[OPE-L] Accord and Reconciliation /End of Troubles Day

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Mon Nov 07 2005 - 15:33:15 EST


Requiem for Revolution Day

Lisa Vronskaya


This year, for the first time in decades, Russia did not mark the
anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. Instead, it celebrated
the end of the Time of Troubles, prompting many to draw parallels
between the period of chaos in the early 17th century and the 1990s.

The Time of Troubles ended with the foundation of the Romanov
dynasty. The 1990s ended with Vladimir Putin taking over the helm of
the country. On the Day of National Unity, Russia called for unity in
the multiethnic country at the same time allowing marches by
nationalists who urged the expulsion of illegal migrants from the

After so many years of enjoying a day-off on Nov. 7 most people woke
up here on Monday and went to work. Something was clearly missing.
Russia's die-hard communists, however, ignored the new holiday. They
laid flowers at Lenin's tomb on the eve of Nov. 7, and held marches
in the capital on the no-longer-celebrated day of the Great October
Socialist Revolution as it was officially called before having been
renamed as the Day of Accord and Reconciliation by the Boris Yeltsin

Despite the change, for most of us, especially the older generation
with their childhood memories, it still remained the day when the
Lenin-led Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government - a
day of Russian glory with festive demonstrations marching across the
city towards Red Square, with people carrying red carnations and
Lenin placards.

President Vladimir Putin signed a law late last year canceling the
Nov. 7. The move vexed the old guard of communists but left most
people here indifferent. In a recent poll conducted by the respected
Levada Center, 51 percent of respondents did not know what holiday
would be celebrated and only 8 percent referred to it by the correct
name, the Associated Press reported.

Indeed, for most Russians of my age Nov. 7 was merely another
official day-off but I never failed to call my grandparents and email
my parents that day to send them traditional October Revolution
greetings, which, of course, had nothing to do with the revolution
proper. This year I also used the occasion to call them all.

Even though I would never side with those who lament the demise of
the Soviet regime in this country, I did not welcome the idea of
abandoning the Nov. 7 celebrations. It is not that I will miss a
day-off because now we have another day-off, three days earlier.
Besides, I honestly think we have too many days-off here and most
Russians do not need a day-off to have a drink.

But, I am still strongly convinced that, one of the clues to this
country's never-ending misfortunes is that we never learn from own
mistakes; instead, we seek to forget them only to repeat them again.
We tear whole chapters from our history books but fail to provide new
books, being unable to reconstruct the developments of the past as
time goes.

In the early 1990s hundreds of Soviet-era monuments were ripped down
across the country, streets renamed and Soviet-era history books
thrown into waste bins. Today, many Russian schoolchildren think
Lenin fought in the Second World War and Stalin led the October

The 1917 uprising is seen by many today as the beginning of Russia's
woes while the positive sides of what it brought are being
conveniently forgotten.

The new holiday - 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 antagonized the country and, at the end of
1612, Kuzma Minin, a merchant, and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky led a
militia that drove the Poles out of Moscow. The following year
Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar, founding the dynasty that ruled
Russia until 1917.

"The new holiday celebrates Russia's defensiveness towards the
outside world and isolationism," Andrei Zorin, a professor of Russian
at Oxford University, told the Financial Times last week. "The new
holiday equates the turmoil of the 1990s with the Time of Troubles
and declares this time to be over," 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."

When decreeing on the new holiday, Vladimir Putin's government said
the Revolution Day had to be abandoned because it created a rift in
society while a new holiday would help boost patriotism and
strengthen national unity. But with ultra-nationalist calls growing
louder each day, Russia is unlikely to achieve true unity anytime

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