Back in 2007, when I worked at my first Advertising agency, I had to research into national holidays in different countries. For example, the International Women’s Day is a day-off in Russia but not in many other countries.
As for Labour Day, it has been celebrated with a day-off in Russia and some other countries worldwide but not in the UK. And so my management was kinda upset that the month of May was so sloppy in terms of signups.
In Russia this year we have two spells of May holidays: one, to celebrate Labour Day (which is about to finish), and two, to celebrate Victory Day. On both occasions the holidays encompass the weekend and one or two weekdays.
This year there was no demonstration in Red Square; instead people roamed the parks and the city centre. As for me, I spent the most fantastic Saturday listening to classical music (Beethoven, Mozart, and Schumann) at the Moscow Conservatory. Then I had a mastermind session on Sunday and two classes on Monday.
A historical moment: Uganda passes the anti-gay law, to protect African children from paedophilia and LGBTQ+
A historical moment recorded by the BBC: a Black African state spits on its *assumed* White majors. Uganda passes the anti-gay law, and the Parliament has seemingly rejoiced upon counting the votes.
I was watching this video from BBC Uganda and thinking to myself:
what does it feel like for Britain and others, to spend centuries keeping Africa subdued, half-literate, half-alive, only for the Black Continent to start fiercely objecting to some essential aspects of a White-Man propaganda, in this case the LGBTQ+?
You see, I used to be tolerant to homosexuality until it was restricted to L, G, and B. To this day I have some gay friends abroad and I have a couple of them in Russia, too. The T was harder to digest, but I have always believed in a man’s free will and responsibility for their words and actions. Yet Q+, a bazillion of genders, sexual lessons at the age of 10, gender-changing operations at the age of 12, and paedophilia as the new “normality” is far too much. Even my gay friends are perplexed and infuriated.
I am glad to hear that people in Britain and the U.S. try to protest against their governments’ gender policy in educational institutions. But this is not enough.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has already warned Uganda against the application of this law, which is yet to be ratified by the President of Uganda. To judge by his son’s reaction, however, the President is unlikely to withdraw and will persevere in the country’s stance. The Uganda anti-gay law will enforce the following:
a death penalty for paedophilia and sexual acts with the disabled, including the instances that led to HIV/AIDS contraction;
20 years of prison for homosexual acts with under-18s;
14 years of prison for proven homosexual relations;
10 years of prison for providing the premises for homosexual services.
So, yes, the Black Continent, impoverished, undereducated, and suffering from HIV/AIDS, does not lack the willpower and a concern for its own national interests. God bless Africa!
On March 22nd, 2023, Belarus marks the 80th anniversary of annihilation of Khatyn village – one of nearly 5,000 villages that suffered the same fate during the Russian phase of the Second World War.
Today, on March 22nd, 2023, Belarus marks the 80th anniversary of annihilation of Khatyn village – one of nearly 5,000 villages that suffered the same fate during the Russian phase of the Second World War.
The story of Khatyn is succinctly narrated in this passage:
The destruction of Khatyn and the murder of the villagers was an act of revenge in response to the bombardment of a German motorcade by Belarusian partisans on 22 March 1943, killing the company commander, Captain Hans Woellke, and three Ukrainian members of the Battalion 118 protection team. On the same day Khatyn was plundered and destroyed by Battalion 118 and SS Special Battalion Dirlewanger. They drove the inhabitants first into the village barn, set it on fire and with machine guns shot the people who tried to save themselves from the barn. A total of 149 villagers died, including 75 children. One adult, the then 56-year-old village blacksmith Iosif Kaminskij, and five children survived the destruction of Khatyn and the Second World War. Two more girls were able to flee from the burning barn into the forest and were taken in by inhabitants of the village Khvorosteni, but then died in the destruction of that very village.
Some people from the Soviet side who participated in burning of the villages later attempted to lead a “normal” life and even met with school pupils as “veterans” to talk about the war. But one by one they were identified and exterminated.
The tragedy of Khatyn was revisited in May 2014 when over 100 people perished in the fire in Odessa for their opposition to the Kiev’s coup (Maidan). It was then that it became evident to many people that the coup was orchestrated by neo-Fascist forces who used the same strategy of “punitive operations” called to terrify the people and stop the resistance.
