пятница, 27 ноября 2009 г.

Aleksandr Griboyedov

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Aleksandr Griboyedov proved himself as a man of many talents: he was an insightful Russian diplomat, an endowed playwright and a composer. Griboyedov is often referred to as homo unius libri, a writer of one book, who won his laurels for the brilliant verse comedy “Woe from Wit,” still very timely and one of the most frequently staged plays in Russia. “Woe from Wit” takes precedence over the finest modern satires, like Nikolay Gogol’s “Dead Souls,” which lampoons the bureaucracy of Imperial Russia, and Mikhail Bulgakov's satiric short stories of “The Soviet State.”

Aleksandr Griboyedov was born in Moscow on 15 January 1795. Like his contemporary, Aleksandr Pushkin, he was raised in a well-to-do upper class family and traveled in wealthy circles of society. A very talented young boy, he was home-schooled, but received a very profound education. In 1803 he studied at the University Boarding School, which he left for the Moscow University in 1806, graduating in 1812 at the age of fifteen with a master’s degree in philology. One of the most well-educated people of his time, he had a strong command of French, English, German, Italian, Greek and Latin, and later he added Arabic, Persian, and Turkish to his linguistic arsenal.

With the start of the Napoleonic War in 1812, he obtained a commission in a hussar regiment and served in the cavalry. In 1816 he resigned and entered the civil service in the foreign office in St. Petersburg. Simultaneously, he lived a fulfilling social life and was very welcome in the theatrical circles of the capital. He translated many foreign dramatic pieces and produced some of his own. He commenced writing early and, in 1816, he introduced on stage at St. Petersburg the comedy in verse “The Young Spouses” (1815), followed by “One’s Own Family Or Married Bride” (1817) and other works of the same kind. But he was not remembered neither for these, nor for the essays and verses he wrote - he was remembered for the immense success gained by “Woe from Wit,” a satire ruthlessly exposing Russian aristocratic society with its hypocrisy and mercantilism.

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In 1818 Griboyedov was appointed secretary of the Russian legislation in Persia. One of the reasons for the transfer, which could be interpreted as an exile, was his participation in a duel.

After three years in Persia, in 1822, Griboyedov was transferred to Georgia as a secretary of foreign affairs for General Yermolov, the Georgian Commander-in-Chief. It was there that Griboyedov wrote acts 1 and 2 of “Woe from Wit.”

In the spring of 1823 Griboyedov was allowed a leave and retuned to Russia, dividing his time between Moscow and his friend’s estate where he wrote acts 4 and 5 of “Woe from Wit,” which he completed in 1824. Griboyedov took off to St. Petersburg. He pinned his hopes on his many connections, aspiring to have the play published without troubles and even put on stage. However, his dreams never came true: the play was immediately and unconditionally rejected by censors. Only parts of it were allowed to be published in an almanac in 1825. Griboyedov never saw his play published: the full publication in Russia didn’t happen until 1831, the same year it was first brought to the stage. Still, Griboyedov’s masterpiece immediately made its way to the public and marched triumphantly into the history of Russian literature: copies of it were reprinted and distributed privately, the number of issues approaching what would have normally been the number of the legally printed editions. The Decembrists assisted largely in the distribution since they saw the play as a herald of their ideas. Aleksandr Pushkin’s best Lyceum friend and one of the Decembrist leaders, Ivan Pushchin, brought a full copy of the play to Pushkin, who was in exile in Mikhailovskoye at the time.

The huge success of the comedy was accounted for by its sharpest examples of wit and eternal topics. Against a background of pre-Decembrist times – disputes about serfdom, political freedom and Russia’s path in history – and pictured through a set of brilliantly and meticulously drawn characters, so familiar to their contemporaries, the writer addressed the major issues of humanity: the romantic triangle, the fight of generations, the antagonism between a progressive person and an orthodox judgmental society. The social and official personages represented in the play impress with their accuracy, like Famusov, the rigid aristocrat, lover of the old regime and execrator of liberal thought, like many of the model family men of the nineteenth century, or his secretary, Molchalin, a servile back-scratcher, who would sell his own mother just to rise up the career ladder. The hero of the piece, Chatsky, the satirist, very intelligent and sensitive, recently back from Europe, exposes and ridicules the sins of the rest, becoming a cult-figure among the younger generation of the 1820s, some of whom made an attempt to put the words into action through the Decembrist military insurrection of 1825, but failed and were punished by Emperor Nicolas I. Rooted in the classical French comedy of Molière, the characters were as much individuals as archetypes. The verve and appropriateness of the language explains the fact that practically half of the play was scattered in the masses as aphorisms.

In the fall of 1826, Griboyedov returned to the Caucasus, but in February of 1826 he was detained and brought to St. Petersburg to face trial for his alleged participation in the Decembrist Uprising on 24 December 1825. Griboyedov was in serious danger since four of the Decembrists named him as a member of the group, while copies of “Woe from Wit” were found practically in the home of each insurgent. Warned by General Yermolov, Griboyedov managed to destroy a huge chunk of his archives and was able to exonerate himself in court.

He returned once again to Georgia in 1828 and even fought in a number of battles during the Russo-Persian War (1826-1828). Simultaneously he made himself useful through his linguistic skills to his relative, Count Ivan Paskevich, and gained renown in the diplomacy department and was branded by Commander Muravyov-Karsky as a person “worth twenty thousand.” He was the one to prepare the Peace Treaty of Turkmenchay, which was very beneficial for Russia. For his assistance he was appointed a Minister Plenipotentiary to Persia upon returning to St. Petersburg. Instead his long-dreamt-of literary career – he already had notes for his new pieces, “Georgian Night” and “1812” – he was forced to accept the high rank.

