Russian Digest-A selection of Articles from the Russian Press: October / November 2013.


Here is another selection of news, articles,videos and information regarding Russia which may be of some interest but which has not been very well-reported elsewhere:

1913 Moscow Firefighters

1. The Russian cultural theorist, film scholar and art historian, Mikhail Yampolsky, wrote an article for in which he tried to explain the central role that homosexuality has played in contemporary Russian political discourse. Trying to argue from a historical angle and analyzing the links in official discourse between homosexuality and children, he looks at how homophobia is contextualized in terms of demographics but also in how different bases for the family have arisen throughput history. Yampolski’s article can be found here.

2. I’ve written about the Media Impact (Media Udar) International Festival on art activists on these pages already. However, there are a number of articles, including an interview with the co-ordinator of the Feminist Pencil part of the Festival, Victoria Lomasko, which was printed in Novaya Gazeta. She talks about street art, the importance of the social in art and about women in art. An English-language article in the Moscow Times on the film showing of United in Anger on the ACT UP organisation in the US during the 80s and 90s is available here.

a) – Left Rap on Patriotism by Roman Osminkin.

3. Andrey Arkhangelsky wrote an interesting piece comparing how liberals and the pro-Kremlin press wrote about migrants after the recent pogrom and found all too-many commonalities. The metaphors and images were often identical. For Arkhangelsky (himself a liberal in many ways) “One can’t be a Liberal without Others. In short, there is no Liberalism without Others”. His article entitled Why we are not Liberals underlines that both Russian Liberals and Russian Conservatives are united in searching for a world without others.

b) Soviet Still Lifes

4. The Ural Worker printed an interview with the theatre critic and translator of Russian drama, John Freedman, who has lived in Russia for almost a quarter of a century. An interview on culture and migration as well as on being a “Russian American”.

c) – Arkady Kots band singing Fyodor Sologub’s “A Spine-chilling Lullaby” which was devoted to the Beilis case 100 years ago.

5. The controversial Russian writer Edward Limonov recalls how he translated some of Lou Reed’s lyrics into Russian in 1977 while living as a Soviet ‘dissident’ (most of his dissent had as its target other Soviet dissidents as well as the American set up). Delighted to find lyrics about decadent life on New York’s Lower East Side and about police raids he set to work on translating them. No Russian language publication would take them though.

6. Viktor Golyshev tries to answer the question ‘How to Read Andrey Platonov’? – a fine essay and interview about reading one of Russia’s most original twentieth century writers.

Andrey Platonov

d) – Elem Klimov short satirical film on Sole Fathers from 1968.

7. E-Flux has a fine article by Gleb Napreenko On the Format of the Divine in which he brilliantly characterizes the unbearable stuffiness of contemporary religious conservatism in today’s Russia. The article here is in English translation. Its conclusion deserves being quoted in full:

Of course, anarchist impulses of irritation in the spirit of Celine’s novels—destructive, sexualized, and subversive—are not enough to change the situation, as enlivening as they might be. But this impulse merely points toward the boiling up of the repressed and the discarded. What can we do so that to this boiling up isn’t just “bourgeois culture turned inside out”? How do we keep it from being reduced to the convulsion of delirium that falls upon the first victim at hand (“clammy palms,” “inner smile,” “voluptuous Russian Orthodoxy”)?

We need another system to give rise to meaning, one that does not delimit form from content, a delimitation that has the triumph of form as its consequence. Not the power of consensus, not the power of an ossified party or a church, not the power of capital or the image-makers. It’s time to grow flowers on garbage. That was the basis for hope once vested in the revolutionary role of the proletariat.

8. A Moscow Times photographic article on the Moskva-Petushky immortalized by Venedikt Erofeyev is of interest too.

9. Alexei Tsvetkov has written a fine essay on Evald Ilyenkov which was translated on these pages and for the anniversary of the Russian Revolution a few days ago wrote another though-provoking essay on the meaning of this revolution as well as a kind of nostalgic look at the dream of Communism which never came to fruition during Soviet times. A dream of communism present in Soviet era science fiction for which the struggle is, in some way, still realizable now if humanity could make the effort. His article ends with these words:

We could have been born much later and lived in a world where there is no class antagonism, world imperialism, exploitation and inequality allowing the 1% to stand self-assured on the shoulders of the 99%. But we live in the here and now and this means that we have an important chance to create this very type of world.

Storming of the Winter Palace

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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  1. Pingback: Russian Digest-A selection of Articles from the Russian Press: October / November 2013. | Research Material

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