August 07, 2022

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys


Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys
Is Russia the ringmaster? Unsplash, Mark Williams

The Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Olga Lyubimova, has chosen to "invite everyone" to take part in the festival of circus art in St. Petersburg on November 3-6, including performers from the United States and Ukraine. 

This comes as a surprise, amid heightened tensions after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

After Russian artists were banned from the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, the organizers of the festival in St. Petersburg chose to name the event "Without Borders." Lyubimova commented that "there are no borders behind scenes, there are no borders in the arena... we understand that these are our partners."  In addition to artists from Russia, Ukraine, and the United States, the festival says it will feature performers from Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Mongolia, among others.

The general director of the Russian State Circus, Sergei Belyakov, spoke about the international artists who expressed their interest in participating in the festival. Performers from 21 countries have already begun signing contracts as the date of the festival approaches.

For clarification, the minister noted that St. Petersburg may not ultimately be the location of the festival, though it seems that it will remain in Russia: "Perhaps the regions will fight" for which may host the circus, she said.

You Might Also Like

With Mouths Sewn Shut
  • July 15, 2022

With Mouths Sewn Shut

Art is a powerful realm for protest. The Ukraine War has inspired a new wave of brave works.
Artistic Apoliticality
  • July 25, 2022

Artistic Apoliticality

Russian event promoters have begun requiring artists to promise that they won't include political statements in their performances.
A Failure to Perform
  • July 07, 2022

A Failure to Perform

The International Platonov Arts Festival in Voronezh, has been canceled due to current political conditions.
An Anthem of Dissent
  • May 24, 2022

An Anthem of Dissent

A Russian man in Tyumen was arrested for playing the Ukrainian national anthem in public.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

White Magic

White Magic

The thirteen tales in this volume – all written by Russian émigrés, writers who fled their native country in the early twentieth century – contain a fair dose of magic and mysticism, of terror and the supernatural. There are Petersburg revenants, grief-stricken avengers, Lithuanian vampires, flying skeletons, murders and duels, and even a ghostly Edgar Allen Poe.
Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy

A book that dares to explore the humanity of priests and pilgrims, saints and sinners, Faith & Humor has been both a runaway bestseller in Russia and the focus of heated controversy – as often happens when a thoughtful writer takes on sacred cows. The stories, aphorisms, anecdotes, dialogues and adventures in this volume comprise an encyclopedia of modern Russian Orthodoxy, and thereby of Russian life.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Jews in Service to the Tsar

Jews in Service to the Tsar

Benjamin Disraeli advised, “Read no history: nothing but biography, for that is life without theory.” With Jews in Service to the Tsar, Lev Berdnikov offers us 28 biographies spanning five centuries of Russian Jewish history, and each portrait opens a new window onto the history of Eastern Europe’s Jews, illuminating dark corners and challenging widely-held conceptions about the role of Jews in Russian history.
Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka

In this comprehensive, quixotic and addictive book, Edwin Trommelen explores all facets of the Russian obsession with vodka. Peering chiefly through the lenses of history and literature, Trommelen offers up an appropriately complex, rich and bittersweet portrait, based on great respect for Russian culture.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts


Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955