“tajikistan is russian country”

Yesterday, somebody googled the phrase “tajikistan is russian country” on (t)he(i)r personal confuser and somehow happened upon my crap blog.

In keeping with this hoary (imperialist) and blighted conception of Tajikistan’s mysterious existence, let’s take a gander at all the stories on this blog tagged “Tajikistan.”

Since they are listed in reverse order, with the latest story coming first, what you will find near the top is a really heartwarming article, translated from the website Mediazona, which I entitled “Deported Mother Returns to Tajikistan with Baby Son’s Body.”

__________

Here’s the nasty little editorial I wrote on that fine occasion:

Do Tajik lives matter in Petersburg? The official answer has so far been a resounding no. (And the “grassroots” answer has been a resounding yawn, actually).

Well, now that that pesky Zarina Yunusova and her creepy little dead baby are out of our hair, we can move on with our more important “European” lives, which here in the former capital of All the Russias are entirely built, swept and cleaned, and stocked and supplied with all the essentials for a pittance by expendable, utterly disempowered insectoid others like Zarina’s husband and Umarali’s father Rustam.

I don’t have the foggiest why anyone who lives in such a backward cesspool can imagine they have anything meaningful or helpful to say about the actual Europe and its alleged “Muslim,” “refugee,” “terrorist,” etc., problem, but as many of us know, nattering on endlessly and furiously about the “fate of Europe” is almost a national sport among the Tajik-loathing Russian jabberwockies.

__________

Unfortunately, I cannot improve on or amend anything I said back in the heady days of November 2015. All I would add is that a less stupid Google search might be “Russia is  Tajik country.” Just a thought.

flag of tajikistan

Advertisements

Welcome to Nyen, Capital of Ingria

map of nyen

Leonid Storch
Facebook
March 26, 2016

This is one of my favorite maps. Drawn up between 1635 and 1645, it is a snapshot of my hometown seventy years before it was supposedly founded by Peter the Great. In reality, it has been founded by the Swedes way back in 1611 and consisted of the town Nyen (i.e., the Swedish name for the Neva River) and Nyenskans Fortress, situated on the right bank of the Neva. In the late seventeenth century, Nyen’s population had climbed to two thousand. It had a town hall, a hospital, and two churches (Swedish and German). On the other side of the Neva, where the Smolny Monastery is now, there was also an Orthodox church. Nyen had a number of good sawmills, and sturdy ships were built in the town. Merchants from all across northern Europe came to Nyen for the traditional three-week fair held in August. Rye, oats, peas, pork, beef, bacon, butter, salmon, tar, resin, hemp, flax, and timber were brought here from Novgorod, Tikhvin, and Ladoga. The Oriental fabrics (silk, plush, damask) that were all the rage in Europe, as well as skins, leather, fur, and canvas, came via Novgorod. Metals (iron, copper, lead) were shipped from northern Europe, as well as mirrors, English and Dutch cloth, German wools, velvet, and hats.

The Greater Nyen area encompassed forty villages, both Izhorian and Russian, and several Swedish estates. The village of Hirvisaari was situated on Vasilyevsky Island, where I grew up, on the shores of the Little Neva River. We can assume that by the time Russian imperial troops showed up, the population of the Greater Nyen  area was at least four to five thousand people, which was quite a lot at that time.

Russian historiography has preferred to efface ninety-two years of the city’s history and has presented the matter in such a way that, when the Russian imperial troops arrived, the Neva estuary was a deserted “forlorn shore,” on which stood Peter, who, “rapt in thought,” had decided to found the capital city of Sankt-Peterburkh there. Despite the “desertedness” of the Neva’s shores, the newly arrived Russian nobles settled in homes previously owned by the local Swedish aristocracy (e.g., the estate of Swedish Major Eric Berndt von Konow was turned into the Summer Garden); the bricks used to build the Peter and Paul Fortress had been produced right there, in Nyen; and produce was delivered from the villages of the Greater Nyen area.  Subsequently, Peter ordered Nyenskans destroyed, apparently in a bid to destroy his rival in the battle over historical primogeniture. The remains of the fortress were unearthed during archaeological digs in the late 1990s in the vicinity of Krasnogvardeyskaya Square.

