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Clockwise from top: Remnants of Azerbaijani APCs; internally displaced Azerbaijanis from the Armenian-occupied territories; Armenian T-72 tank memorial at the outskirts of Stepanakert; Armenian soldiers
The First Nagorno-Karabakh War was an ethnic and territorial conflict that took place from the late 1980s to May 1994, in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in protracted, undeclared mountain warfare in the mountainous heights of Karabakh as Azerbaijan attempted to curb the secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave's parliament had voted in favor of uniting itself with Armenia and a referendum, boycotted by the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh, was held, whereby most of the voters voted in favor of independence. The demand to unify with Armenia began in a relatively peaceful manner in 1988; in the following months, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, it gradually grew into an increasingly violent conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, resulting in ethnic cleansing, with the Sumgait (1988) and Baku (1990) pogroms directed against Armenians, and the Gugark pogrom (1988) and Khojaly Massacre (1992) directed against Azerbaijanis being notable examples. Inter-ethnic clashes between the two broke out shortly after the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan voted to unify the region with Armenia on 20 February 1988. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land. As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the unrecognizedRepublic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In April 1943, the German leadership began preparing for Operation Citadel, with the objective of enveloping and destroying the Soviet forces in the Kursk salient, by attacking and breaking through the base of the salient from north and south simultaneously. The German offensive was delayed several times due to the vacillation of the leadership and the addition of more forces and new equipment. The Soviet high command, Stavka, had learned of the German intentions, and therefore used the delay to prepare a series of defensive belts along the routes of the planned German offensive. The Soviet leadership also massed several armies deep behind their defences as the Stavka Reserve. This army group, the Steppe Front, was to launch counteroffensives once the German strength had dissipated. The 5th Guards Tank Army was the primary armoured formation of the Steppe Front. (Full article...)
The Rite of Spring (Russian: , romanized: Vesna svyashchennaya, lit. 'sacred spring'; French: Le Sacre du printemps) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company; the original choreography was by Vaslav Nijinsky with stage designs and costumes by Nicholas Roerich. When first performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on 29 May 1913, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation. Many have called the first-night reaction a "riot" or "near-riot", though this wording did not come about until reviews of later performances in 1924, over a decade later. Although designed as a work for the stage, with specific passages accompanying characters and action, the music achieved equal if not greater recognition as a concert piece and is widely considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century.
Stravinsky was a young, virtually unknown composer when Diaghilev recruited him to create works for the Ballets Russes. The Rite was the third such project, after the acclaimed Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911). The concept behind The Rite of Spring, developed by Roerich from Stravinsky's outline idea, is suggested by its subtitle, "Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts"; the scenario depicts various primitive rituals celebrating the advent of spring, after which a young girl is chosen as a sacrificial victim and dances herself to death. After a mixed critical reception for its original run and a short London tour, the ballet was not performed again until the 1920s, when a version choreographed by Léonide Massine replaced Nijinsky's original, which saw only eight performances. Massine's was the forerunner of many innovative productions directed by the world's leading ballet-masters, gaining the work worldwide acceptance. In the 1980s, Nijinsky's original choreography, long believed lost, was reconstructed by the Joffrey Ballet in Los Angeles. (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...)
Arena is the successor to Drozd, a Soviet active protection system from the late 1970s, which was installed on several T-55s during the Soviet-Afghan War. The system improved the vehicle's survivability rate, increasing it by up to 80%. Drozd was followed by Shtora in the late 1980s, which used an electro-magnetic jammer to confuse inbound enemy anti-tank missiles and rockets. In late 1994 the Russian Army deployed many armoured fighting vehicles to Chechnya, where they were ambushed and suffered heavy casualties. The effectiveness of Chechenrocket-propelled grenades against Russian combat vehicles prompted the Kolomenskoye machine-building design bureau to devise the Arena active protection system in the early and mid-1990s. An export variant, Arena-E, was also developed. The system has been tested on the T-80UM-1, demonstrated at Omsk in 1997, and was considered for use on the South KoreanK2 Black Panther main battle tank. (Full article...)
Bezhin Meadow (, 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...)
