The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
Veliky Novgorod 2018
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The city of Novgorod has played a central role in the emergence of the Russian state since its founding in 862, as per the Primary Chronicle. That was the approximate date of the appearance of the first settlement at Rurikovo Gorodishche, around 2 km south of the present day city: “And so Rurik acquired sole power and came to Lake Ilmen, and founded a city on the River Volkhov, and named it Novgorod, and ruled from thence, and distributed volosts to his retainers and founded cities.” It was the capital of the ancient Russian state until 882, when Rurik’s son Oleg conquered Kiev and named it the mother of Russian cities.

As you might have guessed, despite being one of the oldest Russian cities, its name literally means “New City”. I suppose everything was new at some point.

Novgorod acquired independence from Kiev around 1020, and threw off princely rule in favor of a republic in 1136. Its subsequent form of government that has been described as proto-democratic (liberal historiography) and/or oligarchic (Marxist historiography). Yet despite its “cosmopolitan” status as a highly literate trading hub with strong links to the Hanseatic League, it was also an undoubtedly Russian city, with patriotic and even proto-nationalistic sentiments. The Russkaya Pravda law code famously prescribed much leaner penalties for murdering foreigners than Russians. When the Mongols invaded Russia in 1237-40, it was Novgorod that coughed up the cash to pay off the tribute imposed by the Horde for the sake of “the whole of the Russian land.”

The “interesting” part of Novgorod’s history comes with the end of its independence in the late 15th century, and the end of any lingering autonomies after the massacre visited upon it by Ivan IV (“The Terrible”) in 1570. Henceforth, it would be just another rural, backwater province of the Russian Empire.

Today, apart from its cultural legacy, the city is an unremarkable provincial city of the Russian Federation; my impression was that it was actually rather run down. Many of the less prominent churches are crumbling and abandoned. The roads become rather bad less than 1 km from the center. That said, it’s far from a disaster zone. Since the end of the USSR, the population has only fallen from 235,000 to 222,000 – rather modest numbers for a city that isn’t that far from the gravitational well of Saint-Petersburg. Major employers whose products are widely available include the Novgorod Metallurgical Plant and the Alkon vodka distillery.

If you come to Novgorod, I would recommend the following program:

  • Explore the city, including the Kremlin and the historic buildings across the river. Dependent on how much you like old churches, that will take half a day to a full day.
  • You can visit active excavation sites, which are within walking distance of the Kremlin. They don’t mind tourists walking about the pits.
  • Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture. Can visit it via bus tour. Half a day.
  • Rurikovo Gorodishche, the oldest/original settlement. Also half a day. I recommend taking the boat trip there.

So to get the full flavor of the city you should really provision for three days, though you can cut it down to two by being less assiduous about the churches and skipping Vitoslavlitsy and/or Rurikovo Gorodishche.

If you stay for more than three days, you can spend the fourth day by visiting the remaining museums (e.g. the Hall of Military Glory on WW2), the more obscure churches, or signing up for an excursion to some other museums and crafts workshops (a good place to start for learning about bus schedules, etc. is at the tourist information center in the Kremlin Park). Alternatively, if you are staying for five days to a week, you can take a day-long bus excursion to Staraya Russa (the second city of the Novgorod Republic) or to the Valdai (a small, scenic town that famously hosts the Valdai Discussion Club).

While I didn’t spend much energy investigating, my impression is that there is no real nightlife as such, and the few establishments which cater to that crowd seemed to be dubious places. Ordinary young people were drinking cheap beer and cavorting outside at night over the weekends.

I should point out that there is almost zero point in visiting Novgorod if you are not interested in its medieval history. Absent its remarkable cultural legacy, it is just another unremarkable and not particularly thriving middling Russian city. Unless you are visiting for Zavod BAR. That’s worth a visit just by itself if time and money are of no object. This might just be the best restaurant I have been to in Russia to date.

Regarding tourist mementos, I would recommend the local birch bark products (e.g. paintings, salt holders) and/or the metalwork plaques of the Novgorod Metallurgical Factory.

My final cultural observation is that there were a stunning amount of Chinese tourists, at least around the most prominent landmarks. I estimate they made up to a fifth all of the tourists there.

***

Train tickets are still very cheap in Russia – $30 for a platskart (common sleeping area) and $50 for a four person cabin on an overnight journey from Moscow. It doesn’t lie on the Moscow-SPB route, so there are no fast Sapsan trains.

***

Central Novgorod

The main boulevard from the train station to the center is in the imposing, gravitas-laden Soviet style.

It is dominated by the “City of Military Glory” obelisk, surrounded by four steles featuring heroic scenes from the Battle on the Ice, the Time of Troubles, and the Great Patriotic War.

This is the central administrative building for a city of 222,000 inhabitants. I have remarked in the past on how commies from Volokolamsk to Ploesti have this habit of plonking down imposing architectural monstrosities that are wildly out the sync with the local area’s actual demographics.

The central square right before the Kremlin gates is massive and contains the obligatory massive Lenin statue.

On our last day there, it hosted a military/historical recreation event.

Aiming a Dragunov at Lenin’s head in hopes of getting “decommunization” achievement.

***

Novgorod Kremlin

Entrance to the Novgorod Kremlin, which contains the Cathedral of St. Sophia (oldest church in Russia), the Novgorod State Museum, and the Sophia Belfry.

This road passes through the Kremlin to a bridge over the Volkhov River, and then on to the great bulk of Novgorod’s historical ecclesiastical architecture.

Occupying pride of place within the Kremlin, the Monument to the Russian Millennium was constructed in 1862 to mark the thousand year anniversary of the genesis of the Russian state.

This is a remarkable work of art; a thousand years of events and dozens of historical figures condensed down to 100 tons of bronze. The Germans dismantled it during the occupation, but were unable to cart it away to Germany in time.

Very powerful balcony.

***

Views from the Sophia Belfry and the Kremlin walls along the River Volkhov:

We will now exit the Kremlin and cross the bridge to the eastern part of Novgorod, but we will return here in due course.

***

Central Streets, River, & Churches

There is a Great Patriotic War memorial immediately before the bridge and at the south end of the Kremlin.

LDPR backpack.

Monument to the Tourist.

The Saint Nicholas Cathedral was founded in 1113, and is the second oldest surviving building in central Novgorod after the Cathedral of St. Sophia in the Kremlin.

The Church of St. Paraskevi was built in 1207 by Novgorod merchants. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in the Marketplace is to the left, and was founded in 1135.

Ilyin Street leading to…

The Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyina Street, which was built in its present form in 1374.

It has original frescoes done by Theophanes the Greek in the 1370s, most notably the Christ Pantocrator in the dome [top]. This Byzantine expat was the teacher and mentor of Andrey Rublev, the greatest Russian icon painter.

The Znamensky Cathedral was constructed in 1687 to contain the icon of Our Lady of the Sign.

Returning back to the Kremlin.

Top photo shows a lesson on playing the gusli, a traditional medieval Russian musical instrument.

The historic merchant stalls of Yaroslavl’s Court. Wouldn’t it make more historical sense for the peddlers along the streets to set up shop here instead?

***

Cathedral of St. Sophia

Constructed between 1045-1050, the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod is the second oldest surviving Russian church in the world, after its eponymous sister in Kiev (it replaced a wooden church constructed around 989).

The Cathedral was the spiritual lynchpin of the Novgorod Republic, serving as a center of book production from the 11th century and as a burial place for the city’s most eminent political and religious leaders.

Services are regularly held here, and I managed to attend one of them. All demographics were adequately represented, though as usual, attendance was tilted towards older people, women, and families.

***

The Sophia Belfry

The Sophia Belfry adjoins the Kremlin walls and has a small museum dedicated to Novgorod’s bells.

Predictably, our Red friends were at it again, doing what they love best:

  • “The greatest damage to the legacy of our bells occurred in the 1930s, when the Communist Party decided to scrap all the bells and sell them abroad, with the exception of those of foreign manufacture. In the Novgorod okrug, some 500 tons worth of bells were destroyed. The Novgorod Museum managed to save only a limited number of medieval bells in the Sofia Belfry, and the campaniles of the Znamensky and Nikolsky cathedrals and the Khuten, Dukhov, and Kolmova monasteries.”

***

The Novgorod State Museum

If you are in Novgorod for the medieval history, then you will need to visit the Novgorod State Museum located within the Kremlin.

It is most notable for having the world’s largest collection of birch bark documents.

This is likely a ballot paper.

(The Novgorod Republic was an oligarchic proto-democracy ruled by a popular assembly known as the veche).

Here are the famous scribblings of Onfim, the 13th century schoolboy from Novgorod who dreamed of becoming a knight (like his father?).

It is likely that literacy was widespread at least amongst male craftsmen, which suggests a minimal literacy level of 10%. However, it may have been substantially wider, as there are plenty of birchbark documents written by women and peasants.

There are currently 1,180 birch bark manuscripts in the largest online database on this subject (gramoty.ru). The overwhelming majority of them – some 1,077 – accrue to Veliky Novgorod itself, while another 48 were found at Staraya Russa (the second city of the Novgorod Republic after Pskov gained independence). Within Novgorod, the most productive excavation site is the Troitsky dig, which we will visit in due course.

Why such a preponderance in Novgorod? Probably it is function of three things:

  • It was banally the second largest city in medieval Russia, with a population of at least 50,000 people during the early 13th century, which made it second to Kiev (~80,000).
  • Literacy rates were high for a medieval society (see above).
  • The region’s clay soil is perfectly suited for preserving wooden artifacts.

The very oldest birch bark manuscripts date to the 1025-1050 period. The most amusing of these is a letter written by a guy called Zhirovit to another guy called Stoyan demanding the repayment of a nine year old debt of 4.5 grivnas. Otherwise, he threatened to sue Stoyan and to seek confiscation of his property. According to linguistic clues, Zhirovit is very likely a non-Novgorodian, perhaps from Smolensk, Vitebsk, or Polotsk.

Another early 13th century text is the oldest known document in any Finnic language (it is written in the Cyrillic alphabet).

Despite the unparalleled quality of the collection, it is unfortunately somewhat of a sovok fossil. The descriptions on the narrative placards recount Novgorod’s history almost exclusively in terms of class struggle. It’s as if they haven’t been replaced since the 1980s – and considering that many historical monuments in Novgorod look like they could do with some repair or restoration, I would guess that that is entirely possible.

Here are a few quotes from them to show what I mean:

  • “Medieval Russia had written laws which safeguarded the interests of the feudal elites.”
  • “The development of feudal property relations in the medieval Russian state resulted in sharp class conflict… large protests of the popular masses were chronicled in Suzdal, Kiev, Beloozero, and Novgorod in the 11th century.”
  • “The pirate [ushkuinik] expeditions diverted the Novgorod lower classes from protests against their boyars.”
  • “Huge land holdings of Novgorod were in the hands of the feudal ruling classes – the boyars and the priesthood… The main forms of exploitation of the dependent peasantry was the barschina and the obrok. The exploitation of the peasant masses lay at the heart of the power and might of the Novgorod boyars and the Church.”
  • “One form of class struggle in Novgorod consisted of heresies against the wealth and political position of the Church.”

Amusingly, even Novgorod’s contribution towards the defense of the Russian lands is framed in proto-socialist patriotic terms:

  • “In the hard years of the Tatar-Mongol invasion, Novgorod had to deflect the attack of German and Swedish feudal lords. In 1240, the Novgorodians under Alexander Nevsky dealt a heavy blow to the Swedish conquerors, ejecting them from the Russian lands. On April 5, 1242, there was the famous Battle of the Ice, in which the Novgorodians emerged victorious over the German dog-knights. This victory on Lake Peipus halted the predatory advance of the German knights on the East.

The term “dog-knight” (“псы-рыцари”) is literally borrowed from Marx’s description of the Teutonic Order.

Now to be fair, this is not 100% wrong. There are endless ways of interpreting history, and many of them – historical materialism included – do have some degree of utility. In the loose sense of the world, there has been “class struggle” of some kind of another ever since the emergence of complex societies. But going by the museum’s descriptions, one almost gets the impression that there was nothing else of interest about Novgorod politics and society. Beyond that, there is also a lack of comparative context. For instance, concentrated land ownership has been the default in all agricultural societies, especially during the peak of their “Malthusian cycles” – this has been observed in practically all such societies from Valois France to Qing China. And yet normal, non-sovok medieval history museums don’t make “class conflict” the lynchpin of their history presentations.

The most amusing thing, though, is that one of the Museum’s own placards refutes the Marxist interpretation of Novgorod’s social and political history that it so brusquely propounds.

