Ukraine War Day #216: Provody (continued)

Dear Readers:

I was in a hurry yesterday, so I did not have a chance to do a proper job with that Provody song. As you recall, the Russian word проводы (pronounced “provody”) means “accompaniment” or “seeing off”. In Russian peasant tradition there is a standard theme about a young man leaving his village. Not always necessarily to join the army, sometimes it can be for other reasons. For example, in that wonderful Soviet film Morozko (“Father Frost”) the hero Ivanushka (whose character flaw is vanity) is simply off to seek his fortune in the broad world (much to the sorrow of the adoring village maidens), believing in his conceit that he is superior to all of them, and way too good to rot in this simple village. . If you ever watch this movie, you will see that Ivanushka is ultimately redeemed, through his love for the sweet girl Nastya, and not without some help from a wise elf known only as Mushroom Guy.

Ivanushka’s character flaw is vanity.
Soviet poet Demyan Bedny: His character flaw was cowardice.

Anyhow, according to the rules of the provody genre, usually the hero’s mom, the village maidens, and lots of other people come rushing out to “accompany” the hero, usually trying to dissuade him from his quest. But the hero ignores their counsels and stubbornly proceeds.

As we saw yesterday, similar provody are being conducted in all the Russian regions. But without the element of dissuasion. In this case the point is to encourage the young men to march off to war, to fight for their country in its time of peril.

Yefim Alexeevich Pridvorov was better known by his pen name Demyan Bedny. He was born in 1883 in Kherson Oblast of Ukraine and grew up in a very poor peasant family, so he knew the life very well. After serving in the Tsarist army he was able to attend the University of St. Petersburg. He was radicalized and joined the Bolshevik Party in 1912. He wrote poetry and became close friends with Lenin long before Lenin was cool, and long before the Bolshevik Revolution. Bedny served again in World War I, and obviously supported and agitated for the October Revolution. As a writer he was extremely popular among the masses. As a favorite of Lenin’s he was even given an apartment inside the Kremlin. However, he was evicted in 1932 by Stalin, who had a personal dislike for the stocky peasant. Stalin actually detested the man and was always dissing his works. In 1936 the Central Committee of the Party attacked Bedny’s latest work, and it looked like his head was going to be on the chopping block. Bedny managed to save his own skin by writing poems attacking Tukhachevsky and other victims of the Stalin purges. In this manner he was able to survive all the way through the Great Patriotic War and was allowed to die a natural death. Unlike the honorable Communists whom he had slandered in order to suck up to Stalin.

Putting aside that unpleasant toadiness of his character, one can still enjoy Bedny’s great poem Provody, he wrote the lyrics, using images from his former life as a peasant; the music already existed as popular folksong.

Как родная меня мать
Провожала,
As my dear mother
saw me off,
Тут и вся моя родня
Набежала.
All my relatives
came running up as well.
Ах, куда ж ты, паренёк,
Ах, куда ты?
Ach, young man,
Ach, where do you think you’re going?
Не ходил бы ты, Ванёк,
Во солдаты!
You shouldn’t go, Vanyok,
to be a soldier!
В Красной армии штыки
Чай найдутся,
The Red Army
can find enough bayonets,
Без тебя большевики
Обойдутся!
The Bolsheviks
can get along just fine without you!
По неволе ты идёшь,
Аль с охотой,
Whether you go willingly,
or against your will,
Ваня, Ваня, пропадёшь
Ни за что ты.
Vanya, Vanya, either way
you will perish without a trace.
С молодой бы жил женой,
Не ленился,
You should stay here,
find a nice young wife,
Тут я матери родной
Поклонился.
Here I turned and bowed
to my dear mother.
Будь такие все, как вы,
Ротозеи,
If everybody were gawking mouth-breathers
like you people,
Что б осталось от Москвы,
От Расеи.
Then nothing would remain of Moscow,
of Russia.

And Speaking Of Mobilizations…

And, just when conscription started, wouldn’t you know it, Edward Snowden picked just this perfect time to finally obtain his Russian citizenship! Of course, the question on everybody’s lips: Will former NSA spy Snowden have to go off to serve in the Russian army now? That would be quite some irony, Snowden having dodged a thousand bullets already, he could have ended up being tortured in Gitmo or locked up for years, like Julian Assange. Only to finally become a fully legal Russian citizen, just in time to pack up for the front and get blown up by NATO cannons?

Not so, we are reassured by Snowden’s attorney, Anatoly Kucherena: “He never served in the Russian army, therefore, according to our laws, he does not fall into that category of citizens who are currently being called up.” Kucherena told the reporters that Snowden’s wife also plans to apply for Russian citizenship. They have a little girl who is already a Russian citizen by birth.

