Voices from Russia

Monday, 17 July 2017

17 July 2017. The Famous Basso M O Reyzen Sings “Песня о Щорсе” (A Song About N A Shchors)

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N A Shchors was one of the heroes of the Civil War… he drove the White Poles and their Galician Uniate nationalist lickspittles out of Kiev. He was a feldsher (medical assistant) in the tsarist army, but he took special courses and become a combat officer. He led Red partisans in successful resistance against the Polish and Galician Uniate occupiers of Little Russia until a rival shot him during a battle.

People’s Artist of the USSR M O Reyzen was one of the most famous Russian bassos of the 20th century. Mark Osipovich was from Gorlovka Raion, in what’s now the DNR. That is, he wasn’t “Ukrainian”, as the area wasn’t handed to the Ukrainian SSR until 1924. He served in the First World War in the infantry, was wounded twice, and earned two George Crosses. As a singer, he earned three Stalin Prizes of the First Degree. He was active on stage until 1985… when he was 90-years-old!

It looks like neither N A Shchors or M O Reyzen are high on the Galician Uniate nationalist “hit parade”… that’s why we should honour both of their memories and respect their legacies… they live on in the DNR and LNR.

BMD

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

From February to October

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In his Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, President Putin placed special emphasis on the anniversaries of the February Revolution and the October Revolution:

This is a good moment for looking back on the causes and nature of these revolutions in Russia. Not just historians and scholars should do this; Russian society in general needs an objective, honest, and deep-reaching analysis of these events.

Indeed, history is a great teacher giving us a variety of cases and making us draw numerous lessons. However, we need to learn from our experience and apply our knowledge to specific circumstances and particular landscape for these lessons to be more than just a tribute to the memory of the events. We must learn from our historical, political, and social errors and contribute to the state’s development. The available data shows clear evidence that the February Revolution and the October Revolution had roots in a complex mix of internal and external factors. We should particularly emphasise that problems leading to a coup or a revolution aren’t exclusively domestic ones. Still, A M Gorchakov, an outstanding diplomat and Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, who studied the French revolutions that broke out in 1789, 1830, 1848, and 1871, quite rightly noted:

Unless the government has made an error, a revolution won’t break out; the government is to blame for every revolution.

Therefore, let’s consider the contemporary internal political situation in the Russian Empire. 1917 became a turning point in the period of Russian history that started with the 1861 Emancipation Reform abolishing serfdom. Although it was the most important of the “Great Reforms”, however, it laid a foundation for future social upheavals. In fact, the emancipation of the serfs impoverished them. The reform took 20 percent of land away from serfs, and the size of land allotment almost halved, shrinking by 43 to 50 percent (5.24 hectares per person earlier against 2.84 after the reform). Meanwhile, those people had trouble assimilating into urban life, so numerous serfs were on the edge of survival. In retrospect, one can justifiably state that the events of 1917 were the direct continuation of the events of 1905 and completed earlier processes.

Secondly, the integration of largely agrarian Russia into the world capitalist system, which started in the 1850s, adversely affected most of the population. The country experienced two opposite trends. On the one hand, foreign investment allowed introducing new technologies and constructing plants, factories, and roads, with foreigners owning 90 percent of Russian mines, 50 percent of chemical enterprises, 40 percent of metallurgical and machine-building plants, and 30 percent of textile mills. On the other hand, the rising export of resources, including capital, needed to support economic development, stood in the way of the emerging Russian bourgeoisie. To put it differently, foreign capital was both an engine and a brake on domestic savings, and the country gradually gave up its financial and resource independence. As a result, industrialisation was in its initial stages up until World War I. Industry earned 6 billion roubles, whilst agriculture remained the major source of national wealth, earning 24 billion roubles, accounting for 75-80 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, 70 percent of the population worked in agriculture, and the rural population constituted 87 percent of the total.

Thirdly, the state’s growing dependence on foreign loans provoked revolutionary upheavals. Russia accounted for 1.998 billion USD, or 31.2%, of the total external debt accumulated by all countries, and amounted to 6.317 billion USD by early 1914. However, the state remained the largest landowner, factory-owner, wholesale merchant, creditor, and so on. Naturally, capital-owners strongly opposed the situation, which fuelled tension between wealthy capitalists and the state. The big bourgeoisie mainly aimed to reduce the role of the state in the economy and limit it as much as possible; their idea was to transform capital into power. The fourth reason translating into large-scale demonstrations across the country was a logical extension of the above-mentioned causes. On the one hand, the difficult socioeconomic situation aggravated by the war provoked political disgruntlement. On the other hand, wealthy capitalists actively backing workers’ councils and establishing an extensive network of organisations fuelled popular resentment. Since 1916, prices rose four- or fivefold, and Russia saw a four-time increase in cash, with gold, in fact, withdrawn from circulation. Strike movements, unrest in villages, and rebellions on the periphery were exhausting and destabilising the state.

