This year in Ryurikovo Gorodische, Novgorod

In 2007, archaeologists worked in 7 districts of Novgorod. In Rurikovo Gorodische (Rurik's, or Roerik's settlement, ancient Holmgard), they are working for thirty years already. More than 1,500 artifacts were found there this year. Among the finds are six knyaz's stamps, Arab coins, chisels and moulding forms, womens decorations, etc. Some of the artifacts confirm the presence of Proto-Slavs in this location in the first century BC.

Besides Russian scientists and students, students from France and Sweden participated in the expedition. In the next year, students from Finland are expected to come. It was decided that after the digs are over, an international archaeological and tourist centre will be created on the site of the settlement.


August 30 in Russian history

1703: The first flood in St.Petersburg. St.Petersburg was founded on May 27 (May 16 Old Style) 1703. Three months later, on August 30, the first flood has happened. Three years later, in 1706, the flood was larger and Peter I wrote in his letter to Menshikov that in his palace the water was 21 inch deep. Since 1703 till 2003, 323 floods happened. Three of them were catastrophic (more than 3 meters): in 1777 (321 cm), in 1824 (421 cm) and in 1924 (380 cm). 77 were considered "especially dangerous" (210-299 cm) and 243 — dangerous (161-210 cm). The worst ever flood of 1824 inspired Alexander Pushkin to write The Bronze Horseman (full text in English is here, in Russian — here):

That dreadful day!--For Neva, leaping
Seaward all night against the blast
Was beaten in the strife at last,
Against the frantic tempest sweeping;
And on her banks at break of day
The people swarmed and crowded, curious,
And reveled in the towering spray
That spattered where the waves were furious.
But the wind driving from the bay
Dammed Neva back, and she receding
Came up, in wrath and riot speeding;
And soon the islands flooded lay.
Madder the weather grew, and ever
Higher upswelled the roaring river
And bubbled like a kettle, and whirled
And like a maddened beast was hurled
Swift on the city. All things routed
Fled from its path, and all about it
A sudden space was cleared; the flow
Dashed in the cellars down below;
Canals up to their gratings spouted.
Behold Petropol floating lie
Like Triton in the deep, waist-high!

1903: Marriage of Alexander Blok and Lyubov (Lyuba) Mendeleyeva (Aug 17 Old Style). Lyubov Dmitrievna Mendeleyeva, born in 1882, was a daughter of Dmitri Mendeleyev, chemist, the discoverer of the periodic table of elements. She was not pretty, but she has, probably, inspired more verses in the period of the Silver Age than anyone else. They lived in a village Boblovo. Nearby, in Shakhmatovo, lived the family of Mendeleyev's old friend, professor of botany, Andrey Beketov. Beketovs loved literature and were friends of many writers: Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Schedrin. In 1879, Beketov's daughter, Alexandra, married a young lawyer Alexander Blok. The family was not happy, Blok humiliated and beat his wife, and when in 1880 they visited Alexandra's parents, the Beketovs insisted that she should stay with them. In November 1880, a child was born, Alexander Blok.

In 1898, he makes an acquaintance with Anna Mendeleyeva, Lyuba's mother, who invited him to visit them in Boblovo. When he met Lyuba, he almost immediately fell in love. She, on the contrary, didn't like him and called him a poseur. When the family staged excerpts from Shakespeare, he played Hamlet and she was Ophelia. A short romance followed. Then they parted and recalled the affair with displeasure. Lyuba entered the historical faculty of the Higher Womens' Courses and Blok became interested in various mystic teachings. Once, almost in a trance, he saw Lyuba and wrote a small poem. Then they met in a theatre and he was already sure that she was his destiny. He idealized the girl and wrote a cycle of verses, titled later The Verses on the Beautiful Lady. Unlike Dante or Petrarca or Novalis, he managed to make his dreams come true and in November 1902, after a ball, offered her to become his wife.

They were not happy together, though. Blok's silly ideas about incompatibility of spiritual love and sexual life naturally led to tensions. He has many women, even sleeps with cheap prostitutes, but avoids his wife. Soon they make acquaintance with Andrey Bely, who falls in love (or so he thinks) with her. He and Blok ascribe mystical meaning to every her word and gesture, discuss her hair style from the philosophical positions and so on. She finds it amusing, but soon gets tired. This love triangle becomes a burden for all of them. Blok publishes a play titled "Little Farce" where he ridicules all three of them. Angry Bely asks her to leave Blok and become his wife, but she wavers. Chaos begins in the family. At last, her love towards Bely dies and they stop meeting. In 1907 Blok fell in love with an actress, Natalia Volokhova. He considers divorce, but when Lyubov comes to Volokhova and offers to take Blok forever, Volokhova refuses.

