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Topics - RichC

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I was very lucky to have received a small gift today of a book called Postcards From the Russian Revolution, published this year by the Bodleian Library.  It's a short but interesting book filled with photos of old pre-revolutionary postcards from the library's special collections.

The cover which shows a cartoon of a revolutionary holding up the severed head of Grand Duke Serge is quite startling.  I had no idea that there were actually postcards published in Russia before the revolution which celebrated the fall of the monarchy and indeed the killing of members of the royal family.

News Links / Weary of Highway Bribery, Russians Take on the Police
« on: October 27, 2007, 06:24:03 PM »
First paragraph:

YEKATERINBURG, Russia, Oct. 25 — Kirill Formanchuk, like almost everyone who drives in Russia, was used to being pulled over by the police and cited for seemingly trumped up infractions. Yet instead of resigning himself to paying a bribe, he turned traffic stops into roadside tribunals, interrogating officers about their grasp of the law, recording the events and filing formal complaints about them.

Link to complete article:

News Links / Wikipedia Editing Proves a Royal Embarrassment
« on: August 31, 2007, 02:29:06 PM »
Oops.  The Netherlands royals stick their feet in it.

Here's the link:

Here's the first paragraph:

The temptation to spin can be impossible to resist – even for royalty. This seems the lesson to be gleaned from the new WikiScanner, which revealed earlier this week that a Wikipedia article about a 2003 scandal in Holland was scrubbed clean by the subjects of the entry themselves, the Dutch royal family.

Here's the link to the article and the first few paragraphs:

MOSCOW, April 21 — At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”

In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.

How would they know what constituted positive news?

The Windsors / The Mitfords
« on: April 08, 2007, 07:15:35 PM »
They aren't royal, but I thought it would be worthwhile to start a thread about the Mitford family, one of the UK's most interesting aristocratic families.  Which one of the six Mitford sisters is your favorite and why?  The Communist (Jessica) or the Fascists (Unity and Diana), or maybe Nancy (the novelist), or perhaps Deborah (Britain's Martha Stewart).   Oh, and I forgot Pam, who everyone else seems to have forgotten too (she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.)  And what is it with British aristocrats embracing wacky or discredited political theories anyway?


News Links / Moscow Fire Kills 45
« on: December 09, 2006, 10:47:24 AM »
From today's New York Times:

45 Die in Fire at Moscow Hospital

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Published: December 9, 2006

MOSCOW, Dec. 9 — A fire in a drug-treatment hospital here early Saturday killed 45 women who were trapped behind a blocked emergency exit and locked window grilles as smoke suffocated them, Russian officials said.

While arson was suspected, the magnitude of the death toll appeared to result from gross safety violations and the evident failure of the hospital’s staff to make an effort to rescue its patients, the officials said.

“I have to say that no rescue operations were carried out by the personnel,” Aleksandr P. Chupriyan, the deputy minister of emergencies services, said in remarks broadcast on Ekho Moskvy. “The fact is that when they discovered the fire, they themselves jumped out from the first floor.”

The fire itself was not large, beginning in a wooden cabinet in a second-floor kitchen that had undergone repair work the previous day, but the flames generated thick, toxic smoke that filled that wing of Moscow Drug Treatment Hospital No. 17, one of the country’s largest centers for treating addicts.

Of those killed, 43 were patients, sleeping on the women’s ward on the second floor. The two others were hospital workers. Most the patients were younger than 35, seeking to break their addictions, a hospital psychologist, Olga Rudakov, told NTV, a national TV station. All should have been able to walk out, she said, had they not been trapped.

Many of the windows in the wing had been smashed, but the metal bars blocking any escape remained in place. The only exit not engulfed in smoke was behind a locked metal gate, the chief of the emergencies ministry’s fire inspection department, Maj. Gen. Yuri P. Nenashev, said.

Hospital workers should have had keys to unlock the window grilles. It was not clear if they had tried. “I suspect that the personnel response was completely inadequate,” Mr. Chupriyan said.