A Finnish machine gun crew during the Winter War
The Winter War was a war between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. Despite superior military strength, especially in tanks and aircraft, the Soviet Union suffered severe losses and initially made little headway. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organisation.
The Soviets made several demands, including that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons--primarily the protection of Leningrad, 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border. When Finland refused, the USSR invaded. Most sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocols as evidence of this, while other sources argue against the idea of the full Soviet conquest. Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as -43 °C (-45.4 °F). After the Soviet military reorganized and adopted different tactics, they renewed their offensive in February and overcame Finnish defences. (Full article...)
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, which holds ballet and opera performances. The company was founded on 28 March [O.S. 17 March] 1776, when Catherine the Great granted Prince Pyotr Urusov a licence to organise theatrical performances, balls and other forms of entertainment. Usunov set up the theatre in collaboration with English tightrope walker Michael Maddox. The present building was built between 1821 and 1824 and designed by architect Joseph Bové.
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) was a Russian political activist and writer who helped establish the Socialist Realism literary method. This portrait dates from a trip Gorky made to the United States in 1906, on which he raised funds for the Bolsheviks. During this trip he wrote his novel The Mother.
The Chesme Column is a victory column in the Catherine Park at the Catherine Palace, a former Russian royal residence in Tsarskoye Selo, a suburb of Saint Petersburg. It was erected to commemorate three Russian naval victories in the 1768-1774 Russo-Turkish War, including the Battle of Chesma in 1770. The column is made from three pieces of white-and-pink marble; decorated with the rostra of three ships' bows, and crowned by a triumphal bronze statue depicting a Russian eagle trampling a crescent moon, the symbol of Turkey. Bronze plaques on three sides of the pedestal depict scenes from the battles, and the campaign is described on the plaque on the fourth side.
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.
The Portrait of Chaliapin is an oil-on-canvas painting by Boris Kustodiev, produced in 1921. Feodor Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer; possessing a deep and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses. He is depicted here wearing an expensive fur coat, which had come from a Soviet warehouse containing items confiscated from rich people during the Russian Revolution, and which he had received in lieu of payment for a performance. The background shows festivities at the traditional folk holiday of Maslenitsa. Dressed in a smart suit and holding a cane, Chaliapin is portrayed as having risen above his contemporaries. His favourite dog is at his feet and, at the bottom left, his two daughters stroll on the festive square in front of a poster promoting his concert. This copy of the painting is in the collection of the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.
A Boyar Wedding Feast is an oil-on-canvas painting created by Russian artist Konstantin Makovsky in 1883. The boyars were members of the highest rank of the feudal aristocracy of Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a wedding was an important social event. In this painting, the guests are depicted toasting a newlywed couple. They stand at the head of the table, where the groom sees his bride without her veil for the first time; she appears timid and bashful as the men toast for the first kiss. Behind the couple, the Lady of Ceremony gently urges on the bride. A roasted swan is being brought in on a large platter, the last dish to be served before the couple retires to the bedroom. The work is in the collection of the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, in Washington, D.C.
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.
A late nineteenth-century photochrom of a reindeer sled, Arkhangelsk, Russia. Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people including the Sami and the Nenets. They are raised for their meat, hides, antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation.
Rimsky-Korsakov believed in developing a nationalistic style of classical music, as did his fellow composer Mily Balakirev and the critic Vladimir Stasov. This style employed Russian folk song and lore along with exotic harmonic, melodic and rhythmic elements in a practice known as musical orientalism, and eschewed traditional Western compositional methods. Rimsky-Korsakov appreciated Western musical techniques after he became a professor of musical composition, harmony, and orchestration at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1871. He undertook a rigorous three-year program of self-education and became a master of Western methods, incorporating them alongside the influences of Mikhail Glinka and fellow members of The Five. Rimsky-Korsakov's techniques of composition and orchestration were further enriched by his exposure to the works of Richard Wagner. (Full article...)
Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny is arrested upon landing in Moscow, according to a statement from the prison service. The prominent Putin critic was arrested on charges of parole violations and terms of a suspended prison sentence and will be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case. (Politico)
Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of nations to self-determination; the unity of the workers of all nations--such is the national program that Marxism, the experience of the whole world, and the experience of Russia, teach the workers.