Voices from Russia

Saturday, 18 March 2017

17 March… St Gerasim of the Jordan and the Arrival of the Rooks in Slavic Folklore… With an Excursus on the Evil Spirit Kikimora

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In Russia, this holyday coincided with time of arrival of the rooks. Because of this, the people called it “St Gerasim the Rook-Keeper Day”. The people said:

  • If you see a rook, spring is on its way.
  • I saw a rook, so, spring has come.

In folklore, the behaviour of the rooks on this day predicted how spring would go:

If the rooks return to their old nests, it’ll be a good spring. The ice will melt all at once.

However, if the rooks arrived earlier than 17 March, it was a bad omen. It predicted a lean and hungry year. In order to speed up the arrival of balmy days, peasants baked little rooks made of rye flour… “грачей” (grachei: rooks).

Another legend about this day was:

St Gerasim the Rook-Keeper brought the rooks back to Rus; with this, Holy Rus throws out the witches.

On St Gerasim Day, people baked grachei as talismans against Kikimora (a pagan Old Russian mythological figure). In popular belief, she was a dwarf with a thimble; her body was thin as straw. She was ugly, with slovenly and disordered clothing. Her eyes were of different colours. With one, she gave the evil eye; with the other, she gave leprosy. A less-common belief was that Kikimora was a naked girl or one who wore nothing but a tunic, wielding a scythe.

Folklore said that if you saw Kikimora, it predicted trouble in your house. Peasants believed that Kikimora was the harbinger of death in a family. People feared Kikimora and did everything that they could, no matter how difficult, to keep her away. On St Gerasim Day, people believed, Kikimora was quiet and placid; they could kick her out of the house. On other days, they protected themselves against Kikimora with prayers and talismans. The best talisman against Kikimora was a куриный бог (kuriny bokh: chicken god), a stone with a natural hole in it (that is, a hole not bored by a person). Besides this, people hung broken jugs over the flap covering the chicken coop to protect the birds against Kikimora.

Kikimora was just one of the household spirits from Old Russian paganism. She feared juniper branches, so people hung them around the house, even wrapping juniper twigs around the salt-cellar to protect it so that she wouldn’t spoil the salt, as it was very expensive in olden days. If Kikimora rattled the dishes and made noise, then, people had to wash the dishes in water and sprinkle the juniper branches to make her go away. Then, people searched for any foreign object that Kikimora may have placed in the house. They had to remove it carefully from the house and throw it away… it was even better to burn it. Superstition had it that if someone wanted to harm another, they’d leave a cursed object in the house. To remove the curse, you had to remove the object. Folklore had it that if you swept the floor with a wormwood broom, unholy things couldn’t bother you, including Kikimora. This was one of the most powerful talismans. People thought that the pungent smell of this herb repelled evil force and evil people.

17 March 2017

Russia-Российская Федерация

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The Splitting Up of the Democratic Party: Why It’s Probably Coming Sooner Than You Think

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Before the election, some pundits predicted that a Trump defeat would cause the Republican Party to split into at least two discrete new parties… one representing the old GOP’s business establishment, the other for the populist firebrands of the Tea Party. As the fight over gutting Obamacare reveals, those factions are in an uncomfortable marriage. However, a full-fledged rupture doesn’t appear imminent. A bigger story, one the corporate political writers don’t focus on, is on the left. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Democratic Party split in two.

In my imagined scenario, the liberal Democratic base currently represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would file for divorce from the party’s centre-right corporatist leadership caste. What’s next? Led by Sanders/Warren or not (probably not), prepare to see a major new “third” party close to or equal in size to a rump Democratic one. I even have a name for this new 99 Percenter-focused entity… the New Progressive Party, or simply the Progressive Party. Since this is ahistorical America, no one remembers the Bull Moosers. Today’s Democratic Party is evenly divided between the Bernie Sanders progressives who focus on class issues and the Hillary Clinton urban liberals who care more about identity politics (gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on). In the short run, a Democratic-Progressive schism would benefit the GOP. In a three-way national contest I guesstimate that Republicans could count on the roughly 45 percent of the electorate who still approve of Trump after two months of hard-right rule. That leaves the new Progressives and the old Democrats with roughly 27.5 percent each… hardly a positive outlook for the left in the first few post-schism elections. Yet, as the cereal box warning goes, some settling may… in this case will… occur… and sooner than you’d think.

First, some “Republicans” in the Trump coalition… those Obama and Sanders voters who switched to Trump… will migrate left, attracted to a Progressive left-nationalist economic message that puts working-class Americans first, minus the racism and nativism of the anti-NAFTA Trump right. Doesn’t feel like it this second, but bigotry is finding fewer adherents. Second, demographic trends favour any left-of-the-Democrats party. Slightly more than half of Americans aged 18-to-29 oppose capitalism in its current form. Some Millennials would move right over time, John Adams style… but most won’t, mainly because the capitalist economy isn’t likely to reward them with better-paying jobs as they age. A strong Progressive Party… and 27.5 percent of the vote is strong, guaranteeing access all the way down the ballot to minor races and a spot on the national presidential debate stage… would be the natural home for America’s long-disenfranchised political left. Third, the Progressives would attract sustained media attention. Excitement generates enthusiasm. Finally, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that some mainstream Republicans disgusted by a Trump/Tea Party-dominated Republican Party might scoot over to the old Democrats… whose current politics are Republican Party circa 1980, so it isn’t like it’d be an uncomfortable fit… adding to their numbers.

