Putin Revives Tsarist Regiments Topic: Imperial Russia
President Vladimir Putin has assigned the First Separate Rifle Regiment the honorary name Semenovsky, the Kremlin press service reports. “With the aim of reviving glorious military historical traditions I hereby order that the First Separate Rifle Regiment be given the honorary name Semenovsky and from now on be called the First Separate Semenovsky Rifle Regiment,” the head of state said in a decree.
Putin also recreated the Preobrazhensky Regiment last month. This name was given to the 154th Separate Commandant Regiment.
President Putin first mentioned the need to return the historical names in his address to the federal assembly in December 2012. “The morale of our Armed Forces is held up by traditions, by a living connection to history, by the examples of bravery and selflessness of our heroes. I feel that we should revive the names of the most renowned regiments, military units and major formations of past eras within the Russian army – both from Soviet times and earlier eras, such as Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments,” Putin said.
The Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments were created by Peter I in the late 17th century and went on to serve Russia valiantly in numerous military in the years that followed.
Russia May Fast-Track Citizenship for Imperial Descendants Topic: Imperial Russia
The Russian State Duma has suggested simplifying the granting of Russian citizenship to direct descendants of nationals of the Russian Empire who now live abroad.
The initiative was put forward by the lower house’s Committee for Nationalities.
Descendants of the Russian Empire – which collapsed after the February 1917 Revolution – are part of “the same nation and civilization,” committee head Gadzhimet Safaraliyev told Izvestia daily.
People of Russian heritage currently live all around the globe. Syria, for example, is the home of the Cherkessian diaspora. Their forebears moved to the region from territories that were part of the Russian Empire following the 19th-century Caucasian war. “What should we do with them? Leave them [in war-torn Syria]?” Safaraliyev said.
The biggest wave of emigration from Russia followed the dramatic events of the beginning of the 20th century: Revolutions, the fall of the Tsar, World War I, a civil war and the creation of the Soviet Union.
If the suggested amendments to the Law on Citizenship are passed, emigrants’ children and grandchildren will be able to get Russian passports and come to back to their historic homeland; archived documents would help them prove their Russian heritage.
Earlier, President Vladimir Putin urged Russian lawmakers “to develop a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to our compatriots, the bearers of the Russian language and Russian culture, the direct descendants of those who were born in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, for those who want to take up permanent residence in our country and, therefore, to give up their current citizenship.”
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that Russia needs new blood – educated and hardworking people who want to move to the country and consider it their homeland.
Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal worry that a mass repatriation program could become a financial burden for Russia. Critics also argue that the bill may cause an increase of immigration from the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia, adding to the thousands of migrant workers from those regions that have already come to Russia.
According to Yevgeny Borbrov from the presidential Council for Human Rights, those who need help the most should be taken care of first.
“Descendants of the Russian Empire feel not bad in foreign countries, unlike descendants from the USSR who were left by the state holding an empty bag,” Borbrov told Izvestia.
Currently, those who wish to get Russian citizenship have to go through a long and complicated procedure.
Revival of the Ballroom Tradition Now Playing: Language: English. Duration: 26 minutes, 15 seconds Topic: Imperial Russia
Balls were very popular events in 19th-century Russia. The latest Joe Wright's Anna Karenina film with Keira Knightley is a sufficient proof of how beautiful these balls were. Only the very wealthy were allowed to attend these fetes, which required some serious preparation. Those who attended had to wear a fashionable dress or a perfect suit, know the etiquette and be a confident dancer. Follow Russia Today correspondent James Brown for an in-depth look at Russian ballroom culture, and visit the major ball of the year.
How Russians Celebrated New Year Before Revolution Topic: Imperial Russia
The population of St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, consisted of social strata nested within themselves like Indian castes. It was only a few times each year that the tempos of their lives – be they high society, factory workers, servants, students, Germans or paupers – converged.
Because four-fifths of the city’s population were Orthodox believers, and because Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox holidays were very close together on the calendar, New Year’s and Christmas – the second most important Orthodox holiday after Easter – were celebrated by almost all of St. Petersburg's populace. The advent of Christmas marked the beginning of Christmastide – a season that lasted until Baptism (from Dec. 25 to Jab. 6, according to the old style).
Christmas was a family holiday, mostly for children. On Christmas Eve, every self-respecting newspaper carried Christmas stories and verses in which the hero is miraculously saved from danger on Christmas Day.
Toy shops displayed dolls, drawing-room and sports games, children’s pistols, doll houses, furniture, clothes, carriages, live models of steam and water mills, railways and automobiles. A novel feature in the 1913 season was an English wireless telegraph for children – the latest technology.
