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Tag: Lenin

And the Oscar for best foreign-language film…

Sunday, 22 February, 2015 0 Comments

… goes to Leviathan. Well, that’s what we hope. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s film exudes contempt for modern Russia. Its story of corruption and cruelty is an indictment of the entire system. A win for Leviathan tonight in Los Angeles will be a black eye for the Putin regime and a victory for creativity. How the characters in the film feel about their country’s perverted history in captured is one of the film’s best scenes: a picnic with some local policemen, lots of bottles of vodka, semi-automatic weapons and an array of Soviet-era portraits — Brezhnev, Lenin, Andropov… the entire gallery of thugs.

Vladimir Medinsky, the Russian Minister of Culture, has called for new guidelines to ban films like Leviathan, which “defile” Russia and her culture.” Leviathan is a glorious defiling; a film that reviles what it loves with grief-stricken rage.


Journalist of the day: Robert Bruce Lockhart

Friday, 11 April, 2014 0 Comments

When the Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917, Robert Bruce Lockhart was the Acting British Consul-General in Moscow. Working for the Secret Intelligence Service, he set about creating a network of undercover agents, but he and fellow British spy Sidney Reilly were soon arrested. Robert Bruce Lockhart Instead of getting the expected 9mm of lead in the back of their necks, however, they were exchanged for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov. Lockhart wrote about his experiences in Memoirs of a British Agent — a bestseller that was made into the film British Agent in 1934.

11 April 1929: “Priceless story of Lenin and the death of his mother-in-law (Krupskaya’s mother). Krupskaya tired of watching at the death-bed asked Lenin to sit by her mother while she slept. He was to call her if her mother wanted anything. Lenin took a book and began to read. Two hours later Krupskaya came back. Her mother was dead. Lenin was still reading. Krupskaya blamed him: “Why did you not let me know?’ Lenin replied: ‘But your mother never called me!’ Still, Lenin was not inhuman.” Robert Bruce Lockhart (1887 — 1970)

And thus ends our week of journal entries. It’s good for mind and soul to keep a journal says Oliver Burkeman: “Write about your most profound fears, your feelings of loneliness, of regret and grief. Then hide it somewhere where nobody will ever find it, don’t tell a soul…”


Ukraine museum becomes dustbin of history

Monday, 24 February, 2014 0 Comments

According to the Azerbaijan Press Agency, the toll from the weekend revolution was high: “All in all, more than 10 monuments to the leader of the 1917 revolution have been pulled down or destroyed in several cities of Ukraine.” It’s obvious from the report that “radicals” are at work here: “Statues to Lenin have been repeatedly coming under attack by radicals since December 8, when a statue of Lenin was toppled and destroyed with sledge hammers in Kiev.” How have the beleaguered comrades responded to this provocation? “Communists have dismantled a statue of Lenin taking it to a museum in Dneprodzherzhinsk, a city in the major industrial Dnepropetrovsk region in the south-eastern part of Ukraine.”

Looking at the TV images of those toppling statues over the weekend, one is reminded of what Lenin once said: “Political institutions are a superstructure resting on an economic foundation.”

Lenin

It may be considered boorish to describe a museum as “a dustbin of history”, but the term is uncannily apt when it comes to Dnepropetrovsk. And there’s more to be done when it comes to filling the museums because this “struggle” is global.


If I had a hammer (and sickle)

Friday, 31 January, 2014 1 Comment

The late Pete Seeger was a Marxist and, in his own words, a “communist with a small c”, all his life. Some, however, would differ with the singer’s use of the lower-case there. David Boaz, writing in The Guardian in 2006, went so far as to call him “Stalin’s songbird” and bolstered his case by quoting the ex-communist scholar Ronald Radosh: “Seeger was anti-war during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact; pro-war after the Soviet Union was the ally of the United States; and anti-war during the years of the Cold War and Vietnam.”

Adam Garfinkle does not ignore Seeger’s politics in “So Long, It’s Been a Bit Strange to Know You“, but he makes a case for putting the singer’s misguided beliefs in context:

“When you come right down to it, what Seeger did, probably without knowing it, was to devise a kind of new-age folk religion out of musical protest rituals. What he did made people feel good, made them feel like a part of something larger than themselves at a time when traditional means of religious communal expression weren’t working so well. The merging of environmental consciousness into the older leftist portfolio was almost too good to be true for this purpose: Lenin plus Gaia equaled countercultural nirvana. It was fine for most never to get beyond the lyrical slogans to the second paragraph of any thought about a political topic — that just wasn’t the point. Communal singing is a very powerful form of human celebration that creates and sustains spiritual connectedness; if you don’t realize that, it means you’ve never been involved in it. For all I know it probably has health benefits as well.”

Lenin plus Gaia is apt.


Black and white in the pre-PC days

Tuesday, 5 November, 2013 0 Comments

Back in March 2006, Garry O’Connor of the Scottish football side Hibernian agreed a £1.6 million transfer to Lokomotiv Moscow. He was not, however, the first Scot to play football in Russia. Robert Bruce Lockhart won the Moscow league championship in 1912, playing with Morozov — a textile factory team. But all this was a cover for his real profession: espionage. And if one believes the conspiracy theorists, he was at the centre of a plot to assassinate Lenin.

British Agent Robert Bruce Lockhart was Acting British Consul-General in Moscow when the first Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917. Working for the Secret Intelligence Service, he had been given £648 worth of diamonds to fund the creation of an agent network. Diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend and it was almost inevitable that Moura Budberg, the beautiful widow of Count Johann von Benckendorff, became his mistress. With all the dramatis personæ in place, Lockhart was ready to strike, but Felix Dzerzhinsky, the cunning head of Cheka, struck first. Lockhart and fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, were arrested, but instead of being shot, they were exchanged for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov. Lockhart wrote about his experiences in Memoirs of a British Agent — a bestseller that was made into the film British Agent in 1934.

Spy, author and broadcaster Robert Bruce Lockhart was a talented, prolific diarist with an eye for detail and an ear for anecdote:

5 November 1928: “Heard a very good story on Mussolini and crown Prince [Wilhelm of Germany]. Latter had been to Tripoli and his father asked him what he thought of the natives. He replied, ‘I prefer dealing with black men in white shirts than the white men in black shirts.'” Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart

Tomorrow, here, Cesare Pavese, the Italian writer and diarist, who once said, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”


Former bus driver Nicolas Maduro at the wheel in Venezuela

Friday, 14 December, 2012 0 Comments

Richard Gott, former Latin America correspondent and features editor of the Guardian, resigned from the British newspaper in 1994 after claims that he had been a Soviet “agent of influence”. But you can’t keep a good sympathizer down and Gott regularly resurfaces in the Guardian whenever “the revolution” needs defending. With Hugo Chávez’s Bolívarian revolution […]

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At the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Sunday, 6 May, 2012
At the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

A trip to the big city of Hanoi is a memorable occasion and a group photo in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum belongs to the essential rituals of the excursion. Visitors should note that legs must be covered, silence must be observed, hands must not be in pockets, nor arms crossed. Photography is […]

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