  • “The history of Novgorod is characterized by sharp conflict. The exploitation of the laboring Novgorod population by the ruling class produced continuous protest, which sometimes boiled over into open revolt… Large revolts were chronicles in 1207, 1230, 1327, and 1359… 1418. One of the more defining characteristics of urban protest movements in Novgorod was the complex interweaving between boyar political struggles and the class conflict. Each district of Novgorod has its own boyar factions, which competed against each other. Consequently, none of these revolts were directed against boyar power in Novgorod as such, but only against one or another representative of this boyar power. As a rule, these revolts were headed by boyars, who diverted the wrath of the masses against their boyar political opponents. This connection between the boyar political struggle and the class struggle divided the Novgorod lower classes and ruled out the possibility of a triumphant revolt.”

So it turns out that the “sharp class conflict” the Museum’s placards keep railing about was just boyars playing at rent-a-mob against each other.

I will also note that, as might be expected of a sovok museum, English translations are few and far between. Though considering the ideologized presentation that might be just as well.

After the end of the republic, the collection becomes more “boring”, dominated by illuminated books, ceremonial gates, and icons, icons, and more icons.

The last section of the Museum concerns the Great Patriotic War, when the Germans occupied the city for almost two and a half years.

***

Episcopal Chamber

This 15th century Gothic building served as a meeting place for Novgorod aristocrats and judges until 1478, when Ivan III incorporated it into Russia. The ukaz proclaiming this was read out here.

It became a museum devoted to Novgorod’s treasures – mostly jewelry and precious metalwork, as well as more birch bark documents – in the Soviet period.

I will note that this is a much more “professional”/objective museum than the Novgorod State Museum.

***

The Troitsky Dig

There are continuing excavations in the center of Novgorod – this place is just a couple of blocks away from the southern Kremlin walls. Birch bark manuscripts continue to be found near every year, and added to the State Museum’s collection.

Those years during which no manuscripts are found are nicknamed “illiterate years” (since the term for a manuscript is “gramota”, and for literacy it is “gramotnost”).

***

Museum of Musical Instruments

This museum is probably my favorite museum in Novgorod. Located on an obscure street in the center, it is the definition of a hidden gem.

It was founded by Vladimir Povetkin, who started his work reconstructing medieval Russian musical instruments in 1975 and opened the museum in 1990.

Although the founder died in 2010, the museum retains a core of enthusiastic staff, who continue to recreate instruments and conduct research into medieval musical culture. It sometimes holds lessons, and study groups from other parts of Russia and abroad.

Although we only stumbled upon this museum close to closing time, the director was kind enough to give us a half hour personal presentation/demonstration of their collection. Pictured is me trying to play the gusli.

The gusli is strongly associated with Novgorod thanks to the bylina of Sadko:

Sadko played the gusli on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsar enjoyed his music, and offered to help him. Sadko was instructed to make a bet with the local merchants about catching a certain fish in the lake; when he caught it (as provided by the Tsar), the merchants had to pay the wager, making Sadko a rich merchant.

Sadko traded on the seas with his new wealth, but did not pay proper respects to the Tsar as per their agreement. The Tsar stopped Sadko’s ships in the sea. He and his sailors tried to appease the Sea Tsar with gold, to no avail. Sadko’s crew forced him to jump into the sea. There, he played the gusli for the Sea Tsar, who offered him a new bride. On advice, he took a mermaid named Chernava, the last from all of 900 mermaids, and lay down beside her.

He woke up on the shore of the river Chernava and rejoined his wife.

Incidentally, “Sadko” is also the signature brand of Novgorod’s vodka distiller Alkon, whose products are sold all over Novgorod.

***

Northern Walk to Dostoevsky Drama Theater

The composer Sergey Rachmaninov was born in Novgorod Governorate. The installation plays his music to passersby. Would be cool if more statues did that.

Avant-garde architecture from the 1920s.

This futuristic “spaceship” – the Dostoevsky Drama Theater – was constructed in the 1980s by a “modern architect”. It turned out to be a white elephant, and is now crumbling for lack of maintenance.

The car park is massive and deserted, apart from some guys who were getting a hot air balloon going.

***

Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture

This museum devoted to traditional northern Russian wooden architecture was opened in 1964. Over the following years, archetypical constructions of the Russian North were brought in from across the region.

It is very similar in concept and execution to the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum in Bucharest.

The kitchen and pantry of a typical lower-income peasant household.

As a rule, in northern Russia, peasant houses were much bigger than in the south. The colder winters made it more rational to concentrate activity in one place, and animals were kept indoors over winter. These large, garage-like spaces also contained sleds and farm equipment.

The niche above the hearth was warm, and served as a sleeping place.

Cradles were hung from all sorts of random places.

Many of the houses had spinning machines, which was a common way for peasant households to make cash income from the late 19th century.

***

St. George’s (Yuriev) Monastery

Founded in 1030, this is the oldest monastery in Russia. The original wooden construction was gradually replaced with stonework from the early 12th century.

This is the Church of St. George, constructed in 1130, about a century after the monastery’s founding. Its constructor “Pyotr” was the first named Russian architect.

As with most religious institutions, the monastery’s valuables were expropriated after the Revolution, and it was entirely closed down by 1929. It was returned to the ROC in 1991.

View from the monastery in the direction of the River Volkhov. One can just make out the church at Rurikovo Gorodishche from here.

***

Boat Cruise to Rurikovo Gorodishche & Lake Ilmen

Rurikovo Gorodishche was the original 9th century settlement of Veliky Novgorod, located at the approach to present day city from the direction of Lake Ilmen. Its strategic position on the trade route “from the Varyags to the Greeks” made it a desirable location as the center of political and military administration over the region. The settlement at the present day site of Veliky Novgorod only appeared about a century later in 950.

In later centuries, during Novgorod’s republican period from 1136 to 1478, it would serve as the primary residence of the princes of Novgorod. This includes Alexander Nevsky, who spent his childhood here.

The Church of the Annunciation was built by Prince Mstislav in 1103. While the Cathedral of St. Sophia was for the city, this church was to be for the Prince and his court.

Most of the present construction dates from 1343-44. It was closed down by the Bolsheviks in 1930, and mostly destroyed by German artillery bombardment in 1941. Restoration was ongoing when we were there, and was only opened again to the public in April 2019.

This 37 ton rock was erected in 2012 to mark the 1150th anniversary of Russian statehood.

Rurikovo Gorodishche from the direction of Lake Ilmen.

The Perensky Skit was used as a depot for storing Bolshevik loot from the region’s churches during the Civil War.

The boat turned back at Lake Ilmen.

These are the foundations of a railway bridge that was under construction in the late Russian Empire, and was never finished.

Back to the Kremlin.

This is the northern river bridge in Novgorod.

***

Novgorod Streets

These are a couple of typical streets closer to the center of Novgorod.

***

Our Airbnb was located in this area close to the railway station.

***

The area in this and the following photos is about 1 km south of the Kremlin and the Troitsky Dig.

The people living here seem to be rather well off, but the communal amenities seem to be decidedly lacking (just look at the roads). This is distinct from Bryansk, where analogous areas had perfectly good roads.

***

That said, I do not want to portray Novgorod as a derelict post-Soviet wreck – as in Bryansk, there are incipient signs of SWPL culture, such as English pubs…

… mini cars…

… and even an Indian vegetarian cafe with a 180 ruble lunch (we did not manage to visit it).

***

Night Walk

This is the northwestern part of the city, about 1-2 km from the Kremlin when taking a circuitous route back to the railway station.

“Pass an HIV test.”

As one can see, this is more of a dreary “dormitory suburb” that could do with a major facelift.

The wine chain “Red & White” (Красное и Белое) hiring positions hints at economic conditions in what is a rather average Russian provincial city as of 2018:

  • 24,000R+ (~$400) for entry level cashier.
  • 29,000R+ (~$500) for entry level cashier/hauler.
  • 42,000R+ (~$700) for administrator.

It’s worth noting that the Novgorod region is slightly poorer than the Russian average. The average salary as of May 2019 was 32,000 rubles (~$500), versus an average of 48,000 rubles ($750) and a regional median of 36,000 ($550) rubles for the Russian Federation.

***

Restaurants

As a SWPL-fying town with some limited inflow from the Saint-Petersburg tourist circuit (if a none too prosperous one or well-run one) the restaurant scene hits a very good price/quality ratio.

The ZAVOD-Bar (website) is the company restaurant of the Alkon vodka distillery, which is based in Novgorod and is one of Russia’s biggest vodka distillers.

It was so good that we ended up going there our last two evenings in a row. I do not exaggerate when I say that it was my favorite Russian restaurant to date, with its only competitor being the Cafe Pushkin in Moscow.

How did they manage it?

First, they hired Russian restaurateur Maxim Syrnikov to compile their menu. Along with Vlad Piskunov, he is one of the leaders of a movement of “recreationist” chefs who are researching and restoring the traditional Russian cuisine that was smothered over by Soviet industrial food production, proletarian tastes, and Georgia worship that dominated the past century. (Incidentally, both happen to be friends with our Kholmogorov).

As a result of having an expert compile the menu is that any dish you select at random is a tried and tested culinary masterpiece that cannot go wrong.

Second, they expertly combined their vodka and liqueur products with apperatifs in a series of degustations. Even I, who otherwise hates vodka, greatly enjoyed that.

They also have a shop attached where they sell various Alkon products, from their signature “Sadko” vodka to specialty vodkas and liqueurs that are difficult to find elsewhere in Russia (I particularly liked Древнерусский Бальзам).

***

 

This is the Cafe Chocolat. We noticed that Alkon’s alcohol products are present throughout Novgorod shops and cafes, as might be expected of one of the city’s main enterprises.

***

Another notable restaurant apart from ZAVOD-Bar is the Dom Berga (Berg’s House), which once belonged to a 19th century merchant. It has interior decoration to match.

While mostly serving traditional Russian fare, it is perhaps most notable for having bear meat on the menu.

***

The Sudarushka is a normal restaurant serving traditional Russian fare at reasonable prices.

You can also get good pies, scones, and other baked products at the Kolobok.

***

The End

***

 
Hide 129 CommentsLeave a Comment
129 Comments to "Veliky Novgorod 2018"
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    You can find all my travel posts here.

    My personal website has a list of all of my travel reviews here.

    If you liked this article, and want me to produce more of them, consider donating or supporting me on Patreon.

  2. I’m loving these travel diary posts.

    It occurs to me that many Russians don’t fully understand the abundance of their possessions in terms of local culture, museums, and history. So many Western countries have very little in the way of cultural preservation outside the capital or major cities. My own large town/small city in Ireland has a rich history yet no preservation or recognition of that in terms of museums, historical buildings, or artifact collections. In my travels around the UK and other Western European nations I’ve noticed much the same thing. Perhaps with the exception of Southern France.

    In Russia on the other hand, it seems there’s some local gem or other in every middling urbanity. On the way back from Saransk to Moscow we stopped in Sarov (rather run-down small city – and a closed city according to wikipedia, but I had no trouble getting in?) and found one of the most beautiful monasteries I’ve ever had the luck to visit, along with a holy well that I sincerely hope we didn’t profane by refilling our water bottles with (the locals were doing it too, after all). The monastery was still was in the process of restoration and had a new statue venerating Tsar Nicholas no less.

    For all the destruction that the communist era imposed on Russian history and culture, I do wonder if the long-term effects are any worse than the slow indifference and forgetfullness of our past that has plagued the West during the same period.

    • Agree: WHAT
    • Replies: @songbird
    , @WHAT
  3. Mr. Hack says:

    Second, they expertly combined their vodka and liqueur products with apperatifs in a series of degustations. Even I, who otherwise hates vodka, greatly enjoyed that.

    C’mon Anatoly, you can do better than this, supposedly one of the best restaurants in all of Russia? You’re usually more forthright and detailed in your cullinary exploits! What actual pairings did you enjoy so much?

    Also, did you actually sample the bear meat at the “Dom Berga”?

  4. songbird says:
    @AltSerrice

    So many Western countries have very little in the way of cultural preservation outside the capital or major cities. My own large town/small city in Ireland has a rich history yet no preservation or recognition of that in terms of museums, historical buildings, or artifact collections.

    The last castle any of my ancestors in Ireland had was demolished in the 1930s. It was only a small one, but I would have really liked to see it.

    Russia really has some great old architecture, but I sort of wish they had the old Soviet cars and buses to compliment it. Not that they were good vehicles, but they had an interesting look. Very cinematic. What I see now, is a sort of soft globalization creeping in, like with the neon signs and the Indian restaurant above. Still better than the West, of course. Or East Asia, which seems mostly new-fangled – glass and steel.