He and other officials said the victims died from smoke inhalation, not burns. At least 150 patients and workers escaped, though at least 12 of them were injured, some seriously. One patient, who was not identified, told NTV that patients had jumped from windows, though it was not clear where.

“We could not open the door,” she said.

Russia has strict building and fire codes but also a culture of bribery and corruption that allows violations to pass unpunished - and unfixed.

The Prosecutor General’s Office announced that it would begin an investigation into the cause of the fire and safety violations.

Mr. Chupriyan said his ministry would conduct inspections at hospitals elsewhere.

Safety problems at Hospital No. 17 had already drawn the attention of the authorities, but to no avail.

Mr. Nenashev said that fire inspectors had found fire-safety violations in February and March and recommended closing the hospital until they were corrected. A court refused, however, and issued only a warning.

The fire’s toll was the worst in years in Moscow. A fire at People’s Friendship University in 2003 killed 44 people, mostly foreign students. In that case, too, locked emergency exits trapped those inside.

The victims on Saturday were among the most vulnerable people in Russia, recovering addicts who engender little public sympathy. The hospital is located in a depressed part of southern Moscow, an area of crumbling Soviet-era apartment blocs.

One elderly woman outside the hospital said her granddaughter was among the patients and had survived the fire. Still, she offered her no sympathy for the latest ordeal in her granddaughter’s life.

“Let death take her,” she said, declining to say her name.

News Links / Attackers Pillage Moscow Art Gallery and Beat Activist Owner
« on: October 24, 2006, 09:54:12 PM »
Here is the link:

Here is the article:

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: October 22, 2006

MOSCOW, Oct. 21 — A group of men burst into a contemporary art gallery here Saturday, destroying work by an ethnic Georgian artist and beating up the owner, Marat Guelman. Mr. Guelman is well known both for his display of politically inspired and irreverent art and, most recently, his public attacks on neofascists for their dislike of non-Russians and of Western influence on Russian society.

Mr. Guelman said the attack was carried out by 10 men who looked like skinheads. The attack was the latest incident to raise troubling questions about xenophobia and freedom of expression in Russia.

On Friday, Russian officials seized 11 pieces of art that Mr. Guelman had exhibited. The art was on consignment to a London gallery owner, Matthew Bown, who was taking the pieces out of the country when he was detained at Sheremetyevo-2 airport on Friday.

The photo collages that were seized included one depicting President Vladimir Putin, President Bush and Osama bin Laden lounging in boxer shorts and another of a veiled suicide bomber with her skirt held up to reveal racy lingerie.

Mr. Bown was allowed to leave for London, but the artwork was not released.

It is unclear whether the seizure of the artwork on Friday and the attack on the gallery were related, coincidence or driven by news about the airport seizure on the radio and the Internet. Mr. Guelman has made a fair number of enemies this year because of his public criticism of neofascists and nationalists.

He is now on a list of “enemies of Russia” that is being circulated on the Internet by Russian neofascists.

Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was gunned down in her apartment building on Oct. 7, was also on the list, as are many prominent human rights advocates. Ms. Politkovskaya made her name as a searing critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya.

Mr. Guelman has also angered Russian Orthodox fundamentalists with his criticism of their influence on politics and for displaying artwork they consider antireligious. Although he has long cultivated connections with the Kremlin, he has been increasingly critical of Mr. Putin.

It was also unclear whether the attack on the gallery and the Georgian art was related to anti-Georgian sentiment that has surged this fall.

Tensions between the Kremlin and President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia led to a crackdown on Georgians in Russia this month. The government has accused some Georgian-owned businesses of violating health or other regulatory standards and has deported hundreds of ethnic Georgians deemed to be in Russia illegally.

In a telephone interview on Saturday evening after he was released from the hospital, Mr. Guelman said he had been treated for a broken nose and other injuries.

He said 10 men dressed in dark blue and wearing hats and heavy boots charged into the gallery at around noon, forced the employees against a wall, seized their phones and then proceeded to vandalize the artwork and attack him.

