Prompt Corner

The Vagankovo Cemetery

One of Moscow's oldest necropolises.  It was originally located outside the city limits near the Novoye Vagankovo village.  At one point Vagankovo was host to strolling actors, goliards, who performed for Moscow tsars; this is where "the monarch's amusement court" was. In the old days in Moscow it was customary to bury the dead near churches and monasteries; burials were performed even on the territory of the Kremlin and the Red Square.  A plague epidemic put a stop to that tradition: Senate decree of 1771 forbade burying those who died from the plague in the city cemeteries; they were to be taken to special cemeteries outside the city.  That was how the Vagankovo Cemetery was created.  In the twentieth century, when Moscow's borders expanded considerably, Vagankovo became a city cemetery.  Ballet artist Maris Liepa, artist Vasily Surikov, actors Aleksandr Abdulov, Andrei Mironov, Oleg Dal, and Erast Garin, singer/songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky, poet Sergei Yesenin and many others are buried there. 


A musical based on Veniamin Kaverin's novel "The Two Captains".  In October of 2002, Chechen terrorists took the audience hostage during the performance of "Nord-Ost" at the Dubrovka Theatre Centre in Moscow.  More than one hundred people, including actors and audience members, died when Special Forces stormed the centre. 

The Chernobyl Disaster

An explosion of one of the reactors at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986.  It was the biggest accident in the history of nuclear power engineering. The accident caused the release of large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere.  Over 200 thousand square meters of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian territory was contaminated.  Trying to escape from the radiation, people ran from contaminated areas, abandoning their homes and belongings.  The Chernobyl disaster caused a sharp increase in immigration from the USSR in the late 1980s and early 1990s. 

The Nikon Chronicle

A compiled Russian chronicle of the 16th century.  One of the copies belonged to patriarch Nikon, hence the title.  The Nikon Chronicle includes such highly significant works of the early Russian literature as "The Tale of the Kalka Battle", "The Tale of the Invasion of Batyi", "The Tale of the Battle of the Neva", "The Tale of the Battle of the Ice ", "The Tale of the Invasion of Tokhtamysh", "The Tale of Sergius of Radonezh", "The Tale of Ivan Vasilyevich's March on Novgorod", "The Story of the Great Standoff on the Ugra River", etc. 

Vasily Vasilievich Rozanov (1856-1919)

A Russian writer, religious philosopher.  Author of books "People of the Moonlight.  The Metaphysics of Christianity", "The Fallen Leaves", "The Apocalypse of Our Time".   Spent many years teaching history and geography in gymnasiums across the Smolensk Province.  Famous writer Mikhail Prishvin was among his students.  Rozanov's views were conservative, yet ambivalence is a characteristic feature of his philosophy. He highlighted numerous themes and problems of Russian life from different and sometimes opposite standpoints.  Thus he was furiously critical of the Revolution of 1905 in conservative publications from the standpoint of a monarchist and a Black-Hundreder.  Yet in other publications under an assumed name he expressed a left liberal, populist and occasionally even a Social Democratic point of view.  He managed to gain the reputation as both a Jew hater and a Jew lover.   Rozanov's propensity for eluding definitions is key to understanding his books.  His favorite genre is an incidental record, a fleeting impression, an expanded aphorism.  Something similar in form can be found in works by French philosophers Blaise Pascal and Michel de Montaigne. Metaphysics and the theology of sex have special place in Rozanov's works.  His hedonistic philosophy was at odds with the postulates of Christianity. Despite that, he was a religious person. Rozanov died at the height of the Civil War in utter poverty, worn out by hunger and disease. 

The Dispossessed

Peasants who were subjected to repressions during the 1920s and 1930s, based on political and social factors.  "Liquidation of Kulaks as a Class", announced by the Communist Party and Stalin himself, led to the extermination of an entire social class of able-bodied small landowners. The aftermath of that policy was mass hunger in several regions of the USSR.  Dispossession began during the Civil War.  At that time it consisted in confiscation of land, inventory and food supplies.  And it morphed into a physical extermination of hundreds of thousands of people.   The village poor, who were hoping to make a good haul at their rich neighbors' houses, welcomed the liquidation measures against the kulaks. The intent behind forced collectivization of agriculture, carried out by the Soviet government, was courtless deprivation of all civil rights of the kulaks and their expulsion to remote regions of the country.  It was decided to "liquidate" the kulak core group "by imprisoning them in concentration camps, and not stopping short of death penalty". 


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