Petty officials and clerks snapped up practical jokes, in order to play pranks on their friends, cousins and mothers-in-law: for example, a “bottle of perfume” would turn out to contain plain water that spilled all over the recipient of the gift; matches that lit themselves; little imps jumping out of candy boxes…
Christmas dinner included an ostrich sitting on eggs: its body made from a coconut, its neck from a banana, its head fashioned out of a small apple with holes for eyes and its beak made from an almond… A guidebook wrote that “few inhabitants of the capital celebrate Christmas without a partridge or a traditional goose.”
Until Christmas Day, people practiced religious abstinence (although, in St. Petersburg, very few people followed the full rules of fasting).
Every self-respecting family also put up a Christmas tree. The custom was borrowed from the Germans and became popular in St. Petersburg in the 1830s, before spreading across Russia. The Christmas tree decorations were brought from Germany in huge quantities, ahead of Christmas.
The decorations piled at the foot of the tree were given to all the invited children, and the sweets, tin soldiers, fruits and nuts hanging on the tree were handed out as prizes to winners of trivia, anagrams and countless other games.
Families attended the festive mass and returned to a lavishly spread table. Numerous toys were recovered from under the Christmas tree.
From morning, children from poor neighbourhoods visited the flats of the well-off. They congratulated the owners, gave praise to Christ and accepted gifts – typically small change, a few kopecks per person. Among those who came with Christmas greetings were local constables, chimney sweeps, church-bell ringers, garbage collectors, and attendants from Turkish baths. They were treated with vodka and given some money.
Christmas in the Emperor’s family was very much the same, except for the number of Christmas trees (one per each family member) and the fact that gifts were presented not only by adults to children but also by children to their elders. And, of course, the value of their gifts was different (jewelery, arms, paintings, china).
The New Year
For a long time, the New Year was not a holiday but an ordinary workday. However, rural folk celebrated St. Basil’s Day on Jan. 1. That saint, the Bishop of Caesarea, was the patron of pigs – so, on New Year’s, people all over Russia ate sucking pig.
By the beginning of the 20th century a New Year’s ritual was established in the capital. Jan. 1 was regarded as a time for looking back on the previous year.
On the other hand, the night of New Year's was the time when unmarried young people in the city let their hair down. It was very pleasant to enter a restaurant or an inn, to escape St. Petersburg's dank weather. Fancy dress balls were staged at the Noble Assembly and the Suvorin Theatre.
The winter holidays lasted two weeks. During this time, Christmas tree parties were held in all the public spaces for the pupils attending the city’s schools. During the day, they lit up a huge electric fir-tree and children under the age of 10 received free gifts.
After the New Year came time for fortunetelling for young maids. Of course, the rituals were all aimed at attracting bridegrooms: they gave barley grains to roosters, melted wax, dropped slips of paper with the names of potential bridegrooms in a bowl of water and made use of mirrors.
Christmastide ended with religious celebrations for Epiphany Sunday. On Jan. 6, Orthodox believers went in their masses to “Jordan” (places on rivers, canals and lakes where they were baptized in the water). Processions carrying a cross started out from many churches and ended at the water’s edge: holes were cut in the ice for the ritual and chapels were built near these spots. Thus, Christmastide would come to a close.
Note: Russian New Year is on Jan. 1, but Russia has always dated Christmas as Jan. 7, in common with the rest of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Russian Imperial Air Service Topic: Imperial Russia
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933)
Established under the Romanov dynasty, the Russian air force marks its 100th anniversary this year. In 1912, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov declared: “The Russian air force should be stronger than that of our neighbors. This should be remembered by everyone to whom the military might of our Motherland is dear.” Aviation schools were opened in Sevastopol and Gatchina. A summer training course for volunteer officers from various branches of the armed forces was set up in these schools, and the trainees were instructed in theoretical disciplines at the St. Petersburg Polytechnical Institute.
The best Russian minds were drawn into aviation, and significant capital began to be invested in its development. In July 1914, the world’s first four-engine aircraft flew from St. Petersburg to Kiev and back, piloted by aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky.
By the beginning of World War I, the Russian army had 256 warplanes and 250 military pilots, from which 39 corps and fortress squadrons were formed. When military operations started, the aircraft were mainly engaged in carrying out airborne intelligence and correcting artillery fire. The pilots began to shoot down and ram enemy Albatross planes in the air on their own initiative. In December 1914, the world’s first squadron of heavy aircraft was set up by the Russian air force using Muromets planes.