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Griboyedov last departed from the capital in June 1828. On the way to Persia he stopped in Tiflis (Tbilisi) for a short while, nurturing plans for the economic revival of the Caucasus. In August he married Nina, the 16-year-old daughter of his friend, Prince Chavchavadze, and took her to Persia with him.

In the aftermath of the war and the humiliating Treaty of Turkmenchay, anti-Russian sentiment in Persia was rampant and, soon after Griboyedov's arrival in Tehran, a crowd of Islamic religious fanatics stormed the Russian embassy.

The incident began when two enslaved Armenian girls managed to escape from a harem of a Persian Shah. They sought refuge at the Russian embassy. As agreed in the Treaty of Turkmenchay, Armenians living in Persia were permitted to return to Eastern Armenia. However, the Shah demanded that Griboyedov return the fugitives. Griboyedov refused, as he knew what sort of fate awaited them. His decision caused unrest throughout the city and several thousand Persians besieged the Russian compound demanding the return of the Armenian girls.

At the last moment, Griboyedov reluctantly decided to give them up when the mob broke into the compound. The Cossack detachment assigned to protect the embassy was too small in number but held off the mob for over an hour until finally taking refuge in Griboyedov's office. There, he and the rest of the Cossacks held out even further until the mob broke through and slaughtered them all. Griboyedov's head was cut off and his body thrown onto a rubbish heap.

Griboyedov’s body was so ill treated by the mob for three days that it could be recognized only by a scar from the old duel on his hand. His body was taken to Tiflis and buried in the Monastery of Saint David. His 16-year-old widow, Nina, on hearing of his death, gave premature birth to a child, who died a few hours later. She lived another 30 years after her husband's death, rejecting all suitors and winning universal admiration by her fidelity to his memory. The inscription on Griboyedov’s tombstone says, “Your wit and your feat are immortal in the Russian memory, but why did my love outlive you?”


“Woe from Wit.”.

четверг, 26 ноября 2009 г.


We are taking a journey to the year 1772. The season – approximately as we are in now. There is also a specific location, too: the Hermitage theatre of St.Petersburg was hosting the premiere of the first Russian opera “Aniuta”.

Of course, you will ask me who wrote it… The story here is quite unusual. The fact is, the first Russian operas were created as a compilation of various familiar and much-loved melodies. As a rule, the whole thing was put together by the author of the libretto. In our case it was a well-known Russian man of letters Alexei Lvov. He was the one to invent the story of the girl Aniuta, foster-daughter of a peasant man, who was almost given away in marriage to her Father’s workman Filatka. The girl falls in love with nobleman Victor, and receives an opportunity to marry him once it transpires she is, in fact, of noble birth.

A quite widespread story-line, yet, with a purely Russian colour, thanks to the music that sounds in the opera – Russian choral chants, romances and folk melodies…

Let me again introduce the characters: Aniuta, foster-daughter of a peasant; the peasant himself, the Father; his hand Filatka, and nobleman Victor.

The first to enter the action is the peasant Father.

“I have no more strength to plough or sow. There is but one I can rely on – my daughter Aniuta, yet even she isn’t our true daughter. The servant girl brought her to us when she was an infant. She never told us where she got her… Leaving 100 rubles, she herself disappeared. I ran through the money, but managed to bring up the child. How should I live next? Why not let Aniuta marry the worker Filatka. Why, here he comes!

“I have a daughter, but I cannot place her to do all the chores! She is so young!

“If we were one family, I’d be your slave!”

“I am not against the notion! Then let’s make a deal! If you like my daughter, I am a man of my word!”

And here is Aniuta in person.

“Oh, Father, I didn’t see you! It’s this pensive nature of mine. Mother requested that I call you. I don’t know why!”

“Well, I do know: I believe she intends to speak of your marriage!”

So, the workman Filatka is chosen to be Aniuta’s husband. Understandably, she isn’t at all pleased with that!

“Why are you so grieved, Aniuta?”

“What do you care?”

“Don’t you know that I have loved you for a year now? And maybe shall become your husband soon?”

“You!? My husband?! Why you ugly fool!”

As we already know, Aniuta’s heart belonged to another man – Victor, a nobleman. But as it was at all times – an unequal marriage was a difficult obstacle for the lovers!

“Oh, Victor, if I had never met you, I wouldn’t be so tormented now, shedding tears into my pillow in the silence of the night! I am a peasant’s daughter, while you are gentry. What are we to do?!”

“Even so, I am the sole Master in the village. One and all should obey me… So we have nothing to fear! My light, my love – I have the means of ending this torment of ours.”

“But how?”

“Your Father isn’t wealthy. And gives you off in marriage just to get another pair of hands. So if I give him money enough to hire a hundred workers, shall not he give up this business?”

“Forgive me, do! God willing, our hopes shall not be thwarted! Oh, Victor! With you I find solace even in idle hour, but without you all life and pleasures are naught but torment to me!”

Of course, this story has a happy end. Aniuta’s Father is quite happy to oblige Victor, and at this point it transpires that Aniuta is in fact a nobleman’s daughter. The marriage of Aniuta and Victor becomes an equal one, and everyone joyfully starts getting ready for the wedding.

“Aniuta” — an enchanting story from the Russian 18th century!.. Perhaps, a rather naïve first attempt to create a national opera. A very special event in the life of musical Russia: the country, that just several decades earlier had perceived the opera as some totally alien oddity, was now starting to create its own opera masterpieces.

Let us make a note of the date: the winter of 1772. The premiere of the first Russian opera “Aniuta”.

Source:The Voice of Russia

вторник, 24 ноября 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

Russians have been asking themselves from time immemorial: “Who were our forefathers? How did Russia come into being?”