    BTW, I think there is a unique feng-shui that Europeans have, which perhaps comes from the cultural legacy of Christianity. Making churches centerpieces, etc. That perhaps doesn’t exist to the same degree with Buddhist temples – but perhaps it would be hard to tell, for the commies destroyed so much in China.

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  5. Dmitry says:

    Spiritually – Onfim’s drawings, are one of the most difficult things to contemplate.

    People drawing Microsoft Paint memes 750 years ago.

  6. The twilight shot at “The End” is lovely!

    Interesting: “The Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyina Street, which was built in its present form in 1374.”

    The chef-friends of Kholmogorov are interesting too.

    Thanks.

  7. Jayce says:

    My guesthouse was on Ilyin Street right across from the The Church of the Transfiguration and Znamensky Cathedral. The surrounding neighborhood was interesting to explore because you’d see these well-maintained old houses augmented with things like patios and two-car garages, a mix of traditional Russian elements and those you’d associate with an American suburb. It gave some idea of how a normal Russian town might have looked like had communism never happened.

    I was able to catch the morning and evening services a few times at St Sophia’s. In addition to its historical and aesthetic value it was nice to see it as a living place that still has regular parishioners and is an integral part of the community.

    There was some kind of folk music festival going on at that little stage by the Yaroslavl Court, with performers from all over Russia as well as some from the Balkans, India and Japan.

    When I was at Vitoslavlitsy half the exhibitions were closed for renovation, but what remained was still impressive.

    The only evidence of nightlife I saw was that wooden ship in the above photos becomes a tacky nightclub from midnight to 5am.

    There is an English audioguide at the Novgorod State Museum which is of course free of any sovok editorializing. The level of resources for English speakers in Novgorod is far better than average for provincial Russia: the Tourist Information Center on the main square has English speaking staff and offers pamphlets and brochures on local attractions in English.

    I even saw pockets of nascent SWPL culture in Pskov, which was much more run down than Novgorod.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  8. Patricus says:

    Wonderfull travelogue! Hope we get to see more.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  9. Mr. Hack says:
    @Jayce

    I once lived with a guy who was born in Pskov (about 10 years ago) for a year. He kept telling me how much I would like Pskov and that I should retire there, and that I could buy a house there for $1,000. I got the feeling that it really was run down and not very well populated…

  10. lysias says:

    Why is it called “Gospodin Veliky Novgorod”? What’s the meaning of “Gospodin” there?

    • Replies: @WHAT
  11. @songbird

    Yes unfortunately this globalization is well underway in Russia. The New Moscow business district with Dubai type skyscrapers is an eyesore compared to the very majestic city core but Russians seem to be happy with that. They say it is their canary wharf.

    Even in St Petersburg, the most beautiful city I have ever seen, they now have a new lakhta centre with a very tall skyscraper coming up. Though that is a much better looking skyscraper than those in Moscow

    It is strange that Russia with so much land and it’s major cities with unlimited scope of horizontal expansion has chosen to go vertical.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
    , @Mitleser
  12. “My final cultural observation is that there were a stunning amount of Chinese tourists, at least around the most prominent landmarks”

    That’s because they aren’t going to western Europe anymore. They head to St Petes, Moscow and other cities. I’ve even seen them in Krasnodar Krai.

    Good post, have to visit someday. No mobs of Africans, no Paki rape gangs…. I can forgive the city for not being in perfect shape if it lacks the ‘amenities’ of the west.

    • Replies: @AquariusAnon
  13. Miki says:

    I like this travelogue.
    I was for a month in Leningrad/Petersburg in 2017 and take a bus tur to Novgorod for a Day. I do not speak russian and barely speak english, so I do not know how i can handle to live in Rusia almost 2 months not been able to speak russian.
    I said this because the bus tour was a russian only.
    Most of the tourist in my bus I realised were from small cities in Siberia and the far west, an assorted lot of familias with Kids or Middle aged couples or Middle aged women friends that travel together. I realised in my visits to many small and not so famous museums in Moscow or Peter or other cities that Most of the lot were uralian/siberian/far eastern families with kids/Middle aged couples/Middle aged women friends. Only in Peter one encounter youth groups of travellers, and no russian backpackers.
    The other interesting thing was that Russian museums like the west european ones I visited were packed with asían tourists. Chinese, koreans, viets were a third of the tourist i saw in russia, half were russian and a fifth were european or from other countries.
    I learnt that in order to ha e the opportunity to ser appropiately the museums one must be at the entrance by 7 am, otherwise one must fight with hordes of asians selfing themselves in order to ser anything. In this sense, Venice was the worst of my experiencies.
    I only regret not having the information Anatoly exposes here on the restaurant and the Opera building. If I could have that info at the time I would passing the night in the city and taken the train.
    The only thing that fucked my trip, pardon me the expletive, was an Orthodox meeting that put half of the Kremlin off the limits for the tourists. Besides that, I enjoyed half the Kremlin, the visit to the churches and the excursión to the Village museum.
    Other things: I recomend a trip from Peter to Novgorod and Viborg (a non russian russian city), and go to the small museums. In Peter, exempli gratia, the atheism museum have some amazing tibetan sculptures and paintings, and the porcelain museum have some interesting 1920s futurists dishes that look truly avant garde. Other than that, If you are street wise, try the non russian restaurants in the vicinities of open air markets and near train stations, you would find the treasuries of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistán or Vietnam, at cheap prices, over there.

  14. WHAT says:
    @AltSerrice

    Well, Sarov and environs is the russian LLNL. Entry restrictions were lifted for the most part with the dissolution of USSR, but they still do research atom things there.

  15. E says:

    A good travelogue. My impressions were pretty similar. I would also add that they sell some really tasty mead up on the wall. And that it’s worth it to watch the bellringers up close when the bells are rung.

    I’m glad you discovered the musical instrument museum, Anatoly. That was also one of my favourite parts of the city. The lady in your picture was my guide as well, but she refused to be photographed back then.

    I was extremely impressed by their official museum, too, and I personally found the descriptions (“Sovok viewpoint” and all) to be far more interesting than the more anodyne “professional” descriptions in that other museum of treasures. I hope they don’t change it too much. As you said, it’s not inaccurate. It’s just coming from a vantage point that’s no longer fashionable to have – but because of that, it drew my attention to some things that would have been ignored if it was rewritten in The Current Year.

    When I was there, there was also a special exhibit of religious paintings upstairs (which certainly wasn’t there in Soviet times, judging by the “pious” descriptions).

    Also, across the big bridge and left a little is an inexpensive little eatery that gets lots of visitors (mostly locals). Recommended for tourists who want lots of food without spending a ton. I forget the name, though.

    • Replies: @Jayce
  16. Enjoying all these travelogues. Good job!

  17. @Vishnugupta

    Even in St Petersburg, the most beautiful city I have ever seen, they now have a new lakhta centre with a very tall skyscraper coming up. Though that is a much better looking skyscraper than those in Moscow

    The original plan was to build it in the city center, but it was scrapped after protests. At least now it’s well out of sight.

    • Replies: @Vishnugupta
  18. Jayce says:
    @E

    Also, across the big bridge and left a little is an inexpensive little eatery that gets lots of visitors (mostly locals). Recommended for tourists who want lots of food without spending a ton. I forget the name, though.

    Kolobok?

  19. @Swedish Family

    Well even after the relocation it is clearly visible from the Hermitage Museum which is basically a must see on every tour.As well as on the journey from Peterhof to city centre via ship(Hydrofoil actually a really cool Made in USSR concept)

    And the problem is once a precedent is set you will have more.The Lakhta centre is apparently the nucleus around which a whole new business district will come up.

    But still as far as skyscrapers go its a good looking one sort of like the Shard building not like the ones crammed into the Moscow Business district.I took a two hour cruise on the Moskva river from Gorky Park on my vacation there the city looks fabulous and really well kept overall up till the point you reach the new business district which looks incongruous with the rest of the city like someone did a cut copy paste of Dubai skyscrapers including eccentric ones the Arabs proudly think are a sign of modernity things like twisting buildings and cubes stacked on top of each other like a badly played game of tetris.

    • Agree: songbird
  20. OT

    ‘Russiagate’ comes to Italy:

    [MORE]

    A representative of the League — the right-wing anti-establishment party now part of the country’s governing coalition — is alleged to have floated a scheme for his party to receive 65 million euros ($73 million) in illegal financing, skimmed off the top of oil sales from Russia.

    Gianluca Savoini, a long-time League member, was recorded during a conversation in the public lounge of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel on Oct. 18, 2018, talking to three still-unidentified Russians about how to channel money to his political party …

    The Italian Russiagate comes at a delicate time. The League has long stated its intention to fight for the removal of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, and in the past has even called for recognizing the 2014 referendum by which Crimea joined Russia, a move considered unacceptable by NATO countries.

    Sounds a bit like what recently happened in Austria, doesn’t it? (To his credit, the author mentions the Austrian entrapment scheme.)

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/08/05/russiagate-comes-to-italy/

  21. Dmitry says:
    @Vishnugupta

    For the skyscrapers at Moscow-City, they hired the most expensive European architects and engineers, and wanted only the most highest quality and “creative” skyscrapers to be built.

    I agree the end result is weird, and like someone has fucked up Tetris, having too many “creative” shapes, so close together.

    But the intention, is precisely the opposite of having “copy paste” of office skyscrapers of a medium-level American city.

    They wanted it to be unique and distinctive skyscrapers, especially.

    And they hired the best architects and engineers in the world to build them, with no limit to the cost. So whether you consider them ugly or cool, at least the quality of the building and construction standard is probably very good.

    Precisely by being a bit weird – it’s also not fair to say it’s a copy and paste. If it’s bad taste, at least it’s uniquely bad taste.

    By the way the demand for so much office space was less than supply there, and now the government is moving some of its own offices there.

  22. @Vishnugupta

    Well even after the relocation it is clearly visible from the Hermitage Museum which is basically a must see on every tour.As well as on the journey from Peterhof to city centre via ship(Hydrofoil actually a really cool Made in USSR concept)

    And the problem is once a precedent is set you will have more.The Lakhta centre is apparently the nucleus around which a whole new business district will come up.

    It’s there in the distance all right, but clearly set apart from the old town, and making sense architectonically, I think, in that it plays well with the water and lends the nearby commieblocks a certain futuristic glow.

    I don’t know where you are from, but when we Europeans think of criminally bad city planning, we think of Brusselization, which plagued nearly every Northern European city in the postwar decades (in Sweden, only Visby survived more or less intact).

    Now this is a monstrosity!

    Unlike you fellas, I’m rather fond of Moscow’s International Business Center. It would be horrible if it were just these buildings scattered among older ones, but together, they have a pleasing unity.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @melanf
  23. Nice writeup! Although it’s not a thriving city the historical ruins and museums more than makes up for it.

  24. Dmitry says:
    @Swedish Family

    fond of Moscow’s International Business Center

    And it represents this epoch.

    I don’t agree with some idea of a city as a museum, where there shouldn’t be representation of buildings of our epoch – skyscrapers, etc.

    The problem is when they start demolishing the oldest existing buildings in your city, not when they build new buildings on previously undeveloped wasteland areas like this was.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
  25. Mr. Hack says:

    The central square right before the Kremlin gates is massive and contains the obligatory massive Lenin statue.

    No such “obligatory” claptrap seen in Ukraine, where everything from statues and monuments to city names and streets are renamed to distance Ukraine away from its commie past. There seems to be a big cleavage in historic memory that further separates the Ukrainian and Russian people that just seems to be getting larger and larger as time goess on…these are differences that cannot be ignored or swept under the table.

    • Troll: Adam
    • Replies: @anonymous coward
    , @Marcus
  26. @Mr. Hack

    When was the last time you’ve been in Ukraine, you dumb assclown?

    Ukraine has a hundred times more Soviet legacy than Russia, for the simple reason that Ukraine is too poor to replace it with something modern.

