The Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella) is a small passerinebird that breeds in northern Russia from the Ural Mountains eastwards across Siberia. It is migratory, wintering in Korea and eastern China, with rare occurrences in western Europe and northwestern North America. Its typical breeding habitat is subarcticdeciduous forests and open coniferous woodland, often close to water, although it also occurs in mountains and sprucetaiga. It inhabits bushes and shrubs in winter, frequently near streams, but may also be found in dry grassland and woods.
The Siberian accentor has brown upperparts and wings, with bright chestnut streaking on its back and a greyish-brown rump and tail. The head has a dark brown crown and a long, wide pale yellow supercilium ("eyebrow"). All plumages are quite similar. The nest is an open cup in dense shrub or a tree into which the female lays four to six glossy deep blue-green eggs that hatch in about ten days. Adults and chicks feed mainly on insects, typically picked off the ground, but sometimes taken from vegetation. In winter, the accentors may also consume seeds or feed near human habitation. (Full article...)
Born and raised in east Moscow, Streltsov joined Torpedo at the age of 16 in 1953 and made his international debut two years later. He was part of the squad that won the gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and came seventh in the 1957 Ballon d'Or. Early the next year his promising career was interrupted by a rape scandal. The 20-year-old Streltsov was accused of raping a woman shortly before the 1958 World Cup; told he could still play if he admitted his guilt, he confessed, despite inconclusive evidence against him. He was instead convicted and sentenced to twelve years in the Gulag system of forcedlabour camps. (Full article...)
At Dürenstein, a combined force of Russian and Austrian troops trapped a French division commanded by Théodore Maxime Gazan. The French division was part of the newly created VIII Corps, the so-called Corps Mortier, under command of Édouard Mortier. In pursuing the Austrian retreat from Bavaria, Mortier had over-extended his three divisions along the north bank of the Danube. Mikhail Kutuzov, commander of the Coalition force, enticed Mortier to send Gazan's division into a trap and French troops were caught in a valley between two Russian columns. They were rescued by the timely arrival of a second division, under command of Pierre Dupont de l'Étang. The battle extended well into the night, after which both sides claimed victory. The French lost more than a third of their participants, and Gazan's division experienced over 40 percent losses. The Austrians and Russians also had heavy losses—close to 16 percent—but perhaps the most significant was the death in action of Johann Heinrich von Schmitt, one of Austria's most capable chiefs of staff. (Full article...)
The Borodino-class battlecruisers (Russian: Линейные крейсера типа «Измаил») were a group of four battlecruisers ordered by the Imperial Russian Navy before World War I. Also referred to as the Izmail class, they were laid down in late 1912 at Saint Petersburg for service with the Baltic Fleet. Construction of the ships was delayed by a lack of capacity among domestic factories and the need to order some components from abroad. The start of World War I slowed their construction still further, as the imported components were often not delivered and domestic production was diverted into areas more immediately useful for the war effort.
Three of the four ships were launched in 1915 and the fourth in 1916. Work on the gun turrets lagged, and it became evident that Russian industry would not be able to complete the ships during the war. The Russian Revolution of 1917 halted all work on the ships, which was never resumed. Although some consideration was given to finishing the hulls that were nearest to completion, they were all eventually sold for scrap by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Navy proposed to convert Izmail, the ship closest to completion, to an aircraft carrier in 1925, but the plan was cancelled after political manoeuvring by the Red Army led to funding not being available. (Full article...)
A bowl of borscht garnished with dill and a dollop of smetana (sour cream)
Borscht derives from an ancient soup originally cooked from pickled stems, leaves and umbels of common hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), a herbaceous plant growing in damp meadows, which lent the dish its Slavic name. With time, it evolved into a diverse array of tart soups, among which the Ukrainian beet-based red borscht has become the most popular. It is typically made by combining meat or bone stock with sautéed vegetables, which – as well as beetroots – usually include cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. Depending on the recipe, borscht may include meat or fish, or be purely vegetarian; it may be served either hot or cold, and it may range from a hearty one-pot meal to a clear broth or a smooth drink. It is often served with smetana or sour cream, hard-boiled eggs or potatoes, but there exists an ample choice of more involved garnishes and side dishes, such as uszka or pampushky, that can be served with the soup. (Full article...)
Nikita Zotov, rotogravure by Alexandr Osipov, 1882–1883
Not much is known about Zotov's life aside from his connection to Peter. Zotov left Moscow for a diplomatic mission to Crimea in 1680 and returned to Moscow before 1683. He became part of the "Jolly Company", a group of several dozen of Peter's friends that eventually became The All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters. Zotov was mockingly appointed "Prince-Pope" of the Synod, and regularly led them in games and celebrations. He accompanied Peter on many important occasions, such as the Azov campaigns and the torture of the Streltsy after their uprising. Zotov held a number of state posts, including from 1701 a leading position in the Tsar's personal secretariat. Three years before his death, Zotov married a woman 50 years his junior. He died in December 1717 of unknown causes. (Full article...)
