This is a blog for use in both of my HIS 241 and HIS 242 Russian history survey courses at Northern Virginia Community College.

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08 June 2008

Back to Putin Again

Just finished reading a column by Roy Medvedev entitled "The New Czar." In the short piece, Medvedev, Russian historian and noted author of Let History Judge, reviews approvingly the accomplishments of Putin's eight years as prime minster and terms him the "one Czar in Russia today," and someone who "looks at Peter [the Great] as a role model. The czar analogy must be in vogue in the US and West European press these days, as when I googled the phrase "the new czar," quite a few references to Putin returned. While he may be powerful, and while he may have some authoritarian (although that is not quite the adjective that I was looking for), Putin still operates within the framework of a political democracy (although the exact nature of that democracy may be debated) and of a capitalist economy, unlike any past "czar." Indeed, since most do not even use the "czar" spelling, which has long been considered antiquated, anymore, one wonders about the message being sent by commentators who persist in applying it to Putin's Russia.

01 June 2008

Burnt by the Sun Again

A front page article in the Washington Post yesterday noted that director Nikita Mikhailov, whose 1994 film Burnt by the Sun won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, is working on the film's sequel (a two-part Burnt by the Sun II), which will deal with the Russian experience in World War II, on a scale hither-to-unseen in the Russian cinema. To do that he will bring back characters who supposedly died at the end of the first film. Although I did not particularly enjoy the original movie, most of my friends did. Take a moment and read the article, which also notes the role that Mikhailov's father played in the writing of the Russian national anthem.