove a wedge into his relations with a fellow officer, Nikolai Martynov, which resulted in the poet’s tragic death in a duel on July 15th, 1841.

Lermontov was killed at the age of 27, in the prime of his maturing personality. Being at odds with the society around him, he would have overcome it in time to indulge in what he was destined for – literary work. But he was unprepared for that and cracked under the pressure of everyday life.

Pushkin and Lermontov always go together in Russian literature as two poetic geniuses. They may change places, of course, depending on the reader’s preferences…

“On the Death of the Poet,”

The poet is no more! He's fallen
A slave to honour -
Lead in his chest, for vengeance calling,
The proud head bowed at last - he died!...
He would not brook the rankling shame
The petty calumnies, the stain
They sought to put upon his name....
Alone he stood, and now is slain!
Is slain... What use in lamentation,
Or empty choruses of praise,
Belated words of exculpation?
Say rather - Fate cut short his days!
Yet - are you blameless, you who banned
His free, brave talent out of spite,
And smouldering flames to white heat fanned
That should have been extinguished quite?
Come, be content, then - such refinement
Of pain was more than he could bear.
The lamp of genius is no longer shining,
The laurel wreath is fading now and sear.

Yet the assassin knew no hesitation
In cooly taking aim... not one
Beat missed that heart; no saving revelation
Made tremble that fell hand which held the gun....
Hard is it though indeed to credit
How came it that this common emigre,
This fortune hunter, this upstart careerist,
This poor blind tool of destiny,
Should, in his insolence, so spurn our land,
Her language and her customs fair
And spare no thought her chiefest pride to spare
Nor pause to wonder what it was - he dare,
To think 'gainst what he raised his hand!...

So he is slain - our singer - dead and gone
Like that less-known but well-beloved one
Of whom he told in wondrous poetry,
Who, like him by a ruthless hand undone,
A victim fell to senseless jealousy.

Why did he leave his peaceable pursuits and friendships
For this false world of harsh constraint and envy
To free and ardent heart so straight a pen?
Why did he give his hand to futile tattlers?
Why did he credence lend to liers, flatterers,
Who from his youth had been a judge of men?...

They've robbed him of his crown and set a crown of thorns
All wound about with laurel on him now
The hidden spikes have deeply torn
The poet's glorious brow;
And even his last moments were envenomed
By gossips ill-disposed and vulgar whispering
And so he died - filled with vain thirst for vengeance
And plagued by broken hopes fast festering....
The splendid songs will sound no more,
To silence must the great voice yield
In that small room without a door....
And - ah! - those lips are sealed.


But as for you, you arrogant descendants
Of fathers famed for their base infamies
Who, with a slavish heel, have spurned the remnants
Of nobler but less favoured families!
Who throng the throne, alert for gain - and gory
As executioners who cloak their vile intent
In robes of justice - so to slaughter Glory,
Freedom and Genius, seeming innocent!
But there's God's judgement, which fears not to wait;
A dreadful Judgement that's not bought nor sold.
It knows your inmost thoughts, ye panders reprobate,
It does not even hear the clink of gold.
Before this seat your slanders will not sway
That Judge both just and good...
Nor all your black blood serve to wash away
The poet's righteous blood.

A cossack lullaby

Sleep, my darling, sleep, my baby,
Close your eyes and sleep.
Darkness comes; into your cradle
Moonbeams shyly peep.
Many pretty songs I'll sing you
And a lullaby.
Pleasant dreams the night will bring you....
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

Muddy waters churn in anger,
Loud the Terek roars,
And a Chechen with a dagger
Leaps onto the shore.
Steeled your father is in gory
Battle.... You and I,
Little one, we need not worry... .
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

There will come a day when boldly,
Like your dad, my son,
You will mount your horse and shoulder,
Proud, a Cossack gun.
With bright silks your saddle for you
I will sew.... There lie
Roads as yet untrod before you....
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

You'll grow up to be a fearless
Cossack, and a true.
Off you'll ride, and I'll stand tearless,
Looking after you.
But when you are gone from sight, son,
Bitterly I'll cry....

May the dreams you dream be light, son;
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.
Thoughts of you when we are parted
All my days will fill.
In the nighttime, anxious-hearted,
Pray for you I will.
I'll be thinking that you're lonely,
That for home you sigh....
Sleep, my son, my one and only,
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

I will see you to the turning,
And you'll ride away.
With my icon you will journey
And before it pray.
Let your thoughts in time of danger
To your mother fly.
Close your eyes and sleep, my angel,
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.


Sources:The Voice of Russia,www.friends-partners.org

среда, 14 октября 2009 г.

Famous modern russian composer-Alexey Rybnikov

Born: July 17, 1945

Composer Aleksei Rybnikov has always boasted non-conventional thinking and original approach: he is the author of the first Soviet rock-operas, the first rock-n-roll broadcast on the national radio, and a variety of ingenious novelties in composition and sound recording. In the course of his long and prolific career he has composed music for over a hundred well-known Russian feature films.

Alexei L’vovich Rybnikov was born on July 17, 1945, in Moscow. Unique musical gift of Alexei revealed itself at an early age: when an eight-year old boy he already became the author of several piano plays and music for the film Baghdad Thief. At 11 he composed music for the ballet Kot v Sapogah (Puss in Boots). A great role in moulding the future composer’s outlook belonged to his teacher Aram Ilyich Khachaturyan. When introduced to Khachaturyan by Alexei’s father, a violinist, the boy demonstrated his music to the adult composer, and this in many ways determined the future of Rybnikov.

Aleksei RybnikovFrom 1956 to 1962 Alexei studied at the Central Music School for Gifted Children. In 1962 he entered the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatoire, where he studied at Khachaturyan’s composition class, and graduated it with honours in 1967. After that he took post-graduate course in 1969.

At 18 Rybnikov already had his own family. In order to provide for it he had to combine his conservatoire studies and creative activity with giving private music lessons, working as a concertmaster at a theatre institute and even as an accompanist in a kindergarten. From 1969 to 1975 Alexei Rybnikov taught at the chair of composition in the Moscow Conservatoire.

The composer made his official debut with performing his piano sonata Khorovody (Round Dances) composed at the first course of Conservatoire studies. The composition aroused interest in music circles.

Aleksei Rybnikov After graduation Rybnikov, along with instrumental composition, turned to other genres. He composed romances Molitva (Prayer) and Telephone to the lyrics by L. Ashkenazi. The records of his soundtrack for the film Big Space Travel (1973) were sold in great numbers, over a hundred thousand copies. The release of soundtrack for the children’s film Priklyuchenia Buratino (Adventures of Buratino) (1975) exceeded a million records.