“They started to beat me with their shoes, with chairs,” he said. “Then they threw a computer at me. It was awful.”

He said pieces of graphic art by Alexander Djikia, a Moscow-based ethnic Georgian artist who has lived in the United States, were destroyed and paintings by him were damaged. Mr. Djikia could not be reached for comment.

The official RIA Novosti news agency said Saturday that the Moscow prosecutor’s office had opened a criminal investigation into the gallery attack.

Aleksandr Brod, the director of the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights, which tracks xenophobia and hate crimes in Russia, said the attack on Saturday highlighted troubling currents. Mr. Brod is also on the list of “enemies of Russia.”

“Such demonstrative attacks on famous people are becoming the norm,” he said. “This is a big misfortune and serious grounds for the authorities to stop and think,” he said.

More Articles in International »

News Links / Russian Journalist Murdered in Moscow
« on: October 10, 2006, 09:36:58 PM »
Here is the link:

Here is the first few paragraphs of the story:

(CBS/AP) Russia has become a deadly place for journalists who run afoul of government officials or their business and political partners.

Those behind the killings, though, are rarely brought to justice, reinforcing a sense of impunity that may have encouraged the killers of Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the war in Chechnya.

As the European Union and the U.S. demanded a thorough probe into Saturday's contract-style killing, there was skepticism that the authorities would ever uncover the culprits of the latest in a series of killings of journalists in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, who has been increasingly accused of rolling back post-Soviet freedoms since coming to power in 2000.

News Links / No rehab for Royal Family
« on: February 20, 2006, 06:05:05 PM »
Here is the article:

Prosecutor's office refuses to rehabilitate royal family
MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - The Russian Prosecutor's Office has refused to recognize last Russian tsar Nicholas II and his family, killed by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918, as victims of political repression, citing a lack of evidence. It also refused to rehabilitate the royal family.

Late in 2005, Grand Duchess Maria, who claims to head what is known as the Romanov imperial house of Russia, asked the Prosecutor General's Office to recognize Nicholas and his family as victims of political repression and to restore the family.

"There is no authentic evidence of the existence of any official decisions by judiciary or non-judiciary authorities that politically motivated repression was exercised against [Nicholas and his family], evidence that is required by current rehabilitation legislation. This prevents us from recognizing [the royal family] as victims of political repression and from issuing a decision on their rehabilitation," the Prosecutor General's Office said in a letter.

Here is the link:

News Links / Worries of Anti-Semitism Spread in Russia
« on: January 12, 2006, 09:51:43 PM »
Here is the link:

Here is the article:

By HENRY MEYER, Associated Press Writer Thu Jan 12, 2:59 PM ET

MOSCOW - Pogroms and purges of Jews are a thing of the past in Russia, but as women scrubbed the bloodstained floors of Moscow's Chabad Bronnaya synagogue on Thursday, a day after a man burst in and stabbed worshippers, alarm spread over increasingly open anti-Semitism.

Jewish leaders warned official indifference is fueling a wave of hate attacks and called for a crackdown on aggressive nationalist and fascist groups that have mushroomed in recent years. Police should guard outside synagogues and other Jewish sites, they said.

"We expect government and law enforcement agencies to take real measures to ensure this doesn't happen again," Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said. "If there is indifference, nothing will change."

Worshippers were somber at the synagogue in downtown Moscow, where the knife-wielding man shouting "I will kill Jews" slashed and stabbed at least eight people before a rabbi's son wrestled him to the ground.

"Until yesterday, I felt completely safe but things have gotten serious now," said Nadav Zavilinsky, a 21-year-old religious student who witnessed the attack.

Among the eight men wounded were an American, an Israeli and a Tajik, chief Moscow prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev said. Four of the victims remained in serious condition Thursday.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack denounced "this perfidious attack" and said the United States "expresses its sympathy to the wounded and their families." He also said the United States welcomed condemnation of the attack by the Russian government, "including its commitment to an investigation of this crime."

A million Jews live in Russia, according to the Federation of Jewish Communities, as the Jewish community has experienced a revival after a wave of emigration to
Israel and other countries before and after the break up of the Soviet Union.