The army was formed at Khabarovsk in the Soviet Far East in 1938 as the 2nd Army. After the Far Eastern Front was split in September that year it became the 2nd Independent Red Banner Army. When the front was reformed in June 1940, the army was redesignated as the 2nd Red Banner Army, stationed in the Blagoveshchensk area. It spent the bulk of World War II guarding the border in that area, sending formations to the Eastern Front while undergoing several reorganizations. In August 1945, the army fought in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, capturing the Japanese fortified regions of Aihun and Sunwu adjacent to its sector of the border, and advancing into Manchuria to Qiqihar. The army was disbanded after the war in late 1945. (Full article...)
Bezhin Meadow (Бежин луг, Bezhin lug) is a 1937 Soviet propaganda film, famous for having been suppressed and believed destroyed before its completion. Directed by Sergei Eisenstein, it tells the story of a young farm boy whose father attempts to betray the government for political reasons by sabotaging the year's harvest and the son's efforts to stop his own father to protect the Soviet state, culminating in the boy's murder and a social uprising. The film draws its title from a story by Ivan Turgenev, but is based on the life of Pavlik Morozov, a young Russian boy who became a political martyr following his death in 1932, after he denounced his father to Soviet government authorities and subsequently died at the hands of his family. Pavlik Morozov was immortalized in school programs, poetry, music, and film.
Commissioned by a communist youth group, the film's production ran from 1935 to 1937, until it was halted by the central Soviet government, which said it contained artistic, social, and political failures. Some, however, blamed the failure of Bezhin Meadow on government interference and policies, extending all the way to Joseph Stalin himself. In the wake of the film's failure, Eisenstein publicly recanted his work as an error. Individuals were arrested during and after the ensuing debacle. (Full article...)
The Jeannetteexpedition of 1879–1881, officially called the U.S. Arctic Expedition, was an attempt led by George W. De Long to reach the North Pole by pioneering a route from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. The premise was that a temperate current, the Kuro Siwo, flowed northwards into the strait, providing a gateway to the Open Polar Sea and thus to the pole.
This theory proved illusory; the expedition's ship, USS Jeannette and its crew of thirty-three men, was trapped by ice and drifted for nearly two years before she was crushed and sunk north of the Siberian coast. De Long then led his men on a perilous journey by sled, dragging the Jeannette'swhaleboat and two cutters, eventually switching to these small boats to sail for the Lena Delta in Siberia. During this journey, and in the subsequent weeks of wandering in Siberia before rescue, twenty of the ship's complement died, including De Long. (Full article...)
In mid- to late-19th-century Russia, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a group of composers known as The Five had differing opinions as to whether Russian classical music should be composed following Western or native practices. Tchaikovsky wanted to write professional compositions of such quality that they would stand up to Western scrutiny and thus transcend national barriers, yet remain distinctively Russian in melody, rhythm and other compositional characteristics. The Five, made up of composers Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, sought to produce a specifically Russian kind of art music, rather than one that imitated older European music or relied on European-style conservatory training. While Tchaikovsky himself used folk songs in some of his works, for the most part he tried to follow Western practices of composition, especially in terms of tonality and tonal progression. Also, unlike Tchaikovsky, none of The Five were academically trained in composition; in fact, their leader, Balakirev, considered academicism a threat to musical imagination. Along with critic Vladimir Stasov, who supported The Five, Balakirev attacked relentlessly both the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which Tchaikovsky had graduated, and its founder Anton Rubinstein, orally and in print.
As Tchaikovsky had become Rubinstein's best-known student, he was initially considered by association as a natural target for attack, especially as fodder for Cui's printed critical reviews. This attitude changed slightly when Rubinstein left the Saint Petersburg musical scene in 1867. In 1869 Tchaikovsky entered into a working relationship with Balakirev; the result was Tchaikovsky's first recognized masterpiece, the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet, a work which The Five wholeheartedly embraced. When Tchaikovsky wrote a positive review of Rimsky-Korsakov's Fantasy on Serbian Themes he was welcomed into the circle, despite concerns about the academic nature of his musical background. The finale of his Second Symphony, nicknamed the Little Russian, was also received enthusiastically by the group on its first performance in 1872. (Full article...)
The Caspian expeditions of the Rus' were military raids undertaken by the Rus' between 864 and 1041 on the Caspian Sea shores, of what are nowadays Iran, Dagestan, and Azerbaijan. Initially, the Rus' appeared in Serkland in the 9th century traveling as merchants along the Volga trade route, selling furs, honey, and slaves. The first small-scale Viking raids took place in the late 9th and early 10th century. The Rus' undertook the first large-scale expedition in 913; having arrived on 500 ships, they pillaged in the Gorgan region, in the territory of present-day Iran, and more to the west, in Gilan and Mazandaran, taking slaves and goods. On their return, the northern raiders were attacked and defeated by the Khazars in the Volga Delta, and those who escaped were killed by the local tribes on the middle Volga.
