November/December 2009

Features in this Issue

Winter Holidays

A colorful mix of pagan and Christian traditions influenced 19th century rural Russian Zimniye Svyatki (Winter Holidays). While many of these traditions did not survive the 20th century, they nonetheless tell us much about Russian culture today.

Lighthouse Master

Where we visit a craggy outpost in the White Sea, meet a colorful lighthouse keeper and get a taste of real solitude and self-reliance.

Bolshoi Troubles

The massive reconstruction of Moscow's iconic Bolshoi Theater has been underway for four years and looks to stretch for another two. Some question if anything original will be left of the landmark when it finally reopens in 2011.

Tsarina Elizabeth

"Elizabeth couldn't take her eyes off herself," wrote historian Vasily Klyuchevsky. Indeed, Peter the Great's narcissistic granddaughter (born 300 years ago this month) was infamous for being a tyrannical fashionista.

Departments and More

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 7
    Note Book

    Dam Disaster

    Russians have learned to fear August, and this year it delivered the Sayano-Shuchenskaya dam disaster, which could be a harbinger of things to come.

  • 15

    Plyuschenko Returns to the Ice

    After a three-year absence, Olympic champion Yevgeny Plyuschenko is staging a comeback.

  • 21
    Russian Calendar

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Editor Tamara Eidelman reminisces about how little the Berlin Wall was part of Soviet life.

  • 24
    Russian Calendar

    Alexander Vasiliyevich Kolchak

    Thirty years ago, the name "Admiral Kolchak" was only mentioned in negative terms; today it is exactly the opposite. Neither interpretation gets it right.

  • 26
    Russian Calendar

    12 Angry Peasants

    In November 1864, Alexander II introduced jury trials to Russia. It had countless unintended effects and led to a 70-year hiatus in the practice, only recently resurrected.

  • 30
    Survival Russian

    Marital Squabbles

    Where we examine the linguistic conventions of sparring with one's spouse.

  • 52

    Travels with a Patriarch

    An official visit to the Solovetsky Islands in the retinue of the Patriarch offers an intimate glimpse at the resurgence of the Orthodox Church.

  • 60

    TableTop Agitprop

    A look at how Soviet propaganda made it onto people's plates.

  • 62
    Under Review

    Terror, Pushkin and the Beatles

    Reviews of In the First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the documentary How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin, and four other books: There is no Freedom Without Bread!, by Constantine Pleshakov, Brief Lives: Alexander Pushkin, by Robert Chandler, Privet Amerika, and Terrible Tsarinas, by Henri Troyat.

  • 64
    Post Script

    The Powers that Bully

    When governments or their agents bully citizens, it is everyone's responsibility to speak up.

  • 65

    Uchites 06

    The sixth edition of our Uchites language insert, sponsored by Russkiy Mir Foundation, takes off on our story about a White Sea lighthouse keeper to explore antonyms, verb and adjective declensions, and offers a murder mystery puzzle. Language

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