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Showing posts from August, 2012

Escape From Civilization

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Escape From Civilization: Right now we are going to see some photos of the Altai region, its south-west area, to be more precise. That’s exactly the area so hard-to-get-to. We’ll start from Ust-Kamenogorsk not far from the border with Russia. Pure land of … Read more...

Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge - review

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“We revolutionaries, who aimed to create a new society, ‘the broadest democracy of the workers’, had unwittingly, with our own hands, constructed the most terrifying state machine conceivable: and when, with revulsion, we realised this truth, this machine, driven by our friends and comrades, turned on us and crushed us.” The Russian revolutionary Victor Serge’s assessment of the role that he and his comrades played in building the machine that would destroy them is striking in its candour. Virtually all of his friends who managed to survive the dictatorship that was installed in the revolution of October 1917 blamed the totalitarian repression that ensued on factors – the Russian civil war, foreign intervention, Russian backwardness – for which the Bolshevik regime was not responsible. Refusing to acknowledge his part in constructing and using the machinery of repression, Leon Trotsky pinned most of the blame on Joseph Stalin – a single human being. Here, Serge was more clear-sighted.…

From unloved German Princess to sexy Russian Empress

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Two hundred and fifty years ago, Catherine the Great became empress of Russia. During her 34-year reign, she extended Russia’s boundaries, presided over an age of cultural enlightenment and founded the collection, which became the Hermitage Museum.


“She sat on the throne of Peter the Great and ruled an empire, the largest on earth.” This is how the American writer, Robert K. Massie, opens the chapter on her coronation in his new book “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” (Head of Zeus, 2012).  The book, which received rave reviews and the new Carnegie non-fiction award in the United States, was published in the United Kingdom last month. The first half of Massie’s book covers Catherine’s loveless childhood and marriage, as well as all the adventures that lay between the “modest grey stone house on a cobbled street” in windswept Stettin and her coronation in Moscow’s gold-domed Assumption Cathedral. As the subtitle suggests, this earlier part of her life is at least as important to…

Nicely Shot Perm

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Nicely Shot Perm: Perm is the city in the European part of Russia, near the Urals, a large diversified industrial, scientific, cultural and logistic centre of Ural. The city was founded in 1723. The territory of the city has been settled since the … Read more...

The trouble with Leo Tolstoy, part 1: At war with himself

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Alan Yentob takes an epic train ride through Tolstoys Russia examining how Russias great novelist became her great troublemaker. In this programme he reveals a difficult and troubled youth obsessed with sex and gambling who turned writer while serving as a soldier in Chechnya and the Crimea. His experiences on the frontline eventually fed into War and Peace a book now recognised as the gold standard by which all other novels are judged. They also triggered his conversion to outspoken pacifist.Alans expedition takes him to the Tatar city of Kazan where Tolstoy was a teenager the siege of Sevastopol on the Black Sea and Imperial St Petersburg as well as the idyllic Tolstoy country estate the writers cradle and grave and home throughout his passionate but brutal 48-year marriage to Sofya - a marriage that began with rape produced 13 children and ended with desertion and denial.Contributors include Tolstoys great great grandson Vladimir Tolstoy AN Wilson and author of a new Tolstoy biogr…

Giselle - Diana Vishneva - Vladimir Malakhov (2004)

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Kristina Kapustinskaya: Singing wasn't my choice

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A native of Kiev, opera singerKristina Kapustinskayahas performed with theMariinsky companysince 2007. She spoke with Axilleas Patsoukas of Russia Beyond the Headlines about her voice and what inspires her as a singer.
Russia Beyond the Headlines: Why did you choose to become a singer?
Kristina Kapustinskaya: I wouldn’t say that this profession is something I could choose to become. I think that creative professions do not depend on your desire alone – you have to have a predisposition, a certain state of mind. Very often young people choose a profession only because it’s fashionable or because it seems beautiful to them. They must know that there is a very high risk in creative professions that even after many years of hard work you will not achieve success.
I had a grandmother who couldn’t go a single day without a song, and that’s how she was raising me – always humming something. She was the one who introduced me to Ukrainian folk songs.
In the fourth grade at school, during a music c…

The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants

A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT of grunt work went into literary masterpiece-making in the days before Spell-check and Google, and yet there is no acknowledgment page to be found at the conclusion to War and Peace or Crime and Punishment, no list of the relatives, friends, monarchs, spouses, and serfs who contributed to the novels’ creation. Who compiled the research? Who created conditions conducive to decades of uninterrupted concentration? Who hand-copied massive manuscripts or typed and retyped them, edited and copy-edited and, once revisions were done, ventured into the publishing world and managed the business of book-selling? Alexandra Popoff’s book is a look at Russian writers’ wives—greatest hits edition—the women who brought us the men who brought us the classics. Included are Anna Dostoevsky and Sophia Tolstoy (the originals), Véra Nabokov, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Elena Bulgakov, and Natalya Solzhenitsyn, each of them paired with a handy epithet—Nursemaid of Talent (Mrs. Tolstoy) or Myster…

Omsk, Russia

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Poet Lydia Pasternak steps out of the shadow