The paradox lies in the fact that every city tries to find the roots of its origins and takes pride if it is able to prove its lineage was even a dozen years more ancient than had been previously thought. On the shores of the Neva, however, an entire chapter of the city’s history has been pitilessly expunged, robbing it of ninety-two years of life, at least. Personally, I refuse to recognize 1703 as the year the city was founded. The founding of the Peter and Paul Fortress by the Muscovites in 1703 was an event no more meaningful than the founding of Nyenskans Fortress by the Swedes in 1611.

P.S. The map is aligned from south to north (as was customary in those days) or, to be more precise, from northeast to southwest. To make it easier to recognize the locale, I realigned the image. Thus, in order to read all the inscriptions on the map, you must turn the image around again [as I have in fact done, aboveTRR]. You can find Russian translations of the Swedish inscriptions here. The same website also contains a description of the maps’s history and the principles by which it has been dated.

P.P.S. For more information about Nyen and the pre-Petrine history of our city, see also [in Russian]:

Translated by the Russian Reader. Thanks to the nearly indispensable Comrade AK for the heads-up

The Moldova Story

In 1994, my friend Nikolai, a retired agronomist from Moldova adrift in a large American city, dictated the following story to me in Russian.

1.

In Moldova in the month of April the weather is warm and rainy. Spring is coming.

The peasants all together set about the spring fieldwork. Nature is waking up. Gardens are blooming.

After the warm days and showers on the fields the first shoots of the field crops appear all at once.

2.

The best season of the year is summer. In this season the days are hot. Fruits, berries, early vegetables, and different kinds of table grapes appear on the vine.

The water in the river Dniester and the lakes becomes warm, and people swim and sunbathe.

3.

Three million people live in Moldova. Moldavians make up the indigenous population, but other nationalities live there as well: Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Romanians, and Jews.

Moldova is an independent nation at the present time.

__________

Pic of recent massive demonstration outside Moldovan Parliament

Moldova: A mouse roaring a truth
Paul Canning
February 24, 2016

This story might appear obscure but it reflects a bigger issue: about how Russian revanchism is reported back through democratic Europe’s free media. The issues it describes have also often been the story in Ukraine. How solid, liberal ideas like ‘balance’ and reporting ‘both sides’ can become a failure to tell the truth. How inserted reporters don’t pay attention to the locals. How the messy ‘European ideal’ needs much closer reporting if we’re to truly live up to any democratic ideal.

In the 1959 British comedy The Mouse That Roared a tiny, obscure European country ends up through comedic slight-of-hand being feted by both sides in the Cold War. In comedy, it showed how much of Europe is to the British ‘Ruritania‘, an inexplicable country whose peoples and cultures all mess into one. As the article explains this approach lives on with today’s lens of geopolitics and ideas of ‘colour revolution’ (via Russian infowar) muddying the coverage yet more.

 Read the rest of the story on oDR.

Crumbling Down

Some people ain’t no damn good
You can’t trust ’em, you can’t love ’em
No good deed goes unpunished
And I don’t mind being their whipping boy

I’ve had that pleasure for years and years
No no, I never was a sinner, tell me what else can I do
Second best is what you get till you learn to bend the rules
And time respects no person and what you lift up must fall
They’re waiting outside to claim my tumbling walls

Saw my picture in the paper
Read the news around my face
And some people don’t want to
Treat me the same

When the walls come tumbling down
When the walls come crumbling, crumbling
When the walls come tumbling, tumbling down

 —John Mellencamp, “Crumblin’ Down” 

 

tsar putin
Cover of Yevgeny Satanovsky, If I Were the Russian Tsar: Advice to the President. Image courtesy of LitRes

Yesterday was a rough day for the anti-imperialist pro-Putin western left (which is basically all that is left of the western left). First, there was the publication of Sir Robert Owen’s report on his inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, in which Owen concluded that Putin “probably” approved Litvinenko’s murder in 2006.