I’ve never been to Khatyn, but you can have a 3D virtual tour at the site of memorial complex. In addition to the eternal flame and solely standing bell-towers, there is a cemetery where all destroyed villages are symbolically “buried”, and a heart-tearing sculpture of a man carrying his murdered son. The sculpture that epitomises the fatal tragedy of the entire Soviet population during the Great Patrioric War has its real-life protagonists. A Khatyn blacksmith, Iosif Kaminskij, miraculously survived and found at burning site his 15-year-old son Adam who died in his hands.
Today, when we again fight against the same enemy, we have no choice but to live through the pain of those people. They nearly began to vanish in the haze when the bell rang to remind that no crime like this can never be forgotten.
Vladimir Putin acts as Alexander Nevsky, making a choice between the antagonistic West and the more traditional China, now epitomised by Xi Jinping.
Russia’s definitive turn to the East that is presently much discussed in the Western media comes as another historical comeback of the recent years. Here, Vladimir Putin acts as Alexander Nevsky, making a choice between the antagonistic West and the more traditional China, now epitomised by Xi Jinping.
The 13th Century in Russian History: A Choice between the West and the East
Back in the first half of 13th century the Papacy went berserk against everyone that was still not subdued to the power of the Roman throne. The barbarian Albigensian Crusade and the siege and capture of Constantinople as the highest point of the Fourth Crusade were insufficient. The Slavic and Baltic tribes of the Eastern Europe remained pagan or Orthodox, and they had to be converted coerced into Catholicism.
The Livonian Order successfully converted or exterminated several Baltic tribes before reaching the borders of Rus near Novgorod the Great. The story of Alexander Nevsky’s overthrowing the Catholic knights in two decisive battles (the Battle on the Neva River, 1240; and the Battle on the Ice, 1242) is well known.
At practically the same time the Mongols came in hordes and subdued the fragments of the Ancient Russian state that fell apart as a result of feudal disunity. Arguably, the Tatar-Mongols were better equipped, and they acted as one force, whereas the Russians were divided, and this explains why there was little resistance to their onslaught. The Mongols were strong, the Russians were weak – although not too weak against the Catholic knights.
Yet there was another reason why the Mongol yoke seemed the lesser of two evils. The Mongols left unscathed the Orthodox Church. If an occasional temple did perish in the flame, it was because the Mongols burnt the entire city, and not because they strongly opposed the Russian religion. As a result, not only did the Orthodox church and faith survive, they also became the building block of the Mongol resistance and played the pivotal role in the first victory at Kulikovo Field in 1380.
Needless to say, this would be absolutely impossible if the Papacy had its way. The Papacy’s sole aim was to expand its power beyond the known limits, to make it universal. There would be no Orthodox order, but only the Roman Catholic. There would be no Russian churches or that peculiar ancient Russian culture we all admire. And there would possibly be no Russians as a nation. The Papacy gave an example of discerning between the heretics and faithful during the Albigensian Crusade: kill them all, and God will know the difference.
Russia and China Today
Centuries later we are back to the same configuration in politics, and once again Russia opts for an alliance with traditional, Orthodox-friendly China against the West, which has clearly lost sight of things in its servile devotion to “progress” and a staunch opposition to Orthodox Christianity.
Hence, Alexander Nevsky’s not-so-difficult choice has been upheld by Vladimir Putin.
The days are getting longer. I now finish some of the days in broad daylight – a far cry from the bleak midwinter. On such days I want to have my own cute and cozy balcony where I could go to have the late afternoon – or early evening – tea.
I’ve chosen this picture on Pinterest because it has the kind of vibe that accompanies my days. In this relaxed atmosphere I wish to sip my tea, flutter the pages of the book, and listen to the hustle and bustle of the city slowly subduing to the nightly languor. Then I’d have my small dinner, take a shower, and retreat to the bedroom.
I experienced this kind of evening once in London during my visit there in 2008. I stayed in a hotel in Sussex Gardens, which had a balcony. Incidentally, it was the only time I had a room with a balcony at a British hotel. The July night was seizing the city, the dusk spilt a palette of dim colours all over, and I was lying in my room, listening to the magical mix of floral scents and evening sounds, and I felt blessed.
When I was little, on February 23rd we celebrated the Day of the Soviet Army and the Military Fleet. At school, we drew pictures and gave small presents to the boys who were duly expected to go to the army one day. It was a compulsory 2-year service during the Soviet times.
