Russia's Red Guards

Russia's Red Guards

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The Red Guards were armed factory workers. They first appeared during the 1905 Revolution and they reformed in March 1917 in order to defend the government that replaced the overthrow of Nicholas II. The American writer, Bessie Beatty, saw them in action in early 1917: "The factory gates opened wide, and the amazing army of the Red Guard, ununiformed, untrained, and certainly unequipped for battle with the traditional backbone of the Russian military, marched away to defend the revolutionary capital and the victory of the proletariat. Women walked by the side of men, and small boys tagged along on the fringes of the procession. Some of the factory girls wore red crosses upon the sleeves of their thin jackets, and packed a meague kitbag of bandages and first-aid accessories. Most of them carried shovels with which to did trenches."

Albert Rhys Williams was much more critical of the Red Guards: "The Revolution was not everywhere powerful enough to check the savage passions of the mobs. Not always was it on time to allay the primitive blood-lusts. Unoffending citizens were assaulted by hooligans. In out-of-the-way places half-savages, calling themselves Red Guards, committed heinous crimes. At the front General Dukhonin was dragged from his carriage and torn to pieces despite the protesting commissars. Even in Petrograd some Yunkers were clubbed to death by the storming crowds; others were pitched into the Neva."

Under the influence of the Bolsheviks, the Red Guards played an important role in the defeat of the revolt led by General Lavr Kornilov in September, 1917. They also were used to seize control from the Provisional Government in November, 1917. It is estimated that by the end of the revolution there were 7,000 Red Guards in Russia.

I do not think I ever saw a more impressive spectacle than on this occasion. It was not merely a labour demonstration, although every socialist party and workmen's union in Russia was represented there, from anarcho-syndicalists to the most moderate of the middle-class democrats. It was not merely an international demonstration, although every nationality of what had been the Russian Empire was represented there with its flag and inscription in some rare, strange tongue, from the Baltic Finns to the Tunguses of Siberia. The First of May celebration, 1917, in Petrograd and throughout the length and breadth of Russia was really a great religious festival, in which the whole human race was invited to commemorate the brotherhood of man. Revolutionary Russia had a message to the world, and was telling it across the roar of the cannons and the din of battle.

The factory gates opened wide, and the amazing army of the Red Guard, ununiformed, untrained, and certainly unequipped for battle with the traditional backbone of the Russian military, marched away to defend the revolutionary capital and the victory of the proletariat.

Women walked by the side of men, and small boys tagged along on the fringes of the procession. Most of them carried shovels with which to did trenches.

They said they had no objection to our being in the battle; in fact, the idea rather amused them. One of them was not over eighteen. He told me that in case they were not able to hold the Palace, he was "keeping one bullet for himself." All the others declared that they were doing the same.

Once while we were quietly chatting, a shot rang out and in a moment there was the wildest confusion. Through the front windows we could see people running and falling flat on their faces. We waited for five minutes, but no troops appeared and no further fighting occurred.

The Revolution was not everywhere powerful enough to check the savage passions of the mobs. Even in Petrograd some Yunkers were clubbed to death by the storming crowds; others were pitched into the Neva.

Red Guards

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Red Guards, Chinese (Pinyin) Hongweibing or (Wade-Giles romanization) Hung-wei-ping, in Chinese history, groups of militant university and high school students formed into paramilitary units as part of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). These young people often wore green jackets similar to the uniforms of the Chinese army at the time, with red armbands attached to one of the sleeves. They were formed under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1966 in order to help party chairman Mao Zedong combat “revisionist” authorities—i.e., those party leaders Mao considered as being insufficiently revolutionary. Mao was thus making a bid to regain control of the CCP from his colleagues, but the Red Guards who responded in August 1966 to his summons fancied themselves as new revolutionary rebels pledged to eliminating all remnants of the old culture in China, as well as purging all supposedly bourgeois elements within the government. Several million Red Guards journeyed to Beijing to meet with Mao in eight massive demonstrations late in 1966, and the total number of Red Guards throughout the country may have reached 11 million at some point.

While engaging in marches, meetings, and frenzied propagandizing, Red Guard units attacked and persecuted local party leaders as well as schoolteachers and school officials, other intellectuals, and persons of traditional views. Several hundred thousand people died in the course of these persecutions. By early 1967 Red Guard units were overthrowing existing party authorities in towns, cities, and entire provinces. These units soon began fighting among themselves, however, as various factions vied for power amidst each one’s claims that it was the true representative of Maoist thought. The Red Guards’ increasing factionalism and their total disruption of industrial production and of Chinese urban life caused the government in 1967–68 to urge the Red Guards to retire into the countryside. The Chinese military was called in to restore order throughout the country, and from this point the Red Guard movement gradually subsided.

Impact on China

The first Red Guards groups were made up of students, ranging from as young as elementary school children up to university students. As the Cultural Revolution gained momentum, mostly younger workers and peasants joined the movement as well. Many were no doubt motivated by a sincere commitment to the doctrines espoused by Mao, although many speculate that it was a rise in violence and contempt for the status quo that motivated their cause.

The Red Guards destroyed antiques, ancient texts, and Buddhist temples. They even almost destroyed entire animal populations like the Pekingese dogs, who were associated with the old imperial regime. Very few of them survived past the Cultural Revolution and the excesses of the Red Guards. The breed nearly went extinct in its homeland.

The Red Guards also publicly humiliated teachers, monks, former landowners or anyone else suspected of being "counter-revolutionary." Suspected "rightists" would be publically humiliated, sometimes by being paraded through the streets of their town with mocking placards hung around their necks. In time, the public shaming grew increasingly violent and thousands of people were killed outright with more committed suicide as a result of their ordeal.

The final death toll is not known. Whatever the number of dead, this kind of social turmoil had a terribly chilling effect on the intellectual and social life of the country, even worse to the leadership, it began to slow the economy.