But hundreds of racially motivated attacks, including the occasional desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, have occurred in recent years in violence aimed at Jews as well as dark-skinned immigrants from former Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus Mountains region.

More than 40 people in Russia were killed in apparently racially motivated attacks last year, according to the Moscow Bureau of Human Rights. The group estimates that Russia is home to some 50,000 skinheads and numerous neo-Nazi organizations.

Rights activists say such groups are emboldened by mild prosecution of hate crimes and they complain that Nazi and other extremist literature is sold freely.

The suspect in Wednesday's attack, identified as Alexander Koptsev, 20, was reading a book about Jews betraying Russia shortly before the assault, his father told the Kommersant daily.

Two men assaulted two rabbis near another synagogue in Moscow in January but were convicted of assault and hooliganism, which carry lesser sentences than hate crimes.

Alla Gerber, head of the Holocaust Foundation, said anti-Semitism persisted within law enforcement ranks despite high-level condemnation.

"I was shocked at what happened yesterday, but not surprised. Anti-Semitism is a traditional problem in Russia, and it is flourishing now in a general climate of xenophobia," Gerber said.

In what was seen as a step forward, President
Vladimir Putin acknowledged anti-Semitism as a problem when he attended ceremonies in January marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

But just before the Auschwitz commemorations, a group of nationalist Russian lawmakers called for an investigation aimed at outlawing all Jewish organizations, accusing Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred.

While the authorities ignored calls by human rights groups to prosecute the legislators, they investigated whether an ancient Jewish text incited religious hatred after a complaint from two nationalist activists.

Later Thursday, Moscow police chief, Vladimir Pronin promised to deploy officers to help protect synagogues. Lazar and Pronin also agreed in a meeting to set up a joint working group to monitor xenophobic propaganda and extremist groups, Lazar's office said in a statement.

The rabbi of the synagogue targeted in Wednesday's attack, Yitzhak Kogan, said Jews in modern Russia face a new threat.

"There is no more anti-Semitism on the state level, as we saw in Soviet times, but instead we have a lot of freedom for anti-Semitic groups in Russia, and the incident yesterday was one of its manifestations," Kogan said.

News Links / Stalin's Ape Warriors
« on: December 21, 2005, 02:08:59 PM »
Here's the link:

Here's the article:  (check out the snippet on N II)

Stalin Planned Army of Ape-Man Super-Warriors
Created: 20.12.2005 11:20 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:20 MSK


Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents, the reports.

Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia’s top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

Stalin reportedly told the scientist: “I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”

In 1926 the Politburo in Moscow passed the request to the Academy of Science with the order to build a “living war machine”. The order came at a time when the Soviet Union was embarked on a crusade to turn the world upside down, with social engineering seen as a partner to industrialization: new cities, architecture, and a new egalitarian society were being created.

The Soviet authorities were struggling to rebuild the Red Army after bruising wars.

And there was intense pressure to find a new labor force, particularly one that would not complain, with Russia about to embark on its first Five-Year Plan for fast-track industrialization.

Ivanov was highly regarded. He had established his reputation under the last Russian tsar Nicholas II when in 1901 he established the world’s first centre for the artificial insemination of racehorses.

Ivanov’s ideas were music to the ears of Soviet planners and in 1926 he was dispatched to West Africa with $200,000 to conduct his first experiment in impregnating chimpanzees.

Meanwhile, a centre for the experiments was set up in Georgia — Stalin’s birthplace — for the apes to be raised.

Of course Ivanov’s experiments were a total failure. He returned to the Soviet Union, only to see experiments in Georgia to use monkey sperm in human volunteers similarly fail.

A final attempt to persuade Cuba to lend some monkeys for further experiments reached American ears, with the New York Times reporting on the story, and Havana dropped the idea amid the uproar.

Ivanov was now in disgrace. His were not the only experiments going wrong: the plan to collectivize farms ended in the 1932 famine in which at least four million died.