We don’t know exactly where we came from, because written sources from other lands are few and inaccurate. Archeologists either find proof of the existence of Slavs everywhere, or they can’t find any material traces of their existence. We don’t know what induced the Slavs to leave their original lands and settle in a large part of Europe. We only know the results of that migration. Slavs occupied very large stretches of territory in the 8th and 7th centuries A.D. Traces of this have been found in the region of the Volga River, the Black Sea, the Don and Danube rivers and Central and Western Europe. Contacts with other peoples, languages, and customs naturally went into the formation of the Slavic national character. This probably explains the expansive nature of the Slavs, the absence of tribal egoism on their art, and their tolerance to other peoples.

We, Russians descended from the eastern Slavonic tribes. These cattle-breeders, tillers of the soil, huntsmen and fishermen settled in the western territory of our land – from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and from the Vistula to the Volga. This was also the homeland of the Baltic Finno-Ugric Nations. It was these Eastern Slavonic tribes that became the ancient Russian nation, which subsequently founded the ancient Russian state. So, Russia was multi-ethnic from the very start.

Where did the term ‘Russ”, the ancient name of Russia come from, you may ask. According to some sources, the Poliane tribe was known as “Russy” and they lived in the basin of the Rossi River, a Dnieper tributary. Hence the origin of the root, ‘Russ’, which then developed into Russia and Rossia. From the end of the 5th – the beginning of the 6th century the Poliane tribe had their own historical center in Kiev. Over time Kiev and the Rossi River consolidated around them a powerful union of Slavonic tribes. In his ancient “Tale of Bygone Years” the chronicler, Nestor the Monk, described the union as “Poliane who from now on will be called Rus”.

The chronicles of those years provide little information about the life of the eastern Slavic communities. Apparently, there was originally a union of tribes composed of clans, which in turn consisted of small households. Difficult natural conditions, however, — impassible forests and bogs — made economic development difficult, as also did raids by Asian tribes. The struggle for survival in the face of natural difficulties and enemy raids made it imperative for the clans and families to unite into bigger and stronger communities headed by princes.

Slavs worked the land, bred cattle, went hunting, kept bees and traded in beeswax, honey and pelts. That Slavs traded with other peoples was clear from the surviving old coins, among which were Arab coins, too. Arab authors have a lot of fascinating stories of Russians and their customs. “Russi people,” an Arab author writes, “are hospitable and merciful to both strangers seeking protection from them and to all people coming to visit them, aliens therefore are never discriminated against.

When a Russ has a newborn child, the father of the family puts an unsheathed sword in front of the baby and says: “I will leave you nothing. You’ll have what you get with the help of this sword.” Russi people are courageous and brave. They are tall, good-looking and smart in warfare.”

Arabs said Russi loved their wives and spared no effort to please them in every possible way. In return the wives were faithful to them.

Growing trade led to the rapid growth of cities, such as Kiev, Chernigov, Smolensk, Lyubech, Polotsk and Novgorod. To ensure security in the storage of goods the merchants hired the Vikings of Baltic origin who set up armed guards. At the head of such guards were princes and as they offered their services for protection of cities they sometimes seized power there too. The most known of the princes of the Vikings in Russian history were Askold and Dir, who ruled in Kiev, and Rurik – in Novgorod.

We turn again to “The Tale of Bygone Years” by Nestor the Monk.

After Rurik’s death in 879 his relative, Oleg ruled until 912. A gifted and energetic ruler, with a strong body of armed men at his command, he subjugated all the Slavic tribes on both sides of the Dnieper River. He made the conquered peoples pay tribute in furs, money and troops. In 907 he marched on Constantinople from which he returned with rich booty. Soon after he concluded a peace treaty with the Greek.

The people called their prince Oleg the Wise. Here is one of the legends they told about him.

Once Oleg asked his wizards what he would die of. “You will die of your favourite horse, whom you always ride, Prince,” one wizard prophesied. “Well, then I’ll never ride that horse again,” Oleg said to himself, “and I’ll never see him either.” He ordered the horse fed and cared for, but never brought to him. He did not touch the horse for several years, until the Greek campaign.

Oleg remembered about the horse on the fifth year after his return from Kiev. He called for the equerry and asked, “Where is the horse that I left here to be fed and cared for?” “He is dead,” the equerry replied, whereupon Oleg laughed and mocked the wizard. “Those soothsayers always lie,” he said. “That horse is dead now, while I am still alive. I’ll go and have a look at his bones.” Having arrived at the spot where the horse’s bones and skull were lying, he dismounted, set his foot on the skull and said, laughing: “So I am going to die from that skull? At that point a snake crawled out of the skull and bit Oleg lethally in the foot…

Oleg was followed by his adopted son, Igor who married Olga, a girl from the town of Pskov. Igor continued to subjugate the Slavic tribes but raised the amount of contributions set by Oleg. He died a tragic death as a result. Forgetting that moderation is a virtue for one in power, he often made the rounds of his conquered territories and taxed people heavily. One day, dissatisfied with the amount of taxes collected, Igor came back and demanded more. The conquered tribes decided that he would ruin them all if they didn’t stop him. So they tied him to two bent tries and tore him in two…

Igor was survived by his wife, the Princess Olga and his little son, Svyatoslav. It was the custom in those days that the closest surviving relative, the widow should avenge her husband. Here is how the chronicler describes it.

“Not satisfied with her repeated raids on the conquered peoples, Olga demanded more contributions from them. To their offer of pelts and honey, the seemingly good-hearted princess said ‘no’, asking instead for only three sparrows and a pigeon from each household. The townspeople gladly agreed. But when darkness set in, all their homes were in flames. The wily Olga had had burning pitch tied to the birds and released them. They naturally returned to their nests and set fire to the entire town.”

Olga was a central historical figure in those days. The people remembered her as a loving wife, and also as a first high-placed woman to adopt Christianity in Russia. The name of Christ was already known but the Slavs, like most of the peoples in Western Europe, were still pagans.