Rybnikov also composed music for stage plays Kovarstvo i Lyubov’ (Treachery and Love), Prozrachny malchik (Transparent Boy), and Skazka o Chetyrekh Blizhetsakh (A Tale of Four Twins).

The Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta The composer gained recognition and fame mostly due to his works for music theatre. The year 1976 saw the premiere of the rock opera Zvezda i smert' Khoakina Murety (The Star and Death of Joaquin Murrieta) in Lenkom Theatre. It was the first rock opera in the Soviet Union, and a kind of revolution in the theatre. The production went with a bang making both the play and the music very popular.

Juno and Avos Though getting a lot of tempting offers Rybnikov chose the freedom of creation by starting work on his new modern opera Yunona and Avos (Juno and Avos) (based on Voznesensky’s poem) which combined the traditions of Russian Orthodox prayer with English art rock. Its premiere took place in 1981 in Lenkom Theatre. In 1982 the Ministry of Culture of the USSR banned the release of the album Yunona and Avos. Rybnikov applied to court and won the case. Later the rock opera started touring around the world. The play has been performed for over 20 years and still remains a sell-out show.

In 1988 Alexei Rybnikov founded the production and creative association “Sovremennaya Opera” (Modern Opera). In 1992 the theatre came out with the premiere of Rybnikov’s mystery musical Liturgia Oglashennykh (The Liturgy of the Catechumens) that was performed there for 70 times within two seasons.

In the late 1994 – early 1995 the Modern Opera Theatre toured in the USA. The Liturgy of the Catechumens won public acclaim. In 1996 the opera was performed in “The Spectacle and Sound Space of Alexei Rybnikov”, a theatre created according to Rybnikov’s design. In 1999 Alexei Rybnikov’s Theatre was open.

Along with theatre work Rybnikov proceeded in instrumental composition. In 1998 he created the ballet Vechnye Tantsy Lyubvi (Eternal Dances of Love).

Aleksei Rybnikov In 2000 Rybnikov’s new musical drama Maestro Massimo premiered in the State House of Radio Broadcasting and Sound Recording. In 2001 Alexei Rybnikov restored the lost score of the ballet Baldur's Dreams by the Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt after Scandinavian epos. Its premiere took place at the festival in Bergen (Norway) in 2002. The same year saw the premiere of the television film Deti is bezdny (Children from the Abyss) directed by Pavel Chukhrai and produced by Steven Spielberg, with the soundtrack by Alexei Rybnikov. The film is dedicated to the hard lot of Jewish children dwelling on the territory of the Soviet Union during World War II.

Alexei Rybnikov lives and works in Moscow. Apart from music, his major passion, the composer is keen on traveling.


The soundtracks to the movie "You wouldn't even dream it".(Teenagers love story)


The soundtrack to the movie "Big Space Travel"- "Milky Way" (fantastic)

The music to the movie "The Tale About Star-Child" (final) by Oscar Wilde stories.


By Tatyana Shvetsova

It is hard to say just what kind of policy the Soviet government would have been conducting, if its founder, Vladimir Lenin hadn’t died on January 21st 1924. Although in the last year of his life Lenin didn’t really play an active political role, nonetheless, in the eyes of the communists he remained the leader of the revolution. Lenin’s funeral became a display of trust shown by the communists’ followers in the transformations in society. Hundreds of thousands of these followers at the time joined the ranks of the communist party. A decision Lenin on death bedwas taken to preserve the body of the leader in a special Mausoleum, built for the purpose on Red Square. In Lenin’s honor Petrograd was renamed Leningrad.

After Lenin’s death his deputy – a seasoned Bolshevik Alexei Rykov was appointed head of the government, i.e. Chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars. While as of 1922 the post of General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party was occupied by Joseph Stalin. Historian Pyotr Deinichenko writes:

“Already during Lenin’s lifetime Stalin attempted to oust all other influential party leaders, securing for himself the leading position at the helm. After Lenin’s death, there remained but one serious adversary and rival to contend with – Leon Trotsky. The position of General Secretary of the Party permitted Stalin to infiltrate ‘his own people’ into the uppermost echelons of power, thus strengthening his grasp on overall power in the country.

People pay their last respects to Lenin. January 1924Moreover, since 1920 he headed the apparatus of the influential Workers and Peasants Inspection – a body of state control from 1920 to 1934. Stalin had no clear-cut position regarding the country’s development after Lenin’s death. However, he most convincingly played the role of impartial judge and faithful follower of Lenin’s ideals.

Stalin’s principal rival, Leon Trotsky, championed extreme leftist views, which not always won him the support of party members even in the years of military communism. Nonetheless, Trotsky’s ideas found ready support among the working masses. Disgruntled by the domination of party bureaucracy, they were inspired to organize strikes and set up, as they put it, ‘genuinely workers’ underground groups. Besides, Trotsky demanded a democratization of the party and reducing the role of the party apparatus.

Trotsky acted first, accusing Stalin’s staunch supporters of the time, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev, of betraying the cause of the revolution and displaying ‘right leanings’. However, Trotsky didn’t allow for the entire might of the party propaganda apparatus being turned against him.

Stalin started out by denying Trotsky’s role in the revolution and the Civil war, putting to doubt the theory of world revolution, that Trotsky was an active proponent of, and that up until then nobody had the least doubt about. It was then that Stalin began to speak of the victory of socialism in one separate country. This remark had once been made by Vladimir Lenin, however, the way it was served up by Stalin it acquired patriotic overtones.

Stalin’s remarks hit close to home: the prospects of an endless revolutionary struggle were less than appealing to many. The Red Army servicemen were tired of the many years of war – after all, many had set off for the front in 1914, during the First World War!

Stalin in 1928The ‘revolutionary bureaucrats’, who had pushed themselves forward in the years of Civil war, also wanted to make ample use of the advantages of their situation.

In 1925 Stalin went even further, supporting a number of measures in favor of the peasantry. In the eyes of the true communists this was a concession to the wealthy peasantry, so-called ‘kulaks’. The head of the party organization of Leningrad communists Grigory Zinoviev spoke of the erroneous nature of the theory of building socialism in one separate country. Neither did he like the state policy in favor of the peasantry. However, Stalin came out on top yet again. At the 14th Party Congress he took upon himself the role of arbiter between the ‘rightists’ and the ‘leftists’. Despite the fact that Lenin’s widow and companion-in-arms Nadezhda Krupskaya took the side of the opposition, the Congress threw its weight in with Stalin. Soon after this Grigory Zinoviev was removed from his post, and the Leningrad party organization was now headed by Sergey Kirov, Stalin’s faithful disciple.

