Uglich still reeling from unsolved murder of Dmitry Ivanovich – Part IV

Dear Readers:

In the last installment of this fascinating story, we jumped to the chase and witnessed the actual murder of Dmitry Ivanovich, the (supposedly) spontaneous riot of the Uglich townspeople that ensued upon the knifing; and then we even sped 14 years into the future, deep into the Time of Troubles, following our lad Dmitry, now fully grown into a strapping young Pretender and enjoying a series of smashing adventures!

In other words, we covered all the headlines.  But now it is time to go back to the actual crime, and dig a little deeper.  Perhaps not all is as it seems.

Ivan the Terrtible’s new reality show: “Meet the Brides!”

First, a brief chronology, to make sure we get all the dates right.  Cruelly omitting those of Ivan’s children who died in infancy, also omitting the girls and just focusing on the 3 viable male candidates for the throne. roughly speaking, this reality show is called “My Three Sons“.  Of which the first two, Ivan and Fedor, were full blood brothers; whereas the third, Dmitry, was the brother from a different mother.

  • Ivan the Terrible’s son and heir Ivan Ivanovich, the most capable of Ivan’s children, died (allegedly Papa killed him in a fit of rage) in 1581, at the age of 27.   (The painter Repin’s famous depiction of this crime, was horrifically vandalized a few months back, by a maniac, while it hung in the Tretyakovsky Gallery in Moscow. Specialists are still working day and night to restore the painting.)
  • Ivan’s youngest son Dmitry Ivanovich was born a year later, in 1582.
  • Ivan the Terrible himself died a couple of years later, in 1584.
  • Leaving the throne to Son #2, Fedor Ivanovich, who was 26 at the time.
  • Young Dmitry Ivanovich died in 1591, which is what this series of posts is all about.
  • Tsar Fedor I died 7 years later, in 1598, at the age of 40, unable to produce an heir.  And Fedor’s impotence brought an end to the Rurik dynasty.  What followed was the Time of Troubles, and the ascension of the Romanov Dynasty.

Repin’s famous painting of Ivan killing his eldest son.

Sidorchik mentions the “great ambitions” of the Nagie Klan as one possible factor that set off this tragedy.  Recall: Dmitry’s mom, Maria Nagaya, albeit married to Ivan the Terrible, was not considered a legitimate wife, since their wedding was not endorsed by the Church.  Tsar Fedor, under the guidance of Boris Godunov made it super-clear to his step-mom and step-in-laws that their role in Uglich was to be purely ceremonial.  In a way, sending them off to Uglich was a type of exile, just not quite as far as Siberia.  Not that Uglich isn’t a nice town, but the point was to get the in-laws out of Moscow.  “The Nagie clan,” according to Sidorchik, “starting with the Tsaritsa (Maria) was quite offended by this situation, as they had all hoped for high government positions.”

Despite their quasi-exile to Uglich, the Nagie clan still maintained some faint hope that their little guy was going to make it all the way the throne.  Although Dmitry was said to suffer from epilepsy, he was otherwise sound of mind and, by all accounts, a good kid.

Giles Fletcher: “I’m telling ya, the kid was a monster!”

Or was he?  Dmitry is a Saint in the Russian Orthodox Church, so all the Russian sources, and the church frescoes and the like, depict him as a type of Little Angel, with an actual halo around his head.  He was such a good little boy that his body didn’t even decompose when he died!  And yet an English traveler of the time tells a different story.  Of a Bad Apple, a pint-sized monster, an urchin who went well beyond what Americans deem a “high-spirited child” and which Russians approvingly call a “mischievous boy”.  More like a violent psychopath, just like his dad – a chip off the old block!  An English diplomat of the Elizabethan era named Giles Fletcher wrote about his travels in Russia, during which he heard some strange rumors about this child.  I know, I know, Russophiles will object:  The English always write anti-Russian propaganda!  It is so, but Fletcher was not necessarily writing his treatise for the general public.  He was not a reporter for the Daily Sun.  His was supposed to be an accurate account to be read by actual grown-ups in the English government, who needed to know whom they were dealing with, and what was actually going on in the world.

Fragment of a letter from Queen Elizabeth I to Tsar Ivan the Terrible

In 1588 Fletcher was appointed English Ambassador to Russia and charged with renewing Her Majesty’s trade treaty, previously entered into with Tsar Ivan, with the new Tsar Fedor Ivanovich.  In his well-researched report, Fletcher described to his boss, Queen Elizabeth, everything that he had seen in Russia, and everything that he had learned about Russia, from the lowest flora and fauna, to the highest level of people.  This is what Fletcher had to say about Tsar Fedor’s kid brother (and I am quoting from Fletcher’s actual book here, not back-translating from Sidorchik, that’s why my WordPress spellchecker is going nuts):

“The emperours yonger brother of sixe or seven yeares old (as was said before) is kept in a remote place from Mosko, under the tuition of his mother and hir kindred of the house of the Nagaies [Nagoi]; yet not safe (as I have heard) from attempts of making away by practice of some that aspire to the succession, if this emperor die without any issue.  The nurse that tasted before him of certaine meat (as I have heard) died presently.  That hee is a natural sonne to Joan Vasilowich, the Russe people warrant it, by the fathers qualitie that beginneth to appeare already in his tender yeares.  He is delighted (they say) to see sheepe and other cattel killed, and to looke on their throtes while they are bleeding (which commonly children are afraid to beholde), and to beate geese and hennes with a staff till he see them lie dead.”

