Voices from Russia

Sunday, 28 April 2013

28 April 2013. Sergei Yolkin’s World. A Mystery of the Sails of the Viking Dragon Ships… and of the Vikings Themselves

00 Sergei Yolkin. A Mystery of the Sails of the Viking Dragon Ships... and of the Vikings Themselves. 2013

A Mystery of the Sails of the Viking Dragon Ships… and of the Vikings Themselves

Sergei Yolkin



Sergei Yolkin pointed up that the sails of Viking ships could’ve looked differently than we previously thought… which is also true of the Vikings themselves.

23 April 2013

Sergei Yolkin




Saturday, 6 April 2013

6 April 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. April Fool’s Day Throughout the World

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. April Fool’s Day Throughout the World. 2013


Perhaps, April Fool’s Day is one of the few holidays, although it’s never received official recognition, which is widely-celebrated all over the world. Over many years, each country developed its own unique April Fool’s practical jokes and traditions. You can read more about them in the Infographic.

Historians argue over the exact origin of the holiday. One version attributes the origin of this festival to Ancient Rome, where, in mid-February (not at the beginning of April), they held a Fool’s Carnival. Lucius Apuleius thought that ancient Romans associated “April Fool’s” hoaxing with a holiday called the Hilaria, in honour of Cybele the Great Mother goddess {only part of the holiday was a farce, there were serious aspects, too: editor}. Others argue that this holiday originated in ancient India, where they celebrated a Foolish Holiday on 31 March. On the other hand, in the ancient world, some speculate that only the Ancient Irish had a Fool’s Festival on 1 April, in honour of the New YearIcelandic sagas relate that the custom of hoaxing on 1 April started in memory of the ásynja Skaði , daughter of the jötunn Þjazi .

Another version claims that the Fool’s Festival on 1 April in Ancient India and Rome originated as part of the celebration of the vernal equinox. People celebrated with jokes, pranks, and clowning around on New Year’s Day (it occurred in the spring in those days). People tried to appease the whims of spring weather with jokes and spoofing. Yet another variation insists that April Fool’s Day is associated with the transition to the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni in 1582. In the Middle Ages, people celebrated the New Year in late March… the New Year’s Festival began on 25 March and ended on 1 April. In the middle of the 16th century, King Charles IX reformed the calendar in France, moving the New Year to 1 January, but many continued to celebrate on 1 April. The people who kept the old holiday and gave each other gifts became known as “April Fools”. Yet, everyone wanted in on the fun. It became “April Fool’s Day”, and went on from there.

1 April 2013




Monday, 11 June 2012

Russia Celebrates 1,150 Years

Millennium of Russia monument in the Novgorod KremlinVeliki Novgorod (Novgorod OblastNorthwestern Federal District) RF


1,150 years… that count comes from the version found in the Primary Chronicle of St Nestor the Chronicler, as the monk-chronicler dated the invitation from the Rus to the Varangian prince Rurik to 862 AD. By St Nestor’s time, most people considered Rurik to be the founder of the dynasty of Russian princes and tsars. All the medieval chroniclers regarded it the foundation of the state, and of the ruling dynasty. Therefore, the monk-chronicler, wondering what the genesis of the Russian state was, responded to his question with the story of Rurik ruling near Lake Ladoga (or a settlement near Novgorod). The Rurikid Dynasty ruled Russia until the end of the 16th century.

The name of the ancient state of “Rus” is Scandinavian in origin. A few dispute this, thinking somehow that a non-Slavic foreign origin of the name of the state diminishes its prestige. Precisely, from a linguistic point of view, it comes from the Old Norse word “ro”… to “to row”. After all, the Scandinavians came to Russia in oar-propelled vessels, as they couldn’t proceed downriver under sail. At first, the Swedes used this name for the Finns. Today, the Swedes call the Finns “Ruotsi”, that is, “rowers”. Later, the name “Rus” was taken over by the Slavs. In the beginning, it only referred to the Scandinavian ruling class, then, it covered all of the people subject to the Grand Prince of Rus, and, lastly, it applied to the country itself. Similarly, the medieval Arab, New Roman, and German writers all wrote of those who lived in the Slavic lands as being subject to the “Russian” Grand Prince. Ergo, the ancient Russian monks-chroniclers did likewise.