Lyuba then decides to become a tragical actress. In the theatre, she adopts the same frivolous, full of love affairs, life style, typical for the artistic circles in those years (well, and later, too). She had no special talents, but worked hard. In 1907, after the death of Dmitri Mendeleyev, she enters the theatre of Meyerhold and leaves to Caucasus. She meets an actor Dagobert and soon gets pregnant. She thinks of an abortion, but Blok forbids it and says the baby will be theirs. Unfortunately, the boy lived only eight days.

Many love affairs later, Blok understands at last that in his life "there will be only two women: Lyuba and all others." By this time, he is heavily ill and the doctors don't know what's wrong with him and what to do. They offered him to go abroad, but he refused. At last, he agreed, but on the day when his passport was ready, on August 7, 1921, he died. Lyuba died in 1939.

And why did I write this sentimental story? No idea. I like some of Blok's verses, but generally they are too pompous for me. Like this one, dedicated to Lyuba Mendeleyeva:

I enter darkened temples,
I perform a humble rite.
There I await the Beautiful Lady
In the glimmering icon light. In the shadow of a pillar base
I shiver at the creak of the doors.
And only a brightly lit image, a dream,
Of Her stares me in the face. O, I am familiar with these rizas
Of the majestic Eternal Wife!
High up along the cornices run
Smiles, fairy-tales and dreams. O, Holy Lady, how the candles are gentle,
How Your features comfort me!
I hear neither sighing nor speaking,
But I believe: the Beloved is Thee.

Transl. by Lynn Harvey

This year's digs in Samara region

This year, our archaeologists for the first time began digging in a village called Malaya Ryazan (approximately here). The digs began as a childrens expedition. Later, university students joined them. The settlement they explored is dated by the XIII century, the age of the Golden Horde. The inhabitants of this village left their lands in Rus and moved eastwards. Some data give reasons to think that the village was destroyed and all the people were slaughtered as a result of a feud between the Mongols.

Also, the digs were finished this year in a Bulgar settlement nearby. Among the most interesting finds are clay toys and an 8cm hollow iron sphere, whose purpose is unknown.

And, at last, near village Sidelkino (somewhere around here), large scale digs were finished. In the area of about 1000 m2, a settlement of 3-4 centuries has been uncovered. In one of the buildings, a skeleton was found, with a skull deformation typical for the Sarmatians, inhabiting the Middle Volga in those times.


August 29 in Russian history

1862: Giuseppe Garibaldi was wounded and arrested during the battle of Aspromonte in Calabria. The French and Italian doctors could not find the bullet in the body of Garibaldi and then he asked to invite Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov. Pirogov extracted the bullet and saved Garibaldi's leg from amputation. Mass protests around the world forced the authorities of Sardinia to amnesty Garibaldi and to sent hime to exile to Caprera island. From Caprera, Garibaldi wrote to Pirogov: "Dear doctor Pirogov! My wound has almost healed and I feel I have to thank you for the your hearty care you have shown me so generously. I assure of my fidelity. Your Giuseppe Garibaldi."

This surgery was not the only link between Pirogov and Garibaldi. In 1856, Pirogov was appointed the head of the Novorossiysk school district and then in Kiev, and began to introduce novelties, some of which were frowned upon by the czar government. So, he introduced facultative courses and allowed the students to choose which courses to take. He promoted the autonomy of universities and protected them from the police interference. But the most imporant undertaking were the evening schools for commoners. The church schools gave only the most basic education. When inspecting schools, Pirogov noticed the evening schools introduced by some of landlords in Ukraine and Moldova, where peasants studied the theory of agriculture. Probably, such schools became the source for Pirogov's ideas. The notion was revolutionary and the Russian society was inspired by the prospectives. Teachers came to such schools and taught for free. Some of them used the schools for political propaganda, but even as sources of pure knowledge, the schools were seen as dangerous by the authorities. Writing and reading in both Russian and national languages were very popular and Taras Shevchenko, a Ukrainian poet, wrote an ABC for such schools. After the Polish rebellion (1863-64), Russian government prohibited book printing in Ukrainian language.

