Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do [updated 6 January 2019]:

My blogposts are written in English.  I review content mostly from the Russian-language online press, in search of stories which interest me.  From time to time I venture out and review other things, for example, opera or movies!

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

As my blog concept evolved, it contains content divided into the following categories:

  • Animal Rights
  • Art Criticism
  • Ballet
  • Breaking News
  • Cat Fighting
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Friendship of Peoples
  • Human Dignity
  • Humor
  • Linguistics
  • Medicine and Health
  • Military and War
  • Navalniana
  • Opera
  • Popular Culture
  • Religion
  • Russian History
  • Sex and Spy Scandals
  • Space, Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • The Great Game
  • True Crime

I hope you read and enjoy my posts!

Sincerely yours,


Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments

Shariy Wants Sputnik Vaccine

Dear Readers:

This piece from the Komsomolka is just over a week old, but I just saw it.  So, I don’t know if Shariy has actually been vaccinated yet against Covid; if so, I hope he is doing well and staying safe.

For those not familiar, Anatoly Shariy is a well-known Ukrainian blogger and political dissident.  Initially a somewhat patriotic Ukrainian, Shariy was turned off and disgusted by the 2014 Maidan and its consequences.  His free-thinking and dissident posts made him many enemies among the Ukrainian Nationalists, forcing him eventually to flee to Europe.  He lives in an undisclosed location, somewhere in Lithuania, I believe, and continues to write and blog.

Anatoly Shariy

KP Reporter Ivan Grachev writes about Shariy’s interview with a Ukrainian TV channel called “NASH”, in which the reporters asked him, among other things, if he planned to be vaccinated against Covid.

Shariy:  “Look here.  They are suggesting I take the [American-German] Pfizer vaccine.  Taking into account that here, in Europe, people are saying that if you don’t get vaccinated you’ll receive a spanking.  Yes!  People will be vaccinated almost by force, in the very near future.  Based on that, I got an idea into my head:  Why not visit the Russian Federation, for the first time in many years, why not go there and get vaccinated?”

The Ukrainian journalists squealed in horror and then started to chuckle nervously.  What Shariy just said smacked of heresy.  After all, according to Ukrainian logic, the American-European vaccine must be superior to the Russian one, no?  It doesn’t compute that Shariy is expressing a preference for the Russian one when he could get the European one.

Shariy:  “It’s true.  I’ll explain why I would prefer to be vaccinated in Russia.  It’s because… Well, look here:  Lithuania just halted Moderna [one of the two American vaccines, the other one being Pfizer]; and I don’t want Pfizer after I read about the deaths of people in Northern Europe [23 Norwegians died after getting the shot].  I read how a person would be vaccinated, everything was great, and then the next morning – he never woke up.  I don’t like that.”

Shariy went on to say that none of these vaccines were tested properly on humans.  “And I am not some kind of orangutan, I don’t want them testing it on me!”

Russian Sputnik vaccine against Covid is the choice of millions around the world.

What about the Chinese vaccine?  “It turned out to be a joke.  Only 50% effective.  It’s like in that movie, Brother-2:  Our grenades have a 50/50 chance of exploding.  And they are talking about human lives here!”

Due to the failures of Moderna and the Chinese vaccine, “Now, here in the European Union, we are left with only Pfizer.  But I intend to refuse it.  It’s unstable.  They attempted to stabilize it with some type of sulfate of aluminum.  And it has to be stored at -70 degrees.”

“But Anatoly, why are you so convinced of Sputnik V?” the Ukrainian reporters interrupted.  “They never had a third phase of testing either.”

“I’m not trying to convince anybody to get vaccinated with Sputnik,” Shariy retorted.  “It’s just that I have been communicating with respected individuals in the Ukraine, who know a lot about these vaccines.  They explained to me that the Pfizer vaccine is basically old technology, and Sputnik is new technology.  And I like that.  It’s true that none of these vaccines have been fully tested.  People who say they have, are lying.  It’s just that I want to get the vaccine which was taken by people I know personally, and everything went okay for them.”

Posted in Medicine and Health | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Ukraine Must Kneel To New Master Zod!

“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!” (Conan the Barbarian)

Dear Readers:

As the ancient Romans used to say:  When the new Caesar is crowned Emperor of Mighty Rome, woe betide any poor schlubbus who once stood in his way!  For, yea, the Mighty Caesar will not show any clemency.  (Except for Emperor Titus, he was the exception that proves the rule!)

Emperor Titus: “I MIGHT show you some clemency today, but only because I’m already late for my BLM riot.”

This piece, by Andrei Rezchikov and Andrei Samokhin, was penned on January 11, after Biden’s election, but before his inauguration.  It mostly consists of an interview with Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky who, amazingly, still operates out of Kiev and heads his own analytical think tank.  Pogrebinsky’s focus here is on the repercussions for certain Ukrainian politicians who may have rubbed Biden the wrong way, prior to the latter’s ascension to the Imperial throne.  For example, it didn’t take long at all for the Americans to impose new sanctions on Ukrainian Parliamentarian Andrei Derkach.  What did Derkach do wrong?  Well, for starters he is a “Russian agent of influence” and a traitor to the Ukraine.  At least, if you believe the Ukrainian nationalists and their Washington DC curators.

More blandly, Derkach has been like a busy bee exposing the Biden International Crime Family and its shady operations in the Ukraine.  Siphoning money out of a failed state that can barely feed and house its own people.

Andrei Derkach: “I feel so tiny, now that I am sanctioned again.”

Let us proceed…

Pogrebinsky:  “This is the start of a systematic purge of anything that could compromise Biden who, within a week [this was written January 11, remember] will become President of the United States.  And the intention is to frighten anyone (else) who might want to go down that road.”