Red Army

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Red Army, Russian Krasnaya Armiya, Soviet army created by the Communist government after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The name Red Army was abandoned in 1946.

The Russian imperial army and navy, together with other imperial institutions of tsarist Russia, disintegrated after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1917. By a decree of January 28 (January 15, Old Style), 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars created a Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army on a voluntary basis. The first units, fighting with a revolutionary fervour, distinguished themselves against the Germans at Narva and Pskov on February 23, 1918, which became Soviet Army Day. On April 22, 1918, the Soviet government decreed compulsory military training for workers and peasants who did not employ hired labour, and this was the beginning of the Red Army. Its founder was Leon Trotsky, people’s commissar for war from March 1918 until he lost the post in November 1924.

The Red Army was recruited exclusively from among workers and peasants and immediately faced the problem of creating a competent and reliable officers’ corps. Trotsky met this problem by mobilizing former officers of the imperial army. Up to 1921 about 50,000 such officers served in the Red Army and with but few exceptions remained loyal to the Soviet regime. Political advisers called commissars were attached to all army units to watch over the reliability of officers and to carry out political propaganda among the troops. As the Russian Civil War continued, the short-term officers’ training schools began to turn out young officers who were regarded as more reliable politically.

The number of Communist Party members increased among the Red Army’s ranks from 19 to 49 percent during 1925–33, and among officers this increase was much higher. Moreover, all commanders were graduates of Soviet military academies and officers’ training schools, admission to which was limited to those recommended by the Communist Party.

In May 1937 a drastic purge, affecting all potential opponents of Joseph Stalin’s leadership, decimated the officer corps and greatly reduced the morale and efficiency of the Red Army. On June 12, Mikhayl Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky, first deputy people’s commissar of war, and seven other Red Army generals were found guilty of plotting to betray the Soviet Union to Japan and Germany, and all were shot. Many other generals and colonels were either cashiered or sent to forced-labour camps, or both. The purge’s effects were apparent in the serious defeats suffered by the Red Army during the first months of the German invasion (1941), but a corps of younger commanders soon emerged to lead the Soviet Union to victory in World War II.

By war’s end the Soviet armed forces numbered 11,365,000 officers and men. Demobilization, however, started toward the end of 1945, and in a few years the armed forces fell to fewer than 3,000,000 troops.

In 1946 the word Red was removed from the name of the armed forces. Thus, a Soviet soldier, hitherto known as a krasnoarmiich (“Red Army man”), was subsequently called simply a ryadovoy (“ranker”). Discipline in the Soviet forces was always strict and punishments severe during World War II, penal battalions were given suicidal tasks. In 1960, however, new regulations were introduced making discipline, and certainly punishments, less severe. Officers were to use more persuasion and were charged with developing their troops’ political consciousness, thus ending the dual control of military commanders and political commissars. By contrast, enlisted men increasingly brutalized each other conscripts with longer service took advantage of new recruits, and ethnic communities worked out mutual hostilities in the barracks. The era of the revolutionary “Red Army” ended, in fact as well as in name, long before the final disappearance of the Soviet Union. In Russia, February 23, now known as Defender of the Fatherland Day, is still the official day to honour military veterans.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.

Russia’s “red car” Volga Automotive History

1956 Volga (Wolga) image by Berthold Werner (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons Speaking after the Volga automobile 60-80 people will believe a slight impression of the founding leaders are riding models Bacheng brand, and by the 1990s, with Volkswagen, Nissan, Toyota and other models introduced, the brand was gradually fade out of our field of vision, with a Volga car at the time is definitely a symbol of identity and status, while the Volga automobile industry is a symbol of the former Soviet Union and pride. Today we have and we come into this brand, take a look at the history of the Volga car.

Before talking about the history of the Volga car, let’s talk about the history of Gorky automobile plant, when the Volga automobile plant by Gorky automobile models, Gorky automobile plant in accordance with the Chinese pronunciation of its Russian acronym GAZ referred to as “GAZ factory” . The models produced by the plant, also known as GAZ car.

Gorky Automobile Factory was established in 1930, 1932, introduced the first GAZ AA-type trucks, hanging in the official license GAZ 21 Volga Volga before the introduction of Gorky automobile plant has been in mass production of various models of GAZ vehicles , and models including trucks, small buses, cars, jeeps, and even armored vehicles, and the first car GAZ Volga GAZ 21 was formerly known as M20 Pobeda (Pobeda is the meaning of victory), from 1946 to 1958 production, then power on board is a 2.1L inline four-cylinder engine, maximum power of 52 hp (39 kW).

October 10, 1956, the first a Volga car brand the former Soviet Union successfully Gorky automobile plant assembly , called the V Jai GAZ 21. The first 21 cars off the assembly line at Ford GAZ assistance to complete only three. Once launched on the popular police and taxi drivers of all ages, but also won the Soviet government agencies of all ages.

The car was designed by the Lev Yeremeev, the appearance of the main design elements on the vehicle by the impact of the U.S., while the interior part is based on Ford’s change from O-Matic, power, produced in 1956, equipped with 21 volt Jai GAZ of its predecessor GAZ-M20 Pobeda improvement from the 2.1L inline four-cylinder engine, 65 hp maximum power, and to the years 1957 -1958, V Jai GAZ 21 facelift model ZMZ-21A four-cylinder engine of 2.445L , the maximum power of 70 hp, the gearbox from the United States to use Ford’s 3-speed manual transmission.

October 1958 GAZ 21 volt Jai had a facelift, new car the most obvious change is the original grille was replaced with 16 banners vertical grille, in addition, its wheels and taillights, also after simple changes. By 1962, the new car has been improved again, the changes include the exterior, interior and technical upgrades, but most noteworthy is designed based on GAZ 21 GAZ 22 and travel version specifically for the KGB agencies (National Security Council, the former Soviet Union, former Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence agencies) custom 5.53-liter V8 GAZ 23 also began production in 1962 (with the regular edition models there is no difference in appearance, but the appearance of color provide only black).