Now, back to Garibaldi. When liberating and uniting Italy, he organized schools in every city -- day schools for children and evening schools for working adults. Could he know about Pirogov's schools? Quite probably. Among his volunteers there were many Russians, like colonel Dietmar, journalist Berg and Lev Mechnikov, brother of Ilya Mechnikov. Ilya Mechnikov, like Pirogov, was a physician and biologist. Moreover, he was a professor in the Novorossiysk university and he definitely knew Nikolay Pirogov and his inititiatives. In Italy, Lev Mechnikov worked in Garibaldi's headquarters and it seems very probable that the Italian liberator got the idea of evening schools from the Russian volunteer.

Petroglyphs in Chukotka

The expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences has finished this years' work on river Pegtymel in Chukotka. About 40 years ago, 103 petroglyphs were found there by geologist Samorukov. Since then, the drawings remain the only example of rock painting in north-eastern Siberia. The dating of the petroglyphs is still unclear. Expeditions often visit the area in the last years. Two years ago, about 170 new drawings were found and in this year some more were discovered. Some of them are damaged by severe weather conditions and now the questions of conservation are discussed.


August 28 in Russian history

1925: Arkady Strugatsky was born in Batumi, Georgia. He and his brother Boris (born in 1933) became the best known Soviet sci-fi authors. Being a translator from Japanese, he also translated into Russian works by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Abe Kobo and other outstanding Japanese writers. Together with Boris, he translated also British and American sci-fi writers, like John Wyndham and Hal Clement. They started writing science fiction in early 50s and finished their first story, "The Ashes of Bikini", in 1956. The plot was an average Soviet "anti-imperialist" story, however, among other works of that period, the story looked unusual. Today, it's almost unreadable, but it was only the beginning.

In 1959 they published "The Land of Crimson Clouds", a story of an expedition to Venus. It was a heroic enterprise, once again in the typical Soviet style. But this book was where their own universe was born — the Noon universe. This universe was later continued in 13 more novels and 2 short stories and became the dream world for many Soviet intellectuals. In these books the communist world was described much more attractively than in Das Kapital. The technocratic global state, governed by the World Council, 60% of which were the most prominent teachers and physicians, is busy with the searches of knowledge and selfless assistance to other planets. The first novel from this cycle, "Noon, 22nd Century", was published in 1962 and was sometimes called "the gala portrait of the epoch". In spite of this slightly condescending label, the book was very well written.

Soon, their novels became more elaborate, the conflicts were more complicated, the moral problems harder, the communist dogmas disappeared, even though the political landscape was unmistakingly communist (in the best sense of this word). The Strugatsky brothers later said that they built "a world where life and work are interesting". And immediately the problems begin. Their new books are thoroughly studied by censorship, delayed, the publishers ask them to rewrite some parts to comply with the ideology, etc. They wrote a brilliant "urban fairy tale" "Monday Begins on Saturday", which, on the one hand, satirizes Soviet bureaucracy, and, on the other hand, proclaims the joy of selfless work for the sake of humanity. Later, annoyed by the censorship, they continue the story with "The Tale of Troika", where the same characters appear.

Some of the novels were made into films, including the famous "Stalker" by Andrei Tarkovsky, made after the story "The Roadside Picnic".

Some books, like "The Ugly Swans" and "The Doomed City", were never published till the fall of the USSR. Wikipedia has well translated pages about the books of the Strugatsky brothers and I will not retell them. Some books are translated into English and some are available for free download from the authors' web-page.

For some reason, I was sure until recently that these books are so good that they will remain to be the favourite books of the new generations of geeks for a long time. Strangely, I found out that my son reads them, but is not really interested in the events. Does it take to have been born in the USSR to understand them? Can't believe that.

On October 12, 1991, Arkady Strugatsky died in Moscow. It was a real tragedy for the sci-fi lovers in the USSR.

Updated 2007-08-29: While mentally re-reading their books yesterday in bed, I recalled two quotations which, IMO, are the essence of their books: "Of all solutions, choose the kindest" and "Happiness is in the continual learning, and the meaning of life is the same. Every man is a magus deep in his soul, but he only becomes a magus when thinks less of himself and more about the others, when work is more interesting for him than entertainment".