If Giles is telling the truth, then the Russian people dodged a bullet, when this young serial-killer in the making, died before he was able to ascend the throne!  Imagine the chaos and confusion in Moscow, with hypothetical Tsar Demetrius beating up geese and chickens inside the Kremlin!  Also note the dramatic irony, worthy of a Roald Dahl morality tale:  The child-monster — who took pleasure in gazing upon the cut throats of “cattel”—  ended up having his own throat cut!  Which, actually, come to think of it, might support the “suicide” theory – see, maybe Dima was curious, maybe he held up a hand-mirror so that he could watch his own blood gushing out of his own wound (?)

[to be continued]

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Uglich still reeling from unsolved murder of Dmitry Ivanovich – Part III

Не приведи Бог видеть русский бунт, бессмысленный и беспощадный! (Alexander Pushkin, “The Captain’s Daughter”)

Dear Readers:

Welcome back to my review of this piece, along with related material from the Russian wiki. Yesterday we dived in medias res, to the actual murder (or was it an accident? or possibly a suicide?) of eight-year-old Dmitry Ivanovich.

The famous quote, above, by Pushkin, translates as “May God preserve us from ever seeing a Russian riot, thoughtless and pitiless!”  The Russian word бунт (“bunt”, a borrowing from the German “Bund”) denotes a politicized mob action that arises spontaneously and develops in an unorganized fashion, with or without leadership.  It is directed against authority and hence can also be translated as “mutiny”.  In the context, Pushkin was talking about the violent predations of the Don Cossack rebel Yemelyan Pugachev, who ravaged the countryside during the reign of Catherine the Great.  In his spare time Pugachev pretended to be Peter III.  Thus also continuing the noble old Russian tradition of the само-званец, literally the “self-called one”, the “Pretender”, sometimes also translated as “Imposter”.  And poor Old Tsar Vasily IV (Shuisky) could tell us a thing or two about Pretenders:  During his brief reign there was such a glut of самозванцы running around that an honest murderer could not stand on Red Square and swing a dead cat , without hitting one of them.

To be a successful False Dmitry you must be a strapping young buck with a Polish girlfriend!

What started this unfortunate plague of False Dmitries?  Yesterday we saw how the Russian town of Uglich was infected by the spirit of mutiny on that fateful day 15 May 1591.  When the good townsfolk disobeyed the explicit orders of the Tsar’s appointed Governor Mikhail Bityagovsky, who ordered them to (1) stop ringing the church bell, (2) stop pelting him with rocks, and (3) stop ripping him apart limb from limb.

As with all Russian riots/mutinies, whenever they try to buck Authority, Authority always win.  With a heavy price to pay in terms of retributions and punishments.  But, again like always with Russian bunts, there is a type of karma at the end of the day.  The powerful boyar who was sent to punish the people (and the Bell), Vasily Shuisky, ended his life as a prisoner of the Poles and died near Warsaw in 1612.  That was his karmic punishment for lashing the Uglich Bell and ripping out its clapper!

Tsar Basil IV (Shuisky)

To be sure, Shuisky claimed, at the time, to have conducted a fair and impartial investigation of the Uglich riot and the unfortunate event that preceded it.  That event being the death of a sweet young child.  Shuisky’s expert forensic assessment was that Dmitry, allegedly an epileptic, had accidentally stabbed himself in the throat with his own knife (which was never found!)  Dmitry’s Idiot older brother Fedor Ivanovich was still Tsar in Moscow, but the real power behind the throne, as everybody knew, was Boris Godunov, Fedor’s brother-in-law.

In 1605 Boris decided “the heck with it, I’m tired of being the puppet-master,” and he ascended the throne, rudely pushing his brother-in-law aside.  Upon which a horrified Shuisky (“That was never supposed to happen!”) recanted his own deeds and statements of 14 years earlier.  By now the sweet and frail Tsarevich Dmitry had time to grow into a strapping 22- or 23-year old Pretender.  Shuisky changed his tune and went over to the Pretender’s side.  He recanted his earlier sworn testimony:  See, turns out that Dmitry Ivanovich had somehow miraculously escaped from those nasty assassins sent by Bityagovsky, he had gone into hiding and now was all grown up into this handsome young buck, here he is in the flesh, standing right in front of you, the good people of Rus!