The struggle continued. And in 1926 Leon Trotsky, already removed from the post of Army Minister, insisted that the revolution had been betrayed by the bureaucrats and the sole solution lay in a speedy development of heavy industry, improvement of the conditions of life of the workers, democratization of the party and a struggle against the wealthy peasantry. However, it wasn’t easy for Trotsky and his followers to spread these ideas in the masses, since the party apparatus, controlled by Stalin, would not permit this. So the opposition decided to opt for subterfuge and set up clandestine organizations, and spread its ideas in the lower party cells. The Trotskists were under constant observation by the GPU (Secret Police) under the Government of the USSR, which had taken over the functions of the VCHka.

In October 1926 a Plenary meeting of the party Central Committee expelled Leon Trotsky and Grigory Zinoviev from the Politburo. Thus Stalin’s theory of building socialism in one separate country prevailed. The opposition was still trying to put up a resistance. In autumn of 1927 they clandestinely printed a program of party reforms. The key demand of this program was the independence of the Central Committee from the Party Apparatus.

State Security bodies used this as a pretext, and practically all noteworthy followers of Leon Trotsky were expelled from the party. In the Sergey Kirovbeginning of 1928 Trotsky and some 30 other oppositionists were exiled to Alma-Ata, in Kazakhstan.

The 15th party congress, which was held in December 1927, proclaimed an end to ‘Trotskyism’, and, accordingly, a rejection of the notion of ‘a world revolution’.

The country had to learn to survive surrounded by a hostile environment, and this required a strong economy.

In the briefest possible time a revolution had to be effected in industry and agriculture. Few doubted the imperative need for this. Everyone was convinced of the proximity of a war with ‘the world of capital’. Run-of-the-mill workers and communists perceived industrialization as a constituent part of a struggle for the survival of the revolution. An adversary in this struggle was the Russian peasantry, which comprised a major part of the population of the country. The entire lifestyle and hopes and aspirations of the peasants cut across the communists’ plans for a strong industrial power. The conflict between the town and the village, which emerged back in the years of the First World War, now reached its climax.

At the end of 1927 bread shortages became a reality: the peasants had supplied a quarter less grain than the previous year. The country had lost its main export commodity and was now without currency, so needed for realizing industrialization plans. Once again, food supplies to the city were threatened. Stalin made an immediate decision: instead of protracted and gradual collectivization it was necessary to set up gigantic agricultural enterprises, which could compete with the small farmer and backyarder. At the same time workers units were sent to the villages to impound grain surpluses.

This policy of returning to surplus appropriation system sparked the indignation of many party members, something that became evident at the April Plenary meeting of the Central Committee in 1928. To strengthen his position, Stalin made effective use of the court proceedings against 53 people in the Ukrainian town Shakhty. These people, chiefly engineers and technicians, were accused of industrial sabotage at the orders of the former owners of the mines. The party propaganda used the Shakhty case to maximum advantage. The entire affair was presented as a conspiracy of international capital against the revolution. Once again, the issue of the ‘rightist threat’ was raised, and in this connection – the danger that the wealthy ‘kulak’ farmers presented.

Nonetheless, polemics inside the party continued. Now Stalin’s chief opponent was Party Central Committee member Nikolai Bukharin. Nikolai BukharinHe believed that plans of forcing the peasantry to go to extra expense for the sake of industrialization needs could only lead the country to terror and starvation. Stalin, in turn, vaguely expatiated about ‘right leanings’ within the party, without actually revealing any names.

In November 1928 the Plenary meeting of the Party Central Committee unanimously condemned the ‘right deviations’. In the name of the party’s unity Nikolai Bukharin and his associates voted in favor of Stalin’s resolutions on industrialization and development of the socialist sector in agriculture. After this they could no longer openly voice their ideas.

The opposition no longer presented a major threat.

As soon as the party line shifted to the left, rank-and-file communists all turned against Leon Trotsky. Soon he was accused of setting up an “anti-Soviet party” and on January 21st 1929 he was expelled from the country. Nikolai Bukharin paid an even bigger price, since they black-marked him for contacts with the Trotskists and all other mistakes, right back to when he dared oppose Lenin in 1915, so he was removed from all posts.

The Central Control Commission conducted a thorough purge within the party ranks. Over 170 thousand Bolsheviks were expelled – moreover, a third – for political opposition to the party line.”

This is how Stalin achieved his long-cherished plans of rising to the summits of political diktat.


Illustrations: “Russia. A Complete Encyclopaedic Guide.” Moscow, OLMA-PRESS, 2002
“USSR”, Novosti Press Agency Publishing House, Moscow, 1990

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 13 октября 2009 г.


By Elena Bashilova

Mikhail Yakovlev, born into a peasant family in 1786, was the first in the line of the Ryabushinsky dynasty of millionaire industrialists. His parents lived at a place called Ryabushinsky in the Kaluga province that lies about 300 kilometers south of Moscow. They were, together with all their neighbors, known as Ryabushinsky. Thus the place name turned into a family name.

Neither papers nor portraits of Mikhail Yakovlev-Ryabushinsky have survived till nowadays. But this is what we know.

Mikhail became a salesman’s apprentice at the age of 12. Four years later, in 1802, he set off for Moscow where he joined the 3rd, that is lowest, of the Russian merchants’ guilds. He had to put up 1,000 to 5,000 rubles to be able to join it and it is not clear where the 16-year-old peasant got that money. He may have got it from his elder brother Artemy who is said to be engaged in trade operations, also in Moscow. One way or another, the new member of the merchants’ guild, Mikhail Ryabushinsky, started selling fabrics for sewing.

He was lucky to meet and marry Yefimiya Skvortsova who was daughter of a rich merchant, landlord and owner of a tannery.

The French invasion and the destructive fire of 1812 ruined many a merchant, including the founding father of the Ryabushinsky empire. Mikhail checked with the Merchant Authority in 1813, to say that he could no longer be known as a merchant. The heavy damages he suffered from the enemy made it impossible for him to pay an interest on capital investment, which was why, he wrote, he wanted to be known as a commoner.

Mikhail Ryabushinsky was a commoner for a stretch of ten years. An ability to wait without wailing was his inborn quality. Trials and tribulations failed to break his spirit and luck again turned his way. He managed to save 8,000 rubles and joined the 3rd guild of Russian merchants in December of 1823.

He had, by that time, purchased a house at Yakimanka Street, near the Kremlin. And he had five children: two daughters and three sons.

The opening, in the mid-40’s, of two textile factories in the Kaluga province spelled the beginning of the Ryabushinsky empire. In 1856, Mikhail Ryabushinsky opened a third factory near the place he lived at. In Moscow, the Kaluga factories turned out semi-woolen fabrics while the Moscow one made use of English and Russian wool yarn. In 1857, Ryabushinsky opened one more factory in his old home province. He reaped fabulous sums of profits. His capital was estimated at 2 million rubles in 1858, the year of his death.

