Some people think that the Cold War between Russia and the West was a historical event that happened during the 1950’s, with Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the table.
In reality the Cold War between Russia, on the one hand; and Western Europe on the other (including England and Great Britain) has been going on for many centuries, just under a different form, with every epoch that goes by. It is THE never-ending war.
I don’t have enough time (or knowledge) to go into the complicated history of Anglo-Russian relations in the early 1800’s. Suffice it to say that this vicious little Cold War between the two nations was fought on several battlefields, including places like Turkey, the Caucasus, Persia, and Central Asia. What was the war about? Well, the usual. Competition for trade routes, political influence, etc.
Into this conflict stepped a rather brilliant Russian poet named Alexander Sergeevich Griboedov. He was born in 1795, in Moscow. He died in 1829, at the relatively young age of 34, in Tehran, Persia (what we now call Iran). Griboedov was assassinated by an angry mob. Supposedly, of enraged Muslims. (Nothing ever changes, does it?) Torn to pieces to such a degree that his body parts had to be collected in bags. I forgot to mention that, in addition to being a brilliant poet and playwright, Griboedov was also a high-ranking diplomat of the Tsar’s court. He was Russia’s ambassador to Persia. And it was on his watch (1829), that Iranian “militants”, a mob of around 100,000 of them, burst into the Russian Embassy, with havoc ensuing. (Hm…. nothing really does change, does it?). Griboedov, who was no pussy, leaped into the fray himself, joining the 35 armed Cossacks defending the gates of the Embassy. Grib whipped out his pistol and his sabre and offered resistance to the “militants”. But, in the ensuing “unequal battle”, all the Russian defenders were killed. The sole survivor of this massacre was a man named Maltsov, the Secretary of the Mission. He had been able to hide somewhere unnoticed by the mob.
Pieces of Griboedov’s body were later ID’ed, based on fragments of his Ambassador’s uniform, plus an old dueling scar (from a duel he had fought in 1818). Like I said, this guy was no pussy.
However it has long been (deliberately using the passive voice) “suspected” or “known” (and Russians now say they have evidence) that the mob assassination was far from a spontaneous event. No. And that the English government was behind this murder of one of Russia’s greatest playwrights.
First, the Lede
This post came about because I saw this story in VZGLIAD. According to which, Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov claims that he has viewed some “astonishing documents” which prove that Griboedov’s assassination was the work of English service services.
For 30 years now, Mikhalkov has been busy planning his movie about Griboedov. The script was completed many years ago, but he cannot get it onto the screen. Finally he got permission to start shooting externals in Turkey, but then, unfortunately, in light of recent tensions between Russia and Turkey, he found that the shoot might have to be moved to Teheran, Iran. In the course of his research, Mikhalkov has been perusing historical archives kept in the Russian Foreign Ministry. “We have proved,” according to Mikhalkov, “that it wasn’t some enraged, Muslim mob [who killed Griboedov]. No, this was a cold-blooded and pre-meditated assassination, carried out by the English.” Mikhalkov has also alleged, from his research in the archives, that Count Nesselrode was an English spy.
Mikhalkov made these piquant accusations while giving a speech in the Russian Duma (Parliament), just two days ago, on the topic of “Year of the Film”.
Whodunnit? The English government and secret services, according to Mikhalkov.
Why they do it? Because Griboedov was hampering their “Silk Road project”, again according to Mikhalkov.
How they do it? The English slyly used Griboedov’s own weaknesses against him: His impetuousness, his pride, his contempt for the other “Alexander Sergeevich” (Russia’s other “greatest poet”) Pushkin. Using these weaknesses, the English spies somewhere lured Griboedov into the situation which led to his untimely demise.
Where is the proof? The VZGLIAD piece does not cite the actual documents which Mikhalkov claims to have viewed. And I couldn’t find these documents elsewhere on the internet, either. I believe Mikhalkov, but I wish he would publish the documents online. Well, maybe they’re still considered classified “top secret”, for all I know. But actually, that bit about Nesselrode being the English “Resident” in St. Petersburg — that I believe, because it would explain quite a lot about messed up Russian foreign policy of that era!
Next: Griboedov’s literary legacy, and a review of his best-known work.
[to be continued]