Granted, this is all very back of the envelope. However, my instincts tell me we’d probably wind up with three surprisingly evenly matched parties before too long. To be clear, a Democratic split isn’t inevitable. It may not even be more likely than not, not in the next few years anyway. Nevertheless, what about 10 or 20 years out? The further you extend the timeline, I’d bet a tidy sum that the left would finally hear what the Democratic Party leadership has told them for half a century… we don’t need you, we don’t owe you, we won’t do anything for you… and walk.

Why am I so convinced that today’s Dems will go the way of the Whigs? Still controlled by centre-right Clintonistas, the Democratic National Committee continues to snub progressives and leftists despite the fact that Bernie could’ve beaten Trump. Throughout the campaign, polls showed Bernie would outperform Hillary in the fall. Still, the DNC cheated on her behalf. Moreover, they sleazily lined up the superdelegates for her. She never considered him for Veep. She didn’t even promise to appoint him to the cabinet… big mistake. She didn’t adopt any of his signature platform planks. After the debacle, Democratic leaders blamed everyone but themselves… WikiLeaksRussia, the FBI, the media, even Bernie voters. They didn’t think they did anything wrong. In the race for DNC chair and thus for the soul of the party, they picked the establishment choice over the progressive. If you’re a Bernie Sanders Democrat, you have to be a complete idiot to believe that the Democratic Party learnt the lesson of 2016… lean left or go home. Even after it became clear that Trump was putting together the most right-wing administration in American history, Democrats still voted in favour of Republican appointees.

I can’t predict how the great split-up of the former Democratic Party will play out. However, given the escalating rage of the party’s progressive base in the Age of Trump and the absolute refusal of the DNC leadership to grant them concessions, it’s hard to imagine this restive crowd staying calm and keeping Democratic. The tsunami is coming. Lefties have a choice… get washed away or grab a surfboard.

15 March 2017

Ted Rall

Counterpunch

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/15/the-splitting-up-of-the-democratic-party-why-its-probably-coming-sooner-than-you-think/

LNR and DNR Heads of State Arrived in the Crimea to Take Part in “Crimean Spring” Celebration

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A media representative for RF Gosduma Deputy Andrei Kozenko told us that LNR Head of State I V Plotnitsky and DNR Head of State A V Zakharchenko arrived in the Crimea today to take part in events dedicated to the third anniversary of the “Crimean Spring”, as well as to meet with the Russia-Donbass Integration Committee. RF Gosduma Deputy Andrei Kozenko and RF Federation Council Member Sergei Tsekov met the LNR/DNR delegations at the Simferopol airport. On 17 March, Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky will take part in the first meeting of the Russia-Donbass Integration Committee at the Livadia Palace. The Committee is a permanent structure with the objective of strengthening the humanitarian, social, and cultural integration of the Donbass and the RF. Earlier reports stated that our LNR delegation would take part in events dedicated to the third anniversary of the “Crimean Spring”.

The LNR delegation included Head of State Plotnitsky, Acting Deputy Chairman of the LNR Council of Ministers Natalya Tikhonskaya, Acting Head of the National Executive Committee of the Public Movement “World of Lugansk” and Chairman of the Head of State’s Public Council Nikolai Zaporozhets, Chairman of the LNR Federation of Trade Unions Oleg Akimov, LNR Peoples Soviet Deputy and Chairman of the LNR all-Republic Organisation of Trade Unions of Education and Science Workers Oleg Koval, and LNR Minister of Agriculture and Food Ruslan Sorokovenko.

15 March 2017

LITs Lugansk Information Centre

http://lug-info.com/news/one/glavy-lnr-i-dnr-pribyli-v-krym-dlya-uchastiya-v-prazdnovanii-godovschiny-krymskoi-vesny-22370

Editor:

This is VERY IMPORTANT NEWS. I chose the all-caps for a reason. Russia is officially acknowledging the existence of the Peoples Republics by accepting this official visit, by sending governmental figures to greet them, by giving the Donbass Heads of States a role in official Russian celebrations, and by setting up a committee to oversee the “integration” of the PRs with the RF… not only in a socio-economic sense, but also the state apparat.

This isn’t full-blown diplomatic “recognition”… it’s more important than that. It’s a bald statement that the integration of the PRs into the RF is under serious consideration and that the RF will NOT allow the junta to overrun them. This signals the final divorce of the PRs from the present notional Ukrainian “state”. It’s also a sign that the Russians are readying to step in after the inevitable collapse of the junta. I think that the gambit is clear… Russia wants the 1914 border, which means that Poland, Romania, and Hungary would all sit at the barbeque table, too. These countries would gain long-claimed territories… but at the cost of angering the USA and the EU. Hungary will sit at table… that’s clear. Orbán will do it. That puts pressure on Poland and Romania to do likewise… their nationalists will demand it. Putin’s strategy is clear. Take what was Russia’s… leave the rest of the carcass (what the Habsburgs ruled in 1914) to the successor states of the Habsburgs. It’d split the EU and NATO, perhaps, fatally (in their present forms, at least). Do you doubt that VVP is the slickest statesman out there? Trump has no traction… the USA doesn’t have the moxie or capability to intervene, short of war with Russia (which won’t happen). The EU has no traction… it has less moxie or capability than Trump does, and that’s before you count in the deep divisions in its ranks. Vova wins again… as a judoka, he knows how to use his opponents’ strengths AGAINST them. Think on that…

BMD

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