Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Paul Robeson’s Role in Spain Remembered





The life of Paul Robeson was extraordinary; Nancy Wallach ( the daughter of a Veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade) recalled his journey of struggle and steadfast commitment to democracy and the working class in a riveting talk on the connection between Robeson and the Lincoln Brigade, given 17 December at New York University’s Tamiment Library entitled “The Artist Must Elect to Fight for Freedom or Slavery”. The words were those of Robeson himself. An organisation of descendants of some of those who had volunteered to fight in Spain, the Friends and Family of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (FFALB) sponsored the event. The talk highlighted Robeson’s support for the Spanish Republic and the International Brigades… the volunteers who came from around the world to fight for democracy and to resist fascism in Spain. The Lincoln Battalion was part of this International Brigade, a US contingent. The Communist International organised the International Brigade to help the democratically elected Popular Front government of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s. 60,000 volunteers came from many nations and from many walks of life, but they had one thing in common… the resolve to fight fascism.

Paul Robeson left the USA for Europe in the early 1930’s, at a time when the USA was in the Jim Crow era, so, opportunities for a Black artist were limited. He gave concerts in England and Scotland. Robeson was immensely popular in Europe and his concerts always sold out within hours. During this period, he grew to love the international working class so when the civil war broke out in Spain he already had a deep understanding of how the struggle for democracy was inextricably part of the class struggle. The fascist governments of Nazi Germany and Italy gave General Franco, the military leader of the Spanish fascist rebellion, massive support… including logistics and armaments… while most of the nations in Western Europe and the Americas, including the USA, took a position of “neutrality”, a policy that, in essence, supported the fascist forces.

Witnessing these developments, Robeson strove to enlighten the people of the Western nations about the situation in Spain and worked tirelessly to raise money for the cause of Spanish democracy. During his time in Spain, he visited the troops in the fields and hospitals and gave concerts at every opportunity to help lift the spirits of these courageous fighters and to arouse support for their cause. Robeson eventually travelled to Spain itself and said:

I went to Spain in 1938, and that was a major turning point in my life. There I saw that it was the working men and women of Spain who were heroically giving their last full measure of devotion to the course of democracy.

Later, in 1943, speaking of his visit to the front lines in Spain, Robeson told the Herald Tribune:

My heart was filled with admiration and love for these white Americans, and there was a sense of great pride in my own people when I saw that there were Negroes, too, in the ranks of the Lincoln men in Spain.

Ms Wallach noted that such observations stood in stark contrast to the then-segregated US Army. Comments from the audience were very moving, describing the love shown to Robeson when he visited the working men and women and sang for them in their homelands. Vinie Burrows, actor and storyteller, reminded the audience of “the tallest tree in the forest”, Paul Robeson. She said:

Paul Robeson’s life and vision for a world of peace remain an inspiration for all, but particularly I hope for young people. His unswerving stance against the violence of war and of poverty must motivate all actions to support the global peace movement and for nuclear abolition.

In 1940, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade made Paul Robeson an honorary member, a rare honour. Founding member of VALB, Milt Wolf, said:

When I stood beside him to pin the star on his lapel, I had this feeling that Paul Robeson wasn’t so much becoming a member of the Lincoln Brigade, as that we were becoming a part of Paul Robeson.

The last word on Paul Robeson came from long-time International Brigade supporter, the musician/actor and activist, Harry Belafonte:

It’s interesting to me that I should have been blessed in those early years of decision-making by having been embraced by a man who had a profound effect on my life… Paul Robeson… and it was from Paul that I learned that the purpose of art is not just to show life as it is, but to show life as it should be.

Finally, Ms Wallach concluded the event with the words, Robeson’s own, which served as the title of the event and engraved on Robeson’s tombstone:

The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I have made my choice, I had no alternative.

4 January 2017

Gabe Falsetta

Peoples World


Monday, 9 January 2017

Vladimir Putin: The Quiet Russian



with English subtitles


Accused of being authoritarian (like Lee Kuan Yew, who turned the tiny island of Singapore into a country that’s 11th internationally and first in Asia on the Human Development Index), at 48, Yeltsin asked him to take over the presidency of the largest country in the world, which was on its knees. In the nine years since the former USSR dissolved, the people had become tired and angry, seeing it raped by oligarchs protected by the world’s financial institutions. The Second Chechen war began when Putin was still Chairman of the Government under Boris Yeltsin, and the documentary shows him on a hastily improvised flight into the war zone, over which his handlers anguished. His message to the Russian commanders on the ground surely raised eyebrows. Vodka glass held high, he told them that they’d definitely drink to the fallen when the campaign was over. Then putting down the glass down without drinking, he announced:

Now it’s time to get to work.

