Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

«Освобождение Польши: Цена Победы» (The Liberation of Poland: The Cost of Victory)

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The Minoborony Rossii published a unique collection of archival documents from 1944-45, declassified in 2017, on the topic of the liberation of Poland by the Red Army from German fascist occupation. The project «Освобождение Польши: Цена Победы» (Osvobozhdenie Polshi: Tsena Pobedy.  The Liberation of Poland: The Cost of Victory) is a compilation of unique historical documents from the Minoborony Rossii Central Archives on the liberation of occupied Poland by the Red Army during the VOV. They show the interaction between Soviet soldiers and commanders with the liberated Polish population. Amongst the declassified material are battle dispatches, memoranda, reports, references, orders, and telegrams… impartial evidence of the bloody fighting undertaken by the Red Army in the liberation of a fraternal republic, a true account of the occupiers’ relationship with the local population, and the attitude of the Poles to their liberators… the soldiers of the Red Army.

For the first time, users of this official Minoborony Rossii website will be able to consult material that documents the truth of the situation, how the Polish people and clergy greeted the Red Army, how the Polish people genuinely cared for the graves of Soviet soldiers who died in the liberation of Poland, and how they vowed to perpetuate the Red Army’s podvig* in monuments for future generations. Of special interest are memoranda and reports of the Red Army Political Department that record numerous cases of mass destruction, looting, and torture of Poles by the Nazis, along with the occupiers’ wanton barbaric destruction of towns and cultural heritage objects. The declassified evidence shows that the Red Army had to fight hard to liberate Poland, almost literally for every single square kilometre. The dry official figures give the story of the heavy losses suffered by the 1 Ukrainian Front in one month of the fighting to liberate Poland.

  • Podvig: Should NEVER be “Englished”… one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. Podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.

Click here for the official website «Освобождение Польши: Цена Победы» (in Russian, run a Google translation, if you must)

18 July 2017

Minoborony Rossii

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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

Saturday, 15 July 2017

15 July 2017. V I Lenin on Socialism

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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/

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