All the Russias' Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

Event Recap: “Literature and Reality” with Robert Chandler

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On a trip to Moscow to meet with Vasily Grossman’s granddaughter, Robert Chandler recalled seeing a room with Grossman’s things. There, the translator was shocked to see the same line of little sculpted animals that had featured in “Everything Flows.” It seems, then, that the figure of the young boy was inspired by Grossman’s own life, elements of which the author deliberately wove into his prose. 

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Event Recap: Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II (with Francine Hirsch)

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On October 1, 2021, the Jordan Center hosted Professor Francine Hirsch, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for a talk about her book titled Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after the Second World War.

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A Soviet Imprimatur on Imperial Smut: Politizdat’s “Luka Mudishchev” as Parody of the Soviet Book

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On January 11, 1970, the British émigré newspaper Wiadomości reported on the publication of a new Russian book, a pocket-sized volume that had been a London bestseller during late 1969. In its article, Wiadomości emphasized the volume’s pedigree, writing “[t]he book was published in Moscow by the Central Committee of the CPSU, the editorial board was composed of eight of the most eminent members of the Soviet Writers…the book is dedicated to Sholokhov, and the preface was written by Furatseva, the Minister of Culture.” However, after laboriously establishing these credentials, the newspaper continues in an unexpected direction: “the reader, so prepared, opens the book – and is unable to believe his eyes.” Rather than a work of socialist prose, the book constituted an edition of Luka Mudishchev, an infamous pornographic poem popularly attributed to the eighteenth-century poet Ivan Barkov.

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Truth Unclaimed: Why Russians Trust Propaganda and Distrust Independent Media

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In countries like Russia, independent journalists are marginalized not only by governments who prosecute them but also by citizens. Most Russians do not care about the truths reported by Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, Rain, and other independent news organizations; neither can they be bothered by the Kremlin’s attempts to silence these media for good. Rather, many citizens seem to be satisfied with their mainstream media, most of which are controlled by the state.

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Russia’s “Great Game” in the Biden Era

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Around an hour long including commercial breaks, “The Great Game” features two hosts, a moderator, and a rotating cast of expert commentators. Rather than just having Russian panelists, the show’s defining feature is that it purports to present both the Russian and American perspectives, with a host and guests from each nation.

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Ethical Questions in Researching the Religious Underground in Romania’s Secret Police Archives, Part II

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Several immediately identifiable problems arose in our talks: the problem of questioning the authority of the canonical historical narrative of the church elders based on documents that were created by the enemies of the church; the problem of the “truth” of the archives, of their already accepted narrative; the issues related to what is private and how much of it we should have access to; the moral issue, the judgment of the action of their elders; the religious issue – attendance to the canons and practices of the church.

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Ethical Questions in Researching the Religious Underground in Romania’s Secret Police Archives, Part I

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In their effort to curtail the clandestine practice of religion, the secret police produced a thorough database of names, places, biographies, activities, and networks. It created one of the most important extant collections of religious literature — in many cases, that literature is only preserved in these archives. Since documents on these minorities were rarely collected in other state archives, the secret police became an inadvertent producer of history.

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Searching for Józef Herburt in Kazakhstan

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The fact that an escaped Polish exile from Ukraine managed to integrate himself into Kazakh society and impersonate a relative of Kenesary would make an exceptional find both for the myth of the Polish revolutionary and the more prosaic reality of cross-cultural interaction and exchange.

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Falshfasad: Disavowed Infrastructure and Everyday Mate-realism in Wild Capitalist Moscow (with Michal Murawski, University College London)

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On September 17, 2021, the Jordan Center hosted Michał Murawski for the talk “Falshfasad: Disavowed Infrastructure and Everyday Mate-realism in Wild Capitalist Moscow.” Murawski is a Lecturer in Critical Area Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London. He is currently writing a book on architectural aesthetics and politics in Putin-era Moscow. 

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For Whom the Windfalls? Oil Tax Revenues and Inequality in Russia

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Our research shows that once oil windfalls in Russia are taxed and transferred to the state budgets, they may easily fall prey to the corrupt, politically connected elite, but this unfair redistribution would not go unnoticed by the population and eventually may play its role in the rising political instability. Of course, the central government has put an end to the oil windfalls at the regional level by channeling them into the federal budget, but this does not guarantee a fairer distribution of the natural resource rent and raises even more serious concerns about the potential political capture. 

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