Pogrebinsky reminds us of that noxious and arrogant American law which permits the “Exceptional Nation” to sanction any individuals around the globe if they deem this suits American interests or “furthers the interests of democracy” on the planet.  “And currently the interests of democracy are one and the same as the interests of the Democratic Party, and of Biden personally.  There exist certain documents on Burisma Holdings.  It has become necessary to destroy these documents and, in general, to wipe clean any mention of this theme.  Because they understand, that they cannot erase the 73 million votes of Americans who voted for Trump, who partially supported the storming of the Congress, and who might still continue to remind people about the corruption of Biden and his son, in connection with this company.”

Pogrebinsky goes on to say:  “For Derkach there is nothing new in these sanctions, since he was not permitted into the U.S. even earlier, and everybody understands that he is persona non grata for the Democratic Deep State.  A different matter, though, is the addition of Onishchenko to the sanctions.”  He is referring to Ukrainian businessman and politician Alexander Onishchenko who left the Ukraine in 2016.  “And also some other people who may not have conducted actions against Biden quite as energetically as Derkach did and for whom, therefore, being put on a sanctions list may have come as a bit of a surprise.”

Alexander Onishchenko

A different Ukrainian pundit, who also runs his own think tank, Alexander Okhrimenko, adds that Derkach has, for a long time, been exposing this conspiracy that exists between the American and Ukrainian governments.  “Some feelings were hurt.  Derkach said more than he ought to.  And he has paid for the fact that he told the truth.  He used to have his own TV channel in the Ukraine, and they closed it, supposedly by accident.  And I have also heard unofficial rumors that his business has been subjected to frequent audits.”  Okhrimenko adds that that the audio tapes published by Derkach containing kompromat against former President Petro Poroshenko, came back like a boomerang and harmed Zelensky.  “It is normal that Derkach exposed the conspiracy existing between the Ukrainian and American governments.  And it goes without saying, that this expose displeased the Americans a great deal.”

Okhrimenko: Hobbies including cross-country skiing.

The recent American elections were barely done, when the U.S. slapped new sanctions onto seven Ukrainian individuals and four Ukrainian media resources, accusing them of interfering in the American elections.  Derkach being the main target, but there were others as well.

As a reminder what Derkach did:  Last September (2020) he published documents, audio tapes, and other proof of “corrupt schemes” which led to the export of cash out of the Ukraine and into the private bank accounts of members of the Joseph Biden family. This scheme occurring a few years back, when Biden was Vice-President of the United States (under Prez Obama).  The audio tapes included a segment in which Biden offered President Poroshenko a billion dollars [in “aid” to the Ukraine] in return for firing Ukrainian General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin.

Despite all this factual evidence of criminality, the Ukrainian courts closed the case against Biden; Shokin never got his job back; Biden ascended the throne; and Derkach will continue to rot on the sanctions list.  Let all those out there be warned once again:  “Woe to him who crosses the Mighty Caesar!  Verily he shall rue the day he was born!”  Yea, for verily there is no justice in this world!

Posted in Russian History | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Martin Luther King, Anti-Imperialist Fighter!

Martin Luther King delivered this speech in 1967 after very carefully, and deliberately, positioning himself as a political opponent of the Vietnam War and of American imperialism in general.  As a natural-born political leader, MLK with careful erudition, and yet in relatively simple terms, educated his huge number of followers, both blacks and whites, while connecting the dots between domestic racism and foreign imperialism.  His analysis shows a sophistication that one would not necessarily expect from a Southern Baptist Minister; for example his knowledge of the fact that Vietnam and China were actually natural enemies, not allies.  By all rights, this brainy and enlightened man, who was also a canny and sophisticated politician, should have become the first black President of the U.S.  Instead, he was murdered, and the American people are still living with the results of that.

I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954 – in 1945 rather – after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognise them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.

With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China – for whom the Vietnamese have no great love – but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants, this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945, we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonise Vietnam. Before the end of the war, we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonisation.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead, there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States’ influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace…

The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Viet Cong inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing — in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon, the only solid — solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers…

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honourable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do [immediately] to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

2. Declare a unilateral ceasefire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.

5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement…

Posted in American History | Tagged | 10 Comments

The Illarionov Case: A Deeper Dive

Dear Readers:

“Terrorists like this white guy keep falsely claiming that Biden stole the election…. In happier news: a sweet kitten was rescued from a tree yesterday…”

So, I was just watching some talking heads on American Mainstream Media, as they breathlessly discussed all the preparations to militarily secure the White House, Capitol Hill, and also the Capitols of all 50 states, in preparation for the Biden-Harris Coronation on January 20.  Never have we seen such movement of men and armor since the Iraq invasion!

“Who knew,” the male meat puppet opined, “after the act of terrorism that we suffered on 9/11 that we would now be defending ourselves against terrorists from among our own people?”  To which the female meat puppet nodded her pretty head sadly, “Precisely…”  You Readers think I am making this up?  I swear I am not!  It’s really come to this.

The Latest Glitch In The Matrix

So, this past week Professor Robinson, on his blog, wrote about the Illarionov case, and mostly alluding to the op-ed he wrote for RT here.  While the Professor focuses on the irony of the Cato Institute firing a prominent critic of Putin because he (=Illarionov) wrote some things that are not tolerated in the new American mainstream, there is another juicy part of the story involving Russian diaspora politics.  And hence I have this interesting piece from VZGLIAD, written by Artem Filippov.  So, let us work our way through this, shall we?

Illarionov: “Would you die for my right to express my opinions?”

Voltaire: “Moi? Pas chance.”

As the repressions of the Thought Police increase with every day — well, to be sure, Illarionov has not been arrested or sent to the American Gulag, just fired from his job at the Cato Institute, but still… — his plight raises some extremely interesting questions, not just about American politics, or Russian politics, but about the role of the Russian diaspora in American politics.  Should diaspora Russians even be allowed to take sides in American politics?  Some say no.  I say why not?  It’s not like Americans don’t stick their snouts into everybody else’s business, across the globe.  Anyhow, in his piece, Professor Robinson noted some rather egregious examples, such as openly racist statements by the likes of Yulia Latynina.  I have also noted, in some of my blogposts, the openly right-wing and even racist interventions of Russian Liberals when commenting on the summer riots and Black Lives Matter, and suchlike.

