Tag Archives: Russia

Lubyanka/KGB monument

25 May

Muscovites will be able to choose the new monument on the Lubyanka in front of Moscow’s KGB headquarters, the organization now called the FSS (Federal Security Service), after the Putin government decided to destroy the older moment that had been built there in the 1990s honoring the victims of the 1930s Stalinist terror.

Knowing them, they’ll probably choose to dedicate the monument to Beria or Yezhov…or even Stalin himself.

See Cheka, NKVD and KGB on more on the lineage of these great institutions and the great worms who led them.

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New Header Image: Konstantin Savitsky, Monk 1897

28 Mar

This will have to do until Holy Week/Easter.

Special thanks to Pelagia in Belgrade (old post) for first posting this image @Ljiljana1972.

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And some slightly weird seguing/addendum:

For more on B-Town see also: “I haven’t seen any other English-language writer pull these elements together into such a compelling portrait of the city.” :

Hi Niko,

Predictably enough, when I first discovered your blog (a happy accident — I was googling “Sveti Jovan Bigorski” and spent an unusual amount of time leafing through search results) one of the first things I did was look under the ‘Serbia’ tag. I’ve already seen all four of the posts you’ve referenced. All four are terrific, but I’m especially enamored of your take on Belgrade — you really understand the place and its people and its historical-geographical specifics. I haven’t seen any other English-language writer pull these elements together into such a compelling portrait of the city. It’s obvious that you care about the place, which means a lot.

Just that I’m particularly proud of that review… :)

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New Header Image: Zinaida Serebryakova’s children, House of Cards, 1919 — lots of us feeling this way?

8 Mar

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

New header image: Zinaida Serebryakova, artist’s sister Olga Lanceray, 1910

31 Jan

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“Russia will be free.” Can a critical mass of Russians actually get a critical degree of angry?

23 Jan

Or will Solzhenitsyn be right again?

“We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more — we had no awareness of the real situation… We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” A.S.

From Guardian: “Thousands of Alexei Navalny supporters join protests across Russia.”

From NYTimes: “Navalny Protests: Live Updates as Mass Rallies Sweep Across Russia

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

St. Nick’s, my parish church when in Peter

18 Jan

St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

New home page image: Zinaida Serebryakova’s portrait of husband Boris

16 Jan

I recently discovered the painting of 20th-century Russian realist Zinaida Serebryakova (Зинаида Серебрякова). She was born into a part-French family of artists and lower gentry in eastern Ukraine, and lived a totally charmed life there and and in St. Petersburg, till the Revolution upended it all as it did for hundreds of millions others. Read about it.

I’ve totally fallen in love with her work, and that will probably convince many of what a hopeless sentimental philistine I am, plus a shameless idealizer of pre-Revolutionary Russia, plus a sexist. No problem. I’ll be posting one painting weekly on the Jadde home page till I’m through with my favorites.

First is her beautiful portrait of what must have been her very handsome husband Boris Serebryakov, who died of typhus in 1919, leaving her, at the worst of all political economic times, destitute and with four children.

Boris Serebryakov – Борис Серебряков – 1909

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

Kiev and Kievans, decked out in gold and sun and honey — summer 2010

15 Jan

In August of 2010 I was in Kiev for the first time since the fall of communism. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a honey festival — honey being one of Ukraine‘s and Russia‘s and wooded eastern Europe’s valuable trade product for centuries — that that year was held on the grounds of Kiev’s Pecherskaya Lavra – Києво-Печерська лавра, one of the most stupendous collections of churches and monasteries in the world and most sacred to both Russian and Ukrainian Orthodoxy (not a pretty dialogue these days): a farmers’ market from the countryside surrounding the city, and they all brought their honey and other bee-related products to sell.

Between the sun, the huge summer sky, the blinding gold of the church towers, the blue and gold of the flag, the dizzying array of hues of honey and honeycomb and honeycakes and beeswax and candles and sunflowers and between the hair, eyes, cheeks, smiles and the particular beauty of a Ukrainian farmer’s tan worn with that panache that only a Ukrainian farmer can wear it…. The whole thing was this gigantic fugue in gold!

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But tell me: how did gold get to be the highest value? Because it is uncommon and useless and gleaming and gentle in its brilliance; it always gives itself. Only as an image of the highest virtue did gold get to be the highest value. The giver’s glance gleams like gold. A golden brilliance concludes peace between the moon and the sun. Uncommon is the highest virtue and useless, it is gleaming and gentle in its brilliance: a gift-giving virtue is the highest virtue.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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Огромное спасибо!!! to my friend Elias Hantula for taking these pictures and putting up with me that hot August day. Especially thanks to all these great folks. I took their names down in meticulous order so that I could label the photographs and then promptly lost them. And then promptly took ten years to finally post them. Maybe…maybe…weirder has happened…maybe, someone will recognize someone and however many degrees of separation these folks might have between each other…they were almost all from Poltava.