Boris Godunov was actually a competent Tsar, but he didn’t last long on the throne.  Tormented by remorse (if one is to believe Pushkin), he slowly died, accompanied by the dramatic harmonies of Mussorgsky’s orchestra.  Feigning grief, Shuisky enters the throne room, preparing to take the Golden Orb and Scepter.  But wait!  At that moment somebody suddenly notices that Idiot Fedor Ivanovich is still alive!  See, the ex-Tsar had just been lurking around somewhere, hiding behind the curtains like “I Claudius”, or something like that.  So the devious and murderous Shuisky decides to kill Fedor too.  In for a penny, in for a pound!  As the body count piles up, Shuisky once again reaches for the Golden Orb…

Modest Mussorgsky: The madness is infectious.

But wait (again)!  Shuisky’s own creature, Pseudo-Dmitry is in the way!  The Pretender takes the Orb and Scepter.  But don’t count Shuisky out, he has a Plan B.  Quoting from the bio I linked above (from the Encyclopedia Britannica):

Shortly after Dmitry had been crowned, Shuysky reversed his position again and, accusing the new tsar of being an impostor, engaged in a plot to overthrow him. After a brief period of banishment, he organized a group of boyars opposed to the pretender, provoked a popular riot, and assassinated Dmitry. On May 29 (May 19, old style), 1606, Shuysky was named tsar of Russia.

Whew!  After so many murders and so many lies — Shuisky finally ascends the throne — he makes that Mac-Scottish-person look like a candy-ass wimp!  But, like I said, karma can be a bitch.  Barely has he seized the Golden Bat and Ball, when Tsar Basil IV strikes out again:  He finds himself tormented by a new series of False Dmitries, of which one of them (=Grisha Otrepiev) turns out to be the most successful literary hero of all time, actually winning both Girl and Kremlin in one fell swoop.  Then a bunch of stuff happened, and Shuisky ended his life as a prisoner of the Poles, who forced him to enter a monastery.  Where, one hopes, he was psychologically tormented, day in and day out, by the rhythmic clangings of the monastic bell!

[to be continued]

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Uglich still reeling from unsolved murder of Dmitry Ivanovich – Part II

С ними колокол опальный
В этот долгий путь печальный
По снегам отправлен был,
Чтобы больше не звонил.
Чтоб не тешил больше слуха,
Оторвали ему ухо,
Чтоб к молчанию привык —
Медный вырвали язык,
Да для большего позора
Наказали словно вора:
Был он миру напоказ
Плетью бит двенадцать раз…
Бунтарей народ забыл —
Нет следа от их могил,
Но из той из ссылки дальней
Вышел колокол опальный.
Из Тобольска в Углич он
Был обратно возвращён.
With the people of Uglich,
Travelling on this long, mournful route,
Exiled with them, the disgraced Bell!
To punish it for sounding the alarm.
So that it would no longer please
the ear, they cut off its Ear.
To accustom it to silence,
They cut out its bronze Tongue.
And to shame it even more,
They punished it as they would a thief:
In the public square the Bell was lashed,
Took twelve lashes of the whip!
Eventually people forgot the mutineers,
Not even a trace is left from their graves,
But from that distant exile
The disgraced Bell escaped!
From Tobolsk to Uglich
The Bell was returned!

(Natalia Konchalovskaya, “Our Ancient Capital“)

Dear Readers:

Welcome back to my review of this piece from Argumenty I Fakty.  Where we left off in our story and, trust me, this bloody murder mystery is as good as it gets:  After the death of Tsar Ivan IV, Terrible’s youngest son, Dmitry Ivanovich, was sent away from Moscow, along with his mom, Maria Nagaya, to live in the town of Uglich.  Ivan’s idiot son Fedor (Dmitry’s half-brother, the son of a different mother) had ascended the throne, under the guidance of the powerful boyar, Boris Godunov.  Fedor appointed his little half-brother Dmitry to be a regional prince (Russian “kn’az“), the last regional prince of Russia, as it turns out.

Boris and Gleb: The poster children for why Russia needs a centralized government.

Connoisseurs of Russian history know by heart the chronicles of the Russian princes and their various feuds.  Primogeniture was not practiced in Russia in the Middle Ages.  Rather, it was the custom for each son of a prince to get his own little territory.  This led to squabbles, family feuds, and inter-clan wars.  A situation highly lamented by the anonymous author of Russia’s national poem, “The Story of Igor’s Regiment”.  The disarray of Russia’s ruling class made Russian towns more vulnerable to conquest by aggressive hordes arriving from East or West.  The only solution to this problem of chronic invasion, was more centralization of authority, the establishment of a more “Vertical” system of government.  Only in this way could a solid Russian army be constructed that was more interested in fighting external enemies, than in backing some prince trying to kill some other half-blood prince.

The centuries flew by, a lot of history happened, and eventually the Prince of Moscow became the Grand Prince of Moscow (higher than the other princes), and then eventually clawed his way up to actual Caesar (Tsar of all Rus).  This process was almost complete by the time that Dmitry Ivanovich was born.  This little tyke never really had a chance at governing anything other than his own wardrobe.