By 1960, although the GAZ 21 is still quite popular, but the design has gradually become out of date. Thus Gorky automobile plant also started the next generation of product development. In 1967, the new Volga GAZ 24 (GAZ-24) began limited production, first produced a total of 24, and by 1970, after large-scale production.

GAZ 24’s development can be basically divided into three generations, the first generation model was produced in 1970-1977 the second generation of models produced in 1977-1985 third-generation model in 1982 – 1992 production. The first-generation models replaced the main leaf spring, new ignition, remove the hood on the rear-view mirror, etc. and second-generation model is switched to a new bumper, retractable seat belts, front fog lamps and a new dashboard, front seats also have adjustable seats into a separate form.

The most worth mentioning is the third generation of the GAZ 24, compared to the previous two generations of models that change to be more obvious, the first power by the previous ZMZ-24 engine (85 horsepower) escalated into ZMZ-402 engine, engine displacement is consistent with the old 2.445L, but the new engine’s carburetor and the introduction of a new cooling system, making the new engine’s power to achieve a 98 horsepower, also in appearance, with a new grille, not the front door of the triangular window, larger wheels and new door handles, and the interior dashboard and seat head restraints, also a new design.

Of course there are many derivative version of the GAZ 24 models, including built specifically for GAZ 24-01 taxi, travel version of the GAZ 24-12, GAZ 24 convertible car, truck, 4WD version of the jeep and specialized built for the KGB’s GAZ 24-24 5.53L V8 models, etc., which built specifically for the KGB GAZ 24-24 models, it uses a lot of time advanced equipment, including a 3-speed automatic transmission , power steering, improved chassis and suspension, etc.

At the same time in 1982 GAZ GAZ 24 3102 as the third generation of an upgraded version of a small car production in Russia. Its appearance is given a new front face, while the internal switched to a new instrument panel and three steering wheel. Dynamic, equipped with a ZMZ-4022 inline four-cylinder engine, maximum power of 105 hp (78 kW), this model was produced until 2010, including a mid-1997 after upgrade, changes include a new 5-speed manual gearbox, the installation of power steering system, four-wheel disc brakes, 15-inch wheels and so on, power is also upgraded from the previous 105 horsepower to 130 horsepower, of course, specially built for the police and the KGB’s GAZ 3012 5.53L V8 models also have the production, this model was produced until 1996.

GAZ 24 production has been stopped in 1992, in the export market has achieved considerable success, it is the Gorky automobile plant sale on the history of a vehicle up to a total of 600,000 units. Most common in the Volga is GAZ 24 model. Even after the reform and opening up, we are able to see this classic face. Official car at the time the field of high-end, in addition to a large red flag, outside the old Shanghai, the most widely used GAZ 24 car, only the bureau-level cadres in order to enjoy the treatment. And into the late 1980s, its status gradually Santana, crown, Gongjue Wang, etc. replaced.

By 1992, with the Soviet Union, Russia’s auto industry has become bleak, in the 1990s, the Volga has also launched several models, but not their long life cycle, including the launch of the GAZ 1992 31029,1994 launched in 3110 and launched in 1996 GAZ 3110, and by 2000 the annual production of only the Volga 56000.

GAZ 24 in 1992, discontinued after the GAZ 31 029 officially listed, which draws on models designed GAZ 24 and GAZ 3102 two models, this model be integrated products, and this model on the body design more aerodynamic design, while the tail remained a GAZ 24 design, dynamic, GAZ GAZ 3102 consistent with 31029, but the V8 is no longer launch 5.53L car. GAZ 31029 officially discontinued in 1997.

GAZ 3110 (GAZ-3110) is the GAZ 24 modernized version of another, put into operation in 1997, a new car in appearance on a new design, more modern feel, but also in body paint instead of propylene acid paint, had substantially reduced the Volga car body rust problems. Also worth mentioning are the GAZ 3110 also introduced in the power ZMZ-560 and ZMZ-561 two 2.1L turbocharged diesel engine, which ZMZ-560 engine’s maximum power is 70 kW (95 hp), ZMZ -561 engine maximum power of 80 kW (109 hp). The car stopped production in 2003. The 3110 station wagon version of the GAZ 310221-2005 was discontinued. Sedan version in 2003, before the cut-off headlights also had a style change, but still maintained a station wagon version of the 1997 style headlights.

In addition to the GAZ 24 based on the derived models, Gorky automobile plant also introduced 90 other two new models, including the 1994 to 1997 production of GAZ 3105 trial, which uses a four-wheel drive , OHC V8 engine, but only after the production of hundreds of department discontinued. After 3105, the replacement of its rear-wheel drive products in 1998 GAZ 3111 to 2003 for the production. Russia to enter the car outside the Western consumer market. As production costs are too high, its starting to make $ 8,800 no competitive advantage, and soon after quit the production.

To the joint venture vehicle in order to face the 21st century and gradually occupied the situation in the Russian luxury car market, GAZ car is still a final effort, the introduction of a more active modern Volga cars, GAZ 31105 2004 GAZ 3110 as an alternative to car type of introduction, not only transmission and suspension upgrades, and in 2006 the old ZMZ-4021 and 4062.10 Chrysler engine was also replaced by the 2.4L DOHC engine, its maximum power of 123 horsepower.

The end of 2005 Russia’s Gorky automobile plant main owner Deripaska (Russia’s largest aluminum giant) announced Gorky automobile plant will be phased out production of “Volga” brand cars, by 2007 all over. The majority of the Russian “Volga” brand car owner’s request, the cut-off, the Gorky automobile plant will continue to produce the car parts for a period of 10 to 15 years. In fact, back in 2000, Deripaska acquired Gorky automobile plant, the plant’s small car line began regular holiday. At that time, the market has been unable to digest the “Volga” car brand of all production capability.