In 1916, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed field inspector-general of the air force. Under his leadership, the separate corps and field aviation units were joined together in air combat groups. The tsar’s headquarters in Mogilev and St. Petersburg began to be protected from air strikes by planes and anti-aircraft artillery, and the rear support for the air force supplied it with everything it needed.
Sadly, the accomplishments of Russian aviation during the Great War were often forgotten in the subsequent chaos of the Russian Revolution and Civil War.
St. Andrew's Flag: 20 Year Anniversary Topic: Imperial Russia
April 7th marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of an order by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the transfer of the Black Sea Fleet to the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. According to the document, the Black Sea Fleet of the former USSR came under the jurisdiction of the Russia. The decree also ordered that the St. Andrew’s flag be raised above the ships and vessels of the Black Sea Fleet.
St. Andrew’s flag has a white background with two blue diagonal bands, forming a slanted cross, called St. Andrew’s cross. When Peter I became a tsar, he started to design a flag of the Russian Navy. From 1692 to 1712, Peter I personally drew eight flags projects that have consistently been taken into the Navy. Description of the flag's final version by Peter I: “The flag is white, across it there is a blue St. Andrew’s cross, which was used to baptize Russia.”
The Black Sea Fleet is considered to have been founded by Prince Potemkin on May 13, 1783, together with its principal base, the city of Sevastopol. Formerly commanded by such legendary admirals as Dmitry Senyavin, Fyodor Ushakov and Pavel Nakhimov, it is a fleet of enormous historical and political importance for Russia.
After the revolution the Russian Navy Ensign was changed, but the St. Andrew’s flag was used by the White Army up to 1924. Pre-revolutionary flag was reintroduced to in 1992 and it still used today.
Imperial Russian Law Exhibited at Yale Law Library Topic: Imperial Russia
The latest exhibition from the Yale University Law Library's Rare Book Collection is on display from now through May 25, 2012. This exhibit takes a look at MonumentsofImperialRussianLaw.This brings us back to the days before the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Russia had built up an extensive code of law under the czars, but once the Communists came to power, they tried to bury all mention of the nation's past. There was to be no memory of those terrible days before the land became a workers' paradise.
With the fall of the Communists, Russia is again looking to its earlier past to help guide it through the post-Soviet era. According to William E. Butler, Distinguished Professor of Law and International Affairs at the Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University, “The post-Soviet era of Russian history has made the legacy of the pre-1917 era newly relevant in ways unimaginable. It is not merely a country recovering historical experience suppressed or distorted for ideological reasons during the Soviet regime, but a country seeking to modernize partly on the basis of its earlier legal legacy.” Butler is co-curator of the exhibition, along with Yale Law Rare Book Librarian Michael Widener. William Butler is the pre-eminent U.S. authority on the law of the former Soviet Union and is the author, co-author, editor, or translator of more than 120 books on Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian, and post-Soviet legal systems.
Among the items on display is a copy of the Sobornoeulozhenie, printed in 1649. It was the first printed collection of Russian laws, and it continued to be used into the 19th century. There are also three versions of the Nakaz (Instructions). This statement of law was promulgated by Catherine II in 1767. It was patterned on the enlightenment thoughts coming out of France at the time. She actually wrote it in French. It provided for such things as equality of men before the law, and disapproved of the death penalty and torture (no wonder the Soviets didn't want to to remember their past). If not applied in all its humanitarian splendor, it was still a remarkable document for its time, and helped earn Catherine the sobriquet of “Catherine the Great” (without it she simply would have been “Catherine the Ordinary”).
The exhibit includes material from the Yale University libraries, the Harvard Law Library, and a private collection. It is open to the public daily from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm at the Lillian Goldman Law Library at the Yale Law School in New Haven.
The Flag of Imperial Russia Topic: Imperial Russia
The last official flag of Imperial Russia was white-blue-red with a black two-headed eagle on a yellow background in the upper left-hand corner; this combination symbolized the union of the Tsar and His people. It was created at the will of the last Emperor, Tsar-Martyr Emperor Nicholas II, during the First World War. The following excerpt from the journal Chronicles of War for the years 1914-15 describes this event:
"During these troubled times the sanctity of our nation's soul is upheld by a total and absolute union of its thoughts and feelings with those of the Tsar-Emperor.
That is why His Imperial Majesty has deemed it necessary to make this fact clearly evident before the whole world; from this day hence, as a sign of the strong union of an Orthodox Tsar and His faithful nation, in the Russian national flag, at the base (flagpole side), between the white and blue stripes (one quarter of the total length of both stripes) the Imperial Standard shall forever be placed (a black two-headed eagle on a gold background). This should be seen as a sign of love from the Tsar to all His people."
Chronicles of War, No. 4, for September 13, 1914, page 66