Voices from Russia

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Festival of Slavic Culture Embraces New Format



Choir in rehearsal for this event… even though the pro-zapadnik Portal-Credo.ru reposted it, it didn’t originate with them… they’re not original enough to create such, truth be told


The Festival of Slavic Culture will occur on 24 May, featuring 200 events that will take place in 70 oblasts all over Russia. The Festival of Slavic Culture honours the brothers Ss Kirill and Mefody, the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet and Christian missionaries. The Church ranks them as равноапостольный (ravnoapostolny: Equal-to-the-Apostles). As before, Moscow will be the focus of the celebrations.

Vladimir Legoida, head of the MP Information Department, said, “This year, the Festival will follow an informal format; it’ll be an event on an unprecedented scale, featuring many events in one day. From year to year, we’ve been doing our best to see to it that the festival strikes a personal note with everyone who happens to attend. Our purpose is to ensure that Kirill and Mefody are household names amongst ordinary people”.

Scholars believe that in the time of Kirill and Mefody, the 9th century AD, Slavs had no difficulty understanding each other. Experts state that Slavic people believed that they spoke the same language, as they shared the same system of sounds. The two brothers developed this system into an alphabet, to translate Greek religious texts into Slavonic. The Cyrillic alphabet became a foundation for creating alphabets for other Slavic languages.

Street signs in Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, and Macedonian at the Moscow festival will remind visitors of this fact. Many of the festival’s events have the purpose of popularising the Russian language. Moscow professors will give public lectures on Russian, whilst famous performers will read excerpts from Russian classic literature near the statues of Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Nikolai Gogol, and Marina Tsvetaeva. Some 30 choirs, comprising at least 3,000 singers, will gather in Red Square for festival’s closing event… a gala concert entitled The Most Loved Songs. The choirs will perform church anthems, along with a large number of folk and pop songs, all to the accompaniment of a combined orchestra. Those willing to join the professionals will be able to follow the songs on large screens installed all over Moscow.

Sofia Apfelbaum of the Ministry of Culture (Minkultury), said, “Moscow has never seen such a large-scale cultural celebration before. We hope that this experiment will be successful. The songs are popular and known by many people. The gala’s repertoire was picked specifically for the purpose of bringing all people together so that the crowd in Red Square could sing along with the performers and so that everyone would know that Russians have a specific cultural standard”.

Fr Pavel Shcherbachyov of the MP Patriarchal Council for Culture, said, “A harmonious combination of the secular and religious adds a particular flavour to the festival. Even though spirituality in the religious sense of the word played no role in Russian society for a long time, these songs’ lyrics reflect the traditions of previous centuries. If we analysed the words of these songs, we’d discover that they reflect the traditions of the past, when there was an alloy of culture and religion”.

The song marathon in Moscow will end with the performance of Glory, Glory, Mother Russia! by Mikhail Glinka (the closing chorus of the opera Жизнь за царя (Zhizn za tsarya: A Life for the Tsar)), followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

23 May 2013

Yelena Andrusenko

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

It was also Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev‘s name-day…

на многая лета!


Sunday, 17 March 2013

17 March 2013. RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. The Traditions of Celebrating Maslenitsa. 2013


On 11 March, Maslenitsa began in Russia… the last seven days before the onset of Lent. Maslenitsa is one of the most exciting, colourful, and lively folk holidays, which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with paganism, but rather has a direct relationship to Orthodox Easter. Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy (MDA), told RIA-Novosti, “The time to celebrate Maslenitsa is tied to Easter, for Maslenitsa, the last week before Lent, begins exactly eight weeks before Easter. In terms of church canons, Maslenitsa is a half-holiday. During Maslenitsa, we don’t eat meat, but you can eat every other non-Lenten food, including dairy products… abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays is cancelled. During Maslenitsa, services on Wednesday and Friday are particularly long, just like in Lent, with many prostrations. The idea behind the canons is to gradually bring Christians into Lent”. Meanwhile, pancakes, once perceived as a pagan symbol of the sun, with the Christianisation of Rus, became the traditional festive meal in “Cheese Week“, just as kulich and paskha cheese (click here and here for recipes) celebrate Easter, the Resurrection of Christ.

11 March 2013




Monday, 21 January 2013

21 January 2013. Great Russian Kolyadka… Нова радость настала (Nova Radost Nastala: Newborn Joy is Here)… Performed by Egor Strelnikov and Mitya Kuznetsov

01a carolers Russia



Russian contemporary folk performers give a new twist on an old Russian kolyadka. It’s NOT exclusively Ukrainian… don’t listen to Galician Uniate nutters…

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


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