But by 2006 GAZ depot overturned the previous decision, announced further investment in production of Volga cars, and continue to produce at the production launch in 1982, GAZ 3102,1997 GAZ 310,221 and was launched in 2004, launched GAZ 31105 , and Chrysler also reached an agreement, the introduction of the Dodge Stratus and Braun’s production equipment and intellectual property rights, domestic production in Russia, and on this basis to allow for new car development.

In 2008, Gorky invest $ 200 million the company prepares to launch new car Volga Siber, plans to produce 100,000 vehicles, the largest production capacity can reach 16 million vehicles, the company would have 5-6 years to prepare, each year 45,000, but a financial crisis hit completely disrupted Golgi depot plan.

September 2008 Siber listed in the design of new cars, and Chrysler Sebring quite similar, because the car’s technical support is from Chrysler. Power has also adopted the Chrysler 2.0L and 2.4L engine, power was 141 hp and 143 hp, 188 Nm of torque, and 210nm Nm, matching the engine and 5 speed manual 4-speed automatic transmission.

After the September-November launch of the new car dealer sent a total of 1,000 vehicles, of which 35% by the state institutions, banks, customs orders, sales are very bleak, almost became a victim of the financial crisis, and to the Volga Siber launched in December a substantial discount from the original $ 20,000, benefits to 1.6 million dollars, which brought a certain amount of increase in sales. In the old Volga, the Volga in the sale of three cars in the first 11 months of 08 produced a 19 956-type cars, but car sales accounted for most of the year the share of the Volga.

To the first quarter of 2010, sales of Volga Siber cars only 200 or so, but because of lack of complementary products some time ago, Volga Siber production line had to stop. In addition, the first half of 2010, total production of Volga cars brand also only 2500 or so.

At the same time in 2008, Renault had to buy $ 1 billion 25% stake in the Volga, to 2011, the Renault-Nissan Alliance to discuss again with the Gorky automobile plant, Renault wish to acquire 10% stake in the Volga car, The Nissan will soon decide whether to buy the same price Volga 25% of the shares. In addition, in July 2011 Gorky automobile company also said that starting in 2012 Gorky automobile plant will start assembling the major brands of car production joint venture, when the Volga brand of cars will stop, but that does not mean that domestic “Volga” brand to disappear.

Inside Russia’s red past

Sightseers line a bridge over the Neva River in St. Petersburg for a view of the Hermitage, a trove of great art and one of the largest museums in the world.

In St. Petersburg, Jordan and Craig Stoltz visit the eternal flame at the Monument to Revolutionary Fighters.

Craig Stoltz and son Jordan soak up the vibe and the vodka at the Metropol Bar.

“Cover for me,” my son Jordan whispers.

We are in Hall No. 19 of the Kshesinskaya Mansion in St. Petersburg, Russia, a faded beaux-arts pile built as a private home but seized in 1917 for use as headquarters of the nascent Bolshevik government. Today it is the Museum of Political History of Russia. Hall No. 19 was once the nerve center of the new regime. It features a desk lined with neat stacks of bundled documents, a wonderful old telephone, a small bookcase and, in the corner, a blood-red banner drooping between two wooden poles. Jordan intends to creep beyond the rope for a closer look.

I slyly return to the adjacent room to distract the drowsy museum attendant. I figure that asking a question in English will keep her tied up for a couple of minutes at least.

But suddenly an alarm’s woo-woo shriek breaks the silence. The guard slowly pushes herself to her feet. By the time she reaches Hall No. 19, Jordan is back on the lawful side of the rope, his face bearing the internationally recognized look of feigned innocence. We retreat peaceably.

So ends our closest Russian encounter with our great-great-great uncle Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov, the man who from this very room commanded the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Party of Bolsheviks &mdash which is to say, ran the party that brought communism to the country and launched the USSR.

Jordan and I have traveled 5,000 miles for our long- planned visit to the Motherland. After learning about this Bolshevik big dog in our gene pool about a dozen years ago, we’ve adopted Uncle Yakov as an unlikely Red patriarch, regarding him with a distinctive, and perhaps characteristically Russian mixture of family pride and remorse. Both of our sons have studied Russian in high school.

Vladimir Lenin’s right-hand man, director of the Bolshevik Revolution, author of the Soviet constitution, legendary organizer of the peasantry and the party and (deep breath) … the guy who delivered the order for the brutal basement executions of the Romanov family in 1918, Uncle Yakov nonetheless remains fairly obscure in Soviet history. That is because he was lucky enough to die of Spanish influenza in 1919, thereby avoiding the fate of most Old Bolsheviks who were still around when Josef Stalin seized power.

But Jordan and I were not in Russia to rehabilitate Sverdlov’s reputation. We came to visit the country of our heritage and provide Jordan with language experience, helping him figure out whether to study Russian in college.

We’d follow the trail of Uncle Yakov around today’s Russia. And, mixed in throughout, powerful echoes of a Soviet past.

Moscow is said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. Though I can’t verify that claim, I can say that after seeing hotels near Red Square going for $350 to $600 per night I decided to use a Russian travel agency that rents out small apartments.

Our flat was in the Kropotkinsky neighborhood, located, maddeningly, just beyond the edge of Moscow tourist maps. With his three years of high school Russian, Jordan was able to ease us through the many small-shop transactions that provided breakfast and snacks: instant oatmeal of indeterminate flavor, small foil tubs of sweet frozen cream, bottles of the national soft drink, kvass.

To sustain the theme of our trip, I tried to view things in the context of Uncle Yakov’s life. For instance, it appeared to me that our third-floor apartment had been built around the turn of the 20th century, a period when Sverdlov was organizing workers, getting exiled to Siberia, returning to organize workers, again getting exiled to Siberia, etc. The graceful-if-shabby apartment house across the street was probably built during the years when he was communicating secretively with Lenin, who was hiding out in Finland.