Ancestor worship was the oldest of the cults practiced by the Slavs. They believed that when a forefather died, his soul watched over the clan. They had all kinds of charms with which to disarm evil spirits and wore amulets with images of the sun, fire, water and flowers. They also worshiped the physical natural forces. The god of the heavens was names Svarog, the god of the sun was Dazhd-bog. There were also Khoros, Volos and Veles, while Perun was the god of thunder and lightning.

It is interesting that they worshiped their gods strictly in accordance with the times of the year and the major agricultural seasons. They measured the years by the phases of the sun, since the sun occupied such a prominent place in the beliefs of these ancient tillers of the soil.

Their year started on January 1st, as it does now. The new year festivities lasted twelve days, from the closing period of the old year into the beginning of the new. They would put out all the fires, and then start new ones by rubbing sticks together. They would bake special kinds of bread for the occasion and study certain signs to see what the new year would be like. They honoured their deities with feasts, for which they brewed beer, baked cakes, and also offered sacrifices. These ritual feasts took place in special premises called ‘trebishchis’.

Their next holiday came at the time of the vernal equinox. It was a gay and noisy time, when they hailed the sun and invoked nature’s blessing for the spring sowing. Their chief food at that time was flapjacks; and this custom is still observed in Russia though they are now eaten at Easter time, just before Lent. These are large round pancakes that call to mind the sun’s disc.

Other holidays were observed in the spring and summer. At the beginning of June the pagans paid tribute to Yarilo, the god who commanded the vital forces of nature. Houses and birch trees were decked with coloured ribbons.

June 24th, Ivan Kupala Day, was the culminating day of the sacrifices and ritual worship of the streams and rivers. All prayed for the gift from heaven-rain. The week before Kupala Day was devoted to the mermaids of fields and streams who, it was believed, commanded the rains. The prettiest girls were adorned with green wreaths and drenched with water in order to bring on the rain. The girls would bow to the streams, throw in their wreaths and bow to the huge bonfires lit on the high hills. Boys and girls would then jump in pairs across the fire.

Paganism, however, never took strong roots in Russia and in time it gave way to another religion, Christianity. Trade with Greece opened Russia the way to the Christian faith. The adoption of Christianity proved a turning point in the life of Slavs.

Source:The Voice of Russia

понедельник, 23 ноября 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

Ж.д.вокзал Владивостока
на Яндекс.Фотках

The history of Vladivostok can be traced back to the mid-19th century. In 1859, traveling by ship along the coast of the Peter the Great Bay Governor-General of Eastern Siberia Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky noticed a well-sheltered cove. The governor suggested that it be called the Golden Horn and gave instructions to build a military settlement. On June 20, 1860, 40 sailors under the command of warrant officer Komarov arrived there on board the Manchzhur naval ship and got down to the construction of a settlement, the future city of Vladivostok. Within a short time the sailors built up the barracks, the kitchen and men-hall, a warehouse, Russian baths and officers’ building. By winter all necessary dwellings and facilities had been built. Hunters replenished the food stock with what they could snare and shoot – hares, wild birds and roe deer, there were plenty of wild things in the taiga.

«Море» на Яндекс.Фотках

As years passed, the military settlement was growing and received the name of the port Vladivostok. The Russian well-known traveller and geographer Nikolai Przhevalsky who visited the Golden Horn Bay in 1867 wrote that Vladivostok stretched for over a kilometer along the bay’s northern coast. The rather big and deep bay surrounded by hills was most convenient for anchorage. In addition to soldiers’ barracks, officers’ building, mechanical works and various warehouses there were some 50 tied accommodations and private homes and 20 clay huts. The number of residents and soldiers was no more than 500.

In 1871 the government decided that Vladivostok should be Russia’s main military port in the Pacific. With this in view, the Governor-General’s residence, naval offices and the main base of the Siberian Navy were transferred there from the town on Nikolayevsk-on-Amur. This encouraged the city’s development as it promoted industry and trade. Vessels of many countries entered the bay. Dutch, British, American, Japanese and German merchants brought food, textile and other goods and building materials.

There was a genuine boom in the city’s development when the Trans-Siberian Railway connected Vladivostok with Moscow in the early 20th century. Sweeping changes took place in the city’s appearance: old-style structures were replaced by brick houses, and its layout reminded one of the flat country cities, such as St.Petersburg. There were clearly shaped residential areas with a maze of streets cutting through them.

Владивосток 2оо8
«Владивосток 2оо8» на Яндекс.Фотках

Now Vladivostok is the administration center of the Maritime region and a major city in Russia’s Far East as a whole with the population of over 600,000. It is an industrial, scientific and cultural center and a transport hub. And the country’s biggest port in the Pacific. Key industries are fishing and tool building. Dozens of thousands of the city’s fishermen work for the fishing fleet. They process 90 percent of the catch on board the fishing vessel.

The heart of the city is the seaport with its 16 moorings provided with most up-to-date equipment. Thousands of vessels from all over the world arrive in Vladivostok.

«Владивосток» на Яндекс.Фотках

The city has rich scientific and cultural potential. It hosts the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences; there are also 9 colleges and dozens of secondary and specialized secondary schools. The city’s position in the rapidly developing region of Asia and the Pacific gives rise to the hope that Vladivostok has every opportunity for further growth.

Source:The Voice of Russia

The funeral of the Priest Daniil Sysoyev passed in Moscow

Moscow, November 23, Interfax - This Monday Orthodox Moscow has said farewell to the Priest Daniil Sysoyev killed the last week in the Apostle Thomas church where he was a prior.

At Thursday night Father Daniil has been shot by the unknown person, got gunshot wounds in a head and breast.