Mihail’skiy Sobor’ (above) unrelated to the Pecherskiy complex; completely, magnificently, painstakingly rebuilt in every glorious detail after the end of communism; it had been entirely levelled to the ground by the Soviets in the 1930s.

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list, contact us at nikobakos@gmail.com.

Jordan Peterson calls out West’s ignorance of Stalinist/Communist repression: “…the fact that we don’t know that deep inside our bones is a testament to the absolute rot of our education system.”

12 Jan

“Well…Solzhenitsyn estimated the deaths in terms of repression inside the Soviet Union at something approximating 60 million between 1919 and 1959.  Now that doesn’t count the death toll in the Second World War by the way.  He also estimated that the same kind of internal repression in Maoist China cost a 100 million lives.  One of the things that is really surprising to me and that I think is absolutely reprehensible, absolutely reprehensible, is the fact that this is not widespread knowledge among students in the West, any of this, and it’s because your historical education, if you started to describe it as appalling you would barely scratch the surface.  These are probably the most important events of the 20th century and they’re barely covered at all in standard historical curricula.  …my experience with students is that none of them know of anything that happened as a consequence of the repression of the radical left in the 20th century and I believe that the reason for that is that the communist system had extensive networks of admirers in the West, especially among intellectuals and still, in fact, does, which is also equally reprehensible and I believe that one of the consequences of that is that this element of history has been…underexamined…  And that there’s absolutely no excuse for that.  It was the worst thing that happened in the 20th century and that’s really saying something because the twentieth century was as bad as it gets and the fact that these deaths on a massive scale occurred and the fact that we don’t know that deep inside our bones is a testament to the absolute rot of our education system.”

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I have a black and yellow Fred Perry polo shirt and I’m pissed

12 Jan

I bought it a thousand years ago in Toulouse — you have to believe me. It survived the drips and crumbs of countless French dinners, successfully cammoed wine stains for years, held up to Russian washing machines, the Attic sun and the hard water of Athens. And I really like it. And now I can’t wear it because of the fucking Proud Boys fachos.

I also loved it because black and yellow are, by complete coincidence, the colors of my favorite Greek soccer team AEK. That doesn’t mean I know anything about Greek soccer or care. But when asked or when I get thumbs-upped on the street when I wear it, it’s for AEK, because the acronym stands for the Athletic Union of Constantinople, which was founded in Athens in 1924 by Greeks from Istanbul, and is the institutional descendant of the Tatavla (a.k.a. Kurtuluş) Sports Club:

Kurtuluş S.K. was founded in 1896 under the name Hercules (Greek: Ηρακλής, Turkish: İraklis Jimnastik Kulübü) by local Greeks in 1896. It was the first club in Istanbul exclusively dedicated to sports activities. Later in 1934 it was forced to change its name to Turkish, Kurtuluş.

It was one of the major Greek sports clubs in Istanbul, while from 1910 to 1922 it was one of the clubs that undertook the organization of the Pan-Constantinopolitan games (Games organized among the Greek clubs of the city).

In 1906 two athletes of the club, the brothers Georgios and Nikolaos Alimbrandis won gold medals in the Intercalated Olympic Games in Athens, in horizontal bar and rope climbing respectively.

During the 1930s, the club intensified the efforts in the field of sports with the foundation of basketball, volleyball, cycling, athletics and other sports departments. Competent athletes from these departments were distinguished in local and international sports events. The club played in the Turkish Basketball League between 1966 and 1968.

The Tatavla Sports Club was the first athletic club in Turkey and was obviously created by non-Muslims because baring your knees is haram, I guess, and the Ottoman ulema had a particular problem with the soccer British troops in the City were making popular in Allied-occupied İstanbul because it was too evocative of the victors playing with Huseyn‘s head after his death at Karbala.

And it’s not like I can keep wearing it as long as I’m still in Greece, because even if Greeks didn’t know about the Proud Boys and their sartorial choices before, after last week they do. And they’re very unforgiving when they know they have one on you — malicious Romeic glee is boundless and an undying spring — and haydi explain yourself. I don’t know what the universe is trying to prove to me, but I’m vexed!

Thank God Carhartt is cool in Greece and has no American far-right nut-job associations yet, ’cause otherwise my dungarees would have to go next…

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