Name of Russia

The Name of Russia results are in. Russians have named their top 12 heroes, who will go forward in the television show – starting tonight (Sunday) on Rossia – to compete for top place as the individual symbolising Russia. To great relief, Stalin, who was leading the poll for quite some time, only managed to scrape into the show at number 12. This could be related to the civil society campaign by people horrified by the thought that he could be named Russia’s greatest hero. Instead, Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky from the thirteenth century came first, followed by Pushkin and Dostoevsky. The chemist Dmitry Mendeleev – generally considered the creator of the periodic table – also made it as one of the twelve finalists.

  1. Alexander Nevsky (2 013 942 votes)

  2. Alexander Pushkin (1 784 213)
  3. Fyodor Dostoevsky (1 678 942)
  4. Peter I (Peter the Great) (1 513 987)
  5. Vladimir Lenin (1 358 945)
  6. Alexander Suvorov (1 272 825)
  7. Catherine II (Catherine the Great) (1 266 724)
  8. Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) (1 217 237)
  9. Peter Stolypin (1 166 220)
  10. Alexander II (1 067 732)
  11. Dmitry Mendeleev (1 045 797)
  12. Josef Stalin (1 045 797)

The list indeed includes internationally revered writers, scientists and leaders (Helsinki hosts a statue of Alexander II; could we imagine a list of great Russians without Lenin?). Nevertheless, public commentators have voiced agitation at the strong-hand emperors and tyrants also listed. Galina Stolyarov on Transitions Online:

If the list tells us what the Russians mean when they talk about the Russian character, it sends a dismaying message. The results also illustrate the extreme sensitivity with which Russians regard their country’s foreign politics; they are proud of victorious campaigns and ashamed of lost wars. Muscle and brute force have clearly won out over spirituality in Russia.

And Yevgeny Kiselyov in The Moscow Times:

The shortlist of the 12 people being considered for the title of “Russia’s All-Time Greatest Citizen” says a lot about the public’s distorted, contradictory and mythologized understanding of their country.

For example, from Russia’s litany of great literary figures, only Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoevsky are included. Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, and Nobel laureates for literature Ivan Bunin, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov or Joseph Brodsky did not make the top 12. At the same time, seven of the names are princes, tsars, emperors, Bolshevik leaders, tyrants and despots, including Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Lenin and Stalin.

Both Stolyarov and Kiselyov warn about the conception that, in Kiselyov’s words:

The state is above and beyond everything else; it is always right; everything good in the country exists thanks to our strong and wise rulers; the state’s authority is bestowed by the Almighty; and anybody who does not respect the authorities and who is not thrilled with their performance is not a patriot. That is how Russians have been educated for centuries — with a brief interval during the democratic reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s — and this tradition has continued throughout the eight years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency.

And both make a call to action for the liberal-minded. They should be taking an active interest, not only in this contest to ensure Stalin does not win, but also in national politics.

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One Comment to “Name of Russia”

  1. Hallo!

    Ich habe discoursology in meine Link-Liste der Blogs rund um Russland, Belarus und die Ukraine aufgenommen. Gerne würde ich auch schreiben, wer hinter discoursology steckt…

    … vielleicht meldet Ihr Euch / meldest Du Dich mal bei mir?

    Jürg

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