Then the day got rougher.

Vladimir Putin publicly blamed Vladimir Lenin for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday blamed Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin for planting the ideas that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Interfax news agency reported.

During a meeting of the Presidential Council for Science and Education, one of the attendees quoted a poem by Boris Pasternak describing Lenin as someone who had managed the flow of his thoughts to rule the country.

“Letting your rule be guided by thoughts is right, but only when that idea leads to the right results, not like it did with Vladimir Ilich,” Putin quipped in reply. “In the end that idea led to the fall of the Soviet Union,” he added.

“There were many such ideas as providing regions with autonomy, and so on. They planted an atomic bomb under the building that is called Russia which later exploded. We did not need a global revolution,” he said.

Putin has in the past famously described the fall of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

“Putin Slams Lenin for Laying ‘Atomic Bomb’ Under Russia,” Moscow Times, January 21, 2016

So toss out your forty-five volumes of the collected works of Lenin in English, comrades. He is on your new supreme leader’s bad list.

Statue of Lenin in the yard of the Soyuz stationery goods factory in Petrograd. Photo by the Russian Reader
Monument to Vladimir Lenin in the yard of the Soyuz stationery goods factory. Petrograd, June 19, 2015. Photo by the Russian Reader

Sergey Abashin
January 21, 2016
Facebook

Oh my, it turns out Lenin planted the “bomb under the building known as Russia,” and what he had in mind was the collapse of the Soviet Union as a consequence of “ethnic autonomization”! So said the leader!

There are a few curious points in this statement.

First, the leader has equated Russia with the Soviet Union. Meaning that he has dubbed Central Asia, for example, a part of Russia. But he probably did not even notice it.

Second, the leader clearly indicated that the ideal is the Russian Empire, where, apparently, there were no problems, and which fell apart, apparently, as a result of the revolution and not the imperial elite’s wrongheaded policies.

Busts of the Tsetsarevich Alexei, Emperor Nicholas II, and Empress Alexandra, all identified as "holy martyrs," outside the Theotokos of Tikhvin Church, Petrograd, April 25, 2015. Photo by the Russian Reader
Busts of the Tsesarevich Alexei, Emperor Nicholas II, and Empress Alexandra, all identified as “holy martyrs,” outside the Theotokos of Tikhvin (Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God) Church. Petrograd, April 25, 2015. Photo by the Russian Reader
Display case describing the "Russian economic miracle" that was, allegedly, swept away by the October Revolution, outside the Theotokos of Tikhvin Church, Petrograd, April 23, 2015. Photo by the Russian Reader
Outdoor display case describing the “Russian economic miracle” that was, allegedly, swept away by the October Revolution. Theotokos of Tikhvin Church, Petrograd, April 25, 2015. Photo by the Russian Reader

The leader has clearly ignored the fact that Lenin, whatever you might think of him, attempted to reassemble the lands of the former empire, which by that time had virtually collapsed. And he was able to do this (reassemble the former empire) only by making certain compromises with the ethnic elites, by granting them “autonomy.”

Third, the leader’s rhetoric is obvious preparation for the 100th anniversary of the revolution, which is likely to be depicted as a tragedy, imposed [on the country] from the outside.

Sergey Abashin is British Petroleum Professor of Migration Studies at the European University in Saint Petersburg. His most recent book is Sovetskii kishlak: Mezhdu kolonializmom i modernizatsiei [The Soviet Central Asian village: between colonialism and modernization], Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2015. Translated by the Russian Reader

Obsolete

IMAG5786“Kazënka: Under State Control. Alpha Series,” Petrograd, September 29, 2015. Photograph by the Russian Reader

kazënka
1. fem., obs.
Grain vodka, whose sales were a state monopoly in Russia until 1917; government vodka.

2.fem., obs.
State shop for sale of kazënka (cf. 1).

3. fem., obs.
A room on a riverboat for the proprietor or his proxy (until 1917 in Russia).

