Russians vote to rename their airports

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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Russia has rarely gotten a chance to elect its pantheon: Heroes have often been imposed on it from above in fits of historical revisionism and through propaganda. Recently, however, Russians have been allowed to pick the names of revered compatriots for the country’s 47 important airports. The popular vote, which ended on Tuesday, wasn’t free from government tampering, but it produced a surprising list that shows ordinary Russians tend to be apolitical and quite propaganda-resistant – but also culturally indifferent.

The idea of the airport renaming campaign belonged to Metropolitan Tikhon, a senior Russian Orthodox priest who has been called President Vladimir Putin’s confessor. It was backed by Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, who has spearheaded Putin’s drive to create a new national ideology for modern Russia, and a number of Kremlin-backed non-governmental organizations. The Public Chamber, a body set up by Putin to maintain ties between the Kremlin and a tame “civil society,” ran the vote.

These origins hardly promised a free expression of popular will, and indeed, the short lists of three names for each airport weren’t picked in a transparent way. One notable instance in which a genuine grassroots initiative was ignored occurred in the big Siberian city of Omsk, where rock musician Yegor Letov didn’t make the short list despite the explicit support of thousands of people (some 27,000 signed a petition to put Letov on the list).

The punk rocker, who was born in Omsk and died there in 2008, was one of the heroes to my generation of Russians. Naming the airport after him would be no less logical than Liverpool’s choice in favor of John Lennon. Never accepted by the Soviet or post-Soviet establishment, he sang, unforgettably:

Voluntarily exiled to the basement,
Doomed ahead of time to utter failure,
I killed the state in myself.
It’s likely that the name of Josef Stalin was crossed off before the short list stage, too. “A lot of talk when we started this project was about Stalin: What if Stalin pops out now? What are we going to do? Stalin didn’t pop out anywhere,” said Public Chamber Secretary Valery Fadeev. That outcome is unlikely to be organic. During the previous attempt to form a Russian national pantheon by popular vote, in 2008, Stalin made the top three.

Despite the likely early stage tampering, almost 5.4 million people voted for the short lists, both online and offline, at airports and train stations. Everywhere except the southern city of Astrakhan the winner of the online vote prevailed.

Perhaps the most important result is that Russians’ preferences turned out to be distinctly non-martial. General Dmitry Karbyshev, tortured to death by the Nazis in 1945, won in Omsk – but he’s a martyr rather than a conquering hero. Apart from Karbyshev, only two generals – Alexander Suvorov, who never lost a battle in the 18th century, and Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky, governor of Eastern Siberia in the 19th century – were picked.



Most of the choices reflect a natural leaning toward prominent locals, regardless of their nationwide fame. The oil cities of Siberia and Tatarstan on the Volga picked the Soviet geologists and managers who explored the regions’ hydrocarbon riches. Courageous pilots, explorers and cosmonauts were popular; even those of them who died in crashes weren’t considered unlucky patrons for airports.

Czars – Peter the Great and Catherine the Great – got a lot of votes, reflecting both their glorification in the late Soviet years and the post-Soviet tendency to hark back to Russia’s imperial greatness. The last czar, Nicholas II, won in Murmansk thanks to a campaign legislator Natalya Poklonskaya, who pointed out that Nicholas’s top rival, Arctic explorer Ivan Papanin, had also been a sadistic chief of the early Soviet secret police in Crimea who personally executed “enemies of the people.”

Empress Elizabeth triumphed in Kaliningrad, formerly the East Prussian city of Koenigsberg, which the empress briefly won for Russia in the 18th century; she held off the city’s most famous native son, and her contemporary, the philosopher Immanuel Kant, after a vicious campaign against him by local “patriots.” A statue of the great German was defaced in the city; he ended up with just 25 percent of the vote to Elizabeth’s 33 percent.

Poets and authors make up the biggest group of winners, and Mikhail Lermontov, Russia’s second most beloved poet after Alexander Pushkin, was the biggest vote-getter, garnering the support of 367,681 in the Caucasus, not far from where Lermontov died in a duel. Pushkin’s name went to Moscow’s biggest airport, Sheremetyevo.

These choices largely show healthy preferences for local heroes, people of courage and larger-than-life figures – like Pushkin or Peter the Great – who have transcended the changes in propaganda lines. But they also show the disappointing degree to which the great Russian culture, the country’s biggest claim to the world’s respect, is irrelevant today. Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky – none of these greats made short lists anywhere.

Russia’s corps of heroes as formed by the airport vote reflects a peace-loving, pedestrian country with strong local identities. That’s not the Russia of today’s news stories – but perhaps the Russia of today’s public opinion polls, which show a growing disconnect between the people and their government and a diminishing trust in the propaganda pushed by national television. It’s a gray country that’s not too proud of itself.

Even though Putin will make the final renaming decisions, including on airports where winners weren’t picked or the same patrons won as elsewhere, this Russia clearly resists the imposition of any single ideology. As in late Soviet times, Russians are killing the state in themselves. Though there will be no Letov airport, the rocker may still have the last word with his 1988 song.
Who Are Russia’s Heroes? You Might Be Surprised.