But it was not for money, power of glory that he expanded his empire. He simply loved doing what he did. “Everything for the business and nothing for myself” was his motto.

His second son, Pavel, kept the fires burning after Mikhail’s death. Pavel was a resourceful, easy-going and outspoken person, totally different from his younger brother Vasily. The eldest son, Ivan, was cut off with a penny for marrying against his fathers’ will. He opened a business company of his own.

The three brothers were taught home and started running business errands as soon as they turned 14 or at most, 16. They were introduced to the secrets of bookkeeping, toured, together with their mother, places where they could sell and buy fabrics. Little by little, they accumulated experience and learned to use their own brains.

The Ryabushinskys were devout believers of the Orthodox rite, which helped them run their factories. Pavel’s children said there was a special room for prayer at their place, where old icons adorned the walls and where church books were kept. Sometimes formal church services were held in that room. They were frequently visited by nuns and monks.

Well, Pavel who took the helm after his father’s death was a successful businessman. He had a nose for business endeavors and a rare gift for defining the real worth of prospective business partners. And he was as cautious as anyone in the choice of business partners.

He could have carried on just like his father did. But he made a crucial decision that left a lasting imprint on the industries.

Steam engine machinery came to replace the handlooms of the textile factories of Moscow in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Mikhail Ryabushinsky relied on menial labor. His son Pavel had to either brace up for modernization or go off stage. He knew that the technical overhaul of an old factory would cost him more than opening a new factory. Ryabushinsky's mansion in Moscow

Pavel Ryabushinsky, who kept an eye on technical innovations and paid frequent visits to technologically advanced Britain, decided to buy a cotton mill in the Tver region that borders on the region of Moscow. His new factory was positioned near a railroad and was equidistant from the two capitals of Russia, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

He got rid of his other mills and invested exclusively in his new acquisition. A year had hardly gone by before he got the gold medal of a nationwide fair of woven fabrics.

And, twelve years later, he won the right to brand his fabrics with the state emblem of the Russian Empire.

He kept expanding production. What used to be a Tver cotton mill, by the year 1887 had come to bring together five factories that specialized in weaving, spinning, dyeing, bleaching and finishing. It was about time to start calling it a business corporation. Little by little, though, this business corporation became active in the banking sector. Its four commercial banks and a merchants’ credit society were, of course, incapable of meeting the financial demand of Moscow. One of Pavel’s sons would write that “theirs always was a blend of banking business and industrial production.”


And yet, the industrialist prevailed over the banker. Pavel Ryabushinsky had a knack for business management. By the end of the 19th century, his factories came to play an important role in the textile industry of Russia. A whole town grew around the shops. A sawmill opened near it in 1897. (Ryabushinsky had more than 30,000 acres of forests). Electricity, then almost uncommon in the country, was taken to the shops.

A few words about the private life of Pavel Ryabushinsky who got married at a fairly advanced age and under unusual circumstances. In 1870, Pavel intended to arrange a match between his brother Vasily and the daughter of a rich merchant. But he liked the girl so much that she got to marry him, instead of his brother. The girl Alexandra was thirty years younger than Pavel but they lived happily together and their union was blessed with many children. Pavel and Alexandra had 16 children.

Pavel Ryabushinsky died on the threshold of the 20th century, in 1899, leaving a fortune — 20 million rubles — to his offspring. His sons inherited his business company.

“By the time the World War I, the Ryabushinsky empire had more than 4,500 employees,” staff worker of the Museum of Russian Business Enterprise Darya Zhavoronkova says. “Its annual volume of production was put at 8 million rubles. Its banking sector and industrial board were headquartered in a 1.5 million-ruble building erected in the art nuveau style by fashionable architect Fyodor Shekhtel, in downtown Moscow. That building is a brick-and-stone business card of the turn-of-the-century industrialists.”

In 1915, Pavel Junior was, in recognition of his leading role in business, elected to chair the metropolitan stock exchange committee. Pretty soon after that he was elected to chair the military-industrial committee of Russia.

A church service was held on the day after the cornerstone of the first plant of the metropolitan Automobile Society was laid at Moscow’s Tyufeleva Roshcha. The plant was to have put out 150 one-and-a-half-ton FIAT trucks by the spring of 1917. The difficulties of the war years, coupled with the shortage of necessary machinery, frustrated Ryabushinsky’s plans in that field. But the Italian-made component parts of FIATs were put together when the unfinished plant became public property and the Ryabushinskys were no longer living in Russia. As many as 472 trucks rolled off the car plant’s assembly line in 1917, to be followed by 779 in 1918 and 108 in 1919, although the plant focused, in the first years of Soviet rule, on the reparation of cars, trucks and other things.

Source:The Voice of Russia

понедельник, 12 октября 2009 г.

The classic of soviet cinema-"The cranes are flying" (1957)

Born: 28 December 1903
Deceased: 29 March 1973

Film DirectorThe name of illustrious film-director Mikhail Kalatozov (1903-1973) is one of the most recognizable brand names of Soviet cinematography. His famous film The Cranes Are Flying (1957), one of the most popular and unfading masterpieces of cinema, is remembered and beloved till date.

Georgian-Russian film-director Mikhail Konstantinovich Kalatozov (true surname Kalatozishvili) was born on December 28, 1903 in Tbilisi (earlier named Tiflis). As a youth he worked as a driver and projectionist, and later as a film-cutter, cameraman and scriptwriter at the Tbilisi filmstudio; took part as scripter and cameraman in creation of Geroy nashego vremeni (The Hero of Our Time, 1925) (dir. Ivane Perestiani), and Giuli (1927) (dir. Nikoloz Shengelaya)

Sol Svanetii (1930) In 1928 together with N.Gogoberidze he directed Ikh tsarstvo (Their Empire) using news-reel materials. In 1930 Kalatozov made his debut in film-directing on his own with Sol Svanetii (The Salt of Svanetia) that became famous all over the world.

After finishing a post-graduate course at the Academy of Art Studies in Leningrad (1937) and a short period of work at Tbilisi filmstudio Kalatozov was engaged as a film-director at Lenfilm Studio where he shot two movies about pilots Muzhestvo (Courage, 1939) and Valeri Chkalov (1941). The hero of the second film, the legendary Soviet ace Chkalov played by Vladimir Belokurov for many years remained not less popular among the viewers than Chapayev from the same-name movie by brothers Georgi and Sergei Vasilyev.

