Walt Whitman in Russia: Three Love Affairs

Walt Whitman’s influence on the creative output of 20th-century Russia — particularly in the years surrounding the 1917 Revolution — was enormous. For the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth, Nina Murray looks at the translators through which Russians experienced his work, not only in a literary sense — through the efforts of Konstantin Balmont and[…]

Catherine the Great: Behind the Gossip, a Commanding Ruler

Shrouded by myth and intrigue, Catherine the Great is now regarded as one of history’s most influential female rulers. Loved by many, loathed by others and the subject of gossip to most, Catherine the Great is one of history’s most influential female rulers. By day this enlightened despot plotted military conquests. By night she hosted[…]

‘Valiant Lunatics’: Heroism and Insanity in the Charge of the Light Brigade

The charge of the Light Brigade always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. The charge of the Light Brigade has always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. Even though he was writing at a remove of time and distance from the action, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem echoes the conflicted reactions of both British and Russian witnesses who[…]

The History, Culture, and Religion of the Tatars

In 1920 the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was declared. History The first settlements in the territory of the Republic of Tatarstan date back to Palaeolithic period (about 100,000 years ago). In the 8th – 9th centuries, the tribes of ancient Bulgars, ancestors of the modern Tatars, began to populate the Volga region . The[…]

The Medieval Political Federation of Kievan Rus

The Rus are first mentioned in the Annals of Saint-Bertin. Introduction Kievan Rus (862-1242 CE) was a medieval political federation located in modern-day Belarus, Ukraine, and part of Russia (the latter named for the Rus, a Scandinavian people). The name Kievan Rus is a modern-day (19th century CE) designation but has the same meaning as[…]

Notre Dame Echoes of Russia’s 1837 Winter Palace Blaze

After the building that symbolized ‘all that is Russian’ went up in flames, the czar scrambled to restore it to its former glory. In a city graced with remarkable architecture, the cathedral of Notre Dame may be Paris’ most striking edifice. So when it was engulfed by a fire that toppled its spire, it seemed as if[…]

The Nikitin Brothers and the 19th-Century Russia Circus

They were born to Aleksandr and Alina Ivanovna Nikitin, who were serfs attached to one of the vast lands belonging to the Crown. By Dominique JandoCircus Consultant Introduction In nineteenth-century Russia, circus was extremely popular among the aristocracy and the people alike, but the Russian circus was being developed mostly by foreigners whose names—Ciniselli, Truzzi, or Salamonsky—became[…]

Communism, from Karl Marx to the Fall of the Soviet Union

Communism has been one of the most influential economic theories of all times; recognizing its influence is key to understanding both past and current events. The Rise Overview Communism has been one of the most influential economic theories of all times; recognizing its influence is key to understanding both past and current events. Moreover, the[…]

Zhores Medvedev and the Battle for Truth in Soviet Science

Medvedev’s critical portrayal of the Soviet Union was powerful, persuasive and principled. Zhores Medvedev was not crazy. But the prolific Russian scientist and author who died at the end of last year, a day after his 93rd birthday, made many powerful enemies who repeatedly claimed otherwise. By 1961, Medvedev had established a strong reputation both[…]

The Housing Question and Anti-Semitism: Soviet Authorities in Kyiv after World War II

Kyiv was abandoned by the Nazis in November 1943, allowing the Soviet authorities to return to the city, and the Jewish people continued to be silenced. By the mid-1940s, scholars agree, the Soviet Union’s fundamental problem at home was a paradoxical need to stabilize a regime noticeably strengthened by the Second World War.[1]  One way the[…]

Maidan in Soviet Designs, 1943-1945

In 1943, a propagandistic ideal meant creating a modern Ukraine through Soviet industrialization, even as the republic lay in ruins. Only a few months after Kyiv as retaken from the Nazis in November 1943, the returning Stalinists started avoiding public mention of what had happened at places like Babyn Yar. The anti-Semitism that had emerged[…]

A 500-Year-Old History of the Orthodox Dispute between Constantinople and Moscow

Ukraine’s Orthodox Church recently broke off from Russia. This dispute has a history that goes back to medieval Christianity, and continues to shape modern-day politics. A new Orthodox Church was recently established in Ukraine. Shortly after, Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople and the spiritual head of global Orthodox Christianity, granted independence to the new Orthodox[…]

The Soviet Union’s Aging Leadership in the 1980s and Fall in 1991

The aging Soviet leadership of the 1980s was ill-equipped to deal with ongoing economic stagnation and worsening foreign conflicts such as the Soviet-Afghan War. Aging Leadership Overview By 1982, the stagnation of the Soviet economy was evidenced by the fact that the Soviet Union had been importing grain from the U.S. throughout the 1970s. However,[…]

Life before the Collapse of the Soviet Union: The Photography of Henry Sara

Sara’s images defined the Soviet Union at its ‘base line’. What was life like in early Soviet Union? As Russians established the USSR after the Great War, British left-wing activist Henry Sara visited the country and, during his time there, took photographs of the people, landscape and the emerging Soviet State. Those photographs went on[…]

British Labour Government and Russian Fake News in 1924

There are lessons to be learned from this story. In October 1924, during the general election campaign that followed the fall of the first ever British Labour government, a document hit the press and the streets that caused a political sensation—and has been the subject of controversy ever since. It was a letter supposedly written[…]

VDNKh Moscow: The Most Soviet Park in Russia

When you think of emblematic Soviet buildings, you don’t usually think of rabbits, but there they are. When you think of emblematic Soviet buildings, you don’t usually think of rabbits, but there they are, dancing and frolicking, even mating across the curved frieze of the Pavilion to Rabbit-Rearing and Fur Breeding, in a far corner[…]

Russian Nihilists and the Prehistory of Spy Fiction

In the 1880s and 90s, the age-old literary figure of the spy underwent a number of transformations that would establish its new meanings for the new century. Spy fiction has invariably proved to be an accurate barometer of political anxieties, at times even a potent fomenter of public paranoia in its own right, and it[…]

Russian Science Prior to the Russian Revolution

A discussion of the the scientific context prior to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Abstract This paper is an attempt to present and discuss the scientific context prior to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. Some general aspects of the scientific milieus of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are described,[…]

Ivan the Great, Grand Prince of Muscovy

He came into power at a time when Russian princes were still competing among themselves and struggling against the Tatars. Introduction The next strong ruler of Muscovy after Ivan I was Ivan III, who became known as Ivan the Great. Ivan became Grand Prince of Muscovy in 1462 and ruled until 1502. He came into[…]

The Mongol Invasion of Russia in the 13th Century

Because of its geography, Russia is a relatively easy country to invade from both east and west. Introduction “Give us trade,”demanded the Vikings from the north. “Try our religion,” urged missionaries from the south. Now a new voice was heard throughout Russia. “Pay us taxes,” ordered the Mongols of the east. Because of its geography,[…]