Then the USSR collapsed, and for some time this day attracted a lot of criticism. The Soviet Union was presented as a militarist state, whereas the entire world allegedly wanted to be friends with us.
And then it became a male version of 8th of March, with socks, underpants and antiperspirants being the presents of choice for many women to their men.
This year, following the Presidential address, this holiday, which is marked with an official day-off, has at once become a truly national celebration of our service to Russia. Vladimir Putin has uttered what I believed for many years: a family is akin to one’s native country (Rodina), which we call the Motherland or the Fatherland. And thereby each and everyone of us serve and defend it in whatever capacity we can.
For me as an historian, writer and translator, my service to Russia is in preserving its history, arts, and language; in disseminating these among the foreign speakers; in liaising between my country and those parts of the outer world that share our values.
The abnormally low temperatures in Moscow have brought spectacularly bright sunsets. The red glow against the frozen sky amazes and terrifies the viewer.
Like I wrote a few years ago, the terror that industrial architecture can instill in its observer fades in contrast to the elements. The sunset remains beautiful no matter the environment. And this may force one to consider the power the Nature has over the mundane world. It can make the most horrible circumstances bearable, and the rest will depend on the person, whether he or she finds inspiration to change the circumstances – or finds consolation and changes nothing.
Incidentally, these two photos were taken with a 25-minute difference, and just see how different they are.
I’ve chosen the religious name for Russian Christmas this year. Indeed, I wanted to stress the religious aspect of this holiday in Russia. So many people visit churches on January 6th and 7th, post themed cards and images on social networks, exchange them in messengers! There are lots of themed events, and of course, there’re many wonderful dishes cooked and eaten today in the most religious households because on the 7th the 40-day long St Philip’s, or Nativity, Lent ends.
After my friend and I have undertaken the labour of love with the Christmas Calendar I now realize how Christian our world is. It remains Christian despite endless attempts to rid it of any hint at religious faith, of veneration, adoration, and all-encompassing Love. I was gradually turning to Orthodox Faith since 2014, but it wasn’t until 2018 that I saw the proof of God’s watching over us, supporting and helping us. And after I saw that I know today that He loves us in any state of mind and body, as per the parable of the prodigal son. He knows our hearts like we rarely do, and He is happy to give us the best He has for us. Alas, we are so entrenched in vanity and pride that we want to be the god of our own life and so we demand Him to give us what we’ve made up for ourselves. And when He doesn’t, we get offended.
This is the quest some parts of the world are currently going through. People there have convinced themselves and are trying to convince others that God’s will is void, and that everyone is free to choose everything, including a gender. The fact is that humankind knows no other way of reproducing itself except by marrying a Man and a Woman. There may be other ways but they are not human, all in all.
So, on the day of Russian Orthodox Nativity let us turn our hearts and minds to the beautiful story of God the Father materializing miraculously in this life via a Maiden. I read the akathist to the Nativity of Jesus Christ today and I was moved a few times quite potently. It is a great joy that Our Saviour was born; and in spring, at Easter, He will be born again – into Eternal Life. Each time our world is born and resurrects with Him.
It’s been -27 in Moscow all day on January 6th. On a day like this one wants to stay home and to watch the life going by…
As I’m writing this, there are some fireworks outside. I went out shortly, got myself the daily planner I wanted, bought some coffee, took a couple of photos, and came home.
The eve of Nativity is always a long, homely night. We are expecting the Light to shine upon us amidst the snow and freezing temperatures.
In the last few years, after I joined the Russian Orthodox Church, I realized how much I miss the spirit of preparing for this holiday. Nativity and the preceding fasting period is the time of introspection and at the same time of preparing to something miraculous. The miracle of Life, the miracle of Light, the miracle of Love. This is what Nativity is all about.
And I really regret that, as a child, I wasn’t brought up in this tradition of expecting the solemn eve of Nativity holiday. Of singing the Russian carols, or cooking the special sochivo dish and the Christmas meal, or reading the prayers and lighting the candles.
On another note, the ceasefires has been proclaimed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So we also pray that those religious and faithful people to choose to visit the Russian Orthodox Churches in the war zone will remain alive, safe and sound. Likewise, we pray that those Russian Orthodox people who visit their places of worship in other countries tonight will be protected and remain safe and sound.
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