Zagovor obrechyonnikh (1950)From 1943 Kalatozov worked at Mosfilm studio and represented Soviet cinema in Hollywood, in 1945-1946 he was at the head of Central directorate on feature film production, and in 1946-1948 he held the post of Deputy Minister of Cinematography of the USSR.

During the late 1940s – early 1950s when not many movies were shot in the country, Kalatozov was granted the State Award (1951) for his film Zagovor obrechyonnikh (Conspiracy of the Doomed, 1950), a political pamphlet after the same-name play by N. Virta, starring the uncomparable Russian singer Aleksandr Vertinsky. However his true success of that period was his lyrical comedy Vernyye druz'ya (True Friends, 1954) (Grand Prix at the Film Festival Karlovy Vary), the characters and the style of which evidently bore signs of anticipation of the upcoming ‘Thaw’ epoch.

Letyat zhuravli (1957) A beneficial influence of the ‘Thaw’ also marked Kalatozov’s major masterpiece, the war drama Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes Are Flying, 1957) (Grand-Prix at the Cannes Film Festival , 1958), innovative both in form and essence, after Viktor Rozov’s play Vechno Zhiviye (The Eternally Alive). With all its artistic system the film interprets the war first of all as a personal tragedy for two young people longing for love and life. The acting of the leads Tatyana Samojlova and Aleksey Batalov, brilliant montage and unusual mobility of the camera make this film an art work filled with great tragic power and subtle lyrical beauty.

Neotpravlennoye pismo (1959) Inspired with the success of this film Kalatozov extended its imagery and drama finds to his next work, Neotpravlennoye pismo (The Letter That Was Never Sent, 1959), where the central plot collision is the death of a group of geologers searching for a diamond field. This film was followed by a philosophical and romantic poem of a film entitled Ya Kuba (I Am Cuba) (1964).

Krasnaya palatka (1969) His last work was the joint Italian and Soviet production of the film Krasnaya palatka (The Red Tent, 1969) about the salvation of the polar expedition of Umberto Nobile. Besides reavealing the best features of the film-director’s creative personality (his gift in conveying the pathos of man’s feet, and the spontaneity of nature) the film starring Sean Connery, Claudia Cardinale, and Peter Finch became one of the most successful joint productions by Soviet and foreign cinematographers.

Mikhail Kalatozov Mikhail Kalatozov died in Moscow on March 29, 1973.

In 2000 “Mikhail Kalatozov Fund” was established in Russia as a non-commercial organization aimed at supporting and developing national cinematography, as well as keeping the memory of cinema masters of this country.

Vera Ivanova and Mikhail Manykin


The war drama "Letyat zhuravli" ("The Cranes Are Flying", 1957)

part 1.

part 2.

part 3.

part 4.

part 5.

part 6.

part 7.

part 8.

part 9.

part 10.

part 11.

part 12.

воскресенье, 11 октября 2009 г.

Abramtsevo-Kudrino Wood Carving

Abramtsevo-Kudrino Wood Carving is a famous Russian handicraft that took shape in the vicinity of Abramtsevo Estate situated near Moscow.

The appearance of the handicraft was closely associated with artists of the Abramtsevo circle, and first of all with Elena Dmitrievna Polenova, who organized a carving and woodwork workshop in the estate of Savva Mamontov. Peasants from the nearby villages of Khotkovo, Akhtyrka, Kudrino, and Mutovka learned woodcarving and worked there.

Special attention in the workshop was paid to educational process and encouraging creative spirit among the students. Apart from woodcarving skills they were taught drawing and basics of painting. The classes were given in the Abramtsevo Museum: an enormous collection of folk art items had been collected in the estate. The graduates of the workshop were presented with instruments to start their own business. In 1890 one of the graduates, V.P. Vornoskov, founded his own manufacture in his native village Kudrino and started woodcarving to orders of the Abramtsevo workshop. Initially small, this workshop originated the future trademark of carving.

A peculiar style of ornamental carving was developed in Kudrino workshop: the craftsmen found apt combinations of flat relief and geometrical carving, as well as harmonious utilization of carving décor in household necessities. In the first years of work the shaping of the original style was greatly influenced by professional artists V.I. Sokolov and S.V. Malyutin. Covered with rhythmical floral ornaments, Kudrino workshop’s items – ladles, caskets, kegs, saltcellars, decorative plates and vases – were notable for diversity of tinting that highlighted the natural beauty of wood.

The floral ornament is based not only on samples of carved peasants’ articles and house décor, but also on ornamental headpieces of books published in Russia before the 18th century. The development of ornaments by Kudrino carvers was going from combinations of separate elements, such as twigs, scrolls, and rosettes, to overall ornamental compositions covering the entire article. The year 1922 saw the foundation of the artel “Revival” that started developing fast, and in the mid 1930s it already included more than 120 craftsmen.

The works made in the artel enjoyed popularity and were repeatedly awarded with diplomas at Russian and international exhibitions. In 1936 the artel implemented a unique order: decoration of one of the entrances to the exhibition of folk art in the Tretyakov Gallery. It was the only work by Kudrino masters in the sphere of monumental art. For the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937 Kudrino carvers prepared an extensive collection, with replicas of lots of the early works by V.P. Vornoskov.

In the following years the carving handicraft was developed by craftsmen and artists of different generations. Presently the centre of Abramtsevo-Kudrino Wood Carving is located in the Khotkov town of the Sergiev-Posad Region, where a factory of carved artware is operating. Specialists of Abramtsevo-Kudrino Wood Carving are trained at V.M. Vasnetsov Arts and Crafts College in Abramtsevo.



By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

It turns out that qualities like shyness and chastity that are characteristic of some people can also apply to a language. And Russian is one such language.

“There are no words in the pure form of the Russian language — other than medical terms — that describe physical intimacy between a man and a woman,” says Vasiliy Irzabekov, author of a popular book “The Mystery of the Russian Word”. “It is unfortunate that young people reduce the dizzying range of emotions and feelings associated with love to a notion of “making love”. Come to think of it, this non-Russian expression so common among younger people doesn’t make sense. Love is a feeling. How can one possibly engage in a feeling? One can feel love, be engrossed in a feeling of love… or in other feelings. Can one make pity or disappointment or envy?”

“As a matter of fact,” Irzabekov goes on to say, “the Bible that contains no bigotry describes romantic intimacy in a very dignified way, “he got to know his wife… or he has knowledge of his wife”. The Russian word for a bride is “Ne-vesta” which literally means “unknown, unfamiliar”. The groom, her husband-to-be doesn’t know her yet.

Like all other religions that have preserved the idea of sanctity, Christianity speaks out against so-called “sexual liberty”. There is a beautiful Russian word tselomudrie which literally means “wholeness and wisdom” and expresses one’s spiritual and moral dignity. Not only does it imply a physical innocence of the body, but also one’s wholeness and non-duality in terms of the person’s attitude toward his or her moral imperative, honour, law, and family.

