Alun Thomas is a Lecturer in Modern European History at Staffordshire University where he specializes in the modern history of Russia and Central Asia and the postcolonial nature of early Soviet governance in non-Russian regions of the USSR. He’s the author of Nomads and Soviet Rule: Central Asia from Lenin to Stalin published by I.B. Tauris.
Czarface, “Marvel Team-Up,” Inspectah Deck + 7L & Esoteric = CZARFACE, 2013.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Cynthia Hooper gave a fascinating talk titled “Terror from Within: Brotherhood and Betrayal in the NKVD” at UCLA in February. The Center for European and Eurasian Studies has kindly uploaded the podcast. I offer it here for readers’ intellectual enjoyment.
By Sean — 11 years ago
Today would have been the famed Soviet bard, actor, and conscious of a generation Vladimir Vysotsky’s 70th birthday. Vysotsky, who died in 1980 at the age of 42 from heart failure, perhaps proves once again that “its better to burn out, than to fade away.” True enough. Vysotsky’s great cultural impact in life and sudden death is the stuff icons are made of. Brilliant and moving, his passionate raspy voice made him a man fit for his time. It was also a time fit for the man.
Vysotsky’s 70th birthday is not going unnoticed in Russia. Monuments to the legendary actor, poet, and vocalist are being unveiled today in Samara, Voronezh and Dubna. The one in Samara is a 5 meter tall piece sculpted by Vysotsky’s close friend and well known artist Mikhail Shemyakin.
My love of Vysotsky’s music is only a few years old. My most memorable moment was last year in Israel. I was shopping at this flea market in Jaffa and stumbled upon a Russian immigrant selling records. Among his collection was a seven vinyl series of Vysotsky’s music called Na kontsertakh Vladimira Vysotskovo. He sold them to me for a dollar a record. The wax is in perfect condition. The sleeves are a bit worn, some have a few stains of god knows what, but not too bad. The records were published between 1987-1988 by Melodiia, the official Soviet record press, and are based on recordings Vysotsky did in the 1960s and 1970s. I figured that today is a good day to bust them out of my crate of records, blow the dust off of them, and give ’em a spin.
By Sean — 3 years ago
I don’t normally hype the translations I’ve been doing on side for Meduza’s English portal. I feel I don’t need to promote everything.
But I wanted to draw readers to this recent translation I did of Katerina Gordeeva’s article “The business of breathing How Vladimir Putin tried and failed to help Russia’s sickest children” on terminally ill children and how their parents can’t visit them in ICU and Russian charities’ struggle to provide families with respirators so they can have their kids at home. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I have a 5 year-old daughter the thought of being in a situation like this truly frightens me. I really feel for these children and their parents. I just can’t imagine what it’s like for them. I just can’t.
It was really emotionally hard for me to translate this article. But it’s something I’m honored Meduza asked me to do. More non-Russian readers interested in the country need to be aware of these issues, issues many, many Russians with family members in ICU must deal with. I wasn’t until I started reading this incredible journalism.
Here are the opening paragraphs:
For the first three hours, Lydia (a pseudonym) sat on a chair staring at a crack between the tiles on the opposite wall. Then she started to gasp. Suddenly all the unshed tears for her sick daughter flowed and it was impossible to hold them back. Lydia’s legs turned to rubber bands, and she could no longer get up. She no longer had the strength to go find a doctor, and look him in the eye and ask him to let her into the intensive care unit for at least a minute.
She thought to herself, “If they let me in, I’ll find a way to stay.”
Technically speaking, there were 100 feet between Lydia and her daughter Nastya (a pseudonym). Lydia sat in the hallway, and Nastya was lying in intensive care. This was at a children’s hospital in a Moscow suburb. It was the weekend, and the doctor on duty said he couldn’t authorize Lydia’s access to her own daughter. And he refused to call the head doctor and bother him on his day off.
Lydia returned home around nighttime. She took her brother’s hunting rifle and wrapped it in rags. She got into a taxi and drove to the hospital. With the rifle at her hip, she advanced in the direction of the intensive care unit.
At this point, everything became a blur: Lydia screams, someone wrings her arms, someone else calls the police, doctors and nurses are running around, and there’s the smell of ammonia. And from somewhere above, the voice of the doctor on duty rings out: “Do what you want! She’s dead! She’s dead! She’s gone!”