Although his contract with the Cato Institute ostensibly guaranteed him the freedom to express his journalistic opinions (and the Institute always had the right to attach some kind of disclaimer, e.g., “The opinions of this writer don’t necessary correspond… yada yada”), they chose to get rid of Illarionov altogether.  And here is the most egregious part:  Illarionov didn’t even express these Verboten opinions on their site, but rather in a Russian language blog, “Live Journal”, where he penned, on 8 January, a piece entitled The Reichstag Burning of 2021.  Wherein he voiced the following positions, dubbed (by those whose opinions matter) as baseless conspiracy theories:

  1. Trump actually won the election, but Biden stole it by cheating [an opinion shared by 40% of Americans polled, which, if my math is correct, makes roughly 131 million Americans potential terrorists and seditionists!]
  2. The Capitol Hill riot was actually a conspiracy/diversion organized by the Democratic Party with the assistance of Black Lives Matter/Antifa provocateurs.  [yalensis:  I am personally dubious of that claim, but you never know.  What we can be sure of is that Antifa, if it was involved, probably contains more FBI agents than actual members!]
  3. Trump had nothing to do with inciting the rioters.  The Capitol Hill police allowed the “rioters” to enter, which is actually proven fact when you view several videos on youtube.  Although it could also be the Capitol cops just felt outnumbered!

Illarionov, like most Russian Liberals, has toxic views on the American race issue.  Russian Liberals (and Conservatives as well) seem to despise African-Americans, regard them as moochers and seekers of government handouts, not to mention violent criminals and rioters.  They point to the excesses of the BLM summer riots.  [Which I don’t deny, even though I trend to supporting sincere black activists.  BLM, in general, is a mixed bag, containing some well-meaning people fighting against police brutality and the Prison Industrial Complex; but there can be no doubt the movement also contains people beholden to the Democratic Party; FBI infiltrators and provocateurs; not to mention a fraction of toxic black nationalists, that part is true, but everything needs to be seen in context, and the Russian Liberals certainly don’t get the context at all, from what I have seen!]

Ann Althouse

When not busy being wrong on American issues,  Illarionov has a rancid history of being wrong on Russian issues as well:  Filippov points out that the Russian dissident promoted the conspiracy theory of the Kremlin blowing up that plane carrying the Polish President.  “However, this does not mean that he is always wrong about everything,” Filippov adds.  To prove his point that Trump had nothing to do with inciting the rioters, Filippov cites Law Professor and blogger Ann Althouse, who studied transcripts of all of Trump’s relevant speeches from that week.  Ms. Althouse did not find one word in them which could be construed as incitement to violence.  Which means the Nancy Pelosi is full of you know what – surprise surprise!

Illarionov’s “master conspiracy theory” which reads as plausible (highly likely?) goes as follows:  The Democratic Party itself engineered the Capitol events, just like Hitler did the Reichstag.  Why would they do that?  To establish a monopoly one-Party government (plausible), in order to carry out their political program of pro-black racism and radical socialism … WAIT!  you just lost me there!  Biden a socialist?  hahahahahha (not plausible at all!)  Although Biden did say, at one point in the campaign, that anybody who didn’t vote for  him could not possibly be black.

Okay, so clearly Illarionov is a kook.  Or, he could be right about the conspiracy, but just wrong about its goals.  Either way, it seems to me that he had the right to pontificate about this in his blog and without being fired from his other job.  Especially since the Cato Institute prides itself on its “libertarianism” and promotion of free speech.  But even they got cold feet when they found out what Illarionov was saying on his Russian blog…

Which raises THE most interesting question of all!  How did Cato find out what Illarionov wrote on his Russian-language blog?  Highly dubious that anybody else at Cato can read Russian.

Divided Diaspora

There is a Russian saying I have heard, I can’t remember the exact words, but it goes something like:  “When the Pans [Polish masters] are fighting among themselves, even the Serfs must take sides.”

Which is exactly what is happening here!  The civil war within the American ruling class, — their ferocious battle as to who can best exploit the living plasma from the veins of the American people — has spread to the ranks of the peons, even international peons like Russian Liberals!  So, they are forced to take sides:  Biden vs Trump.  Not unlike the War of the Roses:  The House of Plantagenet vs the House of Lancaster.  And may God protect any ignorant peasant who gets in their way, when the Lords are going at each other with their swords, like wild beasts.

Pundit Filippov has his own “conspiracy theory” as to who might have ratted out Illarionov to Cato:  Namely, another Russian dissident goes by the name of Ilya Zaslavsky.  Notable Yeltsinite activist and politician from the 1990’s.  His wiki (which still shows his former boyish face even though he’s in his 60’s now) notes that Zaslavsky’s political idol is Ronald Reagan.  And I reckon that tells you all you need to know about this deplorable man.

Many years ago Zaslavsky left Russia and emigrated to the U.S. where he has been making his living trashing Putin and the Russian “kleptocracy”.  A few days ago, he apparently came upon Illarionov’s Live Journal post and considered it “highly dangerous”, according to the journal Politico.   So, he decided to do his bit to muzzle a rival.  Zaslavsky has admitted writing up a “synopsis” of Illarionov’s notorious post and sending it to the Cato Institute.  So, this is how they learned their employee’s deepest thoughts about the American election.

A much younger Ilya Zaslavsky looked a lot like Mr. Bean.

What is particularly hilarious is that Zaslavsky took the time to chide Illarionov for even getting involved in American politics at all (like, he himself didn’t?), explaining in his note that newcomers from Russia do not have the right to criticize the American political structure; that Americans will figure it out for themselves without foreign interference [priceless!]; and that Democracy is only meaningful when it has the right to defend itself.  “In this case also,” Filippov notes, “not without the help of a snitch.”