    The ‘renaming’ is fake news, and the ‘removal’ of statues is just vandalism that a failed state like Ukraine can’t properly police.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  27. Marcus says:

    How do modern Russian patriots feel about Ivan IV? On the one hand, he broke the Golden Horde’s back, but he also killed his own son and massacred Novgorodians and his military reforms failed, leading to the Crimean Tatar sack of Moscow and defeats by Swedes and Poles. I guess it’s good he set the foundations for a centralized state and weakened the boyars though.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
    , @melanf
  28. Mr. Hack says:
    @anonymous coward

    You still live in a haze of sovok fantasy, Tovarishch. Read the latest news, Boris:

    In 1991 Ukraine had 5,500 Lenin monuments.[33] By December 2015, 1,300 Lenin monuments were still standing.[33] On 16 January 2017 the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance announced that 1,320 Lenin monuments were dismantled during decommunization.[34]

    Two Lenin statues in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are the only two remaining statues of Lenin in Ukraine.[35]

    🙂

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_communist_monuments_in_Ukraine

    Why don’t you buy a flat in the Chernobyl Exclusion zone – they’re cheap and you can still get one that provides a good view of your god-man Lenin! Two to choose from. 🙂

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @anonymous coward
  29. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    The big cleavage is the margin that Ukrainians prefer the USSR to current status vis-a-vis Russians
    https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/communism220px/
    OTOH Ukrainians voted to preserve the USSR by all of 1.1% less than Russians did, so you have that, I guess

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
    , @AP
  30. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    “A wave of concentrated vandalism during an upheaval by nationalists whose parties get like 2% of the vote is a great metric by which to judge mainstream opinion” – SS-Galizien cosplayer whose family has been in Alberta or Pennsylvania since 1890.

    I approve of removal of the monuments personally, but just lol at your troll attempt

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  31. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    Well by December of 1991, things unraveled rather quickly? Also, I notice that of all of the republics the first vote shows that Ukraine was the least supportive of the Soviet Union. You also fail to include the results of the Ukrainian referendum held in December of 1991, that clearly showed that the vast majority of Ukrainians voted for independence, including the eastern oblasts and the Crimea:

    Choice Votes %
    For 28,804,071 92.3
    Against 2,417,554 7.7
    Invalid/blank votes 670,117 –
    Total 31,891,742 100
    Registered voters/turnout 37,885,555 84.2

    For an oblast by oblast view see the citation:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Ukrainian_independence_referendum

    • Replies: @Marcus
  32. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    Laws promulgated on a national level preceded the demolition of these monuments done by government agencies, not many acts of vandalism as you suggest. Also, I don’t see any sympathy or nostalgia for these edifices of the gruesome past, as you see in Russia or even the Crimea?…

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @Marcus
  33. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Also, I notice that of all of the republics the first vote shows that Ukraine was the least supportive of the Soviet Union.

    By 1.1%. Amazing!

    You also fail to include the results of the Ukrainian referendum held in December of 1991, that clearly showed that the vast majority of Ukrainians voted for independence, including the eastern oblasts and the Crimea:

    Sure, by that time it was clear the USSR was finished. Russians didn’t want it either, even if they did, Yeltsin wouldn’t have let them.

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
    • Replies: @AP
  34. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    There were plenty, though you are right, the govt. supported it at times. Also true there’s still some overt communist nostalgia in eastern Ukraine and as I’ve shown, Ukrainians in general prefer the communist past to the present by a large margin compared to Russians.
    https://news.yahoo.com/ukrainian-nationalists-topple-massive-lenin-kharkiv-104028964.html

    Regarding Russia, polls show a majority favoring removing Lenin from Red Square for example:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/06/calls-lenins-body-finally-buried-ahead-100th-anniversary-bolshevik/

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  35. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    sympathy or nostalgia for these edifices of the gruesome past

    So you condemn commemoration of the SS-Galizien and the UPA as well?
    https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/112-ua-lviv-citizens-march-commemorating-75th-anniversary-galicia-ss-division.html

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
    , @AP
  36. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    Your citation following your flippant comment that “Ukrainians in general prefer the communist past to the present by a large margin compared to Russians” in no way substantiates your premise. Also, if it were true, why wouldn’t their be a much louder uproars accompanying the demolition of these statues of Lenin and Stalin than there are? And in Russia, the people seem content to let these monuments of the commie dark past continue to exist, being meticulously up-kept no less? And it’s not only monuments that have been demolished, but Soviet and Russian names of cities and streets that have also been changed, and yet life goes on?…..

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @Marcus
    , @AP
  37. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    No I don’t. I think it would serve Ukraine well to move on and quit looking back to a past that was neither so cheery nor so lily white as some marginals would lead others to believe.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  38. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Your citation following your flippant comment that “Ukrainians in general prefer the communist past to the present by a large margin compared to Russians” in no way substantiates your premise.

    It’s not my opinion, it’s that of your supposed people (not the Canadians) and it speaks louder than renaming some streets or removing some statues.

    And in Russia, the people seem content to let these monuments of the commie dark past continue to exist, being meticulously up-kept no less?

    Until recently, monuments to Confederates and other un-PC folks were well-kept as well. That doesn’t mean that most Americans approved of their cause(s).

  39. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Well then you don’t have much of a leg to stand on, you can’t just condemn one repugnant group and celebrate another. At least you have Mrs. Castro.. I mean Trudeau’s backing
    https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canadian-government-comes-to-the-defence-of-nazi-ss-and-nazi-collaborators-but-why

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  40. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Regarding monuments in Russia, it appears to Putin is against removal, and as Russia generally has stronger rule of law, vandalism is probably a non-starter. So much for Putin’s nationalism. But I’ll defer to Anatoly if he deigns to opine
    https://www.newsweek.com/why-putin-will-still-not-bury-lenin-his-red-square-mausoleum-698730

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
  41. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    Which group exactly do you see me “celebrating”???……

    • Replies: @Marcus
  42. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    I interpreted your comment as you did not condemn celebrating the SS Galicia or UPA, sorry if that was an error

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  43. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    Actually, you read my reply correctly, it was I who made the mistake and should have replied:

    Yes I do. I think it would serve Ukraine well to move on and quit looking back to a past that was neither so cheery nor so lily white as some marginals would lead others to believe.

    Integral nationalism, as what the UPA/OUN represented was rather mainstream in Eastern Europe for that time, but has no place in the modern political discussion. Unless some of the alt-righters here want to disagree? 🙂

    • Replies: @Marcus
  44. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    Agreed. Also there are more than a few Russians who look to an idealized empire or USSR (the former is kind of defensible) and need to move on. As much as a I like his work, Anatoly is a good example in his delusions about bringing Ukraine and other places back into the fold. FWIW mostRussian nationalists I’ve talked to firmly support independence of the FSU countries and realize Putin is trying to dupe right wingers with his actions in Ukraine. I just hope the average Ukrainian can forgive Russians in general for the Putin regime’s behavior, warm relations between the two is important on so many levels.

  45. @Marcus

    How do modern Russian patriots feel about Ivan IV?

    Differently in different places. In Novrogod he’s listed alongside Hitler and Swedish marauders. (There’s even a blood-curdling diorama dedicated to his bloodthirstyness in the Novgorod kremlin.)

    In Alexandrov he’s described as an enlightened and politically savvy monarch who had to make some hard choices for the greatness of Russia.

  46. @Mr. Hack

    You didn’t answer my question, assclown. So when was the last time you were in Ukraine?

    (Careful to not confuse Ukraine and Poland like you always do. Consult a ‘European Geography for Dummies’ to make sure.)

    Anyways, fighting with statues and going to war with crimethink is something only deranged commies do. On that front, Ukraine would put even North Korea to shame. (At least North Korea has a functioning economy, unlike Ukraine. Ukraine destroyed theirs in their attempt at being the clown world version of ‘woke’.)

    P.S. Lenin statues were a standard part of the standard Soviet urban planning package. So removing them means inventing a new standard urban plan and large-scale infrastructure investments. Ukraine doesn’t have the concepts of ‘urban planning’ or ‘infrastructure investments’ — Ukraine’s platonic ideal of urban structures is the dried cow dung hut — so remove them statues away, heave ho. That will show ol’ Krupsky who’s boss!

    • LOL: Mr. Hack
  47. @Marcus

    FWIW most Russian nationalists I’ve talked to firmly support independence of the FSU countries and realize Putin is trying to dupe right wingers with his actions in Ukraine.

    Marginal r-selected freaks like Demushkin, Maltsev, etc. are not “most” Russian nationalists. Rather fortunately, as I would have nothing to do with them otherwise.

    I just hope the average Ukrainian can forgive Russians in general for the Putin regime’s behavior…

    The relevant question is whether Russians can forgive Ukrainians. I think we can, since we are not a people to hold grudges, unlike some ethnicities.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
    , @Marcus
  48. Nice post. I feel that my human rights are violated not being able to buy a newly imported Dragunov. What possible justification can there be preventing Americans from buying imported Russian rifles? Put a tariff on them, fine, but an outright ban? While that junky Romanian pseudo SVD is available? Unfair infringement.

    The People of Novgorod were the faction representing Russia in the original Medieval Total War, not Kiev. It’s really an overlooked place but it’s on my list to visit thanks to this post.

  49. Art Deco says:

    The parks and historic sites all look meticulously maintained. Does the local government do that? Or does a foundation run these? Or some superordinate government?

  50. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Why should Russians hold a grudge against Ukrainians? Did Ukrainians plan and foment a hybrid war in Russia? Your logic is topsy-turvy. You must have not read the bombshell report about Russia’s unwarranted incursions into Ukrainian internal matters (it’s not very pretty):

    https://rusi.org/sites/default/files/20180121_surkov_leaks_advanced_copy.pdf

    • Replies: @Marcus
  51. Marcus says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    What percentage of Russian nationalists would you say advocate for the completely sane goal of annexation of Ukraine?

    Dyomushkin is right, also:
    “We right-wing nationalists – we consider [the breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine] Putin’s machinations. We stood up against this and we suffered fierce repressions,” – Ivan Beletsky.

    I’m extremely critical of Ukrainian nationalists: their pandering to the West, they’re pathetic Russophobia, etc. However, they are a tiny minority and don’t negate what Putin did to a brotherly people during their time of crisis. You should blame Putin for the increase in ultranationalist retardation in Ukraine, I certainly do.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  52. @Dmitry

    I don’t agree with some idea of a city as a museum, where there shouldn’t be representation of buildings of our epoch – skyscrapers, etc.

    The problem is when they start demolishing the oldest existing buildings in your city, not when they build new buildings on previously undeveloped wasteland areas like this was.

    Yes, and this goes also for property development more broadly. For instance, Hammary Sjöstad, one of Stockholm’s best-loved residential areas, was industrial slumland before its development in the 1990s.

  53. @Marcus

    Regarding monuments in Russia, it appears to Putin is against removal, and as Russia generally has stronger rule of law, vandalism is probably a non-starter. So much for Putin’s nationalism.

    The discussion on the removal of Lenin monuments neatly illustrates the point I made some time ago about the difference between Russian and Ukrainian nationalism.

    A theory of mine is that much of the ideological split between Russian and Ukrainian nationalists comes from the stories nations tell themselves about their pasts — how they think of their place in history. It’s a rather involved argument, and I will have to think of it some more before I put it down in words, but very broadly speaking, I think that a seductive feature of Ukrainian nationalism is that it neatly sidessteps the agony of having to “integrate” Ukraine’s Soviet years into its sense of self. To Ukrainian nationalist eyes, the Soviet years are alien to what Ukraine is, a horror visited from abroad, and so a legacy that can be done away with by decree and dissociation [2]. Russians do not have this option, so their nationalism must seek to come to terms with the Soviet years. This, I would argue, is a blessing as much as a curse, for if they succeed in this, their “national idea” will be so much better grounded and rounded for it.

    [2] There is a striking parallel here with those Russian nationalists who try to portray Bolshevism as a Western (or Jewish) import.

    Putin’s unwillingness to attack Russia’s Soviet legacy with any vigor can be explained in part, I think, by this need to integrate all of Russia’s history — the good and the bad — into its present. I happen to find this a wise and humane position, so I’m definitely against any hasty tearing down of Lenin statutes.

    What Russia should do is to build a museum of communist statues in some city that could use the tourism (Ulyanovsk would be the natural choice) and then allow municipalities all across Russia to hold referendrums on statue removals on the condition that every removed statue must be moved to the museum. We should expect some municipalities to vote down any such proposal, but that’s all right. Russians shouldn’t be browbeaten into anti-communism, but slowly introduced to an alternative reading of 20th century Russian history.

    • Agree: Marcus, Epigon
  54. Marcus says:
    @Mr. Hack

    I’ve been in several chatrooms with far-right Russian nationalists, and they all hated Putin’s aggression against a fellow Slavic people while paying lavish tribute to the mafia emirate of Grozniyy

    • Replies: @Epigon
  55. @Marcus

    I just hope the average Ukrainian can forgive Russians in general for the Putin regime’s behavior, warm relations between the two is important on so many levels.

    I very much agree with Anatoly that it’s rather the other way around, but no matter. Even from a Ukrainian nationalist view, the basic fact of the past 5 years is this: of Ukraine’s population of some 38 million people, 6 million, or about 15%, are now Russians citizens or soon will be; besides these, many tens of millions of Russians are Ukrainians or descendants of ones.