That was one of the many snapshots of Putin exercising authority, all equally balanced by evidence of his deep humanity. His interactions with ordinary people… whom he generally encounters when they’re distressed… demonstrate the caring that’s faked by smooth Western politicians. While his enemies routinely refer to him as “living on a different planet” (Angela Merkel) or being difficult to read, this visual history as well as excerpts from a long interview recorded for television with a prime-time Russian journalist reveal a man who appears to wear his heart on his sleeve while knowing exactly where he wants to take his country… to a better place.

It’s clear from these takes that Putin’s authority emanates from his demonstrated competence starting at a young age. Not as tall as the average Russian, he stands in front of his taller peers with quiet confidence. Nor is there the slightest hint of a Mussolini complex about him. Putin is the quintessential quiet man who, as one narrator remarked, wears his power like a cross, not a sword. Quiet, but not dour, on more than one occasion we see him improvising humorous remarks at the mike, even singing unpretentiously. We also see him condemning those he refers to ironically as his international “partners”. His hopes for relations with the West don’t get in the way of a clear-eyed recognition of its rejection, whose reasons he contests.

That Russians should consistently give him an 80+ rating is easy to understand when we see him giving a judo lesson to a kid half his size. At first, the boy fails to tumble him, but when he makes the move correctly, Putin allows the kid to take him down, gracefully, without the hype that would be forthcoming from a Western leader. He recognises that his relations with the Russian people are in good part the result of having grown up in modest surroundings while recognising the “advantages” of being born in a privileged environment.

Scarcely into his first year as President, the submarine Kursk exploded with over a hundred sailors on board. Announcing the decision not to raise it personally to their families, he displayed equal parts of pain and quiet determination to succeed in making them understand that it would be useless. His tenacity, whether in learning to play the piano, or conquering English, was already apparent when, as a teenager, he went to the headquarters of the formidable KGB to tell them he wanted to work for them.  They told him he needed a degree in law, which he got, telling his bosses on his first job that what they were planning to do would contravene a whole series of laws, both domestic and international. Were President-elect Trump to see to it that this film airs on prime-time television, the alternative press would have a much easier job of fighting the neocons’ plan to carve Russia up into so many obedient vassals.  It might even spark a revolution, giving the Beltway hacks something real to chew on.

8 January 2017

Deena Stryker

Greanville Post


Special Addendum: Clintonite Liberals Hatred for Putin Makes No Sense



Liberals hate Putin. “While he is NOT the commie I’d like him to be, I’d like to know a few things”.

Based on what, exactly? What do they know about him… other than bait-click US MSM headlines?

  • That he banned GMOs?
  • That he banned predatory bankers?
  • That their literacy rate is far higher than ours is… 99.7 percent in 2015, according to UNESCO. Whereas in America, they didn’t report the literacy rate to UNESCO, but we do know that the literacy rate hasn’t changed in 10 years. On top of that, 14 percent of the population can’t read, with 21 percent of adults reading under a 5th-grade level and 19 percent of highschoolers not being able to read at all.
  • How he was the first to offer to help with fires in Israel?
  • That he helped Venezuela develop their oil production with technology and a low-interest loan so that the people could keep the profits there? The USA just asked them to let our oil companies pull it out for themselves and promised “jobs”. Venezuela nationalised its oil for the profit of ALL!
  • That from 2000 when he took power until 2012 he took the poverty level from 42 million to 15 million people until the USA/EU started imposing sanctions on any country that traded outside our petro dollar? From 2014 on, they added direct sanctions against them… all for trading with BRICS nations and becoming prosperous outside our bankster system.
  • That he’s continually increased the guaranteed minimum income to offset that poverty?
  • That last year Forbes named him the most effective economic reformer that Russia has ever seen?
  • How about that he doubled the number of women in Parliament?

Give me some reasons or research it until you find one. If you say the Ukraine, I’ll link you to my friends that live there, who’ll tell you he did nothing, certainly no invasion… they wished he had… when the West conspired with Nazis to pull a coup on a democratically elected government. Meanwhile, the people of the Crimea, observing these foul developments, wanted none of it. Long part of Russia (and the USSR) the Crimeans voted in an internationally ratified referendum to rejoin their motherland, a vote later ratified by the Russian Federation. There was no “takeover” of the Crimea, except in the insidious minds of Western propagandists and the media hacks doing their bidding.If you utter the words, “Pussy Riot”, I’ll scream again at you:


Now, try being fair for once, and draw your own conclusions.