1941: The Volga German autonomous Soviet Socialit republic, formed in 1924, was abolished. Many German settlers were exiled to Siberia and Kazakhstan. Simply for being Germans.


August 16 in Russian history

The following article was posted at Sima Qian Studio forum by Mosquito, a forumer from Poland. He has kindly allowed me to copy his comments to this blog. Thanks!
15-16 August 1920. Polish counteroffensive in the battle of Warsaw during Soviet - Polish war.

Contrary to Bolshevik's version of the history the war wasnt started by the Polish attack on Kiev in april 1920 and the Poles were not suported by the Western Powers.There was a dispute about terriotory between Poland and Russia buteven it wasnt the main reason of the war.The reason of this 20 months long war in which took part milion soldiers on each side was that Lenin was going to join his revolution with the revolution in Germany. After defeating Poland he wanted to conquer Europe with the communist Germany. The campaign in 1919/1920 wasnt just a border skirmish.It was a full scale war of 2 regular armies.

Regular fight was started when German army which which was between Poles and Russians left region called OBEROST, in result on 14th of February 1919 at 6 am patrol of Polish cavalry surprised soviet forces during their breakfast. In january Polish commander Pilsudsky crossed border to secure independece of Latvia.During his march he recived information that Soviets gave command on Polish front to their best general,young Mikhail Tukhachevski.

Since that moment Pilsudsky was expecting red offensive to begin soon.He quickly made the aliance with the Ukrainians and attacked Bolsheviks in their weakest point-from south. The Poles and Ukrainians took Kiev where the people have welcomed them as liberators.Soviet preparations to attack have been broken.Western Europe has been influenced by Soviet propaganda. Workers and communists in Paris, Berlin, London, Rome and most of major european cities went on the streets shouting "Hands off Russia". The transports of arms which Poland purchased in the west were blocked by workers.

In may and Juni 1920 Red Army has drove off the Poles from Ukraina.Its commander said that before the end of summer he will be in Paris.In the 4th of July Tuchatshevsky said: "Go West!Our Road to burn the world leads trough the dead body of white Poland".His speed was impressing.The Poles were retreating in every part of front.In the middle of August Red Army was 5 days from Berlin.Beyound the Red Army was going Dzierzynsky(boss of Che-ka) with his Polish revolutionary committee ready to get the power in occupied Poland. And then it happend. Some historians called it "The Eighteenth Decisive Battle of World History" .Long prepared counter offensive of Polish Army near Warsaw in the 15/16 of August. Polish attack was decisive.Five Soviet Armies have been destroyed,2 of them completelly obliterated. Bolshevik losses were 10,000 killed, 500 missing, 10,000 wounded and 66,000 taken prisoner, compared with Polish losses of some 4,500 killed, 10,000 missing and 22,000 wounded. Tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers crossed border with Germany, in Prussia to avoid being captured by Polish forces but werent interned and were allowed to get back to Russia. Remaining Soviet units which were still able to fight were in full retreat, chased by Polish army and demoralised. Many of them were cought. In the 31th of August took place the last great battle of cavalry in Europe.20000 horsemen were attacking and counter attacking in formations untill Polish uhlans have defeated and routed the Red Cavalry.

Since that moment Bolsheviks were not able to stop Polish offensive and there was nothing between Poles and Moscow. Western diplomats were pressing on Polish authorities to continue the war and to reinstall White Russians in power. But when Lenin requested for peace, Pilsudski has accepted his request. Red Army lost its first war. In result Bolsheviks had to forget the idea of international revolution. Poland was safe as well as Baltic states. In the peace treaty of Riga Soviet authorities accepted all Polish conditions, which werent especially hard. There were many consequences of this war. First was the fact that central Europe was not conquered by Reds. Second, that Bolshevik revolutionist were not able to support German revolutionist and didnt join their forces together. Third, not the less important, the hate which arised between Stalin and Mikhail Tukhachevski, who blamed Stalin for defeat. In the thirties Stalin was able to remove and execute Mikhail Tukhachevski together with most of Soviet officer's corps what greatelly helped German after their invasion of Russia.


