03 November 2007

Happy Holidays?

Two years ago, the Russian government tossed out the celebration of the Seventh of November, a day of commemoration of the October Revolution (which for a decade and half after the fall of the Soviet Union went on as the “Day of Accord and Conciliation,” though largely still celebrated in honor of the Revolution). In its stead, came “National Unity Day” on the fourth of November, a celebration of the 1612 ejection of Polish-Lithuanian invaders.

(Now, if you didn't know about this important moment in Russian history and its celebration, don't feel too bad, as "only 4 percent of the 1,600 people polled nationwide [in Russia] knew that the holiday commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish invaders, down from 5 percent in 2005." A new historical film, 1612, commissioned by the Kremlin may help. And lest we get lost in the murky waters of film interpretation, the director has given the short of its moral: "I'm convinced -- and I have nothing against democracy -- that Russians have a strong desire for a Tsar." The Moscow Times has a more circumspect review, fitting 1612 into the spate of nationalist epics of the past 15 years. )

Not surprisingly, the holiday has been interpreted as nothing but a chance for pro-Kremlin youth to march around, though some fear that extremist nationalists, organizing their own marches, are now over-shadowing their more moderate brethren. To make things more complicated, the loonies are now arguing amongst themselves as to who is more Russian than whom and split off into more marches, according to an informative round-up on the holiday in Kommersant.

Luckily, Kommersant also did us the favor of mapping out who will be marching where and when. I think they intended it so that one might avoid traffic, watch or participate. Personally, despite expectations of a large police presence, I’m still taking it as a map of “places to avoid” tomorrow. (Sorry, I just don't have a large enough crew in Moscow to risk it and promises of a massive police presence are only mildly comforting; MTBE readers will have to deal with second-hand accounts of this event.) Use the map however you wish.

In other news, there is still some celebration of the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution including a film festival, parts of which I am planning to attend. If you read Russian, the schedule is here.

And since I’ll be working at the archive in the city center on the seventh, I might poke my head around to see if anything’s happening between Pushkinskaya and the Kremlin. Despite my education in late Cold War America, I still fear barmy nationalists more than aging Communists.