Boris Godunov: Enlightened ruler or child murderer? YOU be the judge! (Along with Pushkin and Mussorgsky…)

Even if he weren’t a toddler at the time, Prince Dmitry’s authority would have been severely limited.  With the spread of  the “Vertical Power” model, the de facto Governor of Uglich was a man named Mikhail Bityagovsky, who goes down in Russian history as either a perp or a vic, depending on one’s historical beliefs.  Bityagovsky was appointed to his post by now-Tsar Boris Godunov.  Some say that Boris was an enlightened ruler who improved the Russian economy and implemented needed reforms.  Others say that he was a child-murderer.  The poet Pushkin agreed with the latter crew.  And the poet Pushkin “is our everything”, according to Stalin, therefore his theory must be correct!  Or not….  Anyhow, Boris appointed Bityagovsky to the important Uglich post.  Of which, apparently, Bityagovsky made a hash of things and ended up stone cold dead.  His title was Дьяк (“diak”), from the Greek διάκονος (“diakonos”, “servant”, as in English “deacon”). The Russian wiki defines the “diak” as a government official, often drawn from the ranks of the lower nobility.  Not being of the higher clans of boyars, these officials operated outside the elite feuds and directed their loyalty exclusively to the Tsar of all Rus.

The wiki biography of Mikhail Bityagovsky is fairly brief.  His birth date is unknown.  His name is first mentioned in 1581 in connection with “Voevoda” (Воевода – Army Leader) Bulgakov, under whom apparently Bityagovsky was serving.  Several years after this, Bityagovsky was sent by Boris Godunov to to be in charge of “land issues” in Uglich.  Along with his economic duties, Bityagovsky was also put in charge of the household of Ivan Grozny’s widow Maria Nagaya and her son Prince Dmitry.  Many of the chroniclers of this period of Russian history, the so-called “Time of Troubles” claim that Bityagovsky’s actual assignment was to murder the Tsarevich.  Whose very existence was (allegedly) an inconvenience to Boris.  (NOTE:  Just to be fair and balanced, Boris has his adherents too, who claim that Dmitry’s death was an unfortunate accident, and that Boris the Reformer has been unjustly accused of this infanticide.)

The murder of the child took place on 15 May 1591.  Dmitry was stabbed (or accidentally stabbed himself, depending on whom you believe) in front of the church.  According to legend, the bell ringer witnessed the murder from up in his bell tower and started ringing the bell like crazy to sound the alarm.

Fresco shows Bityagovsky trying to break into the church

Responding to the alarm, the people of Uglich rushed to the square and started massacring everybody whom they suspected of being involved in the boy’s death.  Arriving at the square in short order, Mikhail Bityagovsky tried to reason with the mob, then ordered them to cease and desist.  They responded by pelting him with stones and killing his son Daniil.  Bityagovsky ineffectually ordered the bell-ringer to stop ringing the bell.  The latter refused, locked the doors to the church, and  kept on ringing. Bityagovsky and his remaining male relatives grabbed a wooden ram and tried to break through the doors to the church, as is depicted in the famous fresco.  Still, the bell-ringer refused to desist.

Meanwhile, the Uglich mob tore apart numerous people, including Dmitry’s own nanny, Vasilisa Volokhova, whom they suspected of being part of the conspiracy.  Allegedly Vasilisa had given the child the necklace and told him to go out and play on the square in front of the church, thus setting him up for the assassins.  The backstory here is that the people of Uglich were extremely loyal to Dmitry, and to the entire Nagaya clan.  They regarded it as their sworn duty to protect the Tsarevich from Fedor and Boris in Moscow.  Having failed in that duty, they took it upon themselves to dispense street justice to the alleged perps and their accomplices.  Realizing that he couldn’t reason with these people, Bityagovsky tried to save himself by hiding in the courtyard.  But the mob caught up with him and ripped him apart.  This was a classic case of the Russian “bunt”, a violent and uncoordinated act of rebellion against the central government!

The Punishment of The Bell

The famous Uglich church bell

Next, the Russian central government, headed by Boris Godunov, dealt with this regional disruption the way Russian central governments always do…  Many citizens of Uglich were violently punished in the ensuing reprisals.  Well, and what can you expect?  This mob tore apart their own Governor!  Still, the punishment may have exceeded the crime.  And resentment and bitterness against Moscow remains among the people of Uglich, yea even unto our latter days!

To head the reprisal team, Boris Godunov dispatched his trusted executioner, Prince Vasily Shuisky. After an “impartial” investigation of the incident, Shuisky ordered the execution of 200 townspeople; and also dispatched 60 entire families into exile, to Siberia.  But then Shuisky went too far:  He decided to punish the Bell itself!  The church bell was put on trial and convicted of being a troublemaker.  As public punishment, the bell had its tongue removed, was given 12 lashes with the whip, and was then also exiled to Siberia.  Central government thus sending a message to the provinces:  Don’t mess with Moscow!  Chroniclers record that, as a final act of defiance (or maybe they were just forced to), the exiled people of Uglich carried the bell all the way to Siberia on their own backs!

[to be continued]

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Uglich still reeling from unsolved murder of Dmitry Ivanovich – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today we return to those dark days of olden yore, and the horrific death of a child.  A death which shook Russia to its core.  I have this piece by Andrei Sidorchik from the journal Argumenty I Fakty.