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Nicolas Pasternak Slater, nephew of celebrated Russian writer Boris Pasternak, is collaborating with the department of Slavonic studies at Vienna University to publish a trilingual edition of his mother’s poetry. Lydia Pasternak Slater has long been in the shadow of her famous brother, one of the most beloved poets of the 20th century and author of “Dr. Zhivago.” However her poetry allows her to stand alone in this celebrated literary family. Written in German, Russian, and English, her poems exhibit lyricism and range, encompassing witty pieces written for colleagues, as well as reflections on unhappy periods in her life. It also reflects her love for nature, a passion she shared with her brother, Boris.
Nicolas Pasternak Slater is a retired hematologist who now lectures at literary festivals and conferences, as well as working as a translator. He grew up in a household where his absent uncle was a constant presence, a figure he felt he knew intimately despite never directly communica…

Feodor Chaliapin sings Glinka's "Doubt"

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Alexander Stepanovich Grin: Crimson sails

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Alexander Grinwas born Alexander Stepanovich Grinevsky into a family of an exiles from Poland living in Slobodskaya Vyatka Province. Sometimes called Alexander Green in English, the proper name is Alexander Grin. In 1896 at age 16, Grin finished a four-year Vyatka college and left for Odessa. He ran away from his home and lived as a tramp, worked as a sailor, and a fisherman, sought gold in the Urals, and later served the army, where he joined the Socialist revolutionary party. Grinevsky read avidly, with Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne among his favorites, and he even reportedly carried a portrait of Edgar Allen Poe with him everywhere he went His works were published starting from 1906. The first short story, titled “Merit of Private Panteleev ” (Zasluga ryadovogo Panteleeva) was of political agitation and copies of the brochure were confiscated by police. Grin was arrested in Sevastopol for propaganda and served his sentence in prison and three exiles. In 1905 Grin moved to St. Pe…

Natalya Gorbanevskaya - Biography

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Russian poetess, translator, human rights activist, and participant of dissident movement in the USSR

Are you insane As they say you are Or just forsaken Are you still there Do you still care Or are you lost forever I know this song You'll never hear Natalya Gorbanevskaya (from the song "Natalia" by Joan Baez)

Natalya Evgenyevna Gorbanevskaya (born on May, 26th 1936 in Moscow)is well-known as a Russian poetess, translator, human rights activist, and a participant of the dissident movement in the USSR. Natalya Gorbanevskaya graduated from the Leningrad University majoring as a technical editor and translator in 1964. She worked in Moscow as a librarian, a bibliographer, a technical and scientific translator, and was a contributor, a typist and an editor of underground samizdat editions. It was she who came to be the initiator, contributor, editor and typist of the first release of samizdat newsletter Chronicle of Current Events issued in April 1968. On August, 25th the same ye…

Modern and ancient Russia, intertwined

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One of the things to love about modern Russia is that by simply walking 60 to 100 yards to the left or right one can step back into time by a few hundred or even a thousand plus years, and then continue back into the 21st century in plenty of time for dinner.


Russia, 2012

Russia is home to some of the most important rivers in Europe. The Volga is the largest and longest of all European Rivers, traveling thousands of miles to the Caspian Sea. On the Asian side the shores of Lake Baikal mark the largest freshwater lake in the world while deep in Siberia are enormous taiga pine forests.


Iversky Men’s Monastery, Valdai, Russia.

The country is blessed with beautiful and ancient churches of which many are being returned by the government to their communities to again be used for local worship.


The grandeur of Russia.

Russia embodies some of the most beautiful pieces of European and Asian history with many UNESCO World Heritage sites across this great land. Moscow is the historical and busin…

Alexandre Benois: Peter the Great Meditating the Idea of Building St Petersburg at the Shore of the Baltic Sea.

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Konstantin Balmont - Biography

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Konstantin Dmitriyevich Balmont was born on 3 (15) June 1867 in Gumnishchi Village of Shuisk District, Vladimir Province. He started writing poetry when a child yet. His first book of poetryCollected Poemswas published at the author’s own expense in Yaroslavl in 1980. After the release of the book the young poet burnt down almost all the copies, which were not many in number. A decisive period for formation of Balmont’s poetic outlook was the mid1890s. Balmont was fated to become one of the pioneers of the new literature movement of symbolism. Out of all symbolist poets Konstantin Balmont was the one who most consistently elaborated the impressionist side. His poetic realm is the realm of subtlest transient observations and fragile sensations. According to Balmont himself his forerunners in poetry were Vasily Zhukovsky, Mikhail Lermontov, Afanasi Fet, P.B. Shelley and Edgar Poe. Konstantin Balmont became widely famous rather late, whereas in the late 1890s he was more known as a talented…

Successful Merchants of Old Time

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Successful Merchants of Old Time: The Eliseev brothers were rich Russian merchants who owned some shops, many warehouses and vodka and confectionery factories in the beginning of the last century. Let us look at the magnificent old buildings. Eliseev (in the middle) and friends The … Read more...

N. A. Berdyaev:The End of Europe

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The visionary dream about world unity and world dominion -- is an age-old dream of mankind. The Roman Empire was the greatest attempt at such unity and such dominion. And every universalism is bound up even at present with Rome, as a concept spiritual, and not geographic. The present-day world war, which is spreading all over and threatens to engulf all lands and peoples, would seem deeply contrary to this old dream about world unity, about a single world governance. Such a terrible war, it would seem, is destroying the unity of mankind. But this is so only for the superficial glance. From a perspective at greater depth the world war to the ultimate degree has brought into sharp focus the question concerning world order upon the earthly globe, about the expanse of culture upon all the surface of the earth. The present historical period has similarity to the era of the great transmigration of peoples. There is the feeling, that mankind is entering upon a new historical and cosmic even …