But by the time the neighborhood was filled in with cinder-block-and-pressboard public housing units the color of a smoker’s lung, Uncle Yakov had already appeared on a 40-kopek stamp.

To get anywhere we had to negotiate the Garden Ring, a circular highway that marks the former location of the fortified walls of the city. The stretch we encountered was 16 lanes (!) wide, buzzing 2 4/7 with small foreign vehicles and boxy trucks governed by strictly Darwinian road rules.

To get to Red Square we took Moscow’s famously efficient Metro system. Much is made about how the Stalin-era stations are cavernous galleries of Soviet public art. Our neighborhood station was fairly plain, though as we rushed to transfer lines one day I noticed that the brackets that attached the stair railings to the wall were brass sculptures of hands.

Our next close encounter with Uncle Y came at the Metropol, a historic hotel just outside the Kremlin walls. Like the Kshesinskaya Mansion in St. Petersburg, the Metropol was an architectural extravagance of the late czarist era that was quickly appropriated by the Bolsheviks when they took over. Once again, Uncle Yakov moved in &mdash “virtually living in the hotel,” as some accounts describe it. From its rooms he directed the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the principal organ of the emerging state.

After Uncle Yakov’s death, the plaza outside the hotel was renamed Sverdlov Square and featured a heroic statue of him wearing a snappy Nehru-like coat and carrying a briefcase. Sverdlov is said to have been a Bolshevik fashion plate, with stylish eyeglasses, an aggressive bouffant hairdo and a penchant for black leather that was adopted as the style of party leaders.

The statue is gone and the plaza since renamed for the nearby Bolshoi Theater. After the collapse of the USSR, citizens groups decided to send relics of the Soviet era to the dustbin of history. Today the sculpture of Sverdlov stands in Park Iskusstv, a kind of outdoor museum-of-exile for former Soviet heroes.

The Metropol was returned to its original function as a hostelry for visiting dignitaries in the 1930s and restored to its art nouveau grandeur in the late 1980s, so there’s little left of the areas where my late great-uncle lived and worked.

To continue our family tour we took the overnight train to St. Petersburg, traveling second class. That meant Jordan and I shared a tiny but handsome sleeping compartment with two others.

St. Petersburg is a spectacular pulsing historical diorama, constructed from the ground up in the 18th century by Peter the Great as Russia’s answer to the grand capitals of Europe. With its canals and splendid boulevards, profligate mansions and stunning cathedrals, the city was so flagrantly Continental that the Bolsheviks decided to return to the original Russian capital, Moscow, to establish the new Soviet state.

Our apartment was on Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main artery, a street rich with history, coursing with more of those glamorous pedestrians and lined with sushi restaurants, blini joints and banks. It was also crazy with traffic.

First on our itinerary was the Hermitage. Everything you’ve heard about it is true. One of the biggest museums in the world, it is built around a collection of art begun in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has grown through the acquisitions of successive czars and, later, the Soviet government. Its collections span prehistory to the middle 20th century and include works by the names around which museum blockbuster shows are built: Titian, Matisse, Rembrandt, El Greco, da Vinci, Cezanne and those ancient nameless artists who etched running animals on stone.

But we were there to see parts of the building itself: the Winter Palace, the home to the czars and, after the Romanovs were evacuated, the seat of the nation’s flimsy Provisional Government. It operated there for several months while Sverdlov and others worked from the Kshesinskaya Mansion across the river, organizing the overthrow. The Bolsheviks’ seizure of the Winter Palace in late October 1917 marked their symbolic victory.

But in fact the insurgents had essentially already taken control of the government, and by the time the Red Guard bombarded the Winter Palace, the building was home to a few Provisional government holdouts guarded by a dispirited, disorganized, poorly armed militia.

Today the Small Dining-Room, the place where the Red Guard finally arrested the hiding Provisional leaders, is preserved largely as it was on that day. Bone-white and lined with tapestries, it is indeed small as imperial dining rooms went, with an elegant table and numerous chairs backed against the walls. The hands of the clock show 2:10, marking the time of morning on Oct. 26 when the Bolsheviks took command.

Several other rooms of the Hermitage preserve the salons of the imperial family, providing a glimpse into how the czars lived. Most of them face the Neva River, from which the bombardment of the palace began. As Jordan and I looked around, April icebergs drifted along the river.

Nicholas II’s English Gothic-style library, the dazzling Golden Drawing Room, the breathtakingly gilded Malachite Room … the galleries are stunning in their abundance and beauty. Depending on one’s viewpoint, they represent either the apogee of imperial craftsmanship or sufficient justification for a revolution.

Which makes the white-and-gilt October Staircase so strangely affecting. It’s the route the Reds used to get upstairs when they attacked. You can imagine the soldiers taking a good look, catching a deep breath and plunging through the portal, utterly clueless about where it would lead. Not too far from the Winter Palace is the Field of Mars (named for the war god, not the planet). It features the Monument to Revolutionary Fighters, a tribute to fallen members of the Red Guard.

Regardless of cause or ancestral connection, it’s hard to resist feelings of reverence in the presence of an eternal flame and low stone slabs bearing names and dates. And Lord knows there is plenty to mourn about the history of Russia: not just the whole horrific mess wrought by Lenin, Sverdlov and the rest of the Bolsheviks but events that occurred long before the revolution and those that played out long after, up to today.

And so it’s worth noting that on their wedding day some Russian couples visit the Field of Mars right after the ceremony.

There’s something inspiring about the thought of young people breezing by the flames of the past on the day they embark on their future. Following the practice of visitors to the monument, Jordan and I tossed a couple of kopek coins into the eternal flame. I forgot to make a wish.

Insider’s Guide

Get there: Russia doesn’t make it easy for American travelers. To get a visa, you need an invitation. A hotel will issue an invitation &mdash if you make a reservation.