This crime became one of the most impudent for the last time and has caused a great public resonance: there was no case for more than half a century since Stalin reprisals when representatives of the Orthodox clergy have been shot in the Russian capital.

For the last 19 years Father Daniil became the 25th Orthodox priest killed in Russia.

The burial service has taken place today in the Saint Peter and Paul church in Moscow. The Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has also arrived to say farewell to the Priest Daniil. After the burial service the cleric was buried on the Kuntsevskoye cemetery in Moscow.

Within last days the body of Father Daniil was in the Apostle Thomas church where some thousand of believers have said farewell to him.

Father Daniil was known for his active missionary work, particularly among non-Orthodox, and also for his bright polemic performances. For the last years he repeatedly received threats from radicals. According to the investigation, the murder has been made on religious reasons.

пятница, 20 ноября 2009 г.

Famous Orthodox priest killed in Moscow

Moscow, November 20, Interfax – The famous priest Daniil Sysoyev, the rector of the St. Thomas Cathedral, has been killed in Moscow, a source in law enforcement agencies told Interfax.

The priest received gunshot wounds to the head and chest, his assistant Vladimir Strelbitsky was wounded in the chest, he said.

"I do not recall a priest being killed in Moscow, let alone shot at by an assault rifle," the source told.

The priest died on the surgical table at 0:15 a.m. Moscow time, a source in medical circles said. His aide is in very critical condition.

A criminal case has been launched over the priest's murder.

Father Daniil was 35 years old.

Moscow, November 20, Interfax - Moscow priest Daniil Sysoyev most likely has been killed for his missionary activity among the non-Orthodox Russian population, a source at law enforcement agencies told Interfax.

"He had recently received constant death threats from some extremist organizations. Daniil Sysoyev complained about it several times to the Federal Security Service," the source said.

Fr. Daniil said he received anonymous phone calls and e-mails promising to "have his guts for garters," he said.

"Sysoyev received the last threat in early October. Someone called him and said he had been sentenced to a death penalty," the source said.

Rev. Daniil is known as an experienced theologian who had been in constant dispute with the extremist branches of Islam. He began receiving threats four years ago after holding a public debate with Vyacheslav Polosin, the former Orthodox priest who converted to Islam.

Fr. Daniil might also have been killed by members from the so-called sect of Rodnovers (Slavic Neo-pagans), the source told Interfax.

Investigators are following all lines of inquiry but this theory remains the main one, he said.

This is evidenced by the fact that the perpetrator did not leave the weapon at the crime scene, he said. "Rodnovers are not professional killers, which is why they count every barrel," he said.

The Rodnovers organization mainly consists of young pagans.

Earlier Rodnovers staged an explosion at one of Moscow's churches.


Admiral Alexander Kolchak was one of the most controversial personalities of the revolutionary Russia of the 20th century. A brilliant scholar, the hero of Port Arthur, a ruthless dictator and a self effacing man, Kolchak is an enduring legend historians and politicians still argue about… There were many victories and as many defeats in Kolchak’s life. And one love that outlived him. Her name was Anna Timireva.

There is a modest wooden cross rising up from a snow-covered bank of the winding Siberian river Ushakovka where Admiral Kolchak was executed in 1920. Standing nearby is a jailhouse where Kolchak spent his final hours. The winter of 1920 was cold even by Siberian standards, meaning that digging a grave in the icy ground was a mission impossible, especially for the time-strapped Bolshevik executioners. After the execution they hauled the Admiral’s body onto a horse-driven sledge and, taking in to the riverbank, dumped into an ice-hole.

Standing in front of the firing squad Kolchak was calm, his arms folded on his chest. His only request was to convey his blessings to his wife and son. He made no mention of Anna Timireva though, the woman who had volunteered to be arrested only to be by her loved one’s side… Maybe Kolchak just hated to have his last farewells conveyed to her by his executioners… Shortly before the execution, Kolchak wrote Anna a note overfilled with love and tenderness. The missive never reached her though, lost in the criminal case…

The two first met five years previously. Most of that time they lived separately because each one had a family and kids to care for. Once, during a ball, Anna gave Kolchak her photograph which he kept until his last hour, along with her glove… Anna was the first to say she loved Alexander. The two started dating in secret but before long, everyone knew what was going on between them, including Kolchak’s wife Sofia. Timireva divorced her husband in 1918 and moved in with Alexander. She was 25, he was 44 and by that time his family had long been living in France.

Anna Timireva was a very lively and charming woman and Kolchak never tired of admiring her quick wit and profound interest in politics. She was probably a stronger personality than he was, always holding out under the most challenging conditions. She joined her loved one in the Irkutsk gaol of her own accord to fortify his spirit. Briefly released after Kolchak’s execution, Anna Timireva was arrested again and sent to a concentration camp. Eventually allowed to walk free, Anna out of desperation, married another man but in the eyes of the Soviet authorities she forever remained the wife of Admiral Kolchak, a dictator and a counter-revolutionary. Accused of being an enemy of the Soviet state, a crime punishable by five years behind bars, Timireva was repeatedly arrested and exiled until 1960. In between arrests she worked as a librarian, a house painter and a draftswoman. Anna Timireva died in 1975, outliving her best beloved by 55 years…