Filippov ends by commenting on the same irony as many others have noted:  that in “totalitarian” Russia dissidents like Illarionov or Zaslavsky have complete freedom to verbally attack the Russian government and leadership; and even have their own media channels on which to do so.  Whereas, in America, “the cradle of democracy”, only acceptable political opinions are tolerated nowadays, in the media.  Such is the Winter of Our Discontent.

Posted in Breaking News, Navalniana, The Great Game | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Happy Bolshevik New Year – Part VIII

Dear Readers:

Today finishing up this piece about the Russian New Year 1918 and how rotten it was, for most people who experienced it and wrote something about it.  Where we left off, Lenin as head of the new government, had signed a decree to reform the Russian calendar.  This was a necessary and overdo reform, which would bring Russian time-keeping into line with “international standards”; which meant, in practice, the Western European world.  The piece doesn’t mention, but the Bolsheviks also took advantage of the ferment of changes, to reform the Russian Orthography.  They didn’t go far enough, in my view, but it was still a good start.  Now if only Lenin could return from the grave to do something about Daylight Savings Time!  But I digress…  To resume my translation:

The Switch To the Western European Calendar

On 26 January Lenin signed the decree, “On the Introduction into the Russian Republic of the Western European Calendar.”  In this manner residents of Soviet Russia jumped forward 13 days, to 8 February.  The nation officially switched to the Gregorian Calendar.  The Church, however, continued to stick with the Julian Calendar.  As a result the Orthodox Christmas moved forward to 7 January.  As a result of these changes, the main Christian holiday was not celebrated at all in 1918 in Soviet Russia.  But on the other hand, another new holiday appeared:  the so-called Old New Year.  This holiday was celebrated especially by those people who reacted skeptically towards the Bolshevik innovations.

“It says here we have to skip 13 days.”

The calendar reform was met, on the whole, positively, by the intelligentsia.  Already on 10 February (new style), Maxim Gorky was writing in [the journal] New Life the following:  “This decree belongs to the list of the least offensive acts of the Bolshevik government.  The discrepancies between the Russian and Western European calendars led to significant inconveniences in our relations with abroad.  For the Bolsheviks it just seemed much easier to introduce into Russia an identical (with almost all cultured nations) method of counting time; especially since, given the utter destruction to which they have led Russia, those circumstances previously hindering this reform, have lost their meaning to a significant degree.”

The reform was bitterly criticized, however, by writer Ivan Bunin.  But then, he was a bitter critic of every initiative that the Bolsheviks undertook.

In the mid 1920’s there was an attempt to give the New Year the status of a national Communist holiday:  It was celebrated in workers clubs, cultural institutions, and theaters.  The celebrations were conducted in the spirit of anti-religious campaigns.  Theatrical pageants and mimes were performed in the kindergartens:  “The Red Pine Trees”, “Komsomol Christmas”, “Atheist Evenings”.  But inside the private home people were still allowed to celebrate the holidays as they pleased.

Bunin: “I refuse to participate in this farce.”

After the reversal of the NEP (New Economic Policy), many of the old holiday traditions were subjected to repressions.  Hence, in 1929 Joseph Stalin repealed the Christmas holiday [day off from work], forbade the selling of Christmas trees, and even forbade the celebration of Christmas (Рождество), Baptism Day (Крещение), and even New Year’s Day.  Parallel with this, the press conducted active propaganda against religious holidays.  Here is what Izvestia wrote about it:

“In the year 1930 there is still an egregiously illogical, awkward fairy tale roaming about in the world, this fairy tale was crafted by the paws of obscurantists to serve the parasites and humiliate the oppressed and exploited workers, as an evil mockery over them.”

In the minds of many, the New Year was so intertwined with religious holidays, that even it fell under disgrace.  Party ideologues wishing to curry favor with the Leader linked the holiday to remnants of the Tsarist period.  These limitations [on celebrating the holiday] were only removed six years later.  On 28 December 1935 an article was written in Pravda by Pavel Postyshev, First Secretary of the Kiev Obkom.  This Ukrainian Party functionary called for the return of the New Year tree.  And Postyshev blamed the Left Opposition, the supporters of Lev Trotsky, for deciding that the New Year tree was a bourgeois device.

Painting by Soviet artist Sergei Viktorov: “Decorating the New Year Tree”

[yalensis Sidebar on Postyshev biography:  Born in 1887 in Ivanovo-Voznesensk into the family of a weaver.  Enjoyed a purely working-class childhood.  Became politicized and join the Russian Social-Democratic Party (Bolsheviks) as early as 1904.  Was a talented political and strike organizer, participated in the 1905 Revolution, and was even wounded in a battle against the police.

Continued to organize, was arrested and sent into exile for a few years to Irkutsk.  From March 1917 presided over the Irkutsk Soviet, continued to work actively in the trade union movement.  In 1919 fought as a partisan against the Whites and became a Commissar on various fronts.

Starting in 1923 worked in the Communist Party in Kiev, in various titles.  In 1925 became a Candidate to the Party Central Committee, in 1927 a full member of the Central Committee.  Continued to rise in the ranks of the Party.

In 1932, during the crisis period of famine and grain-hoarding, was sent back to the Ukraine to conduct “extraordinary measures” to secure the grain.  A couple of years later, after Kiev was made the capital of the Ukrainian Republic, Postyshev became the Secretary of the Kiev Obkom.  Postyshev was said to be somewhat of a moderate, as he tactically came out against total collectivization.  In 1934 became a candidate to the actual Politburo.  It was during this period in this life that Postyshev promoted the idea of the secular New Year holiday, to replace the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ.  Postyshev reintroduced the Christmas tree which had formerly been denounced as as “monkish residue” of the old order.

Pavel Postyshev: Initiator of the secular New Year holiday for Communists.