Weak government enjoying little popular support constituted a fifth, and perhaps most important, cause of the February Revolution, with the enrichment of the few accompanied by the impoverishment of the many. Specifically, Carl Fabergé received an unprecedentedly high number of orders in the crisis year of 1916. Thus, the paralysis of the state, mostly of the national security agencies, gripped the country. Already at war, Russia had a systemic crisis, resulting in the élite’s inability to perform its basic functions, infrastructure disruptions, and ultimately overt sabotage. As such, the revolution didn’t break out until the Tsar’s abdication, specifically until Nikolai II left his people and army to their own devices. Until then, one could see events as a plot or a rebellion, quite reversible phenomena. However, the Emperor’s abdication unleashed irreversible, and at the same time, most radical, processes, with the February Revolution followed by the October Revolution.

Finally, one should again point up that the internal factors of the February Revolution emerged full blown in the context of the world political game. The February Revolution came to be of crucial importance in the struggle for European and global primacy waged by Great Britain and its allies. Specifically, the fight aimed at erasing Russia from the geopolitical map and reducing it to a resource source, which was impossible to accomplish without the deposition of Nikolai II. At the Tsar’s abdication, Lloyd George actually said in Parliament:

[Through this], Britain achieved one of its major war aims.

Finally, yet importantly, the February events have a special meaning amid more frequent coups, more broadly known as “colour revolutions”. Current seizures of power fit into the structural pattern of the 1917 February Revolution, as they tend to capitalise on popular discontent to cause political destabilisation and breed opposition groups. Globalisation-shaped technological innovations also affect this. Whilst anti-monarchy propaganda circulated via newspapers and leaflets, today’s new mass media network takes the place of the press, revolutionary clubs, and strike committees. At the same time, the “Februarists” and contemporary “revolutionaries” share similar tasks and objectives, namely the overthrow of the state. Moreover, the February events and putsches have another important aspect in common, particularly their essential requirement to neutralise, even liquidate, the political leader. His or her deposition (or assassination) presages chaos, civil wars, and economic and political devastation, rather than the triumph of freedom and law.

8 April 2017

Yelena Ponomareva

Professor MGIMO

Rethinking Russia

http://rethinkingrussia.ru/en/2017/04/from-february-to-october/

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

19 April 2017. To Ensure the Future, We Must Respect the Past

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Some people such as Victor Potapov want to “revise” the past, to “erase” people and events that they find distasteful. This is utterly wrong, crackbrained, and ludicrous in the extreme. We must keep covenant with all our past… with the Imperial legacy… with the Soviet legacy… we must keep covenant with both, or we create a monstrous golem, a Frankenstein of our own creation. Some people like Potapov are from families that were “somebodies” in Tsarist Russia, who were better off than most. So, the Soviet history and legacy are anathema to them because their families lost their “golden teat”. One can tell the measure of their character by seeing that they didn’t scruple at aiding the enemies of the Rodina in hopes of restoring their fortunes.

The people to follow are Tsar Nikolai and President Lukashenko, who say the same thing in essence. “Keep faith with ALL of our past. Honour everything that was good… reflect on everything that was bad”. That’s more healthy than the anti-Stalin rants of Potapov (and those like him). Keep it focused… the anti-communist warriors will be out in force this year. Meet them head-on and don’t fear… after all, our Holy Patriarch offered sincere condolences to the Castro family on the occasion of Fidel Castro’s death. He showed much more humanity and Christian love than did the loudmouth “conservatives” who criticised him for doing such. Our Church isn’t rightwing…

BMD

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Great Split

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Note well that the clans that make up the “Golden 400” all had a hand in “February”… thus, they all had a hand in bringing in “October”. Therefore, all their rants against the USSR (or any personality in it) are bootless and toothless. If it wasn’t for the perfidy and treason of these clans, there’d be no revolution. Think on that… however, they remain convinced of their goodness and innocence and refuse to confront their complicity in the subsequent events.

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Editor:

The leading lights of the “Golden 400”, the leading elements of both the OCA and the ROCOR, mostly come from clans that instigated or supported the February revolt. That is, they SUPPORTED the tsar’s imprisonment, making it easier to kill him, which did happen a year later. That is, without the treason of the Potapov, Golitsyn, and Bennigsen clans (and such subsidiary clans as the Schmemanns), there would’ve been no Stalin. That’s a meaty reflection. It makes Victor Potapov’s rants against Stalin rather empty, don’t they? Recall that none of the major White figures wanted to restore the monarchy… in essence, they were all “Februaryists” (in a play on “Decembrist”).