Which is interesting, because I actually did not know that Russian citizenship laws worked that way (i.e., via natural-born, like in America).

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20 Responses to Ukraine War Day #216: Provody (continued)

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    Russians are civilized people and not racists. for centuries and citizenship is for all those who are born in their country in a normal way. And foreigners can apply if they wish, for example Steven Seagal has been a Russian citizen for several years.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      It’s not about racism. What I meant is that, not every nation in the world grants citizenship based upon physical birth inside the borders of the nation. In many countries it depends on the citizenship of one’s parents. So, for example, in Country X one could have been born right there physically, but still not a citizen unless one’s parents (or one parents) was a citizen. I believe that is the case, for example, in Germany. (I could be wrong.)

      In this respect, I was told that American law (about being “natural-born”) is more the exception than the rule. However, in truth, I don’t know a lot about different countries and their citizenship rules, not even about Russia. Hence, it was a surprise to me to learn that Snowden’s daughter was an automatic citizen, even though her parents were not (yet) citizens.

      Like

      • tamas says:

        For example in Italy we don’t have the rule “if you were born here you are ours” (so called ius soli, “ground’s law”), which means immigrants’ children born in Italy have to wait till they are 18 to gain citizenship. We have instead ius sanguinis, blood’s law, so if you are the child of an Italian you are automatically Italian; as a result, the grand-grand son of an Italian who went abroad like in 1890 is an Italian citizen and has every right to vote, even if no one in his family speaks the language since forever

        Like

        • yalensis says:

          Very interesting example, thanks for that! I am going to remember those terms ius soli and ius sanguinis, because that is exactly the point I was trying to make. In America, it’s obviously ius soli which applies, hence all the controversies about so-called “anchor babies” and the like. Also the controversy about Barack Obama and the “birthers” and such-like, who claimed that he was born in Africa and therefore could not be a “natural-born” American citizen, as is required in the Constitution.

          So, does anyone know about Russian citizenship rules, and which type applies? I feel foolish asking, because I am supposed to be the Russia expert here, but I find I am ignorant about this particular issue.

          Like

  2. Anti-swastika says:

    (Some moron at WordPress screwed up their website so it’s now impossible for me to read what I’m typing, so please forgive any errors.)

    I wouldn’t think much of a country that drafted Edward Snowden and couldn’t find any better use than to put a rifle in his hands and get his head blown off. Surely someone would suggest a better use of his talents. (It might have finally given me a non-swastika icon, but I won’t know for sure until I post this.)

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Sorry to hear about your wordpress woes. Suggestion: you could type your comments into a word processor or text editor, where you can see and edit them first, then copy/paste in the WP comment panel.

      As it is, your comment is fine, and I agree with you that it would be a sham to put a brilliant IT specialist like Snowden out there at the front. His skills could be put to much better use in military programming applications, Intel, data mining, etc.

      Like

  3. Bukko Boomeranger says:

    Since you’re still writing about the Provody, I thought I’d drop a link to an Australian song about the topic. It’s titled “I Was Only 19”. A 1970s song by a band named Redgum, about troops leaving for the Vietnam War. The tune’s fairly well-known here, quite poignant, almost as good as “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle (another Aussie tune about men ruined by war. For anyone who doesn’t click the link, this is the first verse:

    Mum and Dad and Denny,
    Saw the passing-out parade at Puckapunyal,
    It was a long march for cadets.
    The Sixth Battalion was the next to tour,
    It was me who drew the card,
    We did Konundra and Shoalwater before we left.
    And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay,
    This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean,
    And there’s me in my slouch hat,
    With my SLR and greens,
    God help me, I was only 19…

    (Puckapunyal, Konundra and Shoalwater are Aussie military bases, Townsville is a city in the state of Queensland, and for anyone who listens to the song, “VB” is “Victoria Bitter,” a cheap beer that’s like an Australian equivalent to Miller High Life.

    Like

    • yalensis says:

      Thanks for posting, I listened to the song, very sad and poignant. The tune was not familiar to me, but I am familiar with the “Walzing Matilda” tune!

      Like

      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – great reminder of the horrors of war, and PTSD. Seems like every generation needs to be reminded; and then every generation forgets once again and marches off to war.

        Like

      • Bukko Boomeranger says:

        As long as we’re talking songs, did you ever hear one titled “Roads to Moscow” by a folk singer named Al Stewart? It’s from a mid-1970s album, so you might not be old enough, and this cut was obscure at the time. He had a minor U.S. radio hit in the late 70s titled “Year of the Cat.” Did a bit of what I call “histo-rock” such as a song about Nostradamus. I bought the vinyl when I was in uni, and Jeebus K-riced! it hits me that I’ve had that record for almost half a century now. No longer plays, because I’ve spun it so long it has gotten skippy.