August 15 in Russian history

Today is the birthday of two jazz musicians. In 1925, Oscar Peterson was born, a magnificent Canadian pianist, whose uneven, abrupt, laconical manner was a matter of envy for thousands of jazz pianists all over the world. On August 15, 1934, Georgi Garanyan was born. Saxophonist, composer and conductor, he began his musical career as a pianist in a university orchestra. He began playing saxophone by pure accident, but soon became a saxophonist in the youth orchestra of CDRI (Central Home of the Art Workers) led by Yuri Saulski. The orchestra participated in the jazz competition during the World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957 and some Polish musicians invited them to come to the Jazz Jamboree festival to Poland (the recording from these festivals were very popular among Soviet jazz lovers). The orchestra was not allowed to visit the Polish festival and was even heavily criticized in the press: "It's a pity to see the attempts of our youth to imitate the worst trends of the modern fashion. The youth orchestra of CDRI is an example of such loss of identity. With disgust we watch these longhaired stilyagas in exaggeratedly tight trousers and eccentric jackets."

In 1958, Garanyan joined the orchestra of Oleg Lundstrom, one of the best Soviet jazz big bands. In 1973 he became the leader of the band Melodiya and recorded his best albums, like Labyrinth, Concert in Bombay and Melodiya plays Duke Ellington. Labyrinth was the first jazz-rock LP in the history of the Soviet jazz.

By the way, while we're at it, I mentioned the stilyagas. Some time ago I found an article about the Swing kids in the Nazi Germany: German Swing Youth. They were very similar to the stilyagas (see In Praise of Vulgarity for more about stilyagas). I posted these links at the Sima Qian Studio forum and someone asked me whether Western jazz musicians ever came to the USSR. After some research I found out the following:

Q: Did American Jazz groups travel to Russia in the period. Most did tours of Europe, hence the cultural spread. But I wasn't sure if they went to Russia or not?
A: Some of them did, but only rarely and every such visit, when they gave one or two concerts, is still remembered by jazz fans as a great event of the epoch :). In 1926, when jazz was considered a music of the enslaved blacks, the possible allies of the proletariat in the world revolution, Sydney Bechet came to USSR with Louis Mitchell's Jazz Kings. A bit later, jazz became a music of the capitalist enemies and the contacts were frozen till the death of Stalin. In 1957, during the international festival of youth and students in Moscow, a French band of Michel Legran gave a concert. In 1962, Benny Goodman played in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev. Khruschev visited one of the concerts and liked the music, but the tours did not become more frequent. In 1969, the Illinois university orchestra (D.D.Bridgewater was a singer) was invited to Moscow. In 1972 D.D. came once again, with the orchestra of Ted Jones and Mel Louis. B.B.King was here in 1979. Oscar Peterson also came to the USSR, gave one concert in Tallinn and another concert was planned in Moscow, but the organizers couldn't fulfill his requirements and he left. If I remember correctly, Chick Corea and Gary Burton played at a private concert organized by the US ambassador in Moscow.


August 9 in Russian history

1942: The Leningrad Radio Orchestra, the only orchestra that remained in Leningrad during the blockade, performed the Seventh Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich. The symphony was also named the Leningrad symphony.

Shostakovich, born in 1906, was far from being the favorite composer of the Soviet leaders. In 1936, he was accused of "formalism" and non-compliance with the principles of the socialist realism and his works were banned from performance in the USSR. The Pravda newspaper published an article titled "Muddle instead of music" about his music. In 1941, though, he was awarded the Stalin Prize for his piano quintet (which did not fit the criteria of the socialist realism, too, by the way) and was "pardoned" by the art authorities.

When the war began, Shostakovich volunteered to join the army, but he was sent to the militia detachments whose main task was digging the trenches in the Leningrad suburbs and extinguishing the incendiary bombs. On July 15, 1941, he wrote the first bars of the new symphony. In the autumn, he was evacuated from Leningrad first to Moscow and then to Kuibyshev (now Samara). On December 27, the symphony was finished. On March 5, it was performed for the first time in the Palace of Culture (now the Samara Theatre of Opera and Ballet is located in this building) in Kuibyshev. The symphony quickly became famous all over the world. In the end of March, it was performed in Moscow, on July 9 — in Novosibirsk. The scores were copied on a microfilm and brought to the USA via Tehran. On July 19, the NBC Symphony Orchestra under famous Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini played the symphony and it was broadcasted on radio. A portrait of Shostakovich appeared on the cover of Time.