Over 1,000 miles from Moscow, in a city near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, residents have taken up an unusual cause: demanding that they be allowed to name their local airport after a famous rock star from the city.

In October, fans of Egor Letov, a musician who passed away 10 years ago, started a Facebook page as part of a campaign to change the name of the airport in Omsk, a city of just over one million people, to Letov International Airport. “Our name is Letov!” became a rallying cry for the movement on social media. One blogger created a mock-up of what the airport would look like, featuring giant portraits of the bearded, long-haired singer greeting travelers upon arrival. But Russian authorities, claiming Letov’s fans were a “marginal audience,” blocked the name change.

The Omsk campaign came together after five Russian civil-society groups—at least two of which have ties to the Kremlin—announced a nationwide contest to rename 47 of the country’s airports after Russian historical figures. During the so-called “Great Names of Russia” project, which began in early October and lasted two months, over five million Russian citizens voted for a new name for their local airport. The winning names, officially announced on Tuesday, featured a mix of military heroes, scientists, and artists. The project is the country’s latest and perhaps largest-scale attempt to answer the question that has gone unanswered since the end of communism: What, exactly, is Russia?
Much more: Kremlin-backed Effort to Rename Airports Is About Russian Identity - The Atlantic

Egor Letov sings about killing the state in yourself, back in 2003

Russians participating in a nationwide online poll have chosen to rename Moscow's gateway international airport after the beloved 19th-century poet Aleksandr Pushkin.

Rossia-1 TV announced on December 5 that a majority of participants chose to swap the airport's current name, Sheremetyevo, for Pushkin, whose writings have been adored and memorized by millions of Russians over the decades.

In all, 47 airports were up for renaming under the contest, which was conducted online over several weeks in November as part of the Great Names of Russia project.

The project was a joint effort by a consortium of state-connected organizations, including the Public Chamber, the Russian Geographical Society, and the Russian Military-Historical Society.

Organizers said the goal was to promote national unity and patriotism.

Moscow's second main airport, Domodedovo, will be named after the 18th-century scientist Mikhail Lomonosov.

The leading choice for Vnukovo, Moscow's third airport, was the father of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolyov. However, poll organizers said a final decision had not been made yet.

Other airports getting new names are Voronezh (Peter the Great); Krasnodar (Catherine the Great); Magadan (Soviet bard poet Vladimir Vysotsky); Mineralnye Vody (19th-century writer Mikhail Lermontov); and Petropavlovsk-Kamachatsky (Danish explorer Vitus Bering).
Now Arriving At Pushkin International: Russians Choose New Names For Airports

Probably the most heated and controversial vote was in Kaliningrad, former German/Prussian Konigsberg, where the contest was between the Romanov Dynasty Empress Elizabeth

who had actually first took that territory for Russia back in 18th Century: Elizabeth of Russia - Wikipedia

And the famous German philosopher and writer Immanuel Kant

who lived in Konigsberg back then, and actually became a Russian citizen and taught at a Russian university: Immanuel Kant - Wikipedia

Kant's candidacy raised much opposition from nationalist elements in a patriotic military city that Kaliningrad is today, the base of Russia's Baltic Fleet and such.

Vice-Admiral Igor Mukhametshin, the Chief of Staff of the Baltic Fleet

personally railed against Kant in a speech to sailors captured on video couple days ago

"He humiliated himself and on his hands and knees begged to be given a department at the university, so that he could teach, and he wrote some incomprehensible books that none of those present here today have read, and won't read," the vice-admiral said.

He urged the sailors to vote for Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky, a Red Army officer who played a key role in the Soviet campaign against Nazi Germany in World War Two, including the capture of Königsberg.

Empress Elizabeth beat both Kant and Marshal Vasilevsky in the vote. The empress's Russian army captured Königsberg in 1758 but abandoned it five years later.
No you Kant: Russian row over philosopher

Vasilevsky

IMHO, a much more worthy candidate than the esteemed Empress. At least he actually captured the city and the region for good :D But, Putin, apparently, likes the Romanovs, so, they had to go with Elizabeth, I'm sure... lol

Anyway, more:
http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Russia-s-42-airports-receive-new-names.html
http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Russia-s-Surgut-airport-to-be-named-after-Farman-Salmanov.html
First ever Azerbaijani, up there, Salmanov, to have an airport in Russia named for him. First guy from Caucasus, period...

Lomonosov I wrote about here: Mikhail Lomonosov

Now he gonna have this place named after himself

Not too shabby :D

Now, how the city of Voronezh possibly relates to Peter the Great in any way, is a mystery to me. If they renamed Pulkovo, St. Petersburg's airport, for him, that would make sense. He built that whole fucking city. But... Voronezh???

Oh, well... Gotta keep the masses entertained and busy arguing over trivial crap like this, rather than talking and thinking about the retirement age reforms or WTF are the Motherland's sons doing in Syria, Libya, and all over fucking Africa... ;)
 
Sep 2017
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Who Are Russia’s Heroes? You Might Be Surprised.