What developments led to the emergence of Russia as a state? Professor Yelena Melnikova, doctor of historical sciences, told VOR, “In the ninth century, Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes in the north-western region of Eastern Europe paid tribute to the Varangians, the Scandinavians. However, there came a time when the people rebelled, they stopped paying tribute and drove out their overlords. Then, shortly thereafter, they began to fight each other over money and power. As a result, the chroniclers write, they sent an embassy overseas, to find a prince. Because of this overture, the Varangians Rurik and his brothers Sineus and Truvor came to Rus and Rurik began to reign in the region of Lake Ladoga. The chroniclers wrote about Novgorod, but Novgorod, according to archaeological research, didn’t exist yet. Rus is definitely an old Scandinavian name modified when a Slavic language took it over as a loanword”.

According to Melnikova, we should regard this entry in the annals as legendary. It does accurately reflect the economic situation that prevailed in the north-west of Eastern Europe in the second half of the ninth century. Rus had control of an extremely important trade route, one that served all of Europe. It began in northern France, went through England, Germany, and Scandinavia, over the Baltic Sea, to Russia. It went across Russia to the Caspian region, i.e. to the countries of the East. Due to this trade, Eastern and Northern Europe received a huge amount of silver from the Arab Caliphate. In modern times, archaeologists found thousands of Arab silver coins in hoards in Russia and Scandinavia.

Melnikova told us, “The fact is that in the early Middle Ages, Europe had a ‘silver crisis’. At that time, silver was the main means of exchange in commodity trading. Because of this wealth, a new road to the East opened; this transcontinental route ‘from the Varangians to the Greeks’ had a solid economic basis. During the Middle Ages, the Vikings were marauders in Western Europe, but in the East, they were primarily traders. Their main impetus was the desire to get silver. In exchange for specie, the Arabs and New Romans received precious furs such as sable, marten, and squirrel. Besides this, they bought slaves… Europe, New Rome, and the Arab Caliphate were in need of labour. Therefore, the Scandinavians seized a large number of prisoners during their trips through the Slavic lands, mostly unarmed country folk, men, women, and children, whom they sold in other countries. For example, Arab historians write that Varangian traders sold Slavic slaves in Baghdad. They were sold in Constantinople, in France, and in England”.

In the late ninth century, according to the Primary Chronicle, Rurik’s kinsman Oleg and Rurik’s son Igor, led their host down the Dnepr and captured Kiev. During this campaign, as one would say today, their sphere of influence was a narrow strip of land from Lake Ladoga to the south along the Dnepr to Kiev. In the first half of the tenth century, Kiev gradually conquered the Slavic tribes living to the west and east of the Dnepr. This, together with the lands of Novgorod, gradually formed the basis of the united ancient state of Rus. By this time, the Scandinavian military élite had assimilated and integrated into the Slavic population. Already in the mid-tenth century, amongst the names of the rulers of Rus, we see such Slavic names as Svyatoslav and Vladimir. Probably, in the first half of the tenth century, the princes and their entourage, even though they were Scandinavians by heritage, began to use the Russian language. Scandinavians married Slavs; they “melted into” the Slavic culture.

The formation of the primeval state of Rus was a lengthy affair; it took nearly three centuries. During this time, the social structure and political organisation of Eastern European Slavic societies underwent radical change. The Scandinavian Varangians participated in this development, playing the role of a catalyst. Rising on a multiethnic foundation, including Finno-Ugric, Baltic, and Turkic peoples along with the predominant Slavic population, by the beginning of the eleventh century, the ancient state of Rus emerged as a mighty European power, firmly integrated into the medieval world.

11 June 2012

Irina Gardenina

Voice of Russia World Service


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ten World Capitals of Smut

The Tower of Babel

Fr Vladislav Provotorov



This is the end of the Libertine… and the Purtian, too!


Here’s a list of the ten most debauched cities in the history of civilisation:

2nd millennium BC

Babylon’s considered the birthplace of prostitution; it wasn’t in vain that the image of the “Whore of Babylon” persisted for centuries. Herodotus described the local customs thusly, “In Babylon, there was a temple of Millity (Aphrodite). Once in her lifetime, each Babylonian woman was required to surrender herself in this temple… the fee could be ridiculously small. Ritual prostitution later spread to all ancient civilisations.

Sodom and Gomorrah
2nd millennium BC

The names of these cities, which God destroyed because of their sins, became a symbol of debauchery and sexual perversion. In addition, the Old Testament contains a reference to the name of the first recorded “commercial” prostitute… Ruth (or Rahab) from the city of Jericho. She was famous for having hid two spies from the army of Joshua in her house, so her home was spared during the destruction of the city.