In July, the scores were taken to the blockaded Leningrad by plane. It was decided to play the symphony in the city after which it was named. The conductor, Carl Eliasberg, attempted to collect the musicians who worked in the Leningrad Radio Orchestra before the war. Twenty seven of them already died. Most of the survivors fought on the front line or in hospitals. Soon they received orders to arrive to Leningrad. The rehearsals went on for 5-6 hours every day. The musicians got special permissions to walk around the city during the curfew. The road patrols presented a bicycle to Eliasberg who had to travel often.

At last, the day came. Eliasberg tried to find a couple of potatoes to starch his collar. The artillery headquarters decided that during the concert not a single enemy shell must explode in the city. The duration of the symphony is 80 minutes. 30 minutes for the people to come to the theatre and 30 more minutes to get back. So, the army prepared a 240-minutes artillery attack on the Germans to block their guns. The theatre hall was full with people. The concert was broadcasted on radio and even the Germans could hear it. Many years later two German tourists found Eliasberg and told him: "On that day, we understood that we will lose the war."

For many years after the war, the symphony was presented as an item of the Soviet propaganda. However, a more recent trend in the music history views it as an anti-totalitarian music. This view is confirmed by some of Shostakovich's relatives and friends. In private discussions, Shostakovich told that he'd like to condemn the Stalinism in his music. This way or the other, it is still a masterpiece.

In 1948, Shostakovich was denounced again and most of his works were banned. In 1951, he became a member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. In 1957, he was appointed the secretary of the Union of Composers of the USSR. He died in 1975 in Moscow. His extremely complicated artwork is still very popular among the musicians, but not among laymen and ordinary audience.


August 8 in Russian history

1947: 60 years ago, on August 8 1947, Anton Ivanovich Denikin, Russian officer, general, military journalist, historian, died in the hospital of the Michigan University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. His father was a serf and lived on Volga, not too far from my home town. In 1834, Ivan Yefimovich Denikin was recruited to the army and had to serve there for 25 years. In 1856 he became an officer. In 1869, he retired and left to Poland, which was a part of Russia. Three years later, in 1872, Anton Denikin was born. Since 1882 till 1890 he studied in a school at Lovich, where he demonstrated exceptional skills in mathematics. After school, he joined the army as a volunteer, in 1890 he entered a military college and two years later became an officer. Being a minor commander, he attempted to avoid the usual corporal punishments in his detachment and to make soldiers understand the orders and to fulfil them consciously. Unfortunately, the detachment soon became one of the worst in the regiment and then, as Denikin recalled later, sergeant-major Stsepura meddled. He came to the soldiers, shown them a huge fist and said: "This is not captain Denikin!" Denikin became interested in military journalism, wrote articles about the life of the army and published them under the name I.Nochin. In 1899, he graduated from the military academy of the General Staff.

During the Russo-Japanese war, he was awarded two medals and became a colonel. Some people say that there is a hill in Manchuria was named Denikin hill after the battle of Tsinhechen. During the first World War, general-major Denikin commanded a brigade in the 8th army, where among his colleagues were also Lavr Kornilov, Alexey Kaledin and some other officers who would become the leaders of the White Guard during the Civil War.

When the first revolution in the February 1917 began, Denikin was at the Romanian front. He wrote later: "I accepted the Russian liberalism without any party-line dogmatism, which led me to the following three fundamental ideas: 1. constitutional monarchy, 2. radical reforms and 3. peaceful ways of the country's revival." Together with the general Kornilov he demanded from the Provisional Government to restore the discipline in the army. Denikin did not participate in the Kornilov's failed coup, but he supported Kornilov. He was arrested and put to a jail in Bykhov together with Kornilov, Alexeyev, Lukomsky, Romanovsky, Markov and many others. They escaped from Bykhov and fled to Don, where he helped general Alexeyev to create the Volunteer Army, the kernel of the future White Guard. When Alexeyev died, Denikin replaced him as the commander of the Volunteer Army in October 1918.

The co-operation between the White Guard and the cossacks has never been good. The cossacks allied with the Germans and were quite egocentric in their intentions. Denikin and other officers, who spent years fighting with the Germans, preferred to have the countries of the Entente as their allies — Britain and France. The fall of Germany strengthened Denikin's position and on January 8, 1919 he was proclaimed the Chief Commander of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia.