The Church On The Blood

Full disclosure:  I visited Uglich myself just this past summer.  I was visiting relatives in Yaroslavl and we took a side day-trip, entirely touristy, to view the sights in Uglich.  Not unlike the Russian spies tourists Petrov and Boshirov, who went to Salisbury to see the famous cathedral, so too did we go to Uglich to see the famous cathedral.  It is called the Church of Saint Dmitry on the Blood.  A scary name, and rightfully so, because it was built on the blood of this child-martyr.  According to legend, assassins approached the 8-year-old prince and asked to get a better look at his new necklace, of which he was very proud, and constantly playing with.  Innocent Dmitry raised his head up to give them a better look at his necklace.  Upon which, the assassins cut his throat, and the boy’s blood went spilling onto the ground.  And the town of Uglich has never been the same since that fateful day, its residents scarred and traumatized; the town became a pariah-town; and relations between Uglich and Moscow have never been good since then.  Moscow became great, and Uglich withered, mute in its resentment.

As part of the tour, we saw the tomb where Dmitry’s body had once been laid.  (But apparently the body doesn’t exist any more, which is a pity, because DNA analysis could have been done.)  The tour guide explained that during the Time of Troubles, there were so many False Dmitries running around (at last count, 11 or 12) that the Uglich priests were assigned to certify that the skeleton in the coffin was the real Dmitry.  When they opened the coffin, they found a small body that had never decomposed!   Thus proving that Dmitry was a good kid, and Boris Godunov was a no-goodnik.

Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich

Even more interestingly, I became acquainted with a “political sect” of sorts who reside in Uglich.  It’s a sort of underground cell of young people, and I don’t want to give away who they are, since they are opponents of the current government and still hold a multi-century grudge against Moscow.  Don’t worry, these people are completely non-violent and harmless.  They are more like historical re-enactors.  They are religious, they are obsessed with the murder of Tsarevich Dmitry and they continue to relive this tragedy, as if it happened yesterday.  And their cult have a rather unique take on Russian history:  They worship two main idols:  Ivan IV (aka “Ivan the Terrible”) and Joseph Stalin I (aka “Josip the Brute”).  In their view, all the bad things started when Ivan’s son Dmitry was murdered; and then things went from bad to worse when Peter the Great turned Russia towards Europe.  And then the October Revolution was a horrible catastrophe as well, but fortunately Stalin stepped up to the plate and saved Russia from the Bloody Bolsheviks.

In their conspiratorial view of history, Peter the Great was not so great, and in fact he was not even the real Peter!  He was a European plant.  The cuckoo inserted into the nest of Holy Rus!  The real Peter, they say, was short and blonde-haired.  He went galavanting off to Europe, already a full-grown man, to receive an education.  When he returned to Russia, he was half a meter taller, and his hair had turned dark.  Very suspicious!  The real Peter, they claim, was captured by Westies and became the Man In the Iron Mask.  All quite plausible, I had to admit.  I could even accept their love for Ivan and their disdain for Peter; but I made the mistake of engaging in debate and challenging their hero-worship of Stalin.  I personally see Stalin as a boorish Kartvelian bully who had the singular talent of being able to lie effortlessly.  And also to take the credit for everybody else’s work.  To my veiled criticisms of The Great Leader’s political purges and horrific use of torture against his opponents, the leader of this Uglich cell, a young woman, retorted that Stalin was “a good man who was surrounded by bad people.  Who ended up poisoning him.” Aha!  Okay, that explains everything.

But enough about me and my strange new friends.  Let us go to the monograph:

A Regional Prince Is Born

Tsarevich Dmitry Ivanovich was born on 19 October, 1582, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible.  According to Sidorchik, Dmitry, although he carried the title Tsarevich (literally “son of the Caesar”, “son of the Tsar”, i.e., “Prince”), was, strictly speaking, illegitimate, and thus had no real claim to the throne.  His mother Maria Nagaya, was Ivan’s sixth, or possibly seventh, wife.  Oh, he married her, all right, but the Russian Church never officially recognized this marriage as legitimate.

The royal family: Ivan, Maria, and Dmitry

Dmitry was given the same name as Ivan’s first son, Dmitry, who died in infancy.  The first Dmitry’s death is also considered problematic, he died while Papa Ivan was out of town.  Some say he died of an illness, others say that the baby drowned, either accidentally or on purpose.

The second Dmitry, the one we are talking about, outlived his Papa:  He was about a year and half old when Papa The Terrible died.  Dima’s mom, Maria Nagaya, then entered into, obviously, a highly dangerous situation.  Her life was worth a brass farthing, unless she entered a convent.  To the throne ascended Ivan’s idiot son from a different wife, Fedor Ivanovich.  To clarify:  Maria was Fedor’s step-mother, and Baby Dmitry was Fedor’s step-brother.  Fedor, who always took the sage advice of Boris Godunov, ordered these two (step-mum and step-brother) to move to Uglich, where he appointed the baby to be head of the regional Uglich Princedom.