It is said that Postyshev did not necessarily drink all Stalin’s kool-aid, particularly in relation to such sterling Old Bolsheviks as Nikolai Bukharin, now accused of ghastly crimes.  But still, one must pay the bills…. In 1937 Postyshev was appointed as Secretary to the Kuibyshev Obkom, in which capacity he led massive hunts for “enemies of the people”.  In February of 1938 the vise began closing around himself:  On 22 Febuary 1938, along with his wife, he was arrested in his Moscow flat.  By 9 April he had been softened up in prison enough to write a letter to Nikolai Yezhov, in which he sincerely confessed to all his counterrevolutionary activities against the Party and Soviet state, adding that he had conducted such counterrevolutionary activities for quite a few years now.  Yezhov’s meticulous criminal investigation revealed that Postyshev had belonged to a Right-Trotskyite counter-revolutionary organization in the Ukraine.  Not only that, but he had been working for Japanese intelligence as well, ever since his Irkutsk days in 1920!  He was shot on 16 February 1939.  Was eventually rehabilitated in 1956 on order of the Supreme Court of the USSR.]

Back To the Main Story

From that moment on [after Bolshevik anti-Grinch Postyshev defeated the Left-Trotskyites and their counter-revolutionary anti-tree agitation and brought back the decorated fir tree as a New Year Tree] the New Year holiday took on its purely Soviet attributes.  The production of tree-based toys and decorations was undertaken.  Certain pre-revolutionary traditions were borrowed back, but people still tried to push out the religious component of the holiday.  On the [typical] Soviet New Year’s Tree one could find cohabiting Christmas balls, snowflakes, bear toys made of flannel, Snegurochka figurines, fruits and red stars, balloons, tiny flags with images of Pioneers and Octobrat children.

And Ending On A Downer

Marina: A very lonely New Year.

Although I had promised earlier, that this series would end on a positive note, with the new “civilized” calendar and sweet children huddled under a New Year pine, I forgot that the authors actually end it with a sad and bitter poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, which she penned on 31 December, 1917.  And was clearly in a bad mood or being Debbie-Downer at the time.  Well, who can blame her, she had a very tragic life ahead of her, and nobody likes to be alone on New Year’s Day.  Poetry by definition cannot be translated properly (especially in terms of rhyme or meter), but here is my humble attempt to convey at least the semantic content of her poem:

The New Year I met alone.
I, a rich woman, was poor.
I, a winged woman, was cursed.
Somewhere there were many, many pressed
Hands — and much old wine.
But the Winged one was Cursed!
I alone was all alone!
Like the moon, alone, in the eye of the window.


Posted in Russian History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Bolshevik New Year – Part VII

Dear Readers:

Continuing with the ongoing saga of this historical piece about the Russian New Year 1918.  Previously we read the impressions of various people about the awfully horrid New Year they celebrated that year.  Of all of them, Lenin and Krupskaya probably had the most positive attitude:  There were no cookies at the party, but they could drink as much carrot tea as they liked.  Moreover, this piece ends on a positive note, with the introduction of a new calendar – yay!

And if life hands you carrots, you can make carrot tea!

See, it’s like I’ve often said — and I’ve told my Linguistics friends many times — that sometimes it takes an actual violent social revolution to get people to change such fundamental things as they way they spell words in their language (orthographic reforms), or mark the passage of time.  And so it came to pass here, where a long-overdo and necessary adjustment was made to the Russian calendar.  It’s like, if a tornado strikes your house and knocks stuff down, then, while horrified by the tornado, you might also see an opportunity to reorganize your stuff and make necessary reforms and adjustments while you rebuild.  That’s what it’s all about, my friends.  So, without further ado…

The Decree Introducing The Western European Calendar Into The Russian Republic

With the goal of establishing in Russia a method of counting time that is congruent with almost all cultured peoples, the Soviet of Peoples Commissars proposes to introduce into civil use, at the end of January of this year, a new calendar.  Namely:

“Don’t forget to put the parentheses!”

1)  The first day after January 31 of this year will be considered to be, not February 1, but rather February 14, then followed by February 15, and so on.

2)  Up until July 1, 1918, after writing the date according to the new calendar, people should put in parentheses the corresponding date in the old calendar.

Decree signed by the Chairman of the Soviet of Peoples Commissars, V. Ulyanov (Lenin). 24 January (6 February) 1918.

[yalensis:  I see that Lenin sort of broke his own rule, because he put the old date first, and then the new date in parentheses.  On the other hand, it wasn’t July 1 yet, so that wasn’t confusing at all!]

Next:  How was the new calendar accepted by the people and by the intelligentsia?

[to be continued]

Posted in Russian History | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Bolshevik New Year – Part VI

Dear Readers:

Apologizing for such an egregious interruption for Breaking News (and Breaking Pearl Necklaces!) we return to my translation of this historical piece about the New Year 1918.  The next segment is about a very nice young woman who was rather unhappy about the Bolshevik Revolution and ensuing chaos.  Her name is Princess Yekaterina Razumovskaya (Sayn und Wittgenstein), and she kept a diary during those troubled times.

There Was Another Russia…

Aside from Bolshevik Russia, there was another Russia, a Russia which did not accept the new order with all its slogans and decrees.  Supporters of the Soviet government called these people counter-revolutionaries and considered them to be, unambiguously, enemies.  And even though, at the start of 1918 the civil strife had not yet come to its peak, the tragedy of the divisions within the Russian people can already be seen clearly in the notes of eye-witnesses.  Even when the discussion is about the celebration of New Year Day.

The Princess left a diary behind

Princess Katya in 1920, was known for her amazing uni-brow.

Princess Yekaterina Razumovskaya colorfully described the situation on New Year’s Eve in the town of Mogilev-Podolski:  Under the windows [of the house] people were shooting out of rifles, “Papa thought they were beating down the door, and he got very nervous.”

The Princess compared this New Year with previous ones.  On December 31, 1916 in Petrograd, tables were set with “silver, there were beautiful cups, a mountain of treats”, “everybody was merry, they were drinking beverages from little rum glasses, and of course everybody was wishing people a happy New Year in the year to come.”  And then, within a year, members of the Sayn und Wittgenstein family “were at risk for being shot in their own beds.”