For his expensive failure, he was sentenced to five years in jail, which was later commuted to five years’ exile in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan in 1931. A year later he died, reportedly after falling sick while standing on a freezing railway platform.

News Links / Nicholas II Land
« on: December 21, 2005, 02:04:44 PM »
Here is the link:

Here is the article:

Activists Want Russian Tsar’s Name to Be Returned to Northern Archipelago
Created: 16.12.2005 11:46 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:46 MSK


Six Russian organizations have addressed the local parliament of the Far Northern Taymyr Autonomous District asking it to return the name of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, to the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago that was renamed in Soviet times, RIA Novosti reported.

The address was signed by the Intellectuals Congress and the Moscow Patriarchate and supported by the Culture and Mass Communications Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and several bodies of the Russian Science Academy.

They have also asked the Taymyr Duma to return the name of Nicholas II’s son, Tsarevich Alexei to the Maly Taymyr island.

One of the initiators of the move, Sergei Zuev, head of a local public foundation, has already succeeded in renaming other northern islands. This summer the government returned the name of the White Army’s General Alexander Kolchak to an island in the Kara Sea.

Severnaya Zemlya is located in the Arctic Ocean, near the Taymyr Peninsula, between the Kara and Laptev Seas. The four major islands, October Revolution, Bolshevik, Komsomolets, and Pioneer, and a number of smaller islands, cover a total area of about 37,000 square kilometers.

The last archipelago on Earth to be discovered, Severnaya Zemlya was first noted in 1913 and originally named Nicholas II Land. Initially believed to be a single island, the 1931 polar flight of the Graf Zeppelin determined at least two islands; later study showed Severnaya Zemlya to be further divided.

News Links / Nicholas II's Torah Scroll
« on: November 21, 2005, 12:53:54 PM »
Here is an interesting article about a Torah Scroll that was presented to Nicholas II in 1914 by the Jewish community of Odessa.

Here is the link:

Here is the article:

S. PETERSBURG, Russia - A rare Torah scroll presented as a gift to Tsar Nikolai II by the Odessa Jewish community in 1914 will soon be displayed, thanks to the efforts of 'Beit Chabad' in S. Petersburg. The Torah, which has been in the storeroom of the State Museum 'Tsarskoe Selo' for decades, will finally see light in an exhibition the museum is organizing in Finland.

Rabbi Zvi Pinsky, the Director of 'Beit Chabad' in S. Petersburg, met with the Directors of the 'Tsarskoe Selo' Museum in order to advise them as to the proper way of storing, displaying and transporting the Torah, in accordance with Jewish tradition. During the meeting, Rabbi Pinsky also took the opportunity to request the transfer of the Torah to the S. Petersburg Jewish community.

At the meeting, the museum's Vice-Director told him, "the history of this scroll is very interesting, and we need your assistance to resolve some of the questions we have in this regard". The history of the scroll dates back to 1914, when Tsar Nikolai II met a group of Odessa Jews on his return trip from Romania back to S. Petersburg. The Jewish community presented the Tsar with this scroll, enclosed in its own Aron HaKodesh and designed by top masters.

The gift was sent to the S. Petersburg museum later. The Torah scroll and Aron HaKodesh miraculously survived World War Two, when museum workers secretly sent all exhibition pieces to the Urals for safe-keeping as Nazi troops were approaching S. Petersburg.

The museum's current vice-director believes that the scroll survived only thanks to the man who served as the museum's director at that time, who was Jewish and thus knew the real value of this Torah Scroll.

Rabbi Pinsky has confirmed the great value of this scroll, which has finally been freed from the museum's storerooms. While visitors of the touring exhibition in Finland will have the opportunity to see the scroll sometime in the near future, members of the S. Petersburg Jewish community are hopeful that they will see this Torah in a local synagogue soon.

News Links / Nicholas II and King Chulalongkorn
« on: November 21, 2005, 12:45:03 PM »
Here is the article:

By Subhatra Bhumiprabhas
The Nation
Publication Date : 2005-11-20

Thai Airways has been hitting fresh promotional heights for its new direct flights to Moscow, sponsoring presentations of Russian ballet and film, so it was almost inevitable that the storied friendship of King Chulalongkorn and Tsar Nicholas II would be revisited.