    If only for this reason — and there are many others — the relationship will warm soon enough. It’s only a matter of time.

  56. despite being one of the oldest Russian cities, its name literally means “New City”. I suppose everything was new at some point.

    The Pont Neuf (“New Bridge”) is the oldest bridge across the Seine in Paris.

  57. @Marcus

    The sort of anti-Russian signalling (and that is what opposing the Russian Spring amounts to) practiced by Ukrainian nationalists such as Demushkin is supported by no more than 10% of nationalists at the very maximum. If that were not the case, I would certainly not associate myself with Russian nationalism.

    Just look at attendance at the “Russian Marches”, which plummeted from more than from 10,000 to the low hundreds after Ukrainophiles took it over in 2014.

    Also you do realize that Demushkin, Potkin, Maltsev et al. produce no intellectual content whatsoever? Just white supremacist claptrap about “brotherly peoples”.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
    , @Marcus
  58. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    claptrap

    It’s encouraging to see that you read my comments. 🙂

    Just white supremacist claptrap about “brotherly peoples”.

    Sounds like something that one might encounter from one of the prophets of “Triunism” that I’ve read at this blogsite?…

  59. This discussion on the removal of Lenin statues got me thinking about Owen Hatherley’s comments, in Across the Plaza: The Public Voids of the Post-Soviet City, about the Cheka statue in the small square by Ocean Plaza in Kiev. (The statue was torn down by activists in 2016.)

    The square was originally called Dzerzhinska, and most references to the square on the internet refer to Lybidska (Dzerzhinska) either to avoid confusion or to avoid arguments: the new name simply denotes a local river, uncontroversially resisting the usual temptation to refer to Freedom or Independence in a renaming. What you immediately feel is the absence in the place. Some Soviet ceremonial squares have, for all their menace, certain leavening features — some benches, some shelter, a fountain, something. Dzherzhinska Square, despite its relatively diminutive proportions, was evidently nothing so jolly. It was designed with menace primarily in mind. An empty, irregularly paved space denuded of wreath-laying and parades leads at the furthest end to a monument dedicated to the valiant Cheka. A stark stone plinth alternates between a dark and a light red, and atop that are two gigantic, interlocking severed heads — one for each wing of the state, its sword and its shield.

    These heads are on a cyclopean scale, but that isn’t what makes them frightening. Again, this isn’t socialist realism in the strictest sense: it has none of the veracity, the Renaissance-inspired anatomical precision, that aesthetic demanded. It is representational, for sure, but it is informed by the long-vanquished avant-garde in its stylisation and reduction of the human face to a series of sharp, robotic planes. As in neoclassicism, the firmly etched eyes have no eyeballs, indicating not so much Grecian serenity as the fierce undeviating commitment of the Chekist. The sculpture glowers intensely, with the city either too poor or too distracted to dismantle it and stick it in museum or reservation. There are patches which imply that graffiti was applied and covered over, but there it stands. In its way, tucked away in this semi-derelict (but decidedly bustling, inhabited) space, this is one of the most terrifying of all Soviet memorials, an image of terror that is purer than most, because stripped of the usual quasi-humanist excuses, the fragments of the Renaissance that dressed up terror in the 1930s, a terror that had long since ended by the Brezhnev era, when this was erected. It is less the monument to a present atrocity, perhaps, than a reminder that the terror was still being kept in reserve as a possible threat, something that could always be returned to, if needed.

  60. Epigon says:

    First thing – there are no brotherly nations.
    If anything, they are direct competitors for same territory, resources, heritage.
    Assimilation is the primary weapon these so-called brotherly nations employ against eachother.

    Ukrainian identity as well as Belarusian identity are hostile to Russian one. Where they flourish and entrench, Russia has been defeated – period.
    The ideas of separate Belarus and Ukraine are anti-Russian at their core.
    The current western borders of Russian Federation mean that all the Russian wars of late 15th/16th century and later on were pointless, in retrospect.
    Countless lives, enormous wealth expended so that zmagars, ukrops, uniats and others can have independence and seek to combat Russia?

    Ukraine had been a direct economic competitor from 1991 as well – though not so much after Russia stabilized.

    Speaking of Slavs and some Slavic solidarity, you ought to read the prophetic words of Dostoyevsky on Slavs and their relations with Russians – or just look at Balkans, the non-Europe of Europe.
    Balts-Lithuanians and Slavs-Poles but more importantly – Rus’ descendants in lands ruled by them were main Russian enemies for centuries – it doesn’t get closer than that.

    Russian Empire had the misfortune of being so powerful and mighty that it prevailed, endured for years despite being plagued by incompetent ruling class with an unacceptably high foreign component. From the power zenith of 1815 things only went downhill on practically every single foreign affair – Habsburg downfall was within grasp, unification of Germany should have been prevented at all costs, disastrous Balkan policy resulting in Crimean War and backstabbing, anti-Russian Bulgaria ruled by Germans, Ukraine and Belarus question should have been solved through creative, cunning policies and favours, outright bribes.

    The might of the Empire worked against it – reactionary, stubborn, arrogant decisions set the stage for subversion and revolutions – the most inexcusable are the lenient treatments of terrorists and revolutionaries.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
  61. Epigon says:
    @Marcus

    Pro-tip: chatroom (ultra)nationalists are losers and imbeciles.

    They don’t benefit their nation in any way, don’t further its interests, create very little added value and are in vast majority of cases all talk, no action.

    The Sovoks and volunteers of Donbass forces who fought there are infinitely better and more valuable people and Russians than hinterland “patriots”, Ukraine-lovers in Russia and verbal nationalists. They demonstrated their willingness to stand and fight for something, risk their lives.
    The domestic front protesters and dissidents, Internet and chatroom posers – not even close.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Marcus
  62. Marcus says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    The sort of anti-Russian signalling (and that is what opposing the Russian Spring amounts to) practiced by Ukrainian nationalists such as Demushkin is supported by no more than 10% of nationalists at the very maximum. If that were not the case, I would certainly not associate myself with Russian nationalism.

    So anti-government=anti-Russian? You would’ve reported your neighbors for samizdat in the 1980s, correct?

    Also you do realize that Demushkin, Potkin, Maltsev et al. produce no intellectual content whatsoever? Just white supremacist claptrap about “brotherly peoples”.

    Right, only big brain ni66as support alienating the third largest Slavic nation, a neighbor with 1,300 years of shared history and then expect them to accept Hearts of Iron type annexation with open arms! You’re so much better than this man

    • Replies: @Epigon
    , @Anatoly Karlin
  63. Epigon says:
    @Marcus

    So Russia alienated Ukrainians after witnessing Odessa sadism and goons gunning down people in Kharkov, Mariupol etc.
    There was a murdered man impaled on a spiked fence in Kharkov, I remember that image, as well as a video in Mariupol where they gun down protestors.

    Really, there would not have been any lack of willing participants had Russia opted for attack on Ukraine – the reaction the West was trying to provoke through such public and explicite acts of violence – aimed at Russians.
    In my opinion, it was a Western bait, and a very good one – portraying Russia as powerless, unable to protect actual Russians at its own doorstep – in the hopes of Russia starting an invasion of Ukraine.

    You seem to be at odds with facts, chronology and basic logic.
    A nation state’s basic task is to protect its people and ensure their prosperity.

    Post-1991 Ukraine is anti-Russian, Orange and Maidan Ukraine are anti-Russian explicitly, the rest – implicitly and long-term. You would have Russia sacrifice the lives of Russians to appease anti-Russian “brotherly nation”?

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @AP
    , @Swedish Family
  64. @Marcus

    So anti-government=anti-Russian?

    If you oppose Russians rising up against sovok borders, calling them Putin’s machinations, then yes, you’re anti-Russian. Period.

    You would’ve reported your neighbors for samizdat in the 1980s, correct?

    That’s the specialty of your Ukrainian friends. https://myrotvorets.center

    Right, only big brain ni66as support alienating the third largest Slavic nation…

    Implies that there was something to alienate (the Ukraine as a geopolitical project is inherently hostile to Russia), and that the Ukraine is some kind of powerful entity relations with which need to be treasured.

    You’re so much better than this man

    Correct, at the very least I don’t shill for Ukrainians and dance to American strings.

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @AP
  65. Marcus says:
    @Epigon

    Pro-tip: chatroom (ultra)nationalists are losers and imbeciles

    They don’t benefit their nation in any way, don’t further its interests, create very little added value and are in vast majority of cases all talk, no action.

    Idk, quite a few of them have been jailed for fighting back against Putin and his Jewish and Central Asian mafia/oligarchs and their Chechen thugs. They have more backbone than Western nationalists for sure.

    The Sovoks and volunteers of Donbass forces who fought there are infinitely better and more valuable people and Russians than hinterland “patriots”, Ukraine-lovers in Russia and verbal nationalists. They demonstrated their willingness to stand and fight for something, risk their lives.
    The domestic front protesters and dissidents, Internet and chatroom posers – not even close.

    Excuse me, but this is a Sovok-mutilator blog. I will personally pay for Mr. Karlin’s passage to Donbass so he can put these Red Bastards into place and expose their hero as a mustachioed Georgian BDSM master. In all seriousness, the “rebels” who aren’t volunteers are scum of the, I won’t denigrated Appalachians by making that comparison. On the plus side, by being the ultimate useful idiots, they are living up to the Soviet legacy they love so much.

    [MORE]

    Your other post is really disheartening to read in light of your quality blog posts and comments. You’re drowning in the Karlin Koolaid. But sure, fantasize about conquering Ukraine and indoctrinating whatever’s left of it after the nuclear holocaust into believing that their centuries old identity is a lie and that they are just Russians. Ukraine could never be a competitor that’s just inane, it should be a useful ally though. The empire isn’t coming back, something like Gorbachev’s Union of Sovereign States might have been possible before Putlor’s genius strategem that led to nationalist Russophobia becoming mainstream throughout Ukraine in exchange for a peninsula that Karlin considers a wasteland.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @Mr. Hack
  66. @Marcus

    Sovoks who praise the mustachioed Georgian BDSM master are deluded, but most of them have benign intentions towards Russia. It is tribalistic signalling, and has little to nothing to do with the historical Stalin. It is you and your “nationalist” friends who are the actual neo-Bolsheviks.

    On the plus side, by being the ultimate useful idiots, they are living up to the Soviet legacy they love so much.

    Your hero Belov-Potkin was tried in 2016 for trying to organize a coup against the Kazakh government with Kazakh nationalists. (Not Russian nationalists in Kazakhstan, but actual Kazakh nationalists). They are also often wheeled out by outlets like Echo of Moscow and Radio Freedom for their audiences to gawk at. So I don’t know if you should be the one to lecture about useful idiocy.

    Idk, quite a few of them have been jailed for fighting back against Putin and his Jewish and Central Asian mafia/oligarchs and their Chechen thugs.

    Stupidity needs to be punished.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  67. Marcus says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    If you oppose Russians rising up against sovok borders, calling them Putin’s machinations, then yes, you’re anti-Russian. Period.

    What borders are legitimate, pre-WWI? Are you going to lead the charge to the Vistula while Epigon descends the Caucasus slopes to pry Kars from Erdogan’s claws?

    That’s the specialty of your Ukrainian friends. https://myrotvorets.center

    Lol, can’t count how many times I got blocked by idiot Ukrainian nationalists on Twitter back in the day.

    Implies that there was something to alienate (the Ukraine as a geopolitical project is inherently hostile to Russia), and that the Ukraine is some kind of powerful entity relations with which need to be treasured.

    So it’s a)not a powerful entity b) inherently hostile (polls show otherwise before 2014) c) actually Russian, but in denial e) a hellhole f) must be annexed or Russia is doomed.
    Am I doing this right?

    Correct, at the very least I don’t shill for Ukrainians and dance to American strings.

    Looking halfway through my most recent
    page postings or even this thread would disabuse anyone of that notion. The line between accepting Ukraine’s sovereignty and being a religous Euromaidan Press reader is not a fine one.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
  68. Mr. Hack says:
    @Marcus

    But sure, fantasize about conquering Ukraine and indoctrinating whatever’s left of it after the nuclear holocaust into believing that their centuries old identity is a lie and that they are just Russians. Ukraine could never be a competitor that’s just inane, it should be a useful ally though.

    After following Karlin’s blog for several years now, I think that you may have actually encapsulated his thought process quite well with this statement. He’s too cautious to actually come right out and try to explain his true feeling though, and I commend you for getting him to come this far and express himself. I sincerely hope that AP reads this interesting back and forth between you and Karlin.