“January 1, 1918.  We still managed to greet the New Year, even against our own will.  There has been shooting all day long.  In the morning we again heard the whining of bullets.  We spent almost the whole day sitting at home.  In the Kiev Thought [newspaper] we read that Mogilev-Podolski has been occupied by Bolshevik troops.  It sound strange, and is actually not true.  At least for now.  As soon as the New Year shooting ceases, then it shall be completely quiet.”

Next:  The Bolsheviks introduce a new calendar.

[to be continued]

Posted in Russian History | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fascist Coup Hysteria, Or: Would Trotsky Clutch His Pearls?

Dear Readers:

With apologies, I temporarily interrupt my own “Bolshevik New Year” series for this breaking chain of pearls.  Which is what happens to pearl necklaces when fake revolutionaries get excited and clutch at them too hard!

Hitler’s Legion Of Idiots?

I would not normally engage in polemics with English-language opinion press, but, sorry, I just can’t let this one pass.  Many of you are probably familiar with the World Socialist Web Site, which claims to be the published voice of the International Trotskyist movement.  The Fourth International, no less, with its flagship American Party, the Socialist Equality Party.  I routinely read a lot of their articles, many of which are well written and to the point, and help me orient to workers and socialist movements going on around the world; and also sound ideologically plausible, from a Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyist point of view.  However, after reading some of their recent coverage of American events, I can’t help but wonder:  “If they are wrong about this, then what else are they wrong about?”

SEP’s origins in Vanessa Redgrave’s Workers Revolutionary Party. Not to be confused with the Revolutionary Workers Party.

When it comes to history, their site has a full archive section containing all the sordid genealogy of this political party/movement:  Their initially immaculate origins in Trotsky’s Fourth International, the American Socialist Workers Party; that party’s degeneration (in the 1960’s) into Social Democracy, on the one side, and Pabloite Revisionism, on the other.  A series of torturous splits, recombinations, more splits, more recombinations, everything one can imagine, as the decades go by.  The origins saga of this SEP is particularly dodgy:  They trace their birthright to, on the one hand, a sect in the U.S. (=the Wohlforthites) which the Fourth International governing body itself eventually declared to be a charistmatic leader-centered cult not unlike the Mansonites; and on the other hand to a particularly dodgy British sect from the 1970’s called the Healyites who once boasted actress Vanessa Redgrave as their primary spokesperson.  The Healyite Politburo were eventually overthrown from within, in a caricature of Trotsky’s proposed Political Revolution against bad-intentioned political hacks.  So, that’s a good thing.  And after these necessary changes, it seems like the Party sort of got its shit together in the late 1990’s.  Except that many of their op-eds and particularly their comment section don’t sound much different from what you might read in the Liberal media!  Which leads one to remember, that one of the ways in which Trotskyite organizations, once they lose their Leninist compass, degenerate — is in the direction of Social-Democracy.  Which, in the American context, hilarious as it sounds, is the Democratic Party!

Which brings up the delicate issue of the wsws week-long hysterics against Trump’s supposed “fascist coup” attempt.  Leaders of SEP clearly suffer from a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS, a horrible disease, be sure to talk to your doctor), especially if they actually believe that Trump is a fascist.  If Trump were a real fascist, then he would have already declared Martial Law.  For sure, some of his followers are instinctual fascists.  But others are not.  I personally know some Trump voters, and they are not actually the fascists and racists or white supremacists that they are portrayed.  Not all of them are white crackers, either.  These people are MAD AS HELL and don’t want to take it any more, but their main delusion is that they fiercely support law and order and back the police (hence the upside-side blue American flag)… well, er, at least up until now, we’ll have to see how they feel about being targeted for police repressions in the coming weeks.

Anyhow, it is my personal observation of American Liberals, that the ones who are most triggered by Trump, are the same people who are least likely to be attracted to the socialist alternative.  As a wise pundit named Jimmy Dore once opined:  “I despise Trump, but he doesn’t trigger me.”  Well said, Jimmy.  The best way to truly know a person, is to know what triggers that person.  If you’re more triggered by Trump than by Joe Biden, well then, as Mr. T might say, “I pity the poor fool…”  But see, that’s where the fake Marxists expose themselves every time:  When they are so terrified of a goofy right-winger, that they run for cover to the comforting arms of Lesser-Evil Mama Democratic Party.  It wasn’t even the right thing to do when Hitler was the bogie man.  And, Senator, Trump is no Hitler.

Before getting to the meat of the issue, to the fundamental error contained in this egregious wsws op-ed by Joseph Kishore, I just have to add one thing to my above rant:  Namely that these hysterical pseudo-Trotskyites remind me a lot of Max Shachtman.  Not that I knew Max personally.  But I have read a lot about the American Trotskyist movement, so I know that Max was highly triggered by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  Something in him just couldn’t stomach that, and so he left the movement and eventually became an imperialist apologist.  The moral of the story being:  Beware of those who are so triggered by Trump’s lunacy, that they come to see the Democratic Party as a lesser evil!  I’m not kidding, because that seems to me what is actually happening with the SEP:  They were so shaken up by the “Storming of the Capitol” thing (an event which I myself found almost hilarious, were it not for the fact that some actual human beings lost their lives that day, which is the only thing that made it sad instead of funny).  But instead of laughing at the idiocy of it all, the SEP are now, apparently, calling for the capitalist police to expose and arrest Trump voters!  Which puts them in the same camp as Nancy Pelosi, as she clutches her pearls in front of the Burning Reichstag and launches her Woke-Hitler Reign of Terror.

What Would Trotsky Say About Supporting Bourgeois Censorship?

You think I’m exaggerating?  Read this nugget from Kishore’s piece:

All laws restricting free speech are eventually used against socialists.