In the end of 1918 and beginning of 1919 the Volunteer Army pushed the bolsheviks from the Northern Caucasus and saved important cities of Novocherkassk and Rostov. In May-August they took Kharkiv, Central Ukraine, Voronezh, Kursk and Oryol regions. Denikin announced that he opposes the idea of "predetermination", which means that he refused to make any decisions on the political status of Russia after the end of the Civil War. He was convinced that only the Constituent Assembly has the right to make such decisions. Even being a monarchist, he preferred the integrity of Russia to the restoration of monarchy. He opposed all separatist movements, especially in Ukraine and among the cossacks. This made the hopes of a joint antibolshevist front unreal. In the autumn of 1919 the bolsheviks began a successful counter-attack and forced Denikin to evacuate the army to Crimea. Feeling that he is losing the war made him to resign on April 4, 1920. Many of his fellows accused him of liberalism and he was replaced by baron Pyotr Vrangel.

Denikin left Russia with his family and 13 pounds in his wallet. They went to Britain. He spent some years in Europe, where he wrote the monumental The Russian Turmoil. During the Second World War Denikin opposed some of the emigrant circles who called for cooperation with the German Nazis. Denikin hoped that after the Red Army wins the war against Hitler, they will start the war for the liberation of Russia. In 1945, when the allied began to transfer Soviet prisoners of war to the USSR, Denikin preferred to move to the USA. He wrote a letter to president Eisenhower, asking not to give away the former participants of the anti-bolshevik movement to the USSR, but to no avail. In 1946, he wrote another document, titled "The Russian Question", where he warned the governments of USA and UK not to follow the Hitler's way, who fought with the Russian people instead of fighting with the communism.

His daughter Marina became a Russian citizen in 2005. On October 3, 2005, the remains of Anton Ivanovich Denikin were re-buried at teh Donskoy monastery in Moscow. A month later, Marina Denikina died at her home in Paris.


August 7 in Russian history

1560: Anastasia Zaharyina-Koshkina, wife of Ivan IV the Terrible, died. She became his wife after one of the first beauty contests in the history. Her family had a funny tradition that every new generation had one of three last names, Koshkin, Zaharyin or Yuryev, so her name may be given as Anastasia Yuryeva, too. Chroniclers praise her virtues and say that her kindness moderated the hot temper of Ivan. An English ambassador, Jerome Gorsey (or was he Gorsay?), wrote: "The queen was so wise, virtuous and influential that everyone honoured, loved and was afraid of her... The great prince was young and irascible but she governed him with an amazing gentleness and wit. When the kind queen Anastasia died, she was canonized and she is still worshipped in their churches." Actually, he was not yet named Terrible while she was still alive. They had six children, but only two of them survived. Earlier, it was believed that her health had been damaged by the frequent births which led to her death in such a young age (she was about 25 or 26 when she died). Recently, though, her body was identified and after some investigation a huge concentration of mercury was found in her hair, so, she was, most probably, poisoned, like Ivan's mother, Elena Glinskaya. The murder must have been organized by the aristocrats, who were annoyed by the marriage of the czar and a relatively low female. In 1553, some of them even refused to pledge the allegiance to the son of Ivan, Dimitri, saying that "we will not serve the Zaharyins." It seems that Ivan has learned at last who killed his wife and this became the first reason for the repressions against the boyars and the first step to the name of "the Terrible".