During their next expedition in 943, the Rus' captured Bardha'a, the capital of Arran, in the modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan. The Rus' stayed there for several months, killing many inhabitants of the city and amassing substantial plunder. It was only an outbreak of dysentery among the Rus' that forced them to depart with their spoils. Sviatoslav, prince of Kiev, commanded the next attack, which destroyed the Khazar state in 965. Sviatoslav's campaign established the Rus's hold on the north-south trade routes, helping to alter the demographics of the region. Raids continued through the time period with the last Scandinavian attempt to reestablish the route to the Caspian Sea taking place in 1041 by Ingvar the Far-Travelled. (Full article...)
Kombat (Russian for 'battalion commander') is a black-and-white photograph by Soviet photographer Max Alpert. It depicts a Soviet military officer, armed with a TT pistol, raising his unit for an attack during World War II. This work is regarded as one of the most iconic Soviet World War II photographs, yet neither the date nor the subject is known with certainty. According to the most widely accepted version, it depicts junior politruk Aleksei Gordeyevich Yeryomenko, minutes before his death on 12 July 1942, in Voroshilovgrad Oblast, now part of Ukraine. The photograph is in the archives of RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency.
The Krestovsky Stadium is the home ground of FC Zenit Saint Petersburg. Photographed here in 2016, when construction was nearing completion, it is situated on Krestovsky Island in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. It was opened in 2017 as a venue for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, and hosted the final, in which Germany beat Chile 1–0. It was one of the venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup the following year. Among other features, it has a retractable roof, and is equipped with a video-surveillance and identification system, as well as security-alarm, fire-alarm and robotic fire-extinguishing systems. The stadium's seating capacity is 67,800.
An aerial view of the Field of Mars, a large park in central Saint Petersburg, Russia, pictured in 2016. It is named after Mars, the Roman god of war. The park's history goes back to the 18th century, when it was converted from bogland and named the Grand Meadow. Later, it was the setting for celebrations to mark Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. Its next name, the Tsaritsyn Meadow, appears after the royal family commissioned Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli to build the Summer Palace for Empress Elizabeth. It became the Field of Mars during the reign of Paul I. Towards the end of the 18th century, the park became a military drill ground, where they erected monuments commemorating the victories of the Russian Army and where parades and military exercises took place regularly. After the February Revolution in 1917, the Field of Mars became a memorial area for the revolution's honoured dead. In the summer of 1942, as the city was besieged by the German army in the Siege of Leningrad, the park was covered with vegetable gardens to supply food. An eternal flame was lit in the centre of the park in 1957, in memory of the victims of various wars and revolutions.
The Solovetsky Monastery is a Russian Orthodox monastery in Solovetsky, Arkhangelsk, Russia. Founded in 1436 by the monk Zosima, the monastery grew in power into the 16th century, becoming an economic and political center of the White Sea region and eventually hosting 350 monks. After the Bolshevik Revolution, Soviet authorities closed down the monastery and incorporated many of its buildings into Solovki prison camp, one of the earliest forced-labor camps of the gulag system. The camp closed after the region's trees had been harvested. Today the monastery has been re-established, and also serves as a museum.
This photo of the Nilov Monastery on Stolobny Island in Tver Oblast, Russia, was taken by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky in 1910 before the advent of colour photography. His process used a camera that took a series of monochrome pictures in rapid sequence, each through a different coloured filter. By projecting all three monochrome pictures using correctly coloured light, it was possible to reconstruct the original colour scene.
Although James Clerk Maxwell made the first color photograph in 1861, the results were far from realistic until Prokudin-Gorsky perfected the technique with a series of improvements around 1905. His process used a camera that took a series of monochrome pictures in rapid sequence, each through a different colored filter. Prokudin-Gorskii then went on to document much of the country of Russia, travelling by train in a specially equipped darkroomrailroad car.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Russian: Антон Павлович Чехов, IPA: [ɐnˈton ˈpavləvʲɪtɕ ˈtɕexəf]; 29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) was a Russian playwright and short-story writer who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov was a physician by profession. "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."
Chekhov renounced the theatre after the reception of The Seagull in 1896, but the play was revived to acclaim in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, which subsequently also produced Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and premiered his last two plays, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. These four works present a challenge to the acting ensemble as well as to audiences, because in place of conventional action Chekhov offers a "theatre of mood" and a "submerged life in the text". The plays that Chekhov wrote were not complex, but easy to follow, and created a somewhat haunting atmosphere for the audience. (Full article...)