The effort to conceal the conspiracy must be opposed! The Socialist Equality Party demands the immediate removal and arrest of Trump and an open and public criminal investigation into all those who aided and abetted the fascistic putsch of January 6. Their emails, text messages and communications must be exposed. Everyone involved in directing, planning and providing political cover for this operation must be removed from office, arrested and sent to prison.

In raising this demand, the SEP does not give any credibility to the Democratic Party. Rather, it exposes both parties and the entire capitalist state.

That last caveat notwithstanding, which I suspect was just tossed in as the ritualistic Hail-Mary required of Trotskyist publicists, I highlighted the sentence that I found most sinister.  Namely the demand to expose people’s private emails, text messages and communications.  Whom exactly are they calling upon to expose these things?  The non-existent workers soviets, natch, chuckle chuckle.  Uh, no, more like the FBI and CIA, I reckon.  The National Google Security State, in other words.  Edward Snowden, by the way, is totally opposed to such lustrations, sensibly pointing out the rather nasty precedent that would be set.  “But Master Po, the Trump supporters are such a bunch of jerks, can’t we wish to never have to hear their stupid voices again?”  “Of course, Young Grasshopper, but here’s the thing:  Today they come for the Idiot Trump supporters and we all cheer; but tomorrow they come for you!”  Duh.

Snowden: Do you really want the NSA pawing through everybody’s email to find the Proud Boy shaman?

And you know what else this reminds me of?  Forget about Shachtman, this reminds me of the way the Communist Party USA called upon the capitalist state of FDR to use the Smith Act to lustrate and imprison Trotskyists during WWII.  (Trotskyists of the SWP, who were actual, real Trotskyists back in those days.)  CPUSA gloated their guts out at the sight of their Trotskyite enemies being tossed into the slammer.  But then, next thing you know, it’s the Commies who are being red-baited and prosecuted.  And so it always goes, in an endless cycle of human folly.

Meanwhile, in a much better op-ed from, of all places, RT America, I read what I consider the best comment of all, a comment by a user named glamoreus, which puts it all in its appropriate perspective:

US spend 750$ BILLION / Year to protect it’s democracy and all we needed was a guy in a Chewbaaka-bikini to overthrow world’s greatest nation.

Well said, glamoreus, well said.

Posted in Breaking News, Cat Fighting | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Happy Bolshevik New Year – Part V

Dear Readers:

Continuing to work through and translate this historical piece about the New Year 1918.  Yesterday we skimmed through the biography of the fascinating Russian writer and publicist, Mikhail Privshin.  We saw that he lived to a very ripe old age, surviving the Bolshevik Revolution, Civil War, Great Patriotic War, and even Stalin (by a year).  Despite his early opposition to the Bolsheviks and the October Revolution (his ideology was more in line with the Socialist Revolutionary Party), Privshin eventually reconciled with the victorious government and even rose to the highest pillars of the Soviet literary establishment.

The first Soviet Writers Congress convenes in 1934, with a giant Djugashvili looming above the much smaller bust of Lenin.

We mentioned that Privshin was elected to the Board of the new Soviet Writers Union, whose first Congress convened on August 8, 1934.  While (it goes without saying) this was a component of the “Stalinization” process which sought to control the cultural and intellectual life of the nation, there were many positive elements as well.  For example, an insistence on a return to “quality” literature; and also more responsiveness to the popular “marketplace”, namely trying to satisfy the people’s insatiable hunger to read the kind of books that appealed to them.  It was clear that the Soviet people themselves, the workers and peasants, regarded the writers as their paid employees; and they wanted to read the kind of stuff that they wanted to read:

Thousands of letters from workers, collective farmers, students, Young Pioneers and intellectuals poured into the congress with congratulations and advice. Delegations representing millions of readers appeared at the congress, sharing their passions, ideas, and creative aspirations.

Return of the professionals: A well-made Soviet film of 1934.

Ordinary Russian people were avid readers, but they wanted to read books about real people and real things.  The Party promoted, and also manipulated, these aspirations.  At the same time, the Congress represented a return to quality literature.  See, after the Revolution, seeing that at a lot of the intelligentsia were not on their side, the Bolsheviks and their supporters tried to bypass the professional writers and create their own, amateur, writers.  Who wrote, sort of like, lower-quality fan-fiction with a Revolutionary slant.  This didn’t work out very well, because the writing just wasn’t good enough.  Hence, as a component of the inevitable Thermidor process (whereby every true social Revolution is followed by a swinging back of the pendulum towards the former state), a slightly counter-revolutionary adjustment was made here, to bring real, professional writers, the best ones they could find, back into the fold:

After years of consigning literature to the rule of party hacks and no-talent “worker-writers,” the Soviet state, it seemed, had returned the great tradition of Russian letters to the professionals. The Union of Soviet Writers, sponsor of the event, was formed by the Party Central Committee on 23rd April, 1932. All other literary organizations were dissolved, foremost the hated All-Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. As Gorky told delegates: “The Party and the Government are taking away from us the right to order one another what to do, offering us in return the right to teach one another. To teach, meaning to share with one another our experience.” 

In return for writing quality literature that did not cross the Party’s political line, the writers were offered a comfortable and productive life:

“So, here’s the deal…”

The Union regularized the business of literature, providing a good and dependable living for its members. A writer who submitted to its authority would enjoy a variety of privileges. It parceled assignments to journalists, controlled which house published which books, and doled out foreign delicacies, high-end clothing, and even the highly-sought country homes (dachas) that were creative havens. To be a non-member meant not to be published. By the time of the congress, control of printing, distribution, publishing, radio, film and theater had been firmly centralized, with the Party Central Committee having absolute power of veto. The Writers’ Union served as model for other cultural unions (Cinematographic Workers, Actors, Artists) that were soon established.