Source: Yefremov’s New Dictionary of the Russian Language

Je ne suis pas Nevskoe Vremya

Petersburg newspaper Nevskoe Vremya published the following captioned caricature on page five of its Friday, June 5, 2014, edition.

nevskoe vremia-ukrainians georgians

With a Smile

Ukrainian authorities to speak with a Georgian accent

During an annual address to the Supreme Rada, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he would like to see a person like current First Deputy Minister of Affairs Eka Zguladze as head of the new, reformed Ukrainian police. Recently the Ukrainian leader appointed ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Governor of the Odessa Region.

Drawing by Olga Bystrova

For those readers unfamiliar with the iconology of post-Soviet Russian neocolonialist bigotry, I should explain that the man at the head of the table is a “typical” Ukrainian, while the fellows with long hooked noses and sporting hats are “typical” Georgians.

It’s humor, you see.

Thanks to Comrade VZ for the head-up.

The Kids Are (Not) Alright, Part 2

What’s wrong with this picture?

1

What follows is an excerpt from the seemingly endless series of “grassroots” exposés of the irremediable “stupidity” of twentysomethings, “most ordinary” Russians, Ukrainians, amerikosy, etc., that are posted in such abundance on the Runet these days.

At work, I have a personal assistant, a young woman, Nastya, a Muscovite, 22 years old [sic], who is in her final year at law school. She asked me a question.

Wow, why do they build the metro so frigging deep? It’s inconvenient and difficult!”

“Well, you see, Nastya, the Moscow metro originally was dual purpose. It was planned to be used both as public transportation and as a bomb shelter.”

Natasha grinned incredulously.

“A bomb shelter? How stupid? What, is someone planning to bomb us?”

[…]

“Have you been to the Baltic States?”

“I have. I’ve been to Estonia.”

“Well, how was it? Was it a hassle to get a visa?”

“I was there under the Soviet Union. We were one country then.”

“What do you mean, ‘one country’?”

“All the Baltic States were part of the Soviet Union! Nastya, did you really not know that?”

“Holy shit!”

“Now you’re going to totally freak out. Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova were also part of the USSR. And Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. As well as Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia!”

“Georgia! You mean those assholes there was a war with?!”

“The very same. You do know that the Soviet Union existed then collapsed? You were even born in it!”

“Yes, I know there some kind of Soviet Union that then collapsed. But I didn’t know it lost so much territory…”

I was riding in the metro and looking at the people around me. There were lots of young faces. All of them were younger than me by ten years, a dozen years. Were they all just like Nastya?! The zero generation. Ideal vegetables…

Source: Kazbek Magerramov (Facebook), via allmomente.livejournal.com

Among the numerous comments to this Zadornovesque anecdote, most of which empathize with the author’s blunt point and bewail the allegedly vegetable-like state of the “zero generation,” I couldn’t find a single comment pointing out that if silly Nastya were now indeed twenty-two years old, she would have had to have been born in 1992 or 1993, that is, one or two years after the actual Soviet Union actually collapsed in 1991. But in this shaggy-dog story, the first-person narrator tells dumb Nastya that she was somehow born in this magical land about which she is so woefully ignorant.

This logical gaffe makes me think the whole thing has been made up. Like half the “tales from real life” about the laughable simplicity of “ordinary blokes,” twentysomethings, pindosy, ukropy, women or, alternately, the gritty folk wisdom of cabbies, roaming the mighty virtual steppes of the Runet nowadays.

The kids are alright, really. It’s just that they have been left to their own devices. Which, like all the other discriminated and marginalized groups left to their own devices over the last twenty-four years by the state, the ruling classes, the mainstream media, and their allies in the newfangled virtual Kadet parties and Unions of the Russian People, makes them ideal figures of “fun,” scorn, and fear. And perfect stalking horses for transparent exercises in post-imperial melancholy like this one.

Putin’s Russia (how it pains me to type this phrase) is not just a pollocracy. It is also an “anecdotocracy.” Researchers of “post-authoritarian” societies like Russia really should be delving deeper into how polls and anecdotes have been used to help people to oppress themselves and make common cause with others impossible.