It is very fortunate that at the beginning of the 1941-1945 War against Nazi Germany the moral standards of the Soviet people were high. That was one of the key factors of our victory. One noteworthy fact: German medical doctors who examined Russian teenage girls who were brought to Germany from Nazi-occupied territories for forced labour, commented, “This country is impossible to defeat: Their girls are all virgins.”

It is unfortunate that in this world of sexual liberty and debauchery the concept of chastity is not very popular. In the meantime, history knows instances when sexual licentiousness led to ruination and death of entire peoples.

The Golden Horde that lasted over two centuries left a horrible legacy in the consciousness of Russians and in their language as well. “Mat” or obscene and curse words as well as “koshchunstvo” or desecration of sacred symbols, which is a derivation of “koschun”, a tatar punitive corps who burned cities and libraries and drove thousands of people to be sold as slaves at the slave markets of Asia and Europe. He who curses with “mat”, or uses obscenities, desecrates the name of a mother or mat’ in Russian, defiles the sacred notion of motherhood and insults the Mother of God. “The ground is burning underneath him and the Blessed Virgin is praying for him.”
Linguists maintain that about 80% of words in the Russian language have Church Slavonic roots.
NE-besa (or “heaven”) literally means “no demons”.
Prechistaya, Preneporochnaya, Prisnodeva are all descriptions of the Mother of God — All pure, immaculate, chaste, Virgin.
Purity is the essence and the foundation of Russian spirituality. Chastity — in the collective consciousness of Russians — is an eternal virtue, just like motherhood…

Source:The Voice of Russia

суббота, 10 октября 2009 г.

Ilya Muromets (circa 1150- circa 1204)

“From the famous city of Murom, out of the village of Karacharovo, the valiant, doughty youth Ilya Muromets, the son of Ivan, set out far into the open fields…”

Such is the beginning of many folk tales featuring Ilya Muromets. He is strong and fearless, he waves his mace to crush trees or else simply uproots them with his bare hands – all this to help his fellow villagers build a road through the forest. He can defeat terrifying monsters: Zmey Gorynych (the three-headed flying serpent) and Solovey Razboinik (Nightingale the Robber). He boldly challenges Idolishe Poganoe (Tainted Beastgod), a knight corrupted by evil forces who threatens the integrity of Great Rus (the medieval name for Russia).

For nearly a millennium, tales of Ilya Muromets have been passed on from generation to generation. In traditional fables he is a wise elder, whereas in the most recent cartoon – Vladimir Toropchin's “Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber” – he is a dynamic and rather muscular young man, determined to gain the favours of a voluptuous blonde (a princess, of course). Films, cartoons and even video games have been dedicated to his eventful legendary life. All of these unlikely representations are united by one determining feature: physical and spiritual integrity, dedicated to the protection of the Homeland and People.

Out of the three Russian folk heroes, the so-called 'bogatyrs' (Ilya Muromets, Dobrynia Nikitich and Alyosha Popvich), Ilya is the most famous one, as well as the group's leader. More stories are associated with his name and, unlike his mythical counterparts, the stories about him have a distinct chronological structure. More extraordinary yet is how Ilya became a defender of Rus in the first place. The best description lies within the folk tales themselves, so it is best to turn to them for answers.

And so here we are, on the outskirts of Murom-town (from which Ilya Muromets takes his name), in the village of Karacharovo, where Ilya lives with his peasant mother and father. The bogatyr-to-be is thirty-three years old and he has spent all these years lying on a stove. Mind you, the traditional Russian stove is more than just a cooking appliance, so Ilya wasn't frying. The top of the stove is a warm flat surface, making it the favourite resting place in a Russian peasant home. It is also where, according to the legend, Ilya Muromets spent the first thirty-three years of his life. “Thirty and three years lay Ilya Muromets on his stove,” says a well-known Russian joke. “Russia has never seen such a hangover!” But it wasn't laziness or a hangover that kept Ilya from doing good deeds – it was a curse put on his grandfather that prevented him from walking.

This mysterious curse was lifted as strangely as it appeared. It is a bright summer's day, probably the Ivan Kupala holiday, which takes place in the end of June. Ilya's parents are out working in the fields and he’s lying there on his stove, miserable and lonely. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door: three religious wanderers ask Ilya for some drinking water. He would be glad to help, but explains that he can't get up from the stove as he is paralysed. One of the wanderers turns to him and says: “Stand up and stretch your frisky legs, get off your stove, for you are completely cured”. Ilya does as he is told and, indeed, he is not only able to walk, he also discovers that he has acquired super-human strength. He wants to thank his saviours so he gives them the best food and drink he can find in the house's cellar. But it is not full stomachs that the three wanderers are after. They tell Ilya of his destiny: to be a bogatyr and to defend his homeland. So, after saying goodbye to his befuddled yet happy parents, Ilya finds himself a powerful stallion tenderly called Karkusha, and sets off to do good deeds for the people of Rus.

What follows, according to the tales, is an avalanche of great exploits and victories. Ilya Muromets single-handedly defends the city of Chernigov from invasion by the Tatars and is offered a knighthood by the local ruler, but Ilya declines to stay. In the forests of Bryansk he then kills the forest-dwelling monster Solovey-Razboynik, who murders travellers with his powerful whistle. Ilya Muromets becomes the greatest defender of Rus against all of its enemies, both real and fictional ones. Tatars, bandits, three-headed flying serpents, possessed knights and even princes – nobody is a match for the bogatyr's superhuman strength and determination to dispense justice. Traditionally, he is portrayed as the eldest of the three bogatyrs, with a grey beard and a mighty stature. Despite his modest origins, he was universally respected amongst his counterparts not only for his strength, but also for his worldly wisdom. Legends of Muromets probably originate from difficult period when Russia was under the Tatar yoke and ancient cities had to fight for their independence. He became a symbol of freedom and patriotism.

Ilya Muromets is not only the most famous hero of the Russian epos; he is also the most complex one. Most Russians are genuinely surprised by the existence of a St. Ilya Muromets in the Russian Orthodox Church. Indeed, the story and the symbolism behind the legendary bogatyr is much richer than simply a children's tale. Ilya Muromets is said to have a very specific historic prototype. Historically, he was a muscle-man called Chobitko who, just like the folk protagonist, lived in the town of Murom in the late 1100s. As early as 1594 the Austrian ambassador to Russia, Erich Lassota, encountered Chobitko's remains in a cave near Kiev. He was told that Chobitko was a bogatyr and had been given that name after an incident when he beat off enemies using a chobot (an old Russian word for boot).