Sort of a Mephistopheles type pact with the Devil:  You provide me with a comfortable and, even more importantly, a productive life, the ability to be published consistently — and I’ll write some terrific stuff that doesn’t go against the Bottom Line.  But we don’t have time here to get into that whole discussion about the role of Art and Literature in the Revolution, and whether that future Socialist government that many of us hope to build, should even be involved at all in this sort of thing…  My main purpose is to show that the Privshin of 1934 had metamorphosed into a very different guy from the one who penned this diary entry on January 1, 1918:

We Are Hanging Over a Precipice

We ironically wish each other Happy New Year and then get stuck on what to wish for the other person:  “May you find good luck in the New Year…”

Outside, it is ferociously cold.  It is torturous for me to even think about my loved ones, especially [my oldest son] Lev.  I haven’t heard from him, there has been no news at all, and I start to wonder whether he is even still alive.  There is no way to know:  no postal service, the telegraph takes your money but doesn’t work.  This is the Epoch of Revolution, but never before have people been so obsessed about finding food; never before have I heard so much chatter about trivialities.  We are hanging over a precipice, and all people can talk about is finding a goose, or sugar…

The following day, January 2, Privshin was arrested and held (as we saw) in prison for almost the whole of the rest of the year.  Reason for his arrest was writing two days earlier (December 31, 1917) a piece in the SR newspaper that was highly critical of Lenin and even called him a murderer.  This sounds unfair to modern ears, but that sort of outspokenness was not tolerated during that era; and the recent assassination attempt against Lenin might also have had something to do with it, although I am not sure about that.

Next:  how the New Year 1918 was celebrated by a counter-revolutionary Princess Yekaterina Razumovskaya.

[to be continued]

Posted in Russian History | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy Bolshevik New Year – Part IV

Dear Readers:

Continuing to work through and translate this historical piece about the New Year 1918, looking at it from various angles.  It was certainly a very tough time in Russian history, and we can only hope that no human beings ever have to live through anything like this again!

The next section features the musings of a Russian writer and publicist named Mikhail Privshin who lived from 1873-1954.  Born into a family of minor (and somewhat impoverished) nobility, Privshin, as a student participated in the political ferment of the era, debates between populists and Marxists, etc.  Due to his participation in a Marxist study group, he was arrested (1897) and spent a year or so in prison, followed by internal exile in his native town of Khrushchovo.  In 1900 he left Russia to study in Germany, specializing in philosophy.

Mikhail Privshin

Eventually he went into journalism and wrote for several Russian liberal journals.  Returned to Russia in 1907 and travelled all over the country, writing about his experiences.  Became friends with famous literary writers such as Gorky and Tolstoy.

During World War I he worked as a military correspondent.  In 1917 he joined the People’s Will Party (Narodnaya Volya), aka the SR’s, and wrote for their newspaper.  He wrote polemics against the Bolsheviks and even called Lenin a “murderer” (“Убивец!”).  Privshin was obviously not very thrilled with the Bolshevik Revolution which he considered to be a lawless adventure.  He pinned his hopes on the Constituent Assembly, which he thought should set thiings right again.  On January 2, 1918 he was arrested for being too outspoken.  He excoriated the Bolsheviks, saying they were just as repressive as the Tsarist regime, only the latter couched their repressions in the name of “God” whereas the Bolsheviks did so in the name of “Man”.

Other members of the artistic intelligentsia, led by Alexander Blok, came out on the side of the Bolsheviks.  Blok personally undertook to win over and try to reconcile his fellow intellectuals with the Bolsheviks.  Privshin’s anti-Bolshevism proved to be a blessing in disguise, however, as we shall see, since, a few years later, he was able to get through the Stalin purges without a scratch, despite his high standing in the literary community.

Once he was released from prison, in 1918, Privshin left Petrograd and retreated to his family’s estate to engage in peasant labor.  [Intellectuals doing peasant work was something that Tolstoy had initially championed; and then the SR’s also thought this was a good idea.  The peasants themselves would roll their eyes, because these intellectuals were just bungling everything and getting in the way.]

Poet Alexander Blok

In fall of 1918, Privshin had to watch helplessly as his family estate was confiscated by the Bolsheviks and turned into the HQ of the local Soviet.  The good news is that he was able to toss down his scythe and find other work, first as a librarian, and then a schoolteacher.  In 1920 Privshin and his wife relocated to the Smolensk area.

Privshin continued to be a prolific writer throughout the 1920’s and apparently reconciled himself to the Soviet system.  He continued to travel, to write prolifically, and remained active in many pursuits, throughout the 1930’s.  In 1934 he was elected to the Board of the Writers Union of the USSR.  Continued to write and travel, was untouched by the repressions of 1936-38.  [Well, no reason he would be, Stalin was not at all interested in people like him, Djugashvili was mostly out to get the Old Bolsheviks.]  In his diary, in 1940, Privshin wrote some rather startling things, as his wiki reveals:  He admired Adolph Hitler and rather hated the Jews, although, like Wagner before him, he considered it Mauvais Ton to hate ordinary Jews simply because they were Jews.  Still, he saw an invisible bond uniting Rothschild and the Soviet Jewish intelligentsia; because of this common ethnic bond they would unreasonably despise a good and noble guy like Hitler.

Privshin’s country home in Zvenigorod, now a museum.

In 1941 Friend Adolph invaded Privshin’s beloved country, this probably came as a shock to the Germanophile yet patriotic Russian writer.  The Soviets evacuated him out of harm’s way to the Yaroslavl Oblast.  Always the gadfly, once in his new setting Privshin organized a protest against the cutting down of the forest.  [Well, he was also a naturalist and ecologist, so I put that on his plus side.]

In 1943 Privshin returned to Moscow and kept up his Writers Union certs by publishing tons more books and stories.  After the war he continued to write prolifically and also engaged in photography and art.  He loved the beauty of Nature more than anything.  In 1954 he contracted cancer and died, beloved by all.

Now that we have perused some of Privshin’s very interesting biography, it is time to return to 1918 and hear his thoughts on that ghastly New Year as he lived through it…

[to be continued]

Posted in Russian History | Tagged , | Leave a comment