1st Century AD

To learn the appearance of a Roman brothel, or “lupanar”, one need only look at the ruins of Pompeii… they were huge buildings with many rooms. When even the daughters of senators began to engage in prostitution, Tiberius forbade female patricians to take money for sex. It didn’t help, and, soon, the wife of Emperor Claudius, Messalina, serviced men in a brothel.

11th Century AD

Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, was the merriest place to party during the Middle Ages. Count Guillaume VII was known as “the First Partier and Troubadour”. Pierre Daninos wrote that he built a special “convent” for prostitutes, with a hierarchy resembling that of conventional convents of that era. Not surprisingly, Aquitaine soon succumbed to Amor; it became the setting for a new heretical sect, the Cathars, who preached free love.

17th Century AD

Venice was the birthplace of the European Carnival, during which nothing seemed too shameful, too daring, too reckless, or too lewd. Once, one of the Doges complained that the wearing of Carnival masks turned the city into nothing but one huge brothel. Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in Venice, a man whose name was synonymous with debauchery.

19th Century AD

During the British Victorian era, the capital of British India, “The city of the goddess Kali”, was one huge brothel, where there were no forbidden desires. The officers were particularly fond of the Bayadères, who were prostitute-dancers. Indeed, the Brits popularised the ancient sex manual Vatsyayana Kama Sutra all over Europe.

Rio de Janeiro
The beginning of the 20th Century AD

White trousers, cheap drinks, and hot beaches, where cocaine was as available as the women were. World Wars and revolutions raged in the Old World, but a Golden Age of hedonism reigned in Rio de Janeiro… all the millionaires and Hollywood stars flocked here. Today, the memories of the former splendours of Rio live on in the Carnaval, which attracts transvestites from all over the world.

1980s-90s AD

Signs of the times… the song, “Confused, muddled, and confused… a night moth, well, who’s to blame…”… there were “moths” under the streetlights on Tverskaya Street. Moscow gloried in its reputation as the most desirable and least expensive destination for sex tourists. A 1989 survey amongst Soviet high school students showed that every other schoolgirl dreamed of a career as a prostitute working for foreign currency. Today, Moscow’s lustre as a sexual mecca has faded.

The end of the 20th Century AD

In the Netherlands, as early as the 18th century, a philosophy of “libertinism” arose, according to which, a free man shouldn’t be bound by conventional moral social norms. Therefore, should it surprise you that Amsterdam was the cradle of the European sexual revolution of the twentieth century? After all, the first legalised soft drugs, prostitution, and same-sex marriages were first seen here.

21st Century AD

The capital of Thailand‘s a modern mecca of sexual tourism. There’s the widest choice of services and partners… there are boys and girls of all ages, girls remodelled into boys, and boys who are not yet completely remodelled into girls. In addition, as they say, there are the so-called “sex-robots”… not without reason, the Thai capital’s called a “Disneyland for adults”. Today, according to the UN, there are about a million prostitutes in Bangkok.

28 June 2010

Vladimir Tikhomirov

Огонек (Little Flame)

As quoted in Interfax-Religion



A Boyar Wedding Feast in the 17th Century

Konstantin Makovsky



Editor’s Note:

One of the dumbest things that one hears is “Holy Russia” or “Holy Greece” (or “Holy Anyplace Else” in the Orthodox world). Trust me, if you’re “looking for a good time” or if you want to “party hearty”… you can find it easily enough in Russia or Greece, and without much effort either. If you want to “Come to the Kama Sutra” in Moscow, Athens, Sofia, Belgrade, or Bucharest, it can be arranged, and the fee won’t break the bank. In fact, that’s the way it’s always been… there has NEVER been a “Holy Golden Age” anywhere, at any time, or amongst any one people. Trust me… there were “painted ladies” in New Rome… they knew how to party in Old Russia (look at Makovsky’s painting A Boyar Wedding Feast in the 17th Century, you’ll know what I mean)…

The Holy’s always coexisted with the Profane… and the tension between the two has been creative, for both individuals and societies. There are two extremes to avoid… the prunish, tight-arsed, and smarmy Puritan… and the smiling, over-tolerant, and “understanding” Libertine. Am I the only person to notice that the konvertsy embody all the worst traits of both, but with none of either’s redeeming qualities? Perspiring minds wanna know…


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