Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The First Group of Orphaned Kids from Families of KIA DNR Servicemembers Arrived in Kronshtadt

00 dnr, donetsk pr. kronshtadt. russia. 01. 08.06.15


00 dnr, donetsk pr. kronshtadt. russia. 02. 08.06.15


Today, media contacts in the DNR Peoples Soviet told us that orphaned kids from the families of KIA DNR servicemembers arrived for a holiday in Kronshtadt in the Russian Federation, saying, “On 2 June, ten of our kids went to St Petersburg and Kronshtadt for a two-week holiday. They’ll be there for about a week. It’s not clear whether any further groups will go there in future, but the Kronshtadt Naval Cathedral International Charity Fund (MBF KMS) plans to continue to coöperate with the DNR authorities”. On 29 May, Andrei Kononov, the General Director of the MBF KMS reported, “About 300 kids will go on two-week holidays in Kronshtadt this year. They’ll not only see Kronshtadt, but also visit many treasures of St Petersburg, including the Ermitazh, the State Russian Museum, and the Petropavlovsk Fortress. We also plan visits to the zoological museum and planetarium. In addition, with parental consent, we’ll hold medical clinical diagnostic check-ups for the kids, and give advice on the proper care [of any problems found]”. In the past, the MBF KMS helped people in the DNR. At Easter, it sent St Ioann Kronshtadtsky parish in Donetsk a new iconostas to replace one destroyed in the fighting and gave the parish new liturgical utensils.

8 June 2015

DAN Donetsk News Agency



Russia welcomes DNR kids on holiday and intends to treat their wounds (physical, mental, and emotional) gratis… now, that’s Christianity. The USA bombs kids (not only in Novorossiya, but in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan, and Pakistan too) and steals from them to enrich the Affluent Effluent. Ted Cruz calls that Christianity. I seem to think that one of these things is not like the other! I’m not alone in thinking that…



Saturday, 25 October 2014

A Photo Essay… Furry Custodians of the Hermitage Treasures

00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 01. 25.10.14

The Hermitage cats are a living symbol of St Petersburg. Not content with simply showing their pictures, this series offers the lowdown on each of them. The first is Assol, at the Nicholas Staircase, a spruce and sociable, yet bashful, young lady. Evening often finds her on the Palace Embankment, gazing pensively at the ships gliding along the Neva.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 02. 25.10.14

Luchik, in the Winter Palace. A striking Siberian tomcat, his fur boasts the hue of what people in Piter call the “Neva Masquerade” hue. An avid football fan, on match day he always bags the best spot to watch his favourite side, FK Zenit.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 03. 25.10.14

Pingva, in the Pavilion Hall. An elderly cat robed in austere black-and-white, descended from palace stock. This cat was born to guard the Hermitage. The modest sombre black-and-white livery is evidence of her aristocratic roots. She shuns feline company in favour of solitude, preferring to live apart from her fellows in the cattery.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 04. 25.10.14

Gauguin, in Palace Square, across from the General Staff building. This brightly coloured cat seems to have sprung from a canvas by the French painter himself. Life’s travails developed in him the most extraordinary skills. Gauguin knows only too well where the provisions are and how to get them, using his ability to open (and close!) any door.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 05. 25.10.14

Francesca, on the Jordan Staircase. Proud of her famous namesake, she performs her own version of arias from the eponymous opera in the dead of night in the museum vaults. Anyone who strokes her trichromatic coat gets special treatment.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 06. 25.10.14

Vaksa, on the Jordan Staircase. The demure Vaksa suffers from poor eyesight; she isn’t overly fond of strangers, and rarely leaves the Hermitage grounds. However, she’s never short of work… fondly rubbing herself against the feet of employees, this near-wholly black cat has polished their shoes to a shine for many years.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 07. 25.10.14

Kisanya, in the Gallery of the History of Ancient Painting. A cordial hostess, Kisanya pays attention to all guests of the Hermitage, who, in summer, obligingly help this voluble gourmet acquire a rounded figure.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 08. 25.10.14

Lipa, on  Soviet Staircase. The self-sufficient Lipa is the very essence of catness, taking herself for strolls and preferring to observe proceedings from the shelter of a tree.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 09. 25.10.14

Rio-Rita, near the Alexander Column. A graceful, expressive, and unusually melodious Abyssinian cat with a wild hue. In anticipation of human caresses, her body becomes like a bouncing ball, her tail and hind legs performing a kind of dance. When she rubs up against your legs, resistance is futile.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 10. 25.10.14

Tikhon, in the Large Italian Skylight Hall. Named after the pagan god of fate, old-timer Tikhon is extremely discreet and thorough. As fate itself would have it, they brought Tikhon from the General Staff building to the Great Hermitage, where he became the unofficial leader of all the palace cats.


00 hermitage cats. russia. st petersburg. 11. 25.10.14

Caspar, in the Raphael Loggias. A legendary guard and photographic star, he often wanders into camera shots of the most vivid landscapes. Named after German landscape artist Caspar David Friedrich, this romantic feline soul chooses the most picturesque surroundings for his perambulations.


