July 01, 2004

Letters to the Editor

To the Editors:

Tamara Eidelman’s Kremlin Ghosts (May/June 2004) presented an interesting, concise synopsis of Moscow’s/Russia’s history. However, it credits a common but questionable version of certain events during the Time of Troubles. The categorical statement that Tsar Dmitry was the former monk Gregory Otrepyev ignores several other plausible possibilities. Even the term “imposter” may be inappropriate, because there is some reason to conclude that he may have been lead to believe that he actually was Ivan the Terrible’s son and heir. See Chester Dunning’s Russia’s First Civil War, Penn State Univ. Press, 2001, pp. 66, 124, 131, 203-206; also Ervin Brody’s The Demetrius Legend..., Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1972, pp. 19-51, which notes (p. 41) that the famed 19th century Russian historian Kostomarov concluded that Dmitry could not have been Otrepyev.

Pushkin reinforced the Otrepyev/ Dmitry connection in the public mind by choosing that version for its dramatic effect in his poem Boris Godunov, and Mussorgsky followed his lead in his famous opera.

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