May/June 2011

Features in this Issue

The Real Last Tsar

History tends to record Nicholas II as the last Tsar of all the Russias. Not to put too fine a point on it, but History is wrong. There was one more, and this is his fascinating story.

Trekking In Partisan Footsteps

Eastern Crimea was a center for partisan activity during the Great Patriotic War. In honor of the May Day holiday, we trek through this wild realm along the Black Sea.

Russian Strings

As a festival in Moscow brings together virtuoso guitarists from across Europe, the traditional Russian seven-stringed form of the instrument is enjoying a renaissance… in America.

How the East Was Won

Since Soviet Russia began domestic production of trucks and automobiles, the road rally has been a venerated pursuit. Yet, interestingly, Russian road rallies are not about winning a race, but finishing a quest.

Departments and More

  • 4

    On Things Russian

    I always find it fascinating to glimpse another person’s world for a day or so, to learn what they are doing in their corner of the Russian world.

  • 5

    Letters to the Editor

    Readers comment and correct.

  • 7
    Note Book

    Let the Games Begin

    In less than a year, Russia will go to the polls to vote for president, and the winner – for the first time – will be awarded with a six-year term. 

  • 8
    Note Book


    All the news that fits from all across Russia.

  • 12

    Battle Him, the Tiger Minister

    In the spirit of making the Olympic Games in Sochi a truly national event to unite the Russian people, the Sochi organizers last year launched a contest where artists could submit entries to be chosen as the official Olympic mascot.

  • 14
    Travel Notes

    Travel Notes

    The latest from the travel front.

  • 17
    Russian Calendar

    Rethinking the Unthinkable

    Ask any Russian, “When did the War begin?” – just “the War,” not the Civil, First World, Chechen, or Afghan War – and the answer will be automatic: June 22, 1941.

  • 19
    Russian Calendar

    A 20,000 Candle Party

    On May 11, 1791, one of the most extravagant and sumptuous parties of Catherine the Great’s reign was held in the Tauride Palace, the St. Petersburg residence of Prince Grigory Potyomkin. 

  • 22
    Russian Calendar

    Slavic Adoration

    There is a marvelous photograph taken by Yevgeny Khaldei in Bulgaria in 1944. Soviet troops, having just entered the capital of Sophia, are looking in amazement at a monument to Alexander II in the city’s main square. 

  • 25
    Russian Calendar

    Holy Trinity Monastery

    Each year on June 13, Holy Spirit Day, Holy Trinity Monastery in upstate New York celebrates its annual feast day, opening its doors to the public. The largest spiritual center for the Russian Orthodox faith outside Russia, the monastery played an important role in preservation of Orthodoxy during the Soviet era.

  • 26
    Survival Russian

    Less than PC Russian

    The domino revolutions in the Middle East got me thinking about the word “Arab,” along with some other less-than-politically-correct Russian colloquialisms. 

  • 52

    The All-Important Tavern

    Boris Kustodiev’s painting Moscow Tavern (1916) captures a world that was soon to vanish. Here, old-fashioned cabbies, wearing the telltale long beards and caftans of Old Believers, enjoy a break from their work as they relax over tea. Recipe: Herring in Dill Sauce

  • 54
    Under Review

    Fiction and Memoirs

    Reviews of five books: Snowdrops by A.D. Miller; Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente; The Russian Word's Worth, by Michele A. Berdy; The Three Fat Men, by Yuri Olesha; Memoir of a Gulag Actress, by Tamara Petkevich.

  • 56
    Post Script

    Contemplating Chernobyl

    Just as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus were preparing to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the deadly Chernobyl nuclear accident (April 26, 1986), the world faced a harrowing reminder of the possibility of nuclear catastrophe, as Japan’s Fukushima plant experienced multiple partial meltdowns, spewing radioactive material into the air and water.

  • 58

    Uchites 12

    The 12th installment of our Uchites insert uses the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Russia as its theme.


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