May 09, 2019

Victory Over the Past

Victory Over the Past
War Veterans at a May Day celebration Pavel Losevsky |

May they all rest in peace. 

1. “On the sixth of May we announce a subbotnik [Saturday community service day] to collect human remains on the river bank,” read a sign in a village of 400 in Perm region. The area along the river was a mass grave – or, in the kinder Russian phrasing, a brothers’ grave – for victims of the Civil War (1918-1922). Erosion has caused many of the bones to become unearthed. Every spring for the past ten years residents have volunteered to gather them for reburial. 

2. Speaking of dead soldiers, ten Great Fatherland War heroes will forever rest not only in peace, but with honor. The graves of air force officers, including the female division nicknamed the “Night Witches,” were declared objects of cultural heritage of regional significance. The Night Witches played a key role in battles to free Sevastopol, Minsk and Warsaw, just to name a few. One of the other memorialized graves belongs to Vitaliy Popkov, whose life is depicted in the Soviet movie Only Old Men Are Going to Battle. You can pay your respects to all of them at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.  

Night Witches
“Night Witches” pilot Nadezhda Popova buried alongside her husband, general Simyon Kharlamov, who was also a war hero. / Website of the mayor and government of Moscow

3. A Russian psychologist proposed that a new term, “the carry-on bag syndrome,” can help victims understand and move past the tragedy of the airplane that caught on fire at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport this week. Many Russian outlets blamed passengers that grabbed bags on their way out of the plane for slowing down the evacuation, e.g. Komsomolskaya Pravda’s Facebook post: “Are things more valuable than people?” Emergency psychology specialist Olga Makarova explained that, when under extreme stress, people automatically act in accordance with their habits. She also said the media’s reaction has been akin to blaming the survivors of a tragedy. 

In odder news

Boy rides tank
Even severe illness didn’t tank this boy’s dreams. / Press Service of the Central Army Region 
  • A thirteen year old boy suffering from spinal muscular atrophy fulfilled his dream of riding on a tank at the rehearsal of the May 9 Parade in Yekaterinburg. 
  • While we are still shaken by the fire at the Sheremetyevo Airport, here’s a feel-good story about the fire-that-wasn’t. A fourth grader out fishing with his grandpa caught sight of some burning grass and immediately hopped on his bike to ride five kilometers to warn the local fire department, which got there in time to prevent a forest fire. 
  • It will soon become legal to hunt with a bow and arrow in Russia. May the odds be ever in their favor

Quote of the Week

“Can they really do that? State honors are placed on that ribbon, it is a symbol of victory, and they put it on vodka and pasta.” 

– A 97-year-old Great Fatherland War veteran who does not approve of the Ribbon of St. George being placed on food products. 

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