Chobitko became a monk in Kiev later in life and was canonised in 1643 as St. Ilya Muromets. Little is known about his life, apart from the fact that he was a warrior and a clergyman. Records also point to his peasant background and to the fact that he suffered from paralysis until he was miraculously cured. Before taking his monastic vows, Chobitko was a member of the royal bodyguard. It was probably during his numerous clashes with the Tatars that he received the numerous wounds which forced him to leave military life and substitute it for religion. However, it is very difficult to describe Chobitko as a conventional religious man. According to some records, after a fight with one of the local rulers, the angry bogatyr shot crosses off churches using his bow and arrow.

In 1988, an interdisciplinary committee analysed the relics of St.Ilya Muromets stored at the Kiev-Pecherski Monastery. Their investigation showed that the remains belonged to man of above average height for that time (177 cm), who suffered from an incurable spine defect and deformities at the extremities. Traces of battle wounds were also discovered, showing that Ilya was probably killed during the siege of Kiev in 1204. How he was cured and how he was able to participate in battles remains a mystery, yet it was obvious from the remains that the life of the factual saint bore many similarities to that of the mythical bogatyr.

Over the centuries, Ilya Muromets' canonical image has been preserved, yet he has also gained popular acknowledgement in new, adapted forms. He is the protagonist of many literary works, the hero of numerous movies (e.g. Aleksandr Ptushko's film Ilya Muromets), paintings (e.g. Bogatyrs and Ilya Muromets by Viktor Vasnetsov), monuments and cartoons. There’s even an aircraft named after Ilya Muromets. Designed by Igor Sikorsky it was Russia's and the world's first four-engine strategic bomber.


пятница, 9 октября 2009 г.

The road which has created Russia (part 2)

Neither Demidov’s botanical garden (now it is a place in the modern micro district) nor Steller’s tomb (nobody knows Steller’s exact burial place) have been saved. Despite this the destiny of the people connected with the Siberian route has become an important achy-typical components of the cultural landscape of those places through which it passed (see for example: 4, 19, and 22). In 1719, in the second part of the book issued about Robinson Crusoe, the route of adventures passed along the Siberian route. Under the assumption made by the historian Verevkin (4), the reference that inspired Daniel Defoe, was one of the first descriptions of the Siberian route – notes made by an unknown military foreigner who had proceeded with forty six officers from Moscow to Siberia in 1666 (14, 264). These notes written in German, long time remained unpublished ad were stored in Copenhagen. They were published in our country in 1936 in the magazine "Historical archive" by M.P. Alekseev - the author of books "Siberia in news of the West-European writers", "Siberia in Defoe's novel", etc. Other important documents about the Siberian route from the end of the XVII century are traveling diaries of Russian ambassadors to China Izbrant Idess and Adam Brandt who traveled in 1692 - 1695.

The Siberian route has left the bright trace on architecture and landscapes of cities through which it ran. One of the paramount goals of the "tsar’s road" of Solikamsk, Verkhoturye, Tyumen and Tobolsk was to leave on new, uninhabited lands the major attributes of Russian statehood and spiritual culture. In these cities at the end the XVII - the beginning of the XVIII centuries many outstanding samples of temple and civil architecture were constructed, the largest monasteries were founded which are seen today as original spiritual items of this historical-geographical phenomena.

The beginning of Babinov’s road was in the Cathedral area of Solikamsk that has become the heart of an architectural ensemble of the city and the "pearls" of it constructed mainly from the 80s of the XVII till the 20s of the XVIII centuries are: Trinity and Cross-Erection Сathedrals, Epiphanies and Resurrection Churches, the Cathedral Belltower and the House of Commander. One of the most impressive architecture monuments connected with the Siberian route is considered to be John Predtechi's Church founded in 1715 in the village of Krasnoye, near Solikamsk. Not only the symbolical lay-out of this church, but also its external shape brings to mind a tall sailing ship symbolizing the movement of Orthodoxy to the East. Most likely, John Predtechi's Church was the first temple with such an appearance. Later, in the second half of the XVIII century, similar architectural styles were widely applied by the masters of Totma whose inhabitants have played a significant role in the development of Russian America.

The so-called "Moscow baroque" influenced greatly the external shape of the majority of Solikamsk’s temples. This architectural style, extending from the center of the country to its remote boundaries, alongside other architectural tendencies, arts and crafts, underwent the change, adapted some spiritual and aesthetic research, quite often being enriched by the original traditions, and developed in local schools of architecture. As a result, in different regions you can meet different definitions of this style, such as "Northern", "Ural" or "Siberian" baroque. The influence of traditional architecture of Great Ustyug, Kargopol, and Totma is clearly seen in the architectural ensemble of Solikamsk. In fact, the first artels (cooperative associations) that erected stone temples arrived precisely from these cities. At the same time, the original stylistic features of the Solikamsk ensemble are distinguished. They have become typical for Solikamsk’s craftsmen who subsequently have taken part in the construction of many temples not only in the homeland, but also in a number of other cities of the Ural Mountains and Siberia. One such masterpiece of local temple architecture is the Trinity Cathedral in Verkhoturye, which was included amongst the most outstanding architectural monuments of the world in 1959 at the international conference in The Hague. The Trinity Cathedral, for which the construction began in 1703 with the blessing of the Siberian metropolitan Filofey Leschinsky, became the main dominant feature of Verkhoturye’s stone Kremlin, being erected at that time. By all means this architectural complex symbolized the main administrative and spiritual attributes of the Russian state. Besides the Trinity Cathedral, there were the House of the Commander, the Decrees chambers, the Granary barns, the exchequer and a number of other buildings in its territory.

Besides the administrative and trading functions which solved the problems of the Siberian colonization, Babinov’s road had also an important missionary function. First clerics and monks used that route to the East. In 1604 the priest Iona, who became the founder of the Saint-Nikolaev monastery arrived in Verkhoturye. Some decades later, on this road the future heavenly patrons of the Ural Mountains and Siberia - Sacred Just Simeon of Verkhoturye moved to the village of Merkushino which was situated 60 versts from Verkhoturye. After Simeon’s relics were transferred to the Saint-Nikolaev monastery of Verkhoturye in 1704 Babinov’s road in the minds of many people took on a new, sacral sense of a pilgrim’s route. Consideration of the spiritual value of the Siberian route is important in understanding how self-sacrifice and beliefs of separated people have changed these lands.