The honour of recounting that relationship fell to Associate Professor Chalong Soontravanich of Chulalongkorn University’s history department, who said at a “Contemporary Russia” seminar, presented earlier this month by the airline, that both countries stood to gain by the Russian crown prince’s state visit in 1891.

Siam had political reasons for inviting Tsarevich Grand Duke Nicholas – the man who would three years later become Tsar Nicholas II, Russia’s last emperor – and St Petersburg had sound reason to quickly accept, Chalong

It proved to be a watershed event in international diplomacy.

When the Russian Navy’s Pamiat Azova anchored in the Chao Phya River on March 20, 1891, Chulalongkorn – King Rama V – was there with a warm greeting to begin Nicholas’ five-day stay.

Nicholas was the country’s first royal guest from a foreign superpower, and his tour of Siam raised King Chulalongkorn’s hopes in his political struggle to save the country from invasion by France.

Friendship with Russia, the King believed, would be Siam’s salvation.

Siam would suffer a humiliating loss of territory to France in the Paknam Incident two years hence, but at the time of Nicholas’ visit, King
Chulalongkorn remained hopeful of balancing power.

In 1897, now on the throne, Nicholas reciprocated by hosting King Chulalongkorn in Russia. He referred to his fond memories of Siam in a telegram handed to the King as the Maha Chakkri docked.

“I recollect with such pleasure every detail of my stay in Your Majesty’s dominion and will be happy to thank you for it personally,” the tsar wrote.

The two rulers spent 11 days together, building on the camaraderie they’d established six years earlier. King Chulalongkorn’s spirits were raised anew, and he wrote to his court at home that his visit was proving a diplomatic success in easing political tensions with the Western powers.

Indeed, tempers cooled considerably between France and Siam after Nicholas allowed the French journal Illustration to publish a photo showing him and King Chulalongkorn side by side.

On the centenary of the King’s first European tour in 1997, a nephew, His Serene Highness Prince Subhadradis Diskul, told an international conference in Bangkok that the monarch had been reluctant to visit France, which had yet to agree to a formal itinerary.

But the effusive reception given him in Russia could not be ignored, and King Chulalongkorn received in turn a warm welcome in Paris.

Chalong, nevertheless, dampened the customary belief that Russia played a significant role in soothing tensions. Siam’s escape from colonisation by the French or British had othing to do with Russia, he said.

In fact, when King Chulalongkorn made his second voyage to Europe in 1907, there were no plans for another visit to Russia, Chalong noted.

In 1997, though, Prince Subhadradis said his sister had heard their father – Krom Phrya Damrongrajanubhap, Chulalongkorn’s younger brother – say that a second visit to St Petersburg was called off only because Russia’s 1905 defeat by Japan had shattered the tsar’s popularity.

As a result, Nicholas could no longer guarantee the Siamese King’s safety.

Krom Phraya Damrongrajanubhap is revered as the Father of Thai History, and Prince Subharadis was a dean of Silpakorn University’s faculty of archaeology, but Chalong believed he has found another interpretation.

“King Chulalongkorn had come to realise after his first trip to Europe that a nation’s political interests were more important than personal ties between leaders,” he said.

On his visit, Chalong said, the King asked Nicholas to help in the continuing negotiations with France, but the tsar “dared not intervene”
because Russia considered France a closer friend than Siam.

In a letter home, King Chulalongkorn said merely that the negotiations “seemed to be too sensitive a matter for the tsar to intervene”.

Instead, Nicholas told the King he would convince the French court to accept Siam’s proposal for a state visit there.

Tsar Nicholas and King Chulalongkorn saw each other for the last time in Germany, during the latter’s first trip to Europe and although he was
disappointed that the tsar could do no more for Siam, the King forever counted the doomed Russian ruler as one of his great friends.