Many do as we did: Hire a Russian travel agency. We used Go to Russia (888-263-0023,, with offices in Atlanta, San Francisco and Moscow. Full visa service costs about $190 per person. Agencies will provide “visa support” &mdash i.e., will secure that all-important invitation &mdash for about $30. From there you’ll need to apply for the visa with the Russian consulate.

Really getting there: From Denver International Airport (DEN) Delta offers connecting service to Moscow through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) starting at $566, and United offers connecting through Washington Dulles (IAD) starting at $724.

Americans are advised to avoid cabs and use only cars they’ve previously arranged. We dutifully booked through our agency. The driver met us and took us to our apartment for about $50.

Get around: We took the overnight train between Moscow and St. Petersburg. First-class fare provides a private cabin one-way fares are $150-$230, depending on time of day and number of stops. (Travel time ranges from eight to 14 hours.) Second class offers four tight but handsome, well-appointed berths. Unless you’re a foursome, you’ll share with strangers. Fares are $90-$180. Third-class “dormitory” service, which the website recommends only “for the most budget conscious and adventurous travelers,” costs $30 to $50.

Stay: Moscow lodging is said to be the most expensive in the world. Yet lists numerous choices between $100 and $200 in both Moscow and St. Petersburg. We decided to rent apartments in both cities, a service offered by our agency and many others. Our Moscow flat was remote and dreary our St. Petersburg apartment was a spacious, Euro-designed loft right on the city’s main artery. Both cost about $160 per night prices range from $140 to $220, depending on location, stay and season.

Dine: We ate cheap, searching for blini joints and grabbing snacks at Coffee Bean and Coffeehouse, Russia’s answers to Starbucks and Caribou.

In St. Petersburg, for cheap eats, seek out Teremok (Nevsky Prospekt and other locations). The plain lunchrooms serve blinis, which are pancakes with fillings that can be sweet (cream) or savory (fried pork). They are the size of hubcaps and cost $2 to $4. In Moscow we ate at Yolki Palki, a Slavic-themed restaurant in the Kitai-Gorod neighborhood (several locations, 495-628-5525), a bit campy but offering affordable, simple fare. Our meal was about $15 per person.

In St. Petersburg we ate at Tbliso (10 Sitninskaya Ulitsa, 812-232-9391), a comfortable, authentic restaurant on the Petrograd side of the river. The food combines elements of Middle Eastern, central Asian and Slavic cuisines along with some distinctive Georgian food: stews, and kebabs of lamb, fish and eggplant grains, cheeses, grape leaves and sour yogurts exotic flatbreads stuffed with cheese. We paid about $40 per person, including drinks and dessert.

“Although the future PMTO-Sudan will be short of amounting to a proper naval base, there is a possibility that Russia may eventually expand its military presence in the country.”

Perhaps the most intriguing point was a clause that nuclear-powered warships would be able to access PMTO-Sudan. Given that the Russian navy currently operates two types of nuclear-powered combat platforms – the 24,000-tonne Admiral Ushakov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, reclassified from the Kirov-class, and a variety of nuclear-powered multirole submarines – such a provision illustrates Russian naval planning with respect to future forward operations in the Indian Ocean area.

The agreement specifies Russia’s right to use Sudanese national airspace in support of its activities. This indicates Moscow is also likely to get access to the country’s airport infrastructure. Russian aerial operations may range from logistical airlift, including crew swaps, to area air defence, which presumes stationing of some fighter aircraft.

The PMTO-Sudan would be serviced by a contingent of some 300 personnel (again, a smaller number when compared against the 1,700 in Tartus). But this contingent can be expanded if required. Moscow would exercise national jurisdiction over the facility it would be responsible for its area air and maritime defence, meaning that the Russian military would be able to deploy air defence units, radar and electronic countermeasure systems PDSS teams (the Russian equivalent of clearance divers).

Although the future PMTO-Sudan will be short of amounting to a proper naval base, there is a possibility that Russia may eventually expand its military presence in the country. Moscow could pursue a staged approach, assessing in the first instance the operational effectiveness of its newest acquisition prior to considering possible future expansion.

In return, Russia assumes responsibly for the modernisation of the Sudanese military and partial defence of air and maritime approaches to Sudan, thus effectively making this African nation Russia’s military ally.

All this will carry implications for the Indo-Pacific maritime security.


The House of Golitsyns
Ethnicity Russian
Place of Origin Lithuania
Noble Title and Rank Prince/Princess
Current Residence Saint Petersburg
Founder Prince Yury Patrikeyewich
Founding 17th Century
Family Notoriety Owners of a Russian Winery

The Golitsyns, also commonly known as Galitzines, are one of the largest and noblest princely houses of Russia. Since the extinction of the Korecki family in the 17th century, the Golitsyns have claimed dynastic seniority in the House of Gediminas. The family descends from a Lithuanian prince Yury Patrikeyevich, grandson of Narimantas. He emigrated to the court of Vasily I and married his sister. His children and grandchildren, such as Vassian Patrikeyev, were considered premier Russian boyars. One of them, Prince Mikhail Bulgakov, was nicknamed Galitsa for an iron glove he wore in the Battle of Orsha (1514). His great grandson Prince Vasily Golitsyn (+1619) was active during the Time of Troubles and went as an ambassador to Poland to offer the Russian crown to Prince Wladislaw.