Before the 1917 revolution Alexander Kolchak was best known as a gifted scholar and organizer of a number of scientific expeditions. He was also an outstanding military leader and a onetime commander of the Black Sea Fleet. After the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917 Kolchak sent a letter of resignation protesting the breakup of the Russian navy. Gathering the crew of his flagship together he gave his men a scathing lecture. With that he tossed his golden sword awarded to him for bravery in the Russo-Japanese war over the side. He resigned his post there and then… In appreciation of Kolchak’s extensive knowledge, the Americans and the British invited him to consult their navies. After a short deliberation Kolchak accepted the offer but not for long. In 1918, honest, ethical and able, he was given the title of Supreme Ruler of the Russian State by anti-Bolshevik insurgents in Siberia. His rule over Siberia and the Far East lasted for a little more than a year though. An overwhelming majority of the local people hated Kolchak because of his retinue – tsarist officers all who had their estates confiscated by the Bolsheviks. They treated the peasants as if they were serfs or even plain animals. The peasants reciprocated with hatred that could have easily been avoided. The continuous searches for Red Army soldiers and their helpers which regularly degenerated into bloody beatings and killings were fueling popular discontent about Kolchak’s rule. Many local peasants who had just returned from the war were fed up with fighting and just couldn’t care less for any authority. Disregarding this sentiment, Kolchak started drafting them into his army. Mao Zedong timeless formula about all political power coming from the barrel of a gun provides a very apt description of what was going on here during the 1917 revolution and the Civil War that happened shortly after. Kolchak exercised little, if any control of his units where much depended on the local commanders and which, just like in any volunteer army, were full of petty adventurers. Admiral Kolchak could have been an idealist, but in his inner circle there were people hell-bent on making a career at any cost. Kolchak eventually found himself dependent on these climbers and fell hostage to a situation which determined his ultimate downfall. All this meaning that Anna Timireva was not entirely wrong once called her beloved Alexander a “chimera in an admiral’s uniform”…

Source:The Voice of Russia

понедельник, 16 ноября 2009 г.


By Lyubov Tsarevskaya

The outstanding 19th century Russian poet, Vasily Zhukovsky was born out of wedlock on January 19, 1783. The son of a landlord and a captive Turkish woman, he was, however, officially recognized by his father and afforded every opportunity to get an education fitting for the gentry. The beautiful landscapes of Central Russia where Zhukovsky grew must have stirred his poetic and artistic imagination at an early age.

At the age of four he first tried his hand at drawing. Once his drawings created a real commotion among the household. He drew the picture of Christ with chalk on the floor, copying it from an icon. A maid saw the drawing and fell on her knees incessantly bowing in prayer. She insisted that the room had suddenly lit with divine light, and there were the sounds of music. The doors opened and she saw the drawing appear by itself. The young author, however, spoiled the impression saying it was he who had drawn Christ on the floor.

Zhukovsky went down in the history of Russian art as a master of landscape painting and traveler’s graphic sketches.

After graduating from a boarding school in Moscow, Zhukovsky refused to pursue a career of a public servant. Believing that his vocation was poetry, he retired to his country estate. Every morning he could be seen coming to a small summer house on the bank of the river. Tall and lean, dark-eyed and sun-burnt in a white shirt with a large collar, his black hair reaching nearly to the shoulders, he always carried several books and notebooks under his arm.

When after a few years Zhukovsky moved to St.Petersburg, he found himself in the center of the city’s literary circles as a prominent poet. In 1816 he was offered the prestigious position of a Russian teacher to a young princess. With the position went a high salary and a flat on the palace premises. His friends teased him that he would become famous as a court poet, with his talent wasted on madrigals and lyrics in ladies’ albums. But they were mistaken. Open and unable to play the hypocrite, Zhukovsky was not fitted for the requirements of the court etiquette. But his openness played a key role in his relationship with the royal family. In 1826 he became tutor to the future emperor Alexander II and as such did his best, choosing for Alexander books on history, philosophy, literature and law and making up education programs.

A kind and delicate person, Zhukovsky used his favour at court to help his friends and other people in trouble. During his lifetime he lent his hand to many such people, including the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

The two poets met when Zhukovsky was at the peak of his fame while Pushkin still studied at the Lyceum. Despite the age difference of seventeen years, they took to each other at once and Zhukovsky could immediately see the makings of a great poet in the young man. During the many years of their friendship that followed, Zhukovsky always helped Pushkin and protected him. He was the person who saw the great poet to his grave. When Zhukovsky learned that Pushkin had been mortally wounded in a duel, he rushed to see the dying poet. Later he would recollect: “I came up to him, took his outstretched cold hand and kissed it. There was nothing I could say. He waved his hand and I stepped aside…”

Zhukovsky was the person who saved Pushkin’s paper and archives. By doing so he, perhaps, decided the fate of Pushkin’s heritage. And it was Zhukovsky who secured the permission to publish Pushkin’s complete works, which began appearing a year after the poet’s death.

The volume of Zhukovsky’s original work is small. His reputation as a poet rests largely on his translations from English and German poetry, much of which he introduced to the Russian reader. Fated to outlive nearly all of his contemporaries, Zhukovsky became a central figure in many people’s lives, always driven by an impulse to take care of other people. Quiet and uneventful, with nothing heroic or adventurist to it, his life seems to be coloured with sadness and loneliness.

The Bard

My friends, can you descry that mound of earth
Above clear waters in the shade of trees?
You can just hear the babbling spring against the bank;
You can just feel a breeze that's wafting in the leaves;
A wreath
and lyre hang upon the boughs...
Alas, my friends! This mound's a grave;
Here earth conceals the ashes of a bard;
Poor bard!

A gentle soul, a simple heart
He was a sojourner in the world;
He'd barely bloomed, yet lost his taste for life
He craved his end with yearning and excitement;
And early on he met his end,
He found the grave's desired sleep.
Your time was but a moment - a moment sad
Poor bard!

He sang with tenderness of friendship to his friend, -
His loyal friend cut down in his life's bloom;
He sang of love - but in a doleful voice;
Alas! Of love he knew naught but its woe;
Now all has met with its demise,
Your soul partakes of peace eternal;
You slumber in your silent grave,
Poor bard!

Here, by this stream one eventide
He sang his doleful farewell song:
"O lovely world, where blossomed I in vain;
Farewell forever; with a soul deceived
For happiness I waited - but my dreams have died;
All's perished; lyre, be still;
To your serene abode, o haste,
Poor bard!