Another anecdote not commonly seen in Thai histories is that King Chulalongkorn ordered his astrologer to prepare a natal horoscope for crown Prince Alexei when he was born in August 1905.

The King had intended to send Nicholas a zodiacal forecast for his only son, but decided against it when the stars predicted calamity.

Chulalongkorn died in 1910, eight years before the tsar and his family would meet their brutal fate at the hands of anti-royalists. Doubtless he would have been deeply grieved to witness the Romanovs’ execution.

But the political changes in Russia and the fate of Nicholas caused no alarm in the Siamese court, said Chalong. It continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the interim government there.

The bonds almost snapped soon after, though, when the Bolsheviks seized power and disclosed a secret file in which a member of the Thai administration was accused of accepting a bribe from Great Britain to keep Siam out of World War I.

The Russian ambassador to Siam left the Kingdom after it refused to recognise the communist government.

This is the link:

News Links / National Day of Unity -- November 4th
« on: November 04, 2005, 03:17:31 PM »
Here is the link:

New Russian holiday harks back to time of troubles
By Arkady Ostrovsky
Published: November 4 2005 02:00 | Last updated: November 4 2005 02:00

For the first time in almost 90 years Russia will not celebrate on November 7 the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, later renamed by Boris Yeltsin "Day of Agreement and Reconciliation".

The country today will celebrate a new holiday, the Day of National Unity, which commemorates one of the most mythologised episodes in Russian history: the liberation of Moscow from Polish occupiers in 1612.

Few Russians know the exact meaning of the new holiday - just eight per cent, according to an opinion poll. Nor do the vast majority of Russians care much about the old one; the anniversary of the revolution had long lost any political meaning.

For millions of Russians, with the exception of die-hard communists, it was simply a day off between summer holidays and New Year's day - a chance to drink, with a televised military parade on Red Square thrown in.

Although the new holiday is unlikely to upset many Russians, given the proximity of the dates, it does reflect an important attempt to redefine the nation's identity. Andrei Zorin, a professor of Russian at Oxford University, says "the new holiday celebrates Russia's defensiveness towards the outside world and isolationism".

The holiday also risks being hijacked by ultra-nationalist parties that are planning a number of demonstrations against migrants and other ethnic "occupiers".

Officially, November 4 marks the end of the Time of Troubles - a period of chaos in the early 17th century when Moscow's nobility, worn out by civil conflicts, swore allegiance to Polish Prince Wladislav.

Their shift antagonised the majority of the country and, at the end of 1612, Kuzma Minin, a merchant, and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky led a militia that liberated Moscow from the Poles. The following year Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar, founding the dynasty that ruled Russia until 1917.

President Vladimir Putin has often equated the period of Mr Yeltsin's rule to the Time of Troubles, when the economy was weak and the nation's unity disintegrated. "Mr Yeltsin worked in the period of revolutions. I think Russia had enough revolutions. Now we should have a period of stability and strengthening of the state institutions," Mr Putin declared at the beginning of his presidency.

"The new holiday equates the turmoil of the 1990s with the Time of Troubles and declares this time to be over," Mr Zorin said. "It promises stability under the new dynasty, which reasserts its power by a show trial of one of the most powerful boyars of the previous reign - Mikhail Khodorkovsky - and exile of the others."

Over the past year, and particularly since the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the idea of national unity in the face of a perceived threat from the west has dominated Russian politics.

This is not the first time the 1612 victory over Poles has been used for arousing patriotic feelings.

It served a similar purpose in 1812, during Russia's war with Napoleon. "In the modern Russian mythology," said Mr Zorin, "the centre of global intrigues against Russian interest has shifted from Paris to Washington and the role of ungrateful brothers ready to betray their Slavic identity for the trappings of western civilisation is played by the Ukrainians."

The last time that Russia evoked the myth of Minin and Pozharsky was during the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913.

Tsar Nicholas II at the time enjoyed an economic boom that was accompanied by a rise in nationalism and anti-Semitism. Stability was the word. Four years later the Bolshevik revolution took place.

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