Next:  Baby Dmitry becomes the last of the regional princes.

[to be continued]

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ERRATUM with Soapbox

Dear Readers:

A recent new law signed by Donald Trump to regulate pro-Russian bloggers and their AI bots, forces me to post this ERRATUM to my previous blogpost.

(Ha ha, just kidding!  I am posting this of my own free will…)

Anyhow, in my review of the Petr Akopov op-ed about Putin’s big speech to “Russian Gathering” folks, I mistakenly attributed some of Akopov’s editorial comments to Putin himself.  Namely, that bit about Globalists and Communists all deriving from the same ((((root)))).  And for those not in the know, my sarcastic parentheses around the word “root” is an allusion to an ALT-Right dog-whistle of denoting ((((Jews)))) by putting parentheses around allusions to them.  As in, “their malign influence echoes through the centuries”, or something like that.  Akopov clearly being of this frame of mind, when he conflates Globalists and Marxists.

Trotsky had a big nose!

In my blogpost I reamed Putin out for taking such a cheap shot; but then my reader Nat pointed out in a comment, in a very kind and very sweet way, that I had gotten the utterances mixed up.  It was not an error in translation, just a wrong attribution of an utterance, to the wrong person!  My error came in not reading the actual text of Putin’s speech, but only relying in Akopov’s excerpted quotes, into which he freely mixed in his own analysis and opinions.  Horrors, who does that?

Well, I, for one.  When I first started my blog, I had a vague plan of just doing translations from the Russian press.  Then, as my project evolved, I started doing more “analysis and review” than straight translation.  I review a lot of op-eds and try to keep track of elite Russian opinion.  Sometimes this can be treacherous if one does not take care to separate out different utterances and distinguish fact from opinion.  Or, as Putin might say, Separate the flies from the cutlets.

As does George Soros… QED

If the President of the Russian Federation had indeed made such an utterance, then it would have turned off at least a couple of segments of Russian society, for example, ethnic Jews (at least those politically-minded ones whose ears are tuned to the dog whistles), and people who vote for the Communist Party.  Oh, I doubt if it would have affected Putin’s approval ratings, but it probably would negatively affect his legacy.  After all, only crude ALT-Righties actually believe that George Soros and Leon Trotsky are one and the same person.  These are people who possess a very limited view of history, to them pretty much everything, including Globalization, is a Jewish conspiracy.  And they have no concept of economic class, or different class interests.  To them, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and all these Jews care about is mooshing all the nations of the world together into one giant cattle farm.  Except for Israel, of course!  It is almost impossible to debate such primitive views, especially given that there is a molecule of truth in it — just as the random utterances of a schizophrenic off his meds, marching down the street ranting out loud, occasionally contains a true insight, and the sane person pauses for a second and goes, “Hm… that last bit is actually true!”

My Soapbox

Oh, this is not the first time that Akopov and I have clashed swords.  (Which is actually a hilarious statement on my part, since I am an obscure niche-blogger and Akopov has never heard of me!)  Just last week I called him out on his “interference” in American racial politics — on the side of the neo-Confederacy!  To wit, in his treatment of the Megyn Kelly firing, Akopov used charged words such as “Reverse Discrimination” which are a sort of dog-whistle that Americans get, but many Russians would not really understand the historical context.  Like, that whole little kerfuffle with the Civil War, and the Klan, and all that jazz.

Reporter and political analyst Petr Akopov

Not 100% sure, but I think this is him, according to his own self-written biography:  This man with the intense staring gaze and the grizzled goatee, is 49 years old, a native of Moscow. Was a student at Moscow State Historical Institute.  Became a reporter, travelled to South Ossetia in 1991 as a war correspondent.  Proud of his right-wing, conservative-nationalist views, Akopov nonetheless served his time working for liberal-democratic press such as “Golos”, but then quit in protest for their support of the 1993 Yeltsin coup.  Went on to work for the “Independent Gazette”, “Izvestia”, and many others.  This particular biography only brings him up to 2007, but I think it’s safe to assume that this is our guy.

Anyhow, Akopov is a serious reporter and op-ed writer.  The fact that he has this job with an important online newspaper like VZGLIAD shows that he is influential.  And I feel like it is part of my job as a blogger to review influential Russian opinion.  Also, part of my shtick is to analyze ideologies and attempt to categorize and partition people according to their ideologies.  This, by the way, is an absolutely taboo practice in the United States.  Americans regard the word “ideology” as a dirty word.  Talking about “ideologies” is more taboo than talking about sex, or disclosing one’s salary.  Most Americans deny they even have one.  But basically, everybody has a political ideology, whether they know it or not.  Just like everybody speaks in prose, whether they know it or not.  Most people just have not really thought it through, and hence their ideology is implicit and subliminal, usually a carbon copy of what their ruling class believes.  But for those who really thought it through, it is not an insult to try to peg them into the appropriate pigeon-hole.  In fact, it is a necessary and laudable exercise, just like categorizing plants and animals.  With less scientific accuracy, obviously, since human opinion is more fluid and fuzzy than, say, DNA.