What's life, when charm is lacking?
To know of bliss, with all the spirit's striving,
Only to see oneself cut off by an abyss;
Each moment to desire and yet fear desiring...
O refuge of vexatious hearts,
O grave, sure path to peace,
When will you call to your embrace
The poor bard?"

The bard's no more ... his lyre's silent...
All trace of him has disappeared from here;
The hills and valleys mourn;
And all is still ... save zephyrs soft,
That stir the faded wreath,
And waft betimes above the grave,
A woeful lyre responds:
Poor bard!

Source:The Voice of Russia;www.poemhunter.com

четверг, 12 ноября 2009 г.

Funny russian cartoon

No subs needed


The 1930s produced a constellation of Soviet pilots, well-known both in and outside this country. Valery Chkalov, Georgy Baidukov, Mikhail Gromov and, of course, the famed Polar aviator and Hero of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Vodopyanov. This flyer went down in the history of Polar exploration.

"Kissed by God" — that's how people called Mikhail and with a good reason too because he was an intelligent, persevering and daring man. He was born in 1899 to a family of poor peasants in Central Russia. Before taking to the skies, he worked as a water carrier, loader, driver and as a mechanic.

The first time he saw a plane was in 1917. "One day my Dad and I were fixing our shed's roof,” Mikhail reminisced later. "Suddenly he said: "Look, there's a plane flying up there!" I craned my neck so hard that I nearly went tumbling down. "You see people sitting on the wings?!" I yelled, "There, right on the wings!"

I later found out that those were engines, not people, two on each side. The plane was the world's biggest, four-engine leviathan called Ilya Muromets. For me it was love from first sight and, soon after I was lucky enough to sign up with the local airplane squadron. It was the beginning of a new life…”

Starting off ferrying mail and newspaper matrices, Vodopyanov eventually became first-class pilot assigned all kinds of challenging missions. In 1929, he blazed a new air trail to Sakhalin island and, five years later, he was in the Arctic rescuing the crew of the ice-imprisoned Soviet icebreaker Chelyuskin. Landing on an ice floe was a nearly impossible mission, but risking his neck was something Mikhail Vodopyanov never missed a chance to do. "All you have to do to fall ill with the wonderful "Northern disease" he later wrote, "is to fly there at least once and you'll be hooked forever. Once you've been up there, where a plane is a rare and very welcome guest, you'll never want to get back to the quiet comfort of flying in European Russia where you don't need to fight the elements and where there are airfields everywhere. It's so boring to fly here after you've logged hundreds of miles flying in the very back of beyond where man has never ventured to tread…" Flying over the northern taiga and rocky hills, Vodopyanov was in seventh heaven savoring every single moment of fighting the elements… It was the start of a lifelong love affair with the North…

After spending some time roaming the northern skies Vodopyanov felt himself experienced enough to venture to the North Pole - the world's most enigmatic place and one explorers everywhere dreamed of some day getting settling down to the routine paperwork of writing detailed reports to his superiors, however, Vodopyanov wrote a novel, entitled “A Pilot's Dream” and described the would-be expedition. The book was a success and even interested the Soviet leader Josef Stalin who eventually authorized the mission.

Ferrying the adventures to the Pole was a logistical nightmare. To do this, Vodopyanov became the first man in aviation history to fly across the Barents Sea, reach Franz Josef Land and move on to the North Pole. On May 21, 1937, Mikhail Vodopyanov steered his ANT-6 plane with 13 passengers on board, up from Rudolf Island and headed to the North Pole. During that most difficult leg of the northward trip, the engine started leaking antifreeze. The mechanics quickly cut the wing open and, locating the fracture somehow managed to patch it up. It really was a flight to remember!

From that day on, information, including weather forecasts, started coming in from the North Pole and was eventually used by Soviet air crews during transcontinental flights. Vodopyanov’s flight became a stepping stone for Valery Chkalov's famous trans-Polar hop-over to the United States.

Besides being an excellent airman, Vodopyanov was also a writer penning a number of interesting books about aviation, instilling in many young people deep love for the skies.

Source:The Voice of Russia

понедельник, 9 ноября 2009 г.

Obdorsk burg (Siberia)

Obdorsk burg (now Salekhard) is one of the first Russian settlements founded on the territory of Siberia. The burg was founded by the Cossacks of Berezovo voevode Nikita Trakhaniotov in the lower reaches of the Polouy River close to its junction with the Ob River. The opinions of historians regarding the exact date of Obdorsk burg foundation differ. In different sources it refers to 1593 or 1595. Most probably the first date means arrival of the Cossacks in the place of Obdorsk foundation and set up of a temporary winter hut, the second date means the start of wooden burg construction.

In 1635 the burg was renamed into Obdorsk gate, later called Obdorsk fortress. Famous researcher of Tobolsk land history A.A. Dunin-Gorkavich wrote: “Foundation of Obdorsk was caused by the necessity of protection from foreign raids and preclusion of duty free and forbidden exchanges between coast-dwellers and Samoyeds. “Annual oberezh” (a tax) was introduced in order to protect Yasak Ostyaks from Samoyeds. Initially up to 50 Cossacks were sent for tax collection from Berezovo, sometimes their number raised up to 100, later the number of Cossacks was gradually reduced to zero when the tax was cancelled”. Obdorsk fortress controlled movement of goods on the way to the biggest fair centre of that time located beyond Polar circle – Mangazeya.

Reconstruction of Oborsk burg. Photos by R.Fedorov

The fortress was quadrangle-shaped with lath fence, two sight towers and two passage towers. Inside there was a typical set of administrative and residential buildings as well as Vasilyevsky church made of wood in 1602.