Prince Vasily Vasilyevich (1643–1714) was probably the greatest Russian statesman of the 17th century. He spent his early days at the court of Tsar Alexius where he gradually rose to the rank of boyar. In 1676 he was sent to Ukraine to keep in order the Crimean Tatars and took part in the Chigirin campaign. Personal experience of the inconveniences and dangers of the prevailing system of preferment the so-called mestnichestvo, or rank priority, which had paralysed the Russian armies for centuries, induced him to propose its abolition, which was accomplished by Tsar Feodor III in 1678. The May revolution of 1682 placed Galitzine at the head of the Posolsky Prikaz, or ministry of foreign affairs, and during the regency of Sophia, sister of Peter the Great, whose intimate friend he became, he was the principal minister of state (1682–1689) and keeper of the great seal, a title bestowed upon only two Russians before him, Afanasy Ordin-Nashchokin and Artamon Matveev. In home affairs his influence was insignificant, but his foreign policy was distinguished by the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689), which set the Russo-Chinese border north of the Amur River, and by the peace with Poland (1683), whereby Russia at last recovered Kiev. By the terms of the same treaty, he acceded to the grand league against the Porte, but his two expeditions against the Crimea (Crimean campaigns of 1687 and 1689) were unsuccessful and made him extremely unpopular. Only with the utmost difficulty could Sophia get the young tsar Peter to decorate the defeated commander-in-chief as if he had returned a victor. In the civil war between Sophia and Peter (August-September 1689), Galitzine half-heartedly supported his mistress and shared her ruin. His life was spared owing to the supplications of his cousin Boris, but he was deprived of his boyardom, his estates were confiscated and he was banished successively to Kargopol, Mezen and Kholmogory, where he died on 21 April, 1714. Galitzine was unusually well educated. He was a great friend of foreigners, who generally alluded to him as the great Galitzine. He expounded to them some drastic reform measures, such as the abolition of serfdom, the promotion of religious toleration, and the development of industrial enterprises. As Galitzine was eager to avoid all forms of violence and repression, his program was more cautious and realistic than that of Peter the Great. Political upheavals prevented him from executing any of these plans.

Vasily's political adversary was his cousin Prince Boris Alexeevich (1654–1714), a court Chamberlain since 1676. He was the young tsar Peter's chief supporter when, in 1689, Peter resisted the usurpations of his elder sister Sophia, and the head of the loyal council which assembled at the Trinity monastery during the crisis of the struggle. It was Galitzine who suggested taking refuge in that strong fortress and won over the boyars of the opposite party. In 1690 he was created a boyar and shared with Lev Naryshkin, Peter's uncle, the conduct of home affairs. After the death of the tsaritsa Natalia, Peter's mother, in 1694, his influence increased still further. He accompanied Peter to the White Sea (1694–1695) took part in the Azov campaign (1695) and was one of the triumvirat who ruled Russia during Peters first foreign tour (1697–1698). The Astrakhan rebellion (1706), which affected all the districts under his government, shook Peter's confidence in him, and seriously impaired his position. In 1707 he was superseded in the Volgan provinces by Andrei Matveev. A year before his death he entered a monastery. Galitzine was a typical representative of Russian society of the end of the 17th century leaning towards Westernism. In many respects he was far in advance of his age. He was highly educated, spoke Latin with graceful fluency, frequented the society of scholars and had his children carefully educated according to the best European models. Yet this eminent, this superior personage was an habitual drunkard, an uncouth savage who intruded upon the hospitality of wealthy foreigners, and was not ashamed to seize upon any dish he took a fancy to, and send it home to his wife. It was his reckless drunkenness which ultimately ruined him in the estimation of Peter the Great, despite his previous inestimable services.

The Great Galitzine had another cousin, Prince Dmitry Mikhaylovich (1665–1737), noted for his noble attempt to turn Russia into a constitutional monarchy. He was sent by Peter the Great in 1697 to Italy to learn military affairs in 1704 he was appointed to the command of an auxiliary corps in Poland against Charles XII from 1711 to 1718 he was governor of Belgorod. In 1718 he was appointed president of the newly erected Commerce Collegium and a senator. In May 1723 he was implicated in the disgrace of the vice-chancellor Shafirov and was deprived of all his offices and dignities, which he only recovered through the mediation of the empress. After the death of Peter the Great, Galitzine became the recognized head of the old Conservative party which had never forgiven Peter for putting away Eudoxia and marrying the plebeian Martha Skavronskaya. But the reformers, as represented by Alexander Menshikov and Peter Tolstoi, prevailed and Galitzine remained in the background till the fall of Menshikov, 1727. During the last years of Peter II (1728–1730), Galitzine was the most prominent statesman in Russia and his high aristocratic theories had full play. On the death of Peter II he conceived the idea of limiting the autocracy by subordinating it to the authority of the Supreme privy council, of which he was president. He drew up a form of constitution which Anna of Courland, the newly elected Russian empress, was forced to sign at Mittau before being permitted to proceed to St Petersburg. Anna lost no time in repudiating this constitution, and never forgave its authors. Galitzine was left in peace, however, and lived for the most part in retirement, till 1736, when he was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the conspiracy of his son-in-law Prince Constantine Cantimir. This, however, was a mere pretext, it was for his anti-monarchical sentiments that he was really prosecuted. A court, largely composed of his antagonists, condemned him to death, but the empress reduced the sentence to lifelong imprisonment in Schlisselburg and confiscation of all his estates. He died in his prison on the 14th of April 1737, after three months of confinement.

Other notable Golitsyns include: Prince Lev Sergeyevich (1845-1916) was one of the founders of wine-making in Crimea. In his Crimean estate of Novyi Svet he built the first Russian factory of champagne wines. In 1889 the production of this winery won the Gold Medal at the Paris exhibition in the nomination for sparkling wines. He became the surveyor of imperial vineyards at Abrau-Dyurso in 1891. The there was Prince Georgy Sergeyevich Golitsyn (born 1935) is a Russian physicist noted for his research on the concept of nuclear winter. Finally there is Prince George Blagoïevitch Golitsyn (1970), adviser in several political circles and survived pasted the collapse of the Soviet Union and the second Russian Civil War. He became a professor of political science during the Neo-Roman years until the Russian Renaissance when Tsar Paul Romanov II restored his family's noble rank and title. He returned to politics and has since made the family a powerful voice in the new Russian Empire's royal court.