Cassandra’s warning: “Do not import so-called Scientific Racism into Russia!”

But with that said, I think it is fair to categorize Petr Akopov as a proponent of the Russian “conservative-patriotic” ideology.  These types tend to support Putin who is, essentially, one of them.  They are anti-communist and anti-socialist to the core.  Which makes them capitalists, but proponents of their own home-grown capitalist class which they hope will not become compradores of Western imperialism  A section of these people, then starts to blur into the Right-Nationalist milieu.  As in Russian, or possibly pan-Slav Nationalism.  Which, in essence, makes them Doxies.  It don’t matter if they are personally atheists — they can be Atheist-Orthodox!

The dangerous trend that I see, with my Nostradamic clarity, is that some of these guys, including Akopov apparently, appear to have adopted American Alt-Right’s position on the black-white racial issue.  Which is stupid, like I said before, because Russia does not actually have a race problem of its own; so why import this American conflict?  Why takes sides in it at all?  The danger is that the Russian elite, in discarding “enlightened” views, will become infected with this new dangerous American virus called “Scientific Racism”,  This is what I, Cassandra-like, warn against.

And with that final thought, I apologize once again for my erratum, I will try to do better in the future, and I descend from my soapbox…

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Putin Crafts New Ideology for Russian Statehood – Part III

Dear Readers:

Today finishing this review of Akopov’s piece from last Thursday.  Akopov has quoted several section of Putin’s speech, including the Russian President’s criticisms of the Globalization process.  Unhampered Globalization, in Putin’s view, destroys cultures and nations which took centuries to build.  It turns these cultures and nations into “faceless protectorates” and just mushes all the people together.  All the easier to be governed and controlled by their Globalist Overlords.  Who sit in palaces far away, and across the ocean.

Where we left off yesterday Putin had laid out a couple of multiple-choice quiz questions for his listeners.  For example:  What kind of world is emerging now, and what kind of world should emerge?

(A) Monopolar, this is a world with only one center of power, namely, the United States of America.  If all the world is a stage, then this play has only one actor, and all the text is a just an extended Monologue.  Putin calls this scenario The Law of the Fist.

(B) Multipolar, this is a world with several centers of regional power.  Monologue is replaced by Dialogue, and nations collaborate on positive issues such as trade and economic development.  Fistal Law is replaced by International Law.  Relationships among nations are governed by protocols of mutual respect, along with observance of basic moral and ethnical norms.

[yalensis:  Five-minute coffee break to laugh my head off….]

Okay, I’m back.  Even though it looks like Option A is winning most of the time, Putin made it clear that he stands (and Russia should stand) for Option B:

There is one thing I am sure of:  The voice of Russia will ring out with dignity and confidence, in this world of the future.  This is pre-determined both by our traditions, and by our internal spiritual culture, our consciousness, and, finally, by the very history of our country as a bona fide civilization.  A civilization that is unique, but does not pretend, assertively and arrogantly, to be exceptional.  Because (we know that) it is not possible to even imagine the history of mankind without such unrepeatable civilizations, as India, China, Western Europe, America, and many others.  This is most certainly a many-faceted complexity, every facet of which supplements and enriches each other.

And here I also want to remind people of the words of the outstanding Russian thinker of the 19th century Nikolay Danilevsky:  “No civilization can boast that it has produced the highest (possible) level of development.”

Sidebar on Danilevsky:  This noted Russian scientist and philosopher was an opponent of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  He was in the process of developing his own “teleological” theory of evolution, in which the world was put together by a Creator and led on through a series of steps, to achieve some kind of end.  Putin may have been referring to the popular notion of Darwinism when he spoke out against the “Law of the Fist“.  In opposing Fistal Law while also rejecting Marxism (along with its platform of Economic Equality as the basis of Social Justice), Putin is evidently trying to have his cake and eat it too.  He wants to keep capitalism running, but soften its amoral features.  To do this, he has to draw on non-socialistic philosophical inspirations from the past, pan-Slavs and their ilk.  Who ended up, usually, finding Orthodox God and joining the Church.  Like Dostoevsky, for example, who started off as a Social Justice Warrior, and then ended up as a Doxie.  And before I shut up, I just have to say one more thing, namely, I can easily defeat a pan-Slav in any political debate by uttering a single word:  “Poland“!  This always sends them running for cover, whilst screaming ineffectually.

Putin to Bolton: “If I wanted to be lectured to, I would have enrolled in the class!”

Okay, now I shut up and continue translating Putin’s speech:  Today, the understanding of this type of complexity in the development of civilizations, serves as a fundamental basis for a multi-polar world, for defending the principles of international law.  And the influential weight of the poles of future development, of course, must be defined by their economic, scientific, cultural, spiritual, and humanistic foundation, by their (human) potential.