  69. AP says:
    @Marcus

    The big cleavage is the margin that Ukrainians prefer the USSR to current status vis-a-vis Russians

    Question was – are they worse off? Not whether they want it back or prefer it.

    OTOH Ukrainians voted to preserve the USSR by all of 1.1% less than Russians did, so you have that, I guess

    Your interpretation of that result just demonstrates pro-Soviet wishful thinking.

  70. AP says:
    @Marcus

    Also, I notice that of all of the republics the first vote shows that Ukraine was the least supportive of the Soviet Union.

    By 1.1%. Amazing!

    Poll was to devolve the USSR into a union of sovereign states, each with its own army. Independence wasn’t on the ballot except in Galicia, this was next best thing. Most Ukrainians, particularly nationalists, chose it.

    You interpret this as “support for the USSR.”

    • Replies: @Marcus
  71. AP says:
    @Marcus

    So you condemn commemoration of the SS-Galizien and the UPA as well?

    1. Neither one of those was nearly as bad for ethnic Ukrainians, as Bolshevism was for ethnic Russians.

    2. UPA wasn’t as bad as Stalin, in both absolute terms and per capita terms.

    Stalin-Beria USSR killed about 8-9 million civilians between executions, gulags, forced relocations with horrific death tolls, and mass starvations. USSR had a population of 162 million in 1937.

    Bandera’s movement killed about 60,000-100,000 Polish civilians, 20,000-30,000 Jews, and 30,000 Ukrainian civilians (collaborators with Communists, informants, anti-Banderists). So a maximum of about 160,000 people killed, in a region with a population of around 5.5 million people.

    Stalin’s USSR had about 30 times more people than did western Ukraine. A Banderist-scale killing in a territory with the USSR’s population would have claimed 4.8 million lives. So proportionately, Bandera’s movement was about half as bad as Stalin. It was still horrific, and even worse than Lenin (though in the same ballpark).

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @Marcus
  72. AP says:
    @Mr. Hack

    He misinterpreted a poll in which Ukrainians stated they were better off under Soviets as meaning that they preferred Soviet rule.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  73. @Anatoly Karlin

    Sovoks who praise the mustachioed Georgian BDSM master are deluded, but most of them have benign intentions towards Russia. It is tribalistic signalling, and has little to nothing to do with the historical Stalin.

    This goes way back to the 1950’s. After Khruschev’s destalinization campaign, praising Stalin was a clever way to signal that you are anti-Soviet without actually doing anything that might get you in trouble with Soviet law.

    (Also, the popular legend goes that Stalin was killed by the Jewish lobby after he tried to do something with the JQ, so there’s a second power level to this Stalin signaling.)

  74. AP says:
    @Epigon

    So Russia alienated Ukrainians after witnessing Odessa sadism

    Two groups of violent people clashed, pro-Russians drew first blood, Ukrainians won, chased pro-Russians into a building. Accidental fire happened, people died, others were saved by the Ukrainian mobs, who apparently were more interested in brawling rather than killing.

    This becomes “sadism.”

    Good article, full of links to video evidence:

    http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1407453894

    There was a murdered man impaled on a spiked fence in Kharkov, I remember that image

    Link?

    a video in Mariupol where they gun down protestors.

    IIRC protesters tried to seize armored vehicles, were warned, then shot. Alternative would have been to just hand over the military equipment (which, actually, also happened in the beginning). Looks like soldiers were aiming at the feet but the bullet ricocheted off the ground and killed someone.

  75. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    (the Ukraine as a geopolitical project is inherently hostile to Russia)

    No more so than a united Germany as a geopolitical project is “inherently hostile” to France.

    It is inherently hostile to a France that has territorial pretensions upon parts of Germany or that wishes to dominate it. Otherwise – no.

    Similarly, the Ukrainian project is of course hostile to a Russia that seeks to annex all of or parts of Ukraine. Otherwise – no.

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @Swedish Family
  76. @AP

    I don’t like the method of separating Stalin from Lenin. They were part of the same regime. Stalin was one of the highest ranking Soviet officials right from Day One.

    I suspect it’s so meticulously separated by people like Snyder to make Hitler’s regime look unambiguously worse than Soviet communism. Had Hitler died in 1942 (roughly halfway to mass murdering so many people) and his successor would have gone on doing the exact same things he did 1942-45, would we somehow feel the need to separate the two Nazi dictators, as if those were two separate regimes?

    • Replies: @AP
    , @German_reader
  77. Mr. Hack says:
    @AP

    I was interested in Marcus’ characterization of what is most likely his interpretation of Karlin’s vision for “reunifying” Ukraine to Russia (quoted in my comment #71). It’s pretty gruesome and possibly belies Karlin’s ultra right Triunist stance towards Ukraine? At the very least, you’d have to admit that Karlin’s stance towards Ukraine is quite condescending and negative within this discussion at this thread. To this point, Karlin has only revealed the rather benign method of recruiting Ukrainians to his greater vision of a unified Russian whole, including Ukraine, by luring them to Russia with the prospects of better paying jobs, with which I have no problem. I’m not really sure just how far Karlin would go to implement his ideas, and he always seems to play his cards close to his vest whenever this topic is breached. Any insights, clarifying opinions?

  78. Serious question: was Novogrod the Great before its destruction by Ivan IV the last vestige of old “wech” Slavic democracy in Russia? If not for its destruction Russia’s history could go very different, less autocratic road.

    That’s theory form the only book I’ve read about Novogrod’s history. Book was rather good and the theory interesting, but its sounds radical. Any opinions?

    • Replies: @AP
    , @melanf
  79. AP says:
    @reiner Tor

    I don’t like the method of separating Stalin from Lenin. They were part of the same regime. Stalin was one of the highest ranking Soviet officials right from Day One.

    Stalin’s rule was a sort of coup from within; he purged the Old Bolsheviks ruthlessly (one of the only good things he did). Different policies were used by him (he finished off most of the old aristocrats after Lenin had backed off them after initial mass culling, eliminated the family-owned farms that had continued to exist under Lenin, etc.). It is possible and perhaps even likely that Lenin would have done the same thing had he survived, of course.

    When this separation of Stalin from Lenin is done for the purposes of whitewashing Lenin’s crimes it is wrong. Lenin’s brutality was unprecedented, and he created the machine that Stalin used to commit his own crimes. But it wasn’t a smooth continuation.

    Khrushchev was also part of the same regime, but he was far more humane when he took over and changed things.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    , @DreadIlk
  80. Marcus says:
    @AP

    1. Neither one of those was nearly as bad for ethnic Ukrainians, as Bolshevism was for ethnic Russians.

    Regardless, they were indefensible

    2. UPA wasn’t as bad as Stalin, in both absolute terms and per capita terms.

    We’re talking about a couple years vs almost three decades

    Stalin-Beria USSR killed about 8-9 million civilians between executions, gulags, forced relocations with horrific death tolls, and mass starvations. USSR had a population of 162 million in 1937.

    The declassification of the Soviet archives IMO shows this to be unlikely. The toll was awful, but there were maybe 2.5 million excess deaths in peacetime. WW2 deaths uncertain. The famines were awful, but they weren’t intentional and most died of diseases due to malnutrition.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20080611064213/http:/www.etext.org/Politics/Staljin/Staljin/articles/AHR/AHR.html

    • Replies: @AP
  81. Marcus says:
    @AP

    Here’s the question, I don’t speak any FSU languages, so perhaps you can add some implications I might be missing:
    “Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, in which the rights and freedoms of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?” “

    • Replies: @AP
  82. Marcus says:
    @AP

    Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe by area, larger than France, with what, half of France’s population? Also it has precious few natural resources and has been Europe’s poorest country (or close to it) since basically forever. Some threat! Also I believed that you posted data that most Ukrainians had a positive view of Russia before ca. 2014. Maybe they shouldn’t have signed the Budapest Memorandum

    • Replies: @AP
  83. @AP

    he purged the Old Bolsheviks ruthlessly (one of the only good things he did)

    People here often write that, but why was that such a good thing actually?
    My knowledge about Soviet politics is limited, but from what I understand, some Old Bolsheviks at least (e.g. Rykov, Bukharin, Sokolnikov) were opposed to Stalin’s collectivization or even in favour of less confrontational relations with the Western powers.
    I mean sure, one can say that they deserved their fate because they became victims of a system they had helped to create. But I wonder if the image of Stalin as someone who removed leftist craziness from the Soviet system (the interpretation of former commenter Glossy iirc) isn’t fundamentally wrong. Stalin was a pretty crazy leftist himself.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  84. @reiner Tor

    I suspect it’s so meticulously separated by people like Snyder

    I didn’t like Snyder’s book when I read it years ago, but having read more about some of the issues, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s actually really garbage. Snyder seems to have managed to be wrong about both Soviet and Nazi crimes (!). Both his interpretation of the Ukrainian famine as intentional and his claims about a Nazi Hungerplan actually seem to be highly dubious and are rejected by many specialist historians. Probably the only part of his Bloodlands book that isn’t questionable is his treatment of the Holocaust, but even that is incomplete due to his geographical focus and has been done much better elsewhere. Really strange that this bad book won so much acclaim (though some reviews in Germany at least were actually quite negative).

  85. @AP

    Two groups of violent people clashed, pro-Russians drew first blood, Ukrainians won, chased pro-Russians into a building. Accidental fire happened, people died, others were saved by the Ukrainian mobs, who apparently were more interested in brawling rather than killing.

    This becomes “sadism.”

    Good article, full of links to video evidence:

    http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1407453894

    I hoped our debate on this topic in the fall would have made you stop making this equivalence, but it seems not. Well, well, here’s the thread:

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/remembering-slavyansk/

    As you might recall, we based our arguments on pretty good sources: The United Nations’ Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine (http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/HRMMUReport15June2014.pdf), which covers the events in great detail, Richard Sakwa’s Frontline Ukraine, which you questioned (I do too, but for sloppiness rather than bias), and Anna Matveeva’s In Times of Trouble: Conflict in Southeastern Ukraine Explained from Within.

    We ended up agreeing, I think you will agree if you revisit the thread, that somehow or other, on May 2, 2014, 2,000 “pro-unity” supporters clashed with 300-500 “pro-federation” supporters in the presence of 2,000 policemen (this is all in the UN report). Next, I wrote this:

    In the UN report, we also find this highly interesting tidbit:

    “On 1 May, the police authorities issued an official statement announcing that due to possible disorder because of the football game, an additional 2,000 police officers would patrol the streets of Odesa.”

    If the UN report is right, then, we have in Odessa on May 2, 2014, 2,000 “pro-unity” supporters, 300-500 “pro-federation” supporters, and 2,000 policemen. But …

    “During the evening, it was reported to the HRMMU that a bare minimum police force was present at the Kulikovo Pole square. Even when the special riot police force arrived at the scene, the officers did not intervene in the violence that took place on the Kulikovo Pole square. The HRMMU was told by high ranking police officers that the reason for this is that they did not receive any formal order to intervene.”

    In other words, someone told the police not to intervene. Why did they not intervene? If you ask me — and I’m only guessing here; I could be wrong — they were ordered not to intervene because some big shot wanted Odessa’s federalist/separatist movement gone. What further makes me suspect that this is so is that a (failed) storming attempt on Slavyansk was launched on that same day:

    “When Sloviansk fell into the hands of the rebels and uprisings erupted in other cities, the next day—on April 13, 2014—the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) was launched.29 It was announced by Rada’s speaker and acting president Oliksandr Turchynov who said that “we’re not going to allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in Ukraine’s East.”30 Kyiv escalated the conflict by declaring the other side “terrorists,” with whom no talks could be held. The challenge to Strelkov did not take long to come, and the Ukrainian attack started immediately. First fighting casualties were sustained in Sloviansk on April 13 when Ukraine’s security service officer was killed and another five wounded.31 At least one pro-Russian activist –local rebel Ruben Avanesyan from Donetsk was also killed in the gunfire and two injured. Several young local rebels were killed in different episodes during April in the ATO attacks on their block posts32 outside Sloviansk. It is believed that one of the key combat roles in the armed action in Sloviansk was played by Romashka (call sign “Daisy,” real name Sergei Jurikov), a Ukrainian citizen born in Sevastopol who lived in Kyiv. Romashka was a church bell ringer and not a tough paratrooper as many who met him at the time thought. Romashka came with Strelkov from Crimea and was killed in the second serious bout of combat in May.33 On May 2–3, Kyiv attempted an offensive but lost in the first hours two Mi-24 helicopters which were firing at the rebel positions. One helicopter was shot down by Granddad, a 76-yer old Afghan war veteran from Russia and Strelkov’s mentor. When the ATO forces failed to take the city by storm as planned, they halted further direct infantry assaults.
    (In Times of Trouble: Conflict in Southeastern Ukraine Explained from Within, Anna Matveeva, 2018)

    I also wrote this in an earlier post:

    Most telling of all, neither you nor Mr. Hack has put forth a plausable explanation for why the pro-federalists chose the very day when they were massively outnumbered (300 against 2,000) to get back at the Maidanites. A more likely explanation, as I have alredy gone into before, is that this was all planned by the Maidanites. The script is basically a repeat of the false-flag Maidan shootings: kill some random people in your own ranks, blame your opponent, and go in for the kill.