        Anyway, you’d like this song because it describes the experience of a Russian soldier when the Nazis invaded, and how he fought through the retreat and kept at it until the Russians sacked Berlin. There are some Russian song elements such as massed men’s choir voices in the background. Has a lot of obscure Eastern European place names, verses such as:

        ”All summer they drove us back through the Ukraine,
        Smolensk and Vyzama soon fell.
        By autumn we stood with our backs to the town of Orel…”

        Sad ending, because the person in the song falls afoul of Stalin’s security forces since he had once been captured by the Germans, but I won’t give away any spoiler. The images in the video don’t match the war that’s being described, but the person who put it together explained it was a fan thing. I thought this had a more entertaining look than simpler versions with just Stewart singing.

        Like

        • Bukko Boomeranger says:

          Whoops! Forgot to add the tag

          Like

        • yalensis says:

          Wow! That is an amazing song and video, thanks for posting that, Bukko!
          I think the video really captures the sheer terror and grunge of combat.
          I never heard of Al Stewart, but he clearly knows his stuff. It’s not just the place names, he effortless tosses out names like Guderian, etc.

          Like

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. it’s so sad that the character gets arrested in the end and has to go to the Gulag, after everything that he has endured in the war.
            Unfortunately, that actually happened in real life.
            Makes me respect this poet, Al Stewart all the more, I don’t know anything about him, but just from his song he is clearly pro-Russian but not drinking the Stalin Kool-Aid either. Good for him!

            Like

            • FatMax says:

              >Unfortunately, that actually happened in real life.
              And (as I am certain you know) most Soviets prisoners liberated from Nazi camps came home and did not go straight to the Gulag.

              Anti-Stalin sentiment is understandable, but drinking the VOC Kool-Aid is not.

              Like

              • yalensis says:

                VOC? What means?

                Like

              • Victims of Communism?

                Like

              • yalensis says:

                Good guess, Bukko. But I personally don’t see these people as Victims of Communism, but rather victims of Stalin as an individual ruler. People forget that Stalin killed off (for his own reasons of personal ambitious) a lot of the original Communists/Bolsheviks, not to mention most of Lenin’s Central Committee.

                In history, every Revolution is followed by a counter-Revolution. Stalin was the Napoleon Bonaparte figure of the Russian Revolution; the difference being that he didn’t take the counter-revolution all the way back to capitalism. In fact, the basis of the socialist/workers state remained, but the political caste was replaced completely. This is why it was a political counter-revolution and not a social counter-revolution. The real social counter-revolution came later, under Yeltsin.

                I personally have found that I despise Stalin (as a political leader and individual) ever since childhood, and that was even before I learned our dark family secret, how Stalin had condemned to death one of my direct ancestors, on my father’s side. This man was actually a rather famous revolutionary, which is why I cannot divulge his name… LOL

                Anyhow, as I go through life I find that I occasionally encounter these die-hard true-believers in the awesomeness of Stalin. Initially I thought that I could still be friends with such people (such as Max and Lyttenburgh, and a few others), but then discovered that it is impossible. That is to say, I can tolerate them and their views, but they cannot tolerate me or my views, because Stalin is a religion with them. They have a narrow, almost teleological view of history (confusing cause and effect), in which that stocky, foul-smelling murdering sociopathic Caucasian guy features as a kind of untouchable saint, who foresaw all and could do no wrong.

                Very strange. We all have heroes. For example, Lenin is one of my heroes. But I don’t hold him up as a saint. He was a human being, he made a lot of mistakes. No man is a god.

                Like

        • Anti-swastika says:

          Since I refuse to watch videos on pro-censorship Y*tube, I had to find another link. This has some interesting info about the song as well as the complete lyrics.

          https://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/story-of-stalins-war-al-stewarts-roads-to-moscow

          Like

          • Bukko Boomeranger says:

            Thanks for the link, Swas! I learned something there, from the post as well as comments. I was never a huge Al Stewart fan — that song is the only one of his that I ever thought worth replaying — but it was cool to see that other people were deeply touched by the tune.

            As for your (justified) disgust with Utoob, I see that the vid on the link you posted has been removed by those bastards because it violated their terms of service. Another vid on a link that I followed from YOUR linked page is also inaccessible, due to Utoob censoriousness. The freaking corporations are as bad as the old USSR border guards were when searching travelers’ luggage for subversive literature. (Or so I’ve been told, never having visited Russia.) Corporatism is worse than communism!

            Like

          • BM says:

            Just out of curiosity I tried y2mate.com as they sometimes have youtube videos after they have been censored, just feed in the youtube link and bing, they have it. I suggest you download the video and upload it to your preferred provider!

            y2mate link here

            Like

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