July 01, 1996

A Time to Get Away



This summer, as you receive your July issue of Russian Life, a small piece of history is being made to which we saw fit to dedicate our cover story (page 4). Of the three previous Summer Olympic Games held in the USA, none hosted a Russian (or Soviet) team — at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Imperial Russia had not yet managed to get a team together; in 1932, the Soviet Union was still too isolated from the world to go to Los Angeles; the 1984 LA Games became the victim of Soviet retaliation for the boycott of Moscow in 1980. Therefore it is with a heightened interest that Executive Editor Mikhail Ivanov observes how that old superpower rivalry is being taken to the stadiums of Atlanta, Georgia.

While Russia’s richer tourists are away rooting for their country across the ocean, ordinary mortals will be taking time off in Russia’s hottest month at their dachas (country houses), growing summer vegetables, making delicious dishes like okroshka (see Russian Cuisine,  page 32 ) and generally cleansing themselves of the dust and filth of city life. Yelena Utenkova reports on this peculiarly Russian form of urban escapism on page 10. Some dacha people may even turn to wild rustic merry-making, as in that truly Russian festival, Ivan Kupala, described by Valentina Kolesnikova in Russian Calendar on page 26.

Though the cities may be emptying at this time of year, one at least, St. Petersburg, is full of life at the beginning of July, as local people, tourists, and anyone else who happens to be around celebrate that romantic and unique few weeks when the sun doesn’t quite go down. We take the opportunity given by the ‘White Nights’ to introduce our new contributor in the northern ‘capital,’ Lisa Dickey, who takes a look behind the scenes of the great Hermitage museum (page 18).


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