Here’s the irony… the children of those who made the tsar’s death possible canonised him in the 80s of the last century. Note well that they expressed no repentance for that. That’s no small beer…

BMD

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The Revolution, which broke out a century ago in Russia, is a most controversial and multifaceted phenomenon that exerted a powerful influence on the fate of humanity as well as Russia. Thus, we can justifiably refer to the events triggered by February 1917 to as “the Great Russian Revolution”. Professor A V Lubkov, Rector of Moscow State Pedagogical University, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Science, Doctor of Historical Sciences, touched on the events of the February Revolution.

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It was a catastrophe, a tragedy for the Russian national identity of that period. It gave rise to a negative perception of the revolution, as any calamity brings about root-and-branch change, a break with the past, a painful departure from tradition. In 1917, the split affected both government and people. Unsurprisingly, many Russian scholars pondering pondered over the phenomenon turn to the February events, not just October, as they see them as a trigger for the collapse of traditional Russian nationhood. However, it doesn’t imply that we should paint only a grim picture of the Revolution and portray it as “the end of history”. History can’t endure standstill; it’s a flowing stream. Dialectically speaking, any of the most difficult periods still created opportunities for further development. It’s the case here as well. However, the tragedy of 1917 offered prospects for the next stage of Russian history, the steps taken as part of the “Soviet project”.

I consider the events of February 1917 to have human causes. What happened in early 1917 is mainly on the conscience of the contemporary élite, both the liberal opposition and the one in power. The authorities didn’t always opt for reconciling interests. However, every event has its architects, its creators, and its leaders. I think that the liberal opposition systemically contributed to the February Revolution, as it deliberately ruled out any coöperation with the authorities and constantly appealed to the public since as early as late 1915. Therefore, the opposition essentially rocked the boat. In fact, it’s like an avalanche. If one keeps throwing small stones at a mountain, it may eventually lead to a disaster, a landslide destroying everything on its way. History shows us that flirting with revolution is a very dangerous game. Should the authorities and the opposition feel responsible for the nation’s lot, they should seek to avert a radical scenario.

The next fundamental issue is the cause of the February revolution. I believe that longstanding problems, which tragically culminated with the developments of early 1917, largely came from positive and not negative trends in the Russian economy, including the booming Russian economy and the rapid pace of modernisation, which raised very difficult adjustments in society. In re the economic situation in the winter of 1916-17, it wasn’t as gloomy as Russian textbooks and monographs on the February Revolution tend to describe it. In fact, there was no rationing system as such in the cities. With food supplies regulated in a way, Russia avoided the problems of its enemies Germany and Austria-Hungary. At best, disruptions to bread deliveries occurred. Nothing more serious came our way.

From a popular standpoint, a plot against Tsar Nikolai lay behind the February Revolution. In reality, the country simultaneously witnessed several secret cabals within the Gosduma and military establishment. After a while, the plotters combined their efforts, with particular scenarios considered, and bridges built between liberals and left-wingers, as well as between civil and military leadership factions. In this context, we must touch upon the role of Freemasons or Masons. Although reducing everything to Masonic conspiracy theories naturally leads to oversimplification, neglecting this factor implies concealing the truth and distorting the real picture. Undoubtedly, it’s easy to portray the Revolution as an exclusively democratic, spontaneous, and popular uprising, which liberal historians often do. However, I consider the February developments a far more complex phenomenon.

Above all, the conspirators only intended to make the Emperor abdicate. They sought to preserve Russia’s monarchy, with the power of the Tsar being substantially limited. Moreover, they planned to replace Nicholas II with Tsarevich Alexei, to establish a government accountable to the Gosduma, and to transform the country into a stable constitutional monarchy. Yet, everything turned out differently. One can also dwell on the specific participation of the Triple Entente members, which firmly believed that the Tsar’s inner circle and the monarch himself at some point could favour a separate peace agreement with Germany. Our allies understandably found that unacceptable. 1916 revealed the Russian army’s resilience and the remarkable capacities of its weaponry. The Western allies expressed both interest in Russia’s continued fighting at their side and concern over its potential change in the attitude to war.

There’s sound reasoning behind the idea that the February Revolution provided Russia with many opportunities. At the same time, one can’t but point out that the liberal opposition caused the nihilism that eventually muffled all its appeals and killed its aspirations stone-dead. Finally, I think that we should look at the 1917 February and October Revolutions within an overall context. They’re two interlinked and divergent processes. In other words, one can’t deal with them separately. As I see it, today’s emphasis on considering the 1917 Great Russian Revolution from a broader perspective is very sensible. Obviously, we should assess the Revolution in this very way, as a conveyor-belt of changes.

24 February 2017

Rethinking Russia

http://rethinkingrussia.ru/en/2017/02/the-great-split/

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