Diane Gee

Friday, 23 December 2016

23 December 2016. These are MY Heroes… Yekaterina Illarionovna Kalinchuk Demina



Today, 22 December, is the 91st birthday of Yekaterina Illarionovna Kalinchuk Demina… a legendary veteran of the VOV. At 16-years-old, she became a medical orderly in the 369 Separate Naval Infantry Battalion of the Danube Flotilla. She served with that unit throughout the entire war, being at the front in the Caucasus and Stalingrad, ending up in Hungary and Austria. She was a frontline hero, winning not only the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin, but also two Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Patriotic War (First Class), and the Medal “For Courage”.

Congratulations, Yekaterina Illarionovna! Happy birthday! We wish you health and many years!

22 December 2016

Yevgeni Spitsyn



Compare Yekaterina Illarionovna to John McCain… there’s no comparison between a real heroine and a posturing cowboy, is there?  McCain was no coward, but he was no hero either. Old hands warned him many times that his recklessness would end badly, but he refused to listen to his elders and betters (nothing much has changed in him, has it?). The US Navy refused to promote this son and grandson of admirals to flag rank (a friend told me that the Navy didn’t want such a man in command of a task force… they feared that he’d kill others to prove his macho creds). On the other hand, Yekaterina Illarionovna did her duty at the front, showing not only prudence (for she did survive four years of the most-gruelling war ever fought), but also heroism (as her decorations prove to all comers).

I know whom I admire. It’s NOT John McCain. I confide that I’m not alone in thinking that way.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

75 Years Ago… the Counterattack at Moscow Began


5 December: The Day of the Beginning of the Counteroffensive by the Soviet Forces in the Battle of Moscow


On this day in Russia, 5 December, we mark a “Day of Military Glory of Russia”; the counterattack by Soviet troops at the Battle of Moscow began on this day. The counterattack, the second phase of the battle of Moscow, started on 5-6 December 1941, with the Kalinin Front hitting Yeltsa. The fighting immediately became bitter and furious. In the early days of the offensive, despite a lack of superiority in manpower and equipment, and despite below-zero temperatures and deep snow cover, the troops on the left-wing and right-wing of the Western Front smashed the fascist defences south of Kalinin, cut highway and rail links to Kalinin, and liberated many towns from the enemy. Simultaneously, troops of the Southwestern Front attacked northwest of Moscow. The Red Army hit the flanks of the fascist Army Group Centre grouped around Moscow, forcing the enemy to regroup and to take measures to save its troops from a débâcle.

On 8 December, Hitler signed a directive to transition to the defence all along the Soviet-German front. Army Group Centre received orders “to retain strategically important areas at any cost”. On 9 December, the Soviet troops liberated Rogachevo, Venev, and Yelets. On 11 December, they freed Stalinogorsk, on 12 December, they cleared Solnechnogorsk, on 13 December, they liberated Yefremov, on 15 December, they entered Klin, on 16 December, they took Kalinin, and 20 December, they occupied Volokolamsk. On 25 December, on a broad front, Soviet troops advanced to Oka. On 28 December, they liberated Kozelsk, on 30 December, they took Kaluga, and in early January 1942, they freed Meshchovsk and Mosalsk.

By the beginning of January 1942, the armies of the right-wing of the Western Front reached the banks of the Lama and Ruza Rivers. By that time, the troops of the Kalinin Front reached Pavlikovo and Staritsa. The troops of the Western Front, in the centre, liberated Naro-Fominsk on 26 December, they freed Maloyaroslavets on 2 January, and entered Borovsk on 4 January. There were also successful counterattacks on the left-wing of the Western Front and by the Bryansk Front (re-established on 18 December 1941, with the 3, 13 and 61 Armies; commanded by General Ya T Cherevichenko, A F Kolobyakov as head commissar, and Major General V Ya Kolpakchy as Chief of Staff). By early January 1942, the Bryansk Front, cooperating with the forces of the left-wing of the Western Front, reached Belev, Mtsensk, and Verkhovye. All this has created a serious situation for the fascist Army Group Centre; it removed the threat looming over Moscow.

The victory of the Soviet troops near Moscow and the beginning of the counteroffensive not only had great military significance, it also had political and international Importance. For the first time in World War II, someone stopped the hitherto-invincible Wehrmacht and defeated it. Today, the date of 5 December is another reason to remember the heroes of that war…

5 December 2016

Russia-Российская Федерация


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