Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Stalin Memorial Unveiled in Siberia

01 Joseph Stalin Soviet Poster


On Wednesday, a KPRF official said that a bust of Soviet leader Iosif Stalin was unveiled in the northeast Siberian city of Yakutsk. The 2.5-metre (8.2-foot)-tall bronze bust was unveiled on the grounds of the Almazi Anabara private diamond company on the eve of nationwide celebrations to mark the capitulation of Nazi Germany in Europe in 1945. As of Wednesday afternoon, a company spokesman wasn’t available for comment. The company offered to host the bust after local authorities denied the communists permission to erect it on a square in the city.

Stalin, whose prison camps and security services took the lives of millions of Soviet citizens during his almost-30-year reign, remains a popular figure with many Russians. Critics accused President Vladimir Putin of attempting to bolster Stalin’s reputation. In recent years, school history books now describe Stalin as an “effective manager”, and the city of Volgograd temporarily reverts to its World War II-era name of Stalingrad for several days a year to mark celebrations linked to crucial events in the war.

A survey by state pollster VTsIOM last year indicated that 33 percent of Russians viewed Stalin positively, whilst 25 percent disapproved of him. The poll surveyed 1,600 respondents. Historians estimate the total number of victims of Stalin-era political repressions at anywhere between 3 million and 39 million. According to historians, tens of thousands, at the very minimum, of GULag inmates perished in the building of the “Road of Bones” that connects the port of Magadan to Yakutsk. Their bodies were laid under or around the road, which was constructed on permafrost.

8 May 2013





Saturday, 12 January 2013

12 January 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… What Did They Make That Snake Sculpture Out Of in Chilly Yakutia?

00 dung Cobra Snake in Yakutia. 12.01.13


00 dung Cobra Snake in Yakutia 02. 12.01.13


His loathing of “capitalist pigs” led Piero Manzoni to can his faeces and put it up for sale as artwork in 1961. However, when 61-year-old Mikhail Bopposov created a giant cobra out of frozen cow dung, he did it for the kids. Speaking about his 400-kilo (882-pound) creation, the native of Yakutia in Siberia told RIA-Novosti by phone Friday, “I made it so that the kids could play around it and have some fun”. The snake… coiled, with head upright and hood widened… is on display in the village of Yolba, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the republic’s capital, Yakutsk. Bopposov created it to mark the coming of the Year of the Snake, which begins 10 February according to the Chinese calendar.

Cattle-raising is widespread in Yolba, which has about 500 people. Bopposov works as a building manager at the village school, but his 17 cows provide him with an ample supply of dung, or “balbalkh” as it is in his native Yakut language. When asked about his artistic aspirations, Bopposov said modestly, “This isn’t sculpture, it’s just a piece of work that I did”. Bopposov first dabbled in the medium in 2008, when, inspired by his military service in a tank division, he created a tank out of dung. Encouraged by the reception from local children and adult villagers alike, he proceeded last winter to mark the Year of the Dragon by sculpting a winged serpent, also using cow manure.

Yolba villagers also sculpt from snow and ice… Bopposov and his son contributed a rabbit in the Year of the Hare in 2011… but the medium isn’t as convenient, as it’s hard to shape when temperatures fall far below freezing. January temperatures in Tattinsky Raion, where Yolba is located, hover between -42 and -44 degrees (-44 to -48 degrees Fahrenheit). Come spring, the dung sculptures are always dismantled, both out of aesthetic concerns and because “balbakh” is a valuable fertiliser sold for compost or used locally in the fields during Yakutia’s short summers. Carefully enunciating the words in his correct, but heavily accented, Russian, Bopposov said with a laugh, “Guess I’ll have to try to do a horse in 2014, if I can pull it off”.

12 January 2013

Aleksei Yeremenko



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