19 May 2008
Vladimir Putin, formerly Russia's president, became Russia's new prime minister on May 8th, just hours after stepping down from his presidential post. He then proceeded to set up his own "presidium" of important government ministers that will directly meet with/report to Putin himself. There will still be a cabinet of ministers that formally are responsible to the president Dmitrii Medvedev. The similarities to the political structure of the Soviet Union in the 1970s are eerie (See, for example, Jerry Hough et al, How the Soviet Union Is Governed).
01 May 2008
There have been a number of recent articles about the fact that recent DNA tests on some bone remains unearthed near Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains of Russia, where the Russian royal family was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 on the orders of Lenin. Anyway back to the story, the DNA tests prove that the remains are those of the tsarevich Aleksei (heir to the throne) and his sister Marie. The remains of the other members of the imperial family (tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra, Anastasia, Olga and Tatiana) has all been previously located. They had been reburied in the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral (the family's imperial burial place) in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg in 2000. The identification of these last remains closes one of the last mysteries related to the Romanov family.
Almost missed it, but when I was doing some research on Solzhenitsyn for our One Day in the Life assignment, I realized that he will be ninety years old this year. Further, I saw that there were some recent news items, mostly interviews with his wife, that indicated that he is in rapidly, failing health, but that he is still hard at work writing everyday and overseeing the publication of his collected works in 30 volumes--an undertaking that is proceeding at about 5 volumes per year. So it will take some time to publish everything, and these volumes do not include his unpublished materials. He has lead an almost miraculous life, and I don't really see any intellectual or cultural figure on the Russian landscape that even comes close to what he has accomplished or his importance. (After being expelled from the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn and his family lived in Vermont until his return to Russian in 1994.) Read his August 1914 sometime.