The Soviet Military’s New, Go-To Military Dog

While the German Shepherd had become the go-to military dog by the early 20 th Century, the postwar Russian government was looking for an even hardier, more cold-resistant breed to accompany its national-security forces. In sort of the canine version of rummaging around the fridge to see what you can whip into a casserole for dinner, the Soviet military decided to develop this new, uniquely Russian breed from the dogs on hand at the government’s Red Star kennel in Moscow.

In truth, the program to develop a uniquely Russian guard breed had been started at Red Star in the 1930s, but it was stymied by the lack of purebred stock after the Russian Revolution (which almost led to the extinction of a much more ancient homegrown breed, the Borzoi), followed by the deprivations of World War I. The aftermath of the second world war, and Russia’s control over East Germany, brought fresh stock from two important German breeds – the Rottweiler and Giant Schnauzer.

From the late 1940s well into the ’50s, the Russian military kennel methodically crossbred between some 17 breeds, which included Caucasian Ovcharkas and even Poodles. Eventually, the Red Star kennel came up with a dog whose very descriptive Anglicanized name is at least two-thirds accurate: The Black Russian Terrier is indeed black (any other color is a disqualification), and it is indeed Russian. But it is most definitely not a terrier.

The misnomer likely comes from the use of the Airedale Terrier, which, along with the aforementioned Rottweiler and Giant Schnauzer as well as the Newfoundland, was one of the four main breeds used to develop the breed. Surprisingly, Airedales have a relatively long history in Russia: These largest and most versatile of all the terriers proved to be hugely successful war dogs, and even before the Airedale’s impressive performance in the trenches during World War I, Russia had imported a number of them for use during the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s.

The Airedale’s versatility and relatively large size were important components for this emergent Russian breed, which needed to not only be resistant to the grueling winters but also adaptable to many different settings, from border crossings to prison camps.

Of course, the breed’s black coat – with a hard, dense outer coat that repels the elements to protect the softer, insulating undercoat beneath – was an important part of breed identity from the earliest years. But the Black Russian Terrier was bred first and foremost for working ability, with appearance a secondary consideration. The dogs needed to be intelligent, stable, and reliable, as well as courageous enough to address an adversary if the situation called for it.

Reds vs. Whites: Military uniform during the Russian Civil War

After the Romanov dynasty was toppled, but before the royal family met their violent end in July 1918, Russia&rsquos new authorities announced the formation of the Red Army. The decision was more a simple statement of fact, since by the end of 1917 the imperial army had virtually disintegrated.

World War I had led both Russia and its army into a hopeless morass. Russian soldiers refused to fight in the trenches and deserted in droves. With the outbreak of the Civil War (1918-1921), both sides ordered the creation of new organized armed forces, with unified command and supply as well as standard uniforms.

During the years of the World War I, the Tsarist government stockpiled huge amounts of military uniform, with no shortage of greatcoats, shirts and footwear. If it wanted, the Red Army could have clothed several million troops at once. However, the main problem was that the White Russian forces were wearing those exact uniforms.

In 1918, there were numerous instances when, during shifts in the front line, Red Army units only knew they were among the enemy when they started speaking with them.

To identify friend or foe, the Red Army introduced a badge showing interwoven laurel twigs set on a red star. A crossed hammer and plough emblem in the center underscored the kinship of the workers and peasants with the people.

1918. The 38th Rogozhsko-Simonovsky Regiment on Moscow's Red Square before leaving for the front. Source: RIA Novosti

But the most distinctive and widespread element of the Bolshevik uniform was the budenovka felt cap, designed earlier as ceremonial wear for the anniversary parade of the still ruling Romanovs.

Named after decorated World War I and early Soviet cavalry officer Semyon Budyonny, the cap&rsquos design was modeled on the ancient helmet of Kievan Rus&rsquo. Intended to inspire the troops through association with legendary heroes of old, the pointed, brimmed budenovka had folded earflaps that buttoned under the chin in cold weather. A large star was sewn on its brow, dyed red for infantrymen, blue for cavalry and orange for the artillery.

The Red Army was founded on very different ideological principles to the Tsarist forces. There was now no place for an officer corps, which was regarded as a relic of authoritarianism. But since no army can exist without command, lead positions were retained under other names, for example a colonel became a komot &ndash kommandir otdelenia, or squad leader and a general became a komdiv, or division commander. The highest former rank, marshal, became commander of the army.

The distinctive officers&rsquo uniform elements such as aiguillettes and shoulder straps were abolished and replaced with new insignia. Rank was now denoted by the number of triangles, squares or diamonds sewn on shirt and overcoat sleeves and flaps, and these also varied in color depending on the military branch.

Over time, however, the Soviet military uniform lost the original elements of the revolutionary era and reverted to the lines of the Tsarist army. In 1924, all sewn-on insignia were removed, and only an officer&rsquos lapels showed his rank, also using squares, triangles and diamonds, but now smaller and made of metal.

A flat peaked cap with a red star replaced the budenovka for all branches and ranks, and line units were issued 1916 design imperial army metal helmets. All military personnel received khaki uniform pants and tunics with the inside collars lined with a white cotton strip to avoid abrasion.

A warrior of the Red Army on guard, 1941. Source: RIA Novosti

The army command regained a number of distinctive former features. On the eve of World War II, traditional military ranks replaced revolutionary ones, and generals and marshals reappeared in the Red Army, with jackets sewn with red chevrons and gold braid. Officers were allowed to bear side arms for the first time since the Revolution, and the imperial officer&rsquos headdress re-entered regular service, a change that was especially well received by the cavalry. But epaulettes were not reintroduced until much later.

Finally, and looking effectively forward rather than back, a new modified greatcoat was issued that went almost unchanged until the early 21 st century, when Russian soldiers wore much the same winter clothing as their forebears in the 1920s.

Watch the video: Οι Φρουροί της Αχαΐας - Επεισόδιο 37


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