In Tyumen the Siberian route passed close to the Trinity monastery. It should be mentioned, that unlike most other cathedrals often found in Siberia with Moscow and North Russian architectural elements, this cathedral had typical Ukrainian features. It can be easily explained by the fact that the Siberian metropolitan Filofey Leschinsky who took part in the construction of stone temples of the monastery was of Ukrainian origin. Unlike Verkhoturye and Tobolsk, there was no stone Kremlin in Tyumen. However, in the historical part of the town, which was the place of the first wooden jail, during the XVIII century the original architectural ensemble was built. In 1700, on the bank of the river Tura, stone barns for the storage of treasury were founded, above which the Annunciation church was built. Later, on the opposite bank of the river the church of Ascension-George was erected and was sanctified in 1789. In the 70s - 90s of the XVIII century was constructed the Nikolskaya (Cross-Erection) church which has become one of the most important dominant features of the historical Tyumen center. Owing to its placement on the «tsar’s road ", in Tyumen, as well as in Verkhoturye, a Coachmen’s village developed near the Trinity monastery.

The Tobolsk Kremlin became one of the most outstanding architectural complexes - symbols of power of the Tobolsk province during that time covering the huge territory from the Ural Mountains to the east suburbs of Siberia. In 1697 the architect and mapmaker Simeon Remezov received the commission to make the project of the stone Kremlin and make calculations of its costs. One of most difficult problems he faced was to unite the various buildings of the Troitsk cape in one architectural and military-defensive system. The Kremlin complex included: the house of the Bishop, a consistory, the monastic buildings, the Sofia cathedral, the Covering church, the Cathedral Belltower, the Chambers of Orders, the largest in Siberia, a court yard in which greater caravans with the overseas goods quite often stopped, and a number of other economic and administrative constructions.

In Tobolsk the main architectural frame of the Siberian route was the Dmitriy Gate of Renteriya. The Tobolsk regional specialist Boris Eristov wrote about it: "Many Siberian cities (Verkhoturye, Tyumen, Tobolsk) were called symbolically "the gate of Siberia", however there is such a gate in Tobolsk. The matter is that in the past the well-known route to Siberia went through Tobolsk. The Moscow path directly approached the "Dmitriy Gate» of the Tobolsk Kremlin, passed through it and then on the hilly part of the city went further to the east, to Omsk, Irkutsk, Kazakhstan and China. Here they are, real «Gates of Asia ". Through this gate passed the ambassadors of eastern lords, who did not manage to reach St. Petersburg, as Tobolsk played the major role in eastern policy of the state « (26, 196).

During the XVII and XVIII centuries Tobolsk was not only the largest administrative, spiritual and trading center of Siberia, but also one of the main transport units of the Siberian route. It was also the beginning of the overland Irkutsk route. Owing to the connection with the Ob-Irtysh basin, Tobolsk was given the key role in the development of Western Siberia. Probably, that is why Tobolsk is often called «the father of the Siberian cities ".

As for the region of the Ural Mountains, similar definitions are often applied to Solikamsk and Verkhoturye. These cities played an important role in the development of the land, situated to the south of the basic direction of the Siberian route. In the XVIII century the main agrarian and trading centers of this region became such cities as Kungur, Krasnoufimsk, Irbit, Kamyshlov, Yalutorovsk, Ishim, etc. In 1699 Peter the Great issued the decree concerning «The Establishment of the Verkhoturye iron factories ". During this period Verkhoturye became the important center, which was the beginning of the future «mining civilization «of Ural Mountains region. The mining era of the Ural region began with the construction of the Nevyansk factory in 1700 where one year later the first cast iron was produced. In 1720 the Nizhniy-Tagil factory was founded, soon to become one of the largest industrial centers of the Ural Mountains Region, and in 1723 the construction of Ekaterinburg began. In 1781 on the place of settlement of the Egoshihinsk factory the city of Perm was founded which later became the center of Perm Region. In the XVIII century these new economic centers of the Ural Mountains Region and Western Siberia more and more actively defined the character of the further development of this land, so that the first advanced posts of its development were involuntarily pushed aside into the background. The given process predetermined the displacement of the basic transport ways. So, in 1735 the new post route which went through Kungur and Ekaterinburg was opened. Despite its existence, all basic streams of cargoes continued to use Babinov’s road, because at that time it was forbidden to use other routes for trading purposes. However, in 1753 after the abolishing of collecting taxes for the goods transportation to Siberia and the closing of the Verkhoturye customs, artificial restraint of the development of new transport routes lost its meaning. For a very short period of time, Babinov’s road conceded its role to the Big Siberian route; its official opening took place in 1783.

The process of «displacement of accents« in the economic life of the Ural Mountains and Siberia during the XVIII century caused the loss of former transit value of the cities situated on the Siberian route, that finally predetermined the decrease of their administrative status. In 1781 the Perm Delegation was founded, which was transformed in 1796 into the Perm Region, with district cities of Solikamsk and Verkhoturye. The period of time, from the end of the XVIII till the beginning of the XX century was characterized by the gradual loss for Tobolsk of its former status of the «capital of Siberia ". At the beginning there was the division of Siberia into two Delegations: Tobolsk and Irkutsk in 1782. In 1838 Omsk became the administrative center of Western Siberia, and in 1918 the regional capital was moved from Tobolsk to Tyumen. This could be explained by the fact that, by that time Tyumen, through which passed the Trans Siberian route, began to play a more important role in the economic and political life of the region.

Despite the loss of the former administrative, economic and transport value, such cities as Great Ustyug, Cherdyn(?), Solikamsk, Verkhoturye and Tobolsk continue to play today the important role in the life of regions of the territory in which they are situated. These cities are the unique spiritual and cultural centers whose uniqueness cannot be defined only by the existence of outstanding monuments of architecture and fragments of historical architectural design in their territory. In some areas of the Russian North, far away from the large transit routes, it is still possible to meet certain norms of behavior and elements of daily culture linked to the vital things of people, typical for Old Russian people who since the olden days developed these lands. As was noted by the authors of "Sketches of history and culture of Verkhoturye city and Verkhoturye region", prepared by employees of the Ural State University: «last decades Verkhoturye is often called an open-air museum. It is absolutely incorrect: Verkhoturye is not a museum, this is a city and today the alive organism living by the rules, a little bit different from ours vain and momentary ". (16, 259).

Being cities played an important role in the first purposeful stage of development of Siberia, carried out during the end of the XVI up to the middle of the XVIII century and joined by the road not existing nowadays. Today they form the original historical and geographical route which stands out through a cultural landscape of modern Russia.

Reconstruction of similar historical and geographical routes opens a lot of new opportunities for a wide range of cultural-historical researches. In this case their object becomes not the space limited by administrative frameworks of separate regions, and an existential area of socio-cultural processes which are taken place in its territory. Their complex consideration allows more deep insight into the nature and essence of many historical phenomena.