October 20, 2023

How a Village Dies


How a Village Dies
The village of Lokh, Saratov Oblast.
Svetlana Evgrafova

Vladislav Davankov, vice-speaker of the State Duma and a member of the party “New People,” and Anton Tkachev, a deputy from the same party, introduced a bill prohibiting the use of settlement names that are “offensive” and “degrading to the dignity of residents.”

The document proposes allowing representative bodies of municipalities to act unilaterally and rename settlements, without coordination with other executive authorities.

“We recently received a letter from the village of Shalava [“slut”],” Davankov said. “There is one in the Yaroslavl region. People complained that they cannot change the name of the locality. Residents of neighboring towns laugh at them. Young people are leaving, trying to change their registration as quickly as possible. Nobody wants their children to have an offensive word on their passport. Thousands of people live in such settlements.”

The explanatory note attached to the bill states that children born in such settlements are subject to bullying and insults. As examples of “offensive” names, deputies cite the villages of Lokh (“sucker, naïve person” Saratov region), Antilokhovo (Ivanovo region), Shalava (Yaroslavl region), Musorka (“trash can,” Samara region), Pukovo (“fart,” Tver region), Popki (“little butts,” Pskov region) and Bukhalovo (“drunkenness,” multiple regions).

In the settlements themselves, residents did not agree with the deputies’ ideas. Head of Administration of the Velikoselsky settlement, Yaroslavl region (where Shalava is located), Vitaly Vodopyanov, told Gazeta.ru that he “had not heard” any complaints about the name from village residents, nor did he notice “any grins from neighboring villages.” He confirmed that the population of Shalava is indeed decreasing each year, but the reason for this is not the village’s “offensive” name, but the lack of infrastructure.

Deputies need to get their heads out of the clouds. I haven't heard anything like that. But one of the reasons why people do not choose to live in such settlements is because of the lack of infrastructure, roads, clinics, and pharmacies. It is primarily about comfort. I would advise any deputies of any factions and associations to pay attention to the quality of life in such settlements, to their financing, because our problems are mainly due to annual underfunding, and not because of their names.

Head of the Popkovsky settlement in Pskov region, Alexey Ivakhnov, told News.ru that its residents also “don’t see anything wrong with the name,” that they only “sometimes joke about it.”

“We are not shy,” he said.

Alexey Vorobyov, head of the Novoburassky district, Saratov region, in which the village of Lokh is located, also said the State Duma should take up more important issues and emphasized that the residents of Lokh are “proud of their name.”

“Some people simply have nothing to do there. You know very well what is needed. There is something far more useful to be doing,” Vorobiev said.

Translated from Meduza.

You Might Also Like

The Coldest Village on Earth
  • March 01, 2004

The Coldest Village on Earth

So you think it has been cold in the US this winter? Well, you don't know from cold. You want cold, you go to Siberia. And when Siberians want cold, they go to Oymyakon. So that's where Nick Allen went. You get to tag along.
Village Injustice
  • July 01, 2006

Village Injustice

This modern tale of two hapless village drunks and their run-in with the Russian justice system could be taken out of Chekhov. But, sadly, it is non-fiction.
A People on the Brink
  • March 01, 2021

A People on the Brink

Just outside St. Petersburg, a small, ancient ethnos comes to terms with its history, its language, and with its inevitable end.
Documentarian of the North
  • January 01, 2020

Documentarian of the North

He was a talented artist but an even more gifted itinerate photographer. What he captured 120 years ago is remarkable.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Moscow and Muscovites

Moscow and Muscovites

Vladimir Gilyarovsky's classic portrait of the Russian capital is one of Russians’ most beloved books. Yet it has never before been translated into English. Until now! It is a spectactular verbal pastiche: conversation, from gutter gibberish to the drawing room; oratory, from illiterates to aristocrats; prose, from boilerplate to Tolstoy; poetry, from earthy humor to Pushkin. 
Survival Russian

Survival Russian

Survival Russian is an intensely practical guide to conversational, colloquial and culture-rich Russian. It uses humor, current events and thematically-driven essays to deepen readers’ understanding of Russian language and culture. This enlarged Second Edition of Survival Russian includes over 90 essays and illuminates over 2000 invaluable Russian phrases and words.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
Murder and the Muse

Murder and the Muse

KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955