Putin visionarily sees a world in which there is no such concept as “higher’, “lower”, “advanced”, “backward”, “developed”, “under-developed”, etc. nations.  It should not be a world of lecturers, and those who are lectured to.  [TRANSLATION: Putin has gotten sick and tired of dealing with odious and self-righteous creeps such as Heather Nauert and John Bolton!]  Here is our proposal, he says:  We won’t impose our values on you, and you don’t do that to us, neither.

And then Putin does something beneath himself:  He takes a cheap shot at Communism:  Saying it envisioned an era in which all national borders dissolve, and all nations and civilizations merge into a single human entity.  The Liberal Anglo-Saxon Globalists are exactly the same, he says, and no wonder, since they grew from the same ((((root)))) as the Marxists, with their theory of a unified human market.  One could mention, of course, that Putin is not in a strong position when he discourses on national boundaries.  Given that Stalin’s USSR was something like twice the size of the modern Russian Federation before Putin’s mentor, Boris Yeltsin, got his hands on it!  And also that Putin and his cohorts lost the Ukraine.  But that’s another polemic, for another time.

On that catty retort, I will end this review.  No, wait, I don’t want to end on such a negative note.  So, here is Akopov’s final paragraph, in his own words, in which he holds out a faint ray of hope for Russia and for mankind in general:

Russians will never give in.  Russians are suggesting that all civilizations stand up for their uniqueness; and, on this basis, build a new world order.  Each nation for itself; and all standing together against those who are convinced of their right to herd and lecture other people.

Everybody to break out in a rousing and uncynical chorus of Freude, schöner Götterfunken!


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Putin Crafts New Ideology for Russian Statehood – Part II

Dear Readers:

We now get to the section of Akopov’s piece which is of more interest to secularists.  Namely carving out what should be Russia’s stance in the international sphere.

Recall that Russian President Vladimir Putin, two days ago (Thursday) gave  the opening speech at the Jubilee Session of the All-Russian Peoples Gathering.  Reading through this speech and attempting to translate sections of it into English, I came to the conclusion that, linguistically speaking, this is a really good piece of rhetoric.  I don’t know if Putin uses a speech-writer or not, but this is good stuff.  He uses the Russian language masterfully, and even created a couple of new winged impressions!  From an ideological point of view, Putin is also attempting a kind of tour de force; with Kirill at his side giving moral and spiritual support, he is attempted to lay out a new ideology for the Russian state, defining how it sees itself, both internally (as the titular sovereign state of the Russian people, while at the same time also being a Federation including other nationalities); and externally, namely defending Russians and Russian interests abroad.  Defending them from what?  Well, from many threats, obviously, but especially from Globalization.

Can Globalization be stopped?  Unfortunately, no.  This has been going on since the time of the Roman Empire, it is an irreversible process.  It can maybe be slowed down, but it cannot be stopped.  Okay, then, so we better join in.  So, why is Globalization a threat to Russia?  In theory, it shouldn’t be, necessarily.  Globalization is a joint American-European project.  And, since the time of Peter the Great, Russia has regarded herself as a European power.  So, what’s the problem?  Well, in recent years, it has become crystal clear that the Westies do not regard Russia as a partner in this project.  In building their Brave New World of Globalization, Westies have envisioned for Russia the same role, crudely speaking, as did Adolph Hitler.  Or, as Goldfinger once said to Mr. Bond:  “I expect you to die!”

Add to this: Leads to the destruction of Russia.

For whatever twisted reasons, Westies want Russia to shut up; to go away; to die.  They want to put Baby in the corner, and then nuke that corner.  They want the Eurasian landmass for their very own, but they don’t want the people who come with the land.  It took the current Russian political elite, who grew up worshipping American rock bands, some time to finally get this point through their heads.  As in:  “Not only will we NOT let you into our club, but we will do everything we can to physically destroy you as an entity!”

Russia:  “You don’t like me.  You REALLY don’t like me!”

West:  Bingo!

Putin’s Winged Expressions

Putin (this is a translation from his Thursday speech):  “We see what attempts are being made in recent times to re-format [using the American borrowing pere-format-irovat!] the whole world [yalensis:  like re-formatting a hard disk!].  To destroy civilizational values and those cultural-historical spaces which took centuries to build.  The goal is to create various types of faceless protectorates [безликие протекторатыa really good new winged phrase! – yalensis] because, after all,  impoverished peoples, robbed of their national identity and brought down to the level of vassals, are easier to control.  To rule them, and to use them as barter in one’s own interests.  We are unfortunately coming up against this type of practice in many regions of the world, of the planet, including the post-Soviet space.”

Putin goes on to assert that all these bad things will come to an end, that it is not possible to endlessly deprive people of their faith, their traditions, their family genealogy; to endlessly go against “Truth, Justice, and simple common sense”.

Putin:  “Truly, it is at this current moment that the world is deciding, what it will be like in the future, in the next few decades.  Will this be the world of the Monologue; or the so-called Law of the Fist; the right of the Strong?  Or will it be a world of Dialogue, of mutual respect?”  To what extent will technological innovations combine harmoniously with moral and ethical norms?  Well, as people like to say, we have more questions here than answers.”

[to be continued]

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