    To sum up, by the Ukrainian nationalist narrative, the “pro-federation” supporters were outnumbered at least 4 to 1 yet chose to attack the “pro-unity” supporters (i.e. Maidanaites) anyway, and happened to do so on the very day that the Ukrainian army launched its first offensive on the separatist stronghold of Slavyansk. (Indeed, this would have been the first military offensive in the war, wouldn’t it? If we leave aside the Russian takeover of Crimea, that is.) My explanation is far simpler: this massacre was a centrally organized attempt to root out federalist activism in Odessa, and it was coordinated with the military offensive against the separatists in Donbass. As far as I can tell, the one very slight weakness with my argument is that the attack that set the massacre going — the attack on the “pro-unity” protesters — must then have been a false flag. This is debatable, but I think you will agree that a false flag that merely involves a little fisticuffs, with no casualties, doesn’t pose much of a moral conundrum when the stakes are this high.

    • Replies: @AP
  86. @Epigon

    In my opinion, it was a Western bait, and a very good one – portraying Russia as powerless, unable to protect actual Russians at its own doorstep – in the hopes of Russia starting an invasion of Ukraine.

    From that view, yes, it was a perfect case of putting your adversary in a decision dilemma (a situation where either course of action is bad). I’m still not sure, however, that the EU ever imagined that their push could lead to a Russian invasion, let alone a wholesale takeover of Ukraine. Some people in Washington no doubt did, but my overall impression is still that the West sleepwalked into this conflict.

  87. @Marcus

    So it’s a)not a powerful entity b) inherently hostile (polls show otherwise before 2014) c) actually Russian, but in denial e) a hellhole f) must be annexed or Russia is doomed.
    Am I doing this right?

    You musn’t have been reading this blog long if you are unsure of Anatoly’s answers to those questions.

    To anwer (c) and (f), the Russian nationalist position is that Ukraine is an artificial, mostly Soviet, creation and that all its people, except those in the westernmost regions, are basically Russians with some local color. They furthermore believe that morality demands of Russia that it brings as many Russians as possible back into the Russian fold, and ideally, that it also brings back the eastern-Slavonic cities that were in modern times more or less always seen as Russian (e.g. Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov and Minsk, but not Warsaw and Almaty).

    • Replies: @Marcus
  88. Marcus says:
    @German_reader

    were opposed to Stalin’s collectivization or even in favour of less confrontational relations with the Western powers.

    Stalin’s minister of foreign affairs before Molotov, Litvinov, had struggled to create a rapprochement with the West for years.

    But I wonder if the image of Stalin as someone who removed leftist craziness from the Soviet system (the interpretation of former commenter Glossy iirc) isn’t fundamentally wrong. Stalin was a pretty crazy leftist himself.

    Well, he banned abortion and homosexuality, and Soviet propaganda became generally pro-natalist. Unlikely the USSR would’ve survived if it had remained culturally leftist a la the Old Bolsheviks. Khrushchev was more liberal, but only to a degree https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manege_Affair

  89. @AP

    No more so than a united Germany as a geopolitical project is “inherently hostile” to France.

    It is inherently hostile to a France that has territorial pretensions upon parts of Germany or that wishes to dominate it. Otherwise – no.

    Similarly, the Ukrainian project is of course hostile to a Russia that seeks to annex all of or parts of Ukraine. Otherwise – no.

    Before we have this argument, you must be a little clearer about your assumptions. For instance, do you believe that a nation-state (broadly defined) has a special duty to safeguard that that members of its nation that live beyond its borders are given decent rights to preserve their heritage? And do you agree that violations of any such rights are inheretly hostile?

  90. Marcus says:
    @Swedish Family

    No I’ve been reading it and Unz in general for quite a while; probably longer than you: I had a hiatus from poasting in general for about a year and I don’t remember your username from before that. I just wanted to show how ludicrous his (most Russian nationalists I’ve met would vehemently disagree) positions are when juxtaposed. I find him to be a thoughtful and well-informed commentator on most subjects, but he is horribly irrational and borderline hubristic on this one.

    • Replies: @Swedish Family
  91. S says:

    Occupying pride of place within the Kremlin, the Monument to the Russian Millennium was constructed in 1862 to mark the thousand year anniversary of the genesis of the Russian state.

    A well deserved place indeed as it is a fantastic peice of art created by a most skilled artisan(s).

    The writing on the strips of birch is remindful of some similar examples preserved in Britain at the site of an old Roman fortress. It’s amazing they survived the centuries.

    In regards to the notably thick forests present in these travelogues, in particular to the recent Bryansk entry, I am curious about the possibility of a Russian ‘urban legend’ in regards to there ever having been such a thing as ‘lost Russian villages’.

    I’ve come across two examples of this in literature describing villages in European Russia which decades after the Czar’s overthrow, and purportedly having lost contact with the outside world, were ‘rediscovered’, and whose inhabitants claimed to believe the Czar was still in power.

    One of these descriptions was in the auto-biography of a KGB officer who while on a ski patrol described finding such a village in the 1950’s. Another was in the auto-biography of a German officer (Hans von Luck) during Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. He described exactly the same thing as the KGB man had of coming across a village in European Russia ‘where time had stopped’ and it’s occupants still believed the Czar to be in power.

    A case of two writers just wanting to spice up their writing to sell books, or villagers ‘playing dumb’ or ‘crazy’ to avoid trouble? Or something else perhaps? Would be interested in comments from those familiar with Russian history.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  92. @Marcus

    I just wanted to show how ludicrous his (most Russian nationalists I’ve met would vehemently disagree) positions are when juxtaposed.

    This prompts me to repeat again Anatoly’s question: what fraction of Russian society does these Russian nationalists represent? If memory serves, Zhirinovsky — and he is a pretty good weathervane of Russian nationalist thought, don’t you agree? — holds that the state of Ukraine is made up of three altogether unlike parts (the east, the center, and the west — I think, but I only go by what I remember from hearing him speak).

    If your opinion, on the other hand, is that most normal Russians don’t care about Ukraine one way or the other, you might be right (although this doesn’t say much: how many Westerners follow truly world-defining trends such as demographics patterns?). Last year in spring, there were some marvelous clips at Anatoly Shariy’s YouTube blog where a reporter of his asked liberal protesters in Moscow about what they thought of the similarities between their demands and those of the Maidan protesters (the implication being that the Maidan protesters didn’t know what they were letting their country in for but the protesters in Moscow had a precedent in Ukraine). In turned out that the liberal Muscovites didn’t know jack about what had happened in Ukraine, and one even went so far as to say (from memory), “don’t compare us to that third-world country!”

    • Agree: DreadIlk
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    , @Marcus
  93. Epigon says:

    Why would you have issues with Russians perceiving Ukraine and Ukrainians as hostile?
    Or vice-versa, as a matter of fact? Zhirinovsky’s famous 1998 speech was perfectly on point.

    From concentration camps and executions of Russophiles in Habsburg Ruthenia and Galicia to Sich rifles, Ukrainian fighters of post-WW1 and WW2 to Orange revolution, Maidan, Donbass War and anti-Russian rhetorics and policies.

    And this is only the Modern period of confrontation! If we set aside Rurikid internal conflicts, ancestors of modern day core Ukraine fought under Lithuanian and Polish banner, even Swedish against Muscovy and Russia.

    Ukrainians and Russians are free to pursue their national interests and choose their own destiny. This inevitably leads them to conflict.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  94. @Swedish Family

    This prompts me to repeat again Anatoly’s question: what fraction of Russian society does these Russian nationalists represent?

    Apart from Zhirinovsky, Putin has said that Russians and Ukrainians are one people – multiple times. He also infamously told G.W. that the Ukraine is not a real country. so I assume that is his genuine opinion.

    • Replies: @Mr. Hack
  95. @S

    I’ve come across two examples of this in literature describing villages in European Russia which decades after the Czar’s overthrow, and purportedly having lost contact with the outside world, were ‘rediscovered’, and whose inhabitants claimed to believe the Czar was still in power.

    I am reasonably certain that that is impossible.

    There was ofc a famous case of a Siberian family that retreated into the deep taiga and was only “rediscovered” in the 1960s iirc.

  96. Marcus says:
    @Swedish Family

    I’m not sure, I guess even in a country the size of Russia, the number of hardcore nationalists is fairly small (they can punch above their weight though, as seen in Ukraine) The al-jazeera article I linked earlier mentioned some on both sides of the issue. This is an older article, but is pretty interesting. Note that, contra AP and Hack, there is recurrent vandalism of Soviet monuments in Russia
    https://www.sova-center.ru/en/xenophobia/reports-analyses/2014/08/d30003/

  97. While mostly serving traditional Russian fare, it is perhaps most notable for having bear meat on the menu.

    Bear meat is outstanding

    Bear fat or grease in particular was known as liquid gold on the American frontier.

    Bear grease is even known to predict the weather.

  98. Marcus says:
    @Epigon

    And this is only the Modern period of confrontation! If we set aside Rurikid internal conflicts, ancestors of modern day core Ukraine fought under Lithuanian and Polish banner, even Swedish against Muscovy and Russia.

    Cossack allegiances were all over the place, but in what I think most regional historians would consider the first expression of proto-Ukrainian nationalism, Khmelnitsky and co. butchered Poles and Jews on an industrial scale and turned to the tsar of then-Muscovy as a fellow Orthodox eastern Slav for protection.

    From concentration camps and executions of Russophiles in Habsburg Ruthenia and Galicia to Sich rifles, Ukrainian fighters of post-WW1 and WW2 to Orange revolution, Maidan, Donbass War and anti-Russian rhetorics and policies.

    Not sure why you’d use Austro-Hungarian internment of Russophiles in what’s now the most nationalist area of Ukraine to make your point. To me, it shows that Russia’s efforts to position itself as champion of Slavic and even Orthodox nations was so successful that the Teutons were running scared. The Bulgarian populace was very pro-Russian and none to happy when their German monarch joined the Central Powers. Who knows what the tsars might have accomplished if they had treated the Poles and Ukrainian already within the empire more decently?

    Ukrainians and Russians are free to pursue their national interests and choose their own destiny. This inevitably leads them to conflict.

    Nope. If Russia would behave as a leader among equals instead of a neighborhood bully haphazardly pursuing pie in the sky fantasies of conquest and forced assimilation, there would be little of this conflict; this was the case for a long time. Remember Ukrainians and Russians fought together against Moldova. I believe both Ukraine and Belarus were in favor of Gorby’s Union of Sovereign States that Yeltsin torpedoed. To make a very flawed analogy closer to us Anglophones: Scotland and England united voluntarily and there was little animosity between the two until recently, whereas Ireland was conquered and forcibly assimilated and Irish nationalists have the same pathetic (but somewhat understandable) attitude to England that Ukrainian nats do to Russia. To the best of my knowledge, there are no English nationalists (if such a thing exists) autistic enough to call for reconquest of Ireland, so Karlin mogs the entire sceptered isle I suppose

    • Agree: Mr. Hack
  99. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Apart from Zhirinovsky, Putin has said that Russians and Ukrainians are one people – multiple times. He also infamously told G.W. that the Ukraine is not a real country. so I assume that is his genuine opinion.

    If Putin were honest he would admit that he found out differently when his incursions into Ukraine in 2014/2015 failed miserably in the so called “Novo-Rosija” region of Ukraine (a large portion of SouthEast Ukraine) that was longest associated with Russia. Carefully laid covert operations in the area failed to stir up anticipated violence and protest and was never able to gain any real traction. But he’s not honest and is actually delusional and a very dangerous leader.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  100. @Mr. Hack

    Maybe, maybe not, but fact is, there’s too much Ukraine in this thread as it is.

    I was merely demonstrating to Marcus that (1) my views are not marginal within the spectrum of Russian politics; (2) the anti-Russian WN weirdos he hangs out with in chat rooms are not representative of Russian nationalists.

    I’ll be removing any further Ukraine related comments here. This post is supposed to be about Novgorod.

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @AP
    , @Mr. Hack
  101. S says:

    Yes, the claim seems a bit fantastic on the face of it.