In the second half of the XVIII century Obdorsk fortress starts losing its military and defence meaning. In 1799 its military garrison was disbanded. The gate was transformed into the centre of Obdorsk volost of Berezovsky uyezd of Tobolsk province – Obdorsk settlement. In 1807 the walls and towers of wooden fortress were demolished by the order of Tobolsk Governor A.M. Kornilov due to their tumbledown state.

In the XIX century Obdorsk was more and more characterized as trade settlement. At the same time it continued to play an important role in Yasak collection from local aboriginals – Nenets and Khanty. Yasak included mainly valuable “soft stuffs”: furs of sable, polar fox, fox, ermine, squirrel, muskrat and other local animals. Fishery has always been well developed in Obdorsk thanks to richness of fish species of Polouy and Ob.

From the beginning of the XIX century Obdorsk was home to a big winter fair that took place from the 15th of December to the 25th of January. It was one of the most important fairs in Tobolsk province by the turnover. Traditionally Obdorsk fair welcomed merchants from many Russian and Siberian northern towns. They were bringing in flower and bread, metal goods, decorations, cloth, wine and tobacco, and they were taking away furs, walrus tusks, fish, bird feather and other local natural riches. According to the notes of contemporaries at the time there was a whole quarter of trade warehouses in Obdorsk. The number of storehouses exceeded residential houses by three times.

In the middle of the XIX century Obdorsk became the centre of Orthodox mission on Yamal. Christianisation, as a rule, met resistance of Nenets and Khanty, and it was of a superficial character. However, thanks to the activity of certain ascetics Christianisation had evident results in certain cases.

As long ago as in the XVIII century Siberian metropolitan Philophey Leschinsky made an important contribution into propagation of the Orthodoxy making frequent missions to the settlements of the Northern aboriginals located in the basins of the Irtysh and the Ob Rivers. However after his death in 1727 missionary activity on the territory of Yamal has not been systematic for a long time and often it did not have any visible response of the local aboriginals.

Obdorsk mission, founded in 1853, made big efforts to carry out enlightener activity among population. The priest Petr Popov who has been attending to Obdorsk mission for more than 20 years made a lot of trips to tundra and studied characters and customs of the Northern nationalities. He was the author of the first Ostyak-Samoyed-Russian dictionary. Father Superior Irinarkh (I.S. Shemanovsky) has also made a big contribution into development of Obdorsk mission. Under his attending the stone church of Peter and Paul, refuge and hospice were constructed. Obdorsk library and athenaeum were opened. These establishments as well as the ethnographic collection initiated the town museum.

Existing statistics shows that as of the beginning of the twentieth century annual export from Obdorsk made up to 200 thousand poods of fish and about 50 thousand furs mainly of polar fox, fox, squirrel and ermine.

In 1918 the Russian-Ostyak-Samoyed partnership of the Far North Fishermen was founded in Obdorsk by Nenets I. Nogo. The partnership united 100 artels and more than 1700 fishermen from North Yamal districts. In 1920 the fisheries of North near-Ob territories were nationalized.


понедельник, 2 ноября 2009 г.

Pavlovoposadski Print Shawls

Print Shawls produced in Pavlovski-Posad town are a unique phenomenon of Russian culture and are often perceived as one of the national symbols of Russia.

Both Russians and foreigners have always highly estimated traditional Pavlovo-Posadski print shawls. They appeal with the multicolored palette, finest elaboration of floral ornaments, thorough drawing of every flower, among which the rose is a favourite and a sort of a symbol of the Pavlovo-Posadski kerchiefs.

Usually on the corners of the shawl there are large flowers, and the middle is filled with minor, even minute elements, contrasting with the background, often cream-coloured (the colour of natural wool), black or dark-cherry. The shawls are coloured with most saturated tints, which can be 10 to 18, or sometimes even reaching 30 in number. The patterns are arranged in ovals, stars, medallions, or other figures of ornamental stripes and flowery garlands.

The history of origin and evolution of the Pavlovo-Posadsk Print Shawl as one of the Russian arts and crafts is very interesting and, at the same time, quite characteristic of this country. The first record of the manufacture that glorified Pavlovski Posad as a centre of traditional decorative art of shawls with printed designs dates to 1795. Starting its way from a small private plant, this craft has now developed into a large-scale production complex, presently titled Pavlovo-Posadsk Shawl Manufacture.

The enterprise was founded by a well-off peasant named Ivan Labzin. But what is known today as Pavlovo-Posadski print shawls were not produced from the very beginning.

Initially design shawls in Russia were handmade; the works were of high quality, but very expensive. Within a year not more than 10-16 shawls were produced at one manufacture. It could take six months to two years to create one shawl. In the 19th century Jacquard looms were introduced that considerably simplified the weaving process, but it was still too costly for mass production.

Then the technology of fast-printing appeared. In the early 1860s already the ancestors of Ivan Labzin - merchants Yakov Labzin and Vasili Gryaznov – updated the technology at the manufacture and launched production of printed design shawls and kerchiefs.

The printing was made by means of specially carved wooden planks. Initially the pattern design is developed by an artist. Depending on the complexity of tracery a number of printing wood planks were carved. Each colour in the design required a separate plank. So, the more complicated the design was, the more planks were needed. A piece of fabric of the shawl’s size was spread on a frame. The planks with paint were applied to the shawl and in order to impregnate the paint better, they were beaten with a hammer. First the outline of the design was “beaten” into it, and then the main design.

Sometimes, if the design was complicated, it needed up to 400 planks with different colours. Nevertheless, this method made the shawl production much cheaper, and lots of manufactures made use of it.

Today, naturally, the technology is different: the designs are applied by means of photooffset printing or printed with modern machines. However, the artists keep up the traditional style of Pavlovo-Posadski shawls. In recent years the Manufacture has been working on restoration of old ornaments of print shawls.