1803: Ships Nadezhda and Neva leave Kronstadt. Thi was the beginning of the first Russian circumnavigational expedition led by captain Ivan Fyodorovich Kruzenshtern. He was the commander of Nadezhda. Neva was led by Yuri Fyodorovich Lisyansky. I have recently finished reading the diary of the journey, written by Kruzenshtern, and it was a fascinating reading. He does not simply describe the lands and weather conditions, but also makes extremely interesting observations and generalizations. I thought about writing a separate article about my impressions of this book and I will, probably, do so. The expedition left Russia and sailed to Denmark, Britain, Canary islands, island of Santa Catarina in Brasil, Hawaii. There the ships departed. Nadezhda went to Petropavlovsk on Kamchatka and Neva sailed to Alaska. From Petropavlovsk, Nadezhda went to Japan where the Russian ambassador Nikolay Rezanov attempted to obtain the permission for Russian merchant ships to visit Japan. The diplomatic efforts were not successful and they went back to Kamchatka after some exploration of the southern Sakhalin. They left the cargo and gifts from the Japanese emperor in Petropavlovsk and returned to Sakhalin to finish the exploration of its northern half. Here, Kruzenshtern made a serious error when he decided that Sakhalin was a peninsula. He entered the Gulf of Amur and found that the depths were so small and the water was so fresh that he concluded that there must be an isthmus somewhere in front of them. The opinion was also supported by other explorers, like de la Perouse and captain Broughton. After the last visit to Petropavlovsk, Kruzenshtern left to Macao, China, where they met Neva who came from Alaska with a large cargo of furs. Having sold the cargo with a good profit and proved that the trade in Macao can be extremely efficient for the Russian colonies in the Pacific, they took the course back to St.Petersburg. They doubled the cape of Good Hope and went north. They visited St.Helena and Azores on their way. Between the Azores and Britain Nadezhda and Neva split again. Since the war with Napoleon had already started, Kruzenshtern turned northwards and doubled the Orkneys, while Lisyansky went straight through the English Channel. Both ships came safely to St.Petersburg on August 19, 1806.


August 6 in Russian history

1723: (July 26 Old style) The army of Peter I occupied Baku in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, like Armenia and Georgia, was at the time under the rule of Persia. The Georgian king Vakhtang VI and the head of the Armenian church Yesai asked Russia for protection against Persia and the Ottoman empire, who fought for the control over Caucasus. This suited Peter I and in 1722 he started a campaign against Persia in Caucasus. Russians left Astrakhan and descented near Derbent (in modern Dagestan, Russia). The sultan of Derbent asked the Persian shakh for assistance but after receiving nothing he surrendered. In the autumn, when the storms interrupted the supply, a large part of the Russian army returned to Astrakhan. The remaining soldiers under the command of the general-major Matyushkin took Resht. In the next year, Russian ships came to Baku. Matyushkin offered the city to surrender, promising them life and mercy of the Russian emperor. On the next day, the city surrendered. In September 1723, the Persian ambassador signed a treaty with Russia, giving up the eastern and southern shores of the Caspian Sea. The shakh, however, did not ratify the treaty. In 1724, Peter I sent to the Armenian patriarch Yesai the permission for the Armenians to settle in Gilan, Mazandaran, Baku and near the Caspian Sea. After the death of Peter I, the local inhabitants started rebellions against Russians. They were severely punished, which made the situation even worse. These rebellions and the threat of the attacks of the Ottoman empire made Russians to sign a new treaty with Persia and to concede Azerbaijan to Persia.

1851: (July 25 Old style) Russia and China sign the Treaty of Kulja, which regulated the trade between the countries and defined the status of the merchants. The first trade contacts between Russia and China are dated by the XIII century. The first treaties were the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) and the Treaty of Kyakhta (1727). The Treaty of Kulja was the first document which regulated the relations between Russia and China in the Middle Asian region. The countries defined the terms of the solving of conflicts, punishment for robbers, the security measures, etc. Russian merchants got access to Kulja and Chuguchak on the prerequisite that they obtain a permission. Otherwise, they had to pay fines and taxes imposed by the Chinese officials. Russia also asked for the permission to trade in Kashgar, but this city was not opened for the trade. Russian consulates were established in Kulja and Chuguchak.

1961: Spaceship Vostok-2, piloted by German Titov, is launched to the space. Titov became the first cosmonaut who proved that a man can survive in the space for more than one day. He was 25 years and 11 months old then and he remains the youngest man who was in space. He was often contrasted to Yuri Gagarin as a typical representative of "intelligentsia". Not that Gagarin was less educated or anything like that, but Titov knew music and literature, he read Pushkin, Lermontov and Mayakovsky by heart. He was born in the family of a teacher in a small village. Gagarin. on the other hand, was a son of a factory worker. Actually, this made Gagarin the first man in space. Khruschev decided that the first cosmonaut must have an irreproachable proletarian family. And yet, if something happened to Gagarin, Titov was ready to replace him in Vostok-1. After the flight, Titov graduated from the military engineering academy and became a test pilot. In 1962-1970 he was a deputy of the Supreme Council of the USSR. In 1993 and 1995 he participated in the Duma elections as a candidate of the Communist Party, but failed. Titov died on September 20, 2000. A crater on the dark side of the Moon was named after German Titov.