14 October 2014

Yuri Molodkovets

Russia Behind the Headlines


Monday, 4 June 2012

“Guard Cats” In Public Service at the Hermitage

Is this a feline Bulat Okudzhava? Ya never know…



The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg “hires” cats to protect its artworks against rodents. The so-called “guard cats” go unnoticed as they dwell in the attics and basements, away from the eyes of tourists. The museum administration has “employed” these highly skilful “guards” ever since the museum was founded in 1764. Even though nowadays rats and mice can easily be exterminated using chemicals, the museum can’t do without the cats, who’ve become a living legend and its mascots.

The first “public service” cats came in the 18th century. Tsar Pyotr Veliki was the first to provide shelter for a big cat he had brought from Holland at the then-wooden Winter Palace. Later on, Tsaritsa Yelizaveta Petrovna ordered a batch of rat-catching cats from Kazan because she was scared of small rodents. Cats acquired the status of palace guards during the reign of Tsaritsa Yekaterina Alekseyevna Velikaya. Under Yekaterina, they were divided into chamber cats (the Russian Blue breed), and backyard cats who chased rats and mice guarding Her Majesty’s peace of mind. The State Hermitage Museum started as a private collection of Tsaritsa Yekaterina, who acquired 220 works by Dutch and Flemish artists through her agents in Berlin. At first, most of the paintings she acquired were placed in secluded parts of the Winter Palace, which became known as the “Hermitage”, or “Retreat”, in French.

Hermitage-employed cats survived the October Revolution and continued their service under the Soviet government. However, they didn’t survive the siege of Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45. After starving people ate all the cats, rats infested the city. However, as soon as the blockade was over, two railway cars filled with cats arrived in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) from Russia’s central regions, to form the backbone of a new squadron of rat-eating cats. Cat numbers rose to an unprecedented high in the second half of the 1960s. As the cats prowled the basements, museum rooms, and corridors, the museum administration received orders to get rid of them, which they did. However, several years later, the “four-legged guards” were ordered back, for the museum found it too hard to do without them in its struggle to preserve cultural artefacts.

Since then, the Hermitage cats have gotten good care. Each so-called “hermit” has a passport with a photo certifying that he’s qualified to pursue the difficult task of protecting the museum basements against rodents. The cats are well looked after, fed properly, attended to if ill, and respected for their hard work. Museum employees know all male and female cats by their names, and the name for each cat is picked carefully, to suit his or her character. The team of four-footed guards consists mainly of alley cats, and like the imperial times, the cat community hinges on strict hierarchy. The cats fall into aristocrats, the middle caste, and the low caste. Each group operates within a certain designated part of the building. The cat staff cannot exceed 50-60 cats, but not because they’ll be difficult to look after in terms of cat food. If the number of cats exceeds 60, they start cat fights and neglect their duties. For this reason, from time to time, the museum has to look for people who’d adopt their extra cats.

The museum’s basements have specially designated areas for storing cat food and attending to ailing cats. The roadway near the museum has road signs warning drivers about cats’ presence and urging them to be careful and slow down. Road accidents are the most frequent cause of death amongst Hermitage cats. The Hermitage budget allocates no funds for the cats’ keeping. The cats live on donations from the public and museum workers. Hermitage Cat Day, marked annually on 28 March, is one of the museum’s memorable dates. The museum staff prepares a large number of informative exhibitions and exciting contests.

28 May 2012

Yuliya Galiullina

Voice of Russia World Service


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hermitage Cats Mark Their Professional Holiday





The traditional spring event, “Cat Day in March” (День мартовского кота), dedicated to the cats at the Hermitage, was held Saturday at the museum, according to its press-service. At noon, in the Grand Courtyard of the Winter Palace, judging began of a school competition, Tales of the Hermitage Cats. The winning pictures, drawn by kids from St Petersburg, shall be on exhibit for a day in the Jordan Gallery of the Hermitage. All visitors to the museum are welcome to join in a game, A Journey with a Hermitage Cat, through the halls of the Winter Palace. In the attic of the palace, a photo exposition, The Magic Scarf of the Hermitage, and an exhibition of works by St Petersburg artists dedicated to cats will open, Interfax informs us. Cats first appeared in the Winter Palace at the time of Tsar Pyotr Veliki, when the tsar brought in a cat from Holland. Later, Tsaritsa Yelizaveta issued a “Decree on the Removal of the Court Cats”, which ordered, “Find the best and largest cats in Kazan, the ones most suited to hunting mice”. The founder of the Hermitage, Tsaritsa Yekaterina Velikaya, gave the cats the status of guardians of the picture galleries. Traditionally, there are 50 cats in the Hermitage; each of them has a passport with a photograph. These cats help the museum staff in keeping the building free of rodents.

26 March 2011

Voice of Russia World Service


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