    Looking at some of the pictures of the thick Russian forests I can see how a folk tale of ‘a lost village’ (if such a tale ever existed) could easily have arisen.

    Thanks for the interesting account about the family which disappeared in the taiga only to be ‘found’ many years later.

    Truth can be stranger than fiction as they say.

  102. Marcus says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Sorry for contributing to derailing of the thread. Back on topic, have you reviewed Eisenstein’s “Alexander Nevsky?”

  103. AP says:
    @Marcus

    1. Neither one of those was nearly as bad for ethnic Ukrainians, as Bolshevism was for ethnic Russians.

    Regardless, they were indefensible

    UPA is indefensible, as is any murder of civilians (US terror bombing of Germany, for example).

    SS Galician is more complicated. They were mostly a military unit, fighting Bolsheviks as they were advancing into Ukraine. A sub-unit, was removed and tasked with hunting partisans, during which it perpetrated a Mi Lai-style massacre of a few hundred Polish civilians. This was indefensible.

    Overall however the Division was fairly clean. Just an easy target for bad PR.

    2. UPA wasn’t as bad as Stalin, in both absolute terms and per capita terms.

    We’re talking about a couple years vs almost three decades

    About 6 years. With Poles and Jews gone, UPA’s bloodiness would have decreased dramatically.

    Stalin-Beria USSR killed about 8-9 million civilians between executions, gulags, forced relocations with horrific death tolls, and mass starvations. USSR had a population of 162 million in 1937.

    The declassification of the Soviet archives IMO shows this to be unlikely. The toll was awful, but there were maybe 2.5 million excess deaths in peacetime.

    Not including famine deaths of about 6 million across the USSR.

    The famines were awful, but they weren’t intentional and most died of diseases due to malnutrition.

    Only Sovok apologists claim this.

    Ukrainian nationalists (and some scholars) claim it was anti-Ukrainian genocide, others claim it was mass killing of peasants with no ethnic motive. The idea that it was an unfortunate accident is a fringe view.

  104. AP says:
    @Marcus

    “Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, in which the rights and freedoms of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?” “

    See the difference from the old USSR? It got 70% support.

    Also there was a second question on the same referendum:

    Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?

    This one got 80% support.

    It added things like a Ukrainian army, essentially devolving the USSR into something like the EU.

    To claim that the results meant Ukrainians were pro-Soviet is naivety at best.

  105. AP says:
    @Marcus

    and has been Europe’s poorest country (or close to it) since basically forever. Some threat!

    Who said anything about a threat?

    My point was hostility. If the Russian project is dominance of Eastern Europe or all of Europe, or absorption of all Rus lands, the Ukrainian project is hostile to it because Russia would need to absorb at least most of Ukraine for this to happen and Ukraine stands in the way of that. If the Russian project is content with its own national borders, or wants to focus elsewhere, or is content to leave Eastern Europe alone, then the Ukrainian project is not inherently hostile to it.

  106. AP says:
    @Swedish Family

    To sum up, by the Ukrainian nationalist narrative, the “pro-federation” supporters were outnumbered at least 4 to 1 yet chose to attack the “pro-unity” supporters (i.e. Maidanaites) anyway

    1. They assumed the armed police were on their side, so why not?
    2. They might not have anticipated nor known the number of enemies. They might have assumed that Odessa, like Donetsk, was their territory and that they would win, as had been the case in similar clashes in Donetsk earlier, when the Ukrainians lost.

    You imply a greater degree of discipline than is realistic, for the new Ukrainian authorities at that time.

    • Replies: @DreadIlk
  107. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    I’ll be removing any further Ukraine related comments here. This post is supposed to be about Novgorod.

    Oops, I posted my replies before I read this…

  108. Mr. Hack says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Look Anatoly, I understand and respect your ‘cease and desist order’, however, looking back at this thread I notice that you certainly included a number of juicy comments regarding the “taboo subject” too. If only you had replied to my original queery about the pairings accompanying the the delicious fruit infused vodkas and whether or not you sampled the bear meat within Novgorod’s finest restaurants, things may have gone differently? 🙂

    Keep up the great work – everybody seems to really appreciate your Russian travelogue pieces!

  109. Cities’ success is in Extremistan: Hungary’s first capital, Esztergom, has less than 30,000 inhabitants. The second capital, Székesfehérvár, has somewhat over 100,000. (Both are very nice cities, though, with the latter being an important industrial center, and the former the seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church.) Meanwhile, Budapest (didn’t yet exist when Esztergom and Székesfehérvár were the capital cities), has 1.5 million inhabitants (nearly 2 million with suburbs).

    Novgorod is now a smallish town (by Russian standards, at any rate), while Moscow (which didn’t yet exist the time Novgorod was the biggest Russian city, or at least one of the two biggest ones) is now a city of over 10 million people.

  110. melanf says:

    Today, apart from its cultural legacy, the city is an unremarkable provincial city of the Russian Federation; my impression was that it was actually rather run down.

    Most likely in the future Novgorod will become part of St. Petersburg. Now the train Novgorod-Petersburg is 2.5 hours. When this train will go 1 hour, Novgorod will become part of Petersburg

  111. @jbwilson24

    Nope, they still go to Western Europe and numbers have rebounded and surged since the 2015/2016 terrorist attacks. Its just that there are so many Chinese going overseas nowadays that you’ll see Chinese tourists just about everywhere.

    And the crowd that goes to Russia and Western Europe doesn’t really overlap: The Russia crowd is noticeably poorer, more rural, and more elderly than the Western Europe crowd. The Sovok Communist past definitely drives a lot of Chinese tourism into Russia especially the elderly.

  112. melanf says:
    @Vishnugupta

    Well even after the relocation it (Lakhta centre) is clearly visible from the Hermitage Museum

    This tower is almost invisible from the city center (find the tower in the photo – this is how the real view from the Neva embankment looks like). And since from a distance the skyscraper looks like a Cathedral tower, it does not spoil the view even in those rare cases when you see it from the city center.

    But in the place where the skyscraper is built it looks quite impressive

  113. melanf says:
    @Marcus

    How do modern Russian patriots feel about Ivan IV? On the one hand, he broke the Golden Horde’s back, but he also killed his own son and massacred Novgorodians

    You are confusing Ivan III (broke the Golden Horde’s back) and Ivan IV (presumably unintentionally killed his own son). To Ivan IV attitude is probably about the same as to Henry VIII in England.

    • Replies: @Marcus
  114. Marcus says:
    @melanf

    You’re right. I guess Ivan IV’s military legacy was almost entirely unsuccessful

    • Replies: @melanf
  115. melanf says:
    @Bies Podkrakowski

    Serious question: was Novogrod the Great before its destruction by Ivan IV the last vestige of old “wech” Slavic democracy in Russia?

    The Novgorod Republic was destroyed by Ivan III, not by Ivan IV. In addition to Novgorod, there were 2 other republics (Pskov and Vyatka), the last was liquidated Pskov Republic.

    If not for its destruction Russia’s history could go very different

    If Ivan III not destroyed an independent Novgorod, then this would have made by the Swedes or Рoles (Novgorod by the end of 15 century was clearly unviable). Russian history would have gone a different way – Russia would probably have simply disappeared as (for example) the Great Moravia.

  116. melanf says:
    @Marcus

    I guess

    Ivan IV’s military legacy was almost entirely unsuccessful

    This is a controversial issue. Here is the opinion of the historian

    Thanks to his (Ivan IV) intervention, the process of formation of estates as corporate structures Autonomous in relation to state power, which began in the middle of the XVI century in Russia, was stopped. By the end of the reign of Ivan IV (and largely due to his policy), the Russian estates were formed as estates “serving”, rigidly subordinated to the control and leadership of state power, and the state power has acquired such broad opportunities for their actions, what it probably did not have in any of the countries of medieval Europe.
    In modern democratic journalism, it is widely believed that these actions of Ivan IV were extremely detrimental to the fate of the country, as they directed it on a path different from that on which the developed countries of Western Europe were moving. At the same time, however, it is tacitly assumed that the society emerging in Russia should have been (without Ivan IV) a society of the type that existed in England and which was characterized by a certain balance of interests between strong state power and Autonomous estates, which provided the most optimal way of development of society in the then conditions. But could there be a society of this type in a poorly populated agricultural country with a rare network of cities, of which the vast majority was not at all any large centers of craft and trade? It is much more likely that Russian society would be close to the type of society that developed in the XV—XVI centuries in those countries of Central Europe, where the level of urbanization was much lower than in Western Europe.
    For this type of society was characterized by the omnipotence of the nobility, which, removing the urban class from active participation in political life and severely limiting the power of the monarch, took directly into the hands of their representatives, many functions of public administration and oriented public policy to serve their immediate class interests. In an era when governments in Western Europe encouraged the development of Handicrafts and industry, the nobles who had acquired state power in the countries of Central Europe encouraged the export to their countries of cheap foreign goods, the purchase of which they spent less money. Such a policy, of course, contributed to the growing lag of the Central European countries from Western Europe. To this it should be added that the sharp restriction of the power of the monarch, of course, excluded the possibility of such treatment of subjects, which was inherent in Ivan IV, but the weakening of the role of the monarch as the Supreme arbiter in relations between the estates and individual groups within the ruling noble class led to the fact that in practice there was no reliable guarantor of observance of all the rights that the legislation generously granted to members of the noble class, and a large and influential magnate could easily deal with any of their smaller neighbors, without fear, that he would be responsible. In the future, this policy led to the weakening of the state, its inability to resist the emerging next door absolutist monarchies.
    This practice Russian people of the time was known, and in their eyes “class society” of Central Europe is not a role model. In the early XVII century… Polish nobleman Samuel Maskevich wrote down such statements of his Russian interlocutor: “Your liberty is good to you… after all your liberty… it’s self-will…you have the strongest oppress the weaker, freely to him away from the weaker possession and the to kill him…. At us… the richest boyar to the poorest can not do anything, because after the first complaint the tsar will deal with him.”

    Борис Флоря, Иван Грозный

    • Replies: @Marcus
  117. @AP

    Are you actually retarded? they were shooting men going out of the building, not helping them out

    More and more my desire for peace is replaced with schadenfreude at slaughter of hohol invaders in Donbas

    • Replies: @Belarusian Anon
  118. @Belarusian Anon

    Mb, hadn’t scrolled down yet to see the ban on Ukraine posts at the time

  119. melanf says:
    @Swedish Family

    we Europeans think of criminally bad city planning, we think of Brusselization, which plagued nearly every Northern European city in the postwar decades

    Europeans fell ill with a severe form of anti-aestheticism around the middle of the 20th century. I have just returned to St. Petersburg from Stockholm and Helsinki and could appreciate the depth of the fall of the architecture of all three cities.

    This is the “sea facade” of St. Petersburg

    And this is the “sea facade” of Stockholm

    The overall impression that all this was designed by the same architect who equally hated the architecture of old Petersburg and architecture of old Stockholm

  120. DreadIlk says:
    @AP

    Stalin purges was a power struggle between two communist factions that resulted in a lot of globalist Jews fleeing to US. I would say fortunately for Russia that Trotsky lost not that I am defending Stalin.

  121. DreadIlk says:
    @AP

    Bad argument.

    1. No need to assume. People talk.
    2.It is easy to judge crowd sizes. Most likely explanation is that people who saw no war did not expect to be getting slaughtered. I also think the attacks on Ukrainians was a false flag. Before you jump at false flag no one can know at how it was done specifically. All we can know was that the response was disproportionate. No police intervention and slaughter of pro Russian protesters.

  122. DreadIlk says:

    Oops just read the deleting comments post.

  123. Marcus says:
    @melanf

    Thanks, but that seems to deal more with his governmental notions (of course the two aren’t mutually exclusive). Militarily, he lost to Poland and Sweden and the Crimean Tatars burned Moscow’s suburbs. His oprichniki were an embarrassing failure. Also when I said “broke the back of the Golden Horde” I apparently misremembered the Tatar state he defeated at Kazan as part of the Golden Horde. when they were a different entity. Age catches up to all of us :/

  124. melanf says:

    Militarily, he lost to Poland and Sweden and the Crimean Tatars burned Moscow’s suburbs

    Russia waged war simultaneously against Poland, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire whose resources surpassed Russia’s resources many times over. However, Ivan kept the main gains of his rule – the territory of Russia under his rule increased three times, and it was the territory which later became the core of Russia

    The Crimean Tatars burned Moscow’s suburbs

    The following year, the Tatars were utterly defeated in Battle of Molodi

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - If you are new to my work, *start here*. If you liked this post, and want me to produce more such content, consider *donating*.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Anatoly Karlin Comments via RSS