Maria Belodubrovskaya is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison specializing in Russian and Soviet film history, theory, visual culture, and ideology. She’s the author of Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin published by Cornell University Press.
Siouxsie & and the Banshees, “Silly Thing,” Superstition, 1991.
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By Sean — 8 years ago
Contrary to what most people think, I see few signs of the neo-Sovietization of Russia. What I have observed, however, is a return to Russian traditionalism, even a kind of re-embrace of Tsarist symbolism. I’ve noticed this in several areas of Russian daily life: Christmas cards with the recently canonized last Romanov family, icons of the last Tsar sold in kiosks, large portraits of Petr Stolypin and Sergei Witte at the entrance of the International University, and book after book reevaluating the late Tsarist period, newly published volumes of Stolypin’s collected works, and the memoirs of not only Witte, but the diaries and biographies of princes and princesses in bookstores.
Let us also not forget the growing assertiveness of the Orthodox Church in cultural and political life, or the fact that Dmitri Medvedev’s inauguration looked like a Tsarist coronation more than anything. They might as well had placed the Russian Constitution on his head rather than having him swear to it. To me, “Sovereign democracy” is more reminiscent of Nicholas I’s “Official Nationality” with its cornerstones Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality. Indeed, even the portraits of Putin and Medvedev hanging on chinovniki’s walls are more Tsarist in origin. As is the “cult of personality” Putin recently denied he had. This is not to say that Russia hasn’t changed. It’s only to suggest that it takes from its Tsarist as much as its Soviet pasts as it negotiates the present contours of its national character.
By Sean — 9 years ago
Mikhail Gorbachev has had many roles in his seventy-eight years. He’s been a Party aktiv, a First Party Kraikom Secretary, Politburo member, General Secretary of the Communist Party, Louis Vuitton model, and global philanthropist. Gorbachev, of course, is best known for concocting perestroika and glasnost, two reforms which aided the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now Gorby can add another role to his long CV: recording artist.
Yes, Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev has recorded an album (with Russian rock star Andrei Makarevich) of romantic songs titled Songs to Raisa in dedication to his wife. The album, of which only one copy exists, has already sold out. An unknown British philanthropist bought it for a whopping $169,940 at an auction to raise money for the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. Reports Sean Michaels in the Guardian:
An “anonymous British philanthropist” bought what we suppose is Mikhail Gorbachev’s “debut album”, Songs for Raisa, in London this week, bidding $164,940 (about £100,000) at an auction to benefit the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. Nearly 350 luminaries were present at the private event, including Gordon Bown’s wife, Sarah, London mayor Boris Johnson, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, actor Vanessa Redgrave and Russian ambassador Yuri Fedotov, according to the newspaper Pravda.
Gorbachev was there too, and he brought his singing voice. The former Soviet leader warbled a song called Old Letters. “The performance … was greeted with delight and a storm of applause,” said Pavel Palazhchenko, chairman of the Foundation’s press service. You can judge for yourself by listening to Old Letters.
Like the rest of the tracks on Songs for Raisa, “Old Letters” is an old Russian romantic ballad. Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, died 10 years ago. The foundation established in her name is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.
And they aren’t that bad! Who knew?Post Views: 446
By Sean — 2 years ago
Joshua Yaffa is a contributor to the New Yorker, a New America fellow and author of many articles covering Russia. His most recent article for the New Yorker is “Putin’s Dragon: Is the Ruler of Chechnya Out of Control?”
Music: Jim Croce, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” Life and Times, 1973.Post Views: 509