Much more: Kremlin-backed Effort to Rename Airports Is About Russian Identity - The Atlantic

Egor Letov sings about killing the state in yourself, back in 2003



Now Arriving At Pushkin International: Russians Choose New Names For Airports

Probably the most heated and controversial vote was in Kaliningrad, former German/Prussian Konigsberg, where the contest was between the Romanov Dynasty Empress Elizabeth

who had actually first took that territory for Russia back in 18th Century: Elizabeth of Russia - Wikipedia

And the famous German philosopher and writer Immanuel Kant

who lived in Konigsberg back then, and actually became a Russian citizen and taught at a Russian university: Immanuel Kant - Wikipedia

Kant's candidacy raised much opposition from nationalist elements in a patriotic military city that Kaliningrad is today, the base of Russia's Baltic Fleet and such.

Vice-Admiral Igor Mukhametshin, the Chief of Staff of the Baltic Fleet

personally railed against Kant in a speech to sailors captured on video couple days ago



No you Kant: Russian row over philosopher

Vasilevsky

IMHO, a much more worthy candidate than the esteemed Empress. At least he actually captured the city and the region for good :D But, Putin, apparently, likes the Romanovs, so, they had to go with Elizabeth, I'm sure... lol

Anyway, more:
http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Russia-s-42-airports-receive-new-names.html
http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Russia-s-Surgut-airport-to-be-named-after-Farman-Salmanov.html
First ever Azerbaijani, up there, Salmanov, to have an airport in Russia named for him. First guy from Caucasus, period...

Lomonosov I wrote about here: Mikhail Lomonosov

Now he gonna have this place named after himself

Not too shabby :D

Now, how the city of Voronezh possibly relates to Peter the Great in any way, is a mystery to me. If they renamed Pulkovo, St. Petersburg's airport, for him, that would make sense. He built that whole fucking city. But... Voronezh???

Oh, well... Gotta keep the masses entertained and busy arguing over trivial crap like this, rather than talking and thinking about the retirement age reforms or WTF are the Motherland's sons doing in Syria, Libya, and all over fucking Africa... ;)
Kind of off the topic, but can you recommend any VERY easy Russian language books to read, that maybe I can find online? I'm trying to learn some Russian, but am still at the level of, maybe, a six-year-old. I've found, when learning other languages, that reading fairy tales and other kids books that are just slightly beyond my level is a good way to build my vocabulary. So I'm hoping for something at maybe the first or second-grade level -- preferably something focused on Russian folklore or otherwise local, so I can also be learning some of the culture.

Thanks.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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Toronto
#3
Kind of off the topic, but can you recommend any VERY easy Russian language books to read, that maybe I can find online? I'm trying to learn some Russian, but am still at the level of, maybe, a six-year-old. I've found, when learning other languages, that reading fairy tales and other kids books that are just slightly beyond my level is a good way to build my vocabulary. So I'm hoping for something at maybe the first or second-grade level -- preferably something focused on Russian folklore or otherwise local, so I can also be learning some of the culture.

Thanks.
Sure, maybe try this one: Таня Гроттер и магический контрабас читать онлайн - Дмитрий Емец - Knizhnik.org

Tanya Grotter is Russian (basically illegal lol) rip off of Harry Potter. Set on Buyan, a mythical island from Russian/East Slav folklore

Wrote about it and mentioned the books here: Atlantis and ancient Rus...

Only, girl instead of boy, magic rings instead of wands, and everyone flies around of vacuum cleaners instead of brooms, except Tanya herself, who uses her cello or whatever, big musical instrument haha

Oh, and instead of Quiddich or how you spell that, here they have Drakoball, where you have to score into the mouth of a bloody dragon, and, of course, Tanya is a champ at this

hehe

As one comment on the menu page (which has links to lots more books in the series, btw, enjoy :D) puts it, Tanya Grotter is like if the author of Harry Potter (i.e. J.K. Rowling) wrote her novels while under the influence of serious drugs: Таня Гроттер и магический контрабас – Дмитрий Емец lmao Most love em though, the other comments. I did too, as a kid back in Moscow.
 
Sep 2017
4,027
4,994
Massachusetts
#4
Sure, maybe try this one: Таня Гроттер и магический контрабас читать онлайн - Дмитрий Емец - Knizhnik.org

Tanya Grotter is Russian (basically illegal lol) rip off of Harry Potter. Set on Buyan, a mythical island from Russian/East Slav folklore

Wrote about it and mentioned the books here: Atlantis and ancient Rus...

Only, girl instead of boy, magic rings instead of wands, and everyone flies around of vacuum cleaners instead of brooms, except Tanya herself, who uses her cello or whatever, big musical instrument haha

Oh, and instead of Quiddich or how you spell that, here they have Drakoball, where you have to score into the mouth of a bloody dragon, and, of course, Tanya is a champ at this

hehe

As one comment on the menu page (which has links to lots more books in the series, btw, enjoy :D) puts it, Tanya Grotter is like if the author of Harry Potter (i.e. J.K. Rowling) wrote her novels while under the influence of serious drugs: Таня Гроттер и магический контрабас – Дмитрий Емец lmao Most love em though, the other comments. I did too, as a kid back in Moscow.
Thanks. I might give that a shot some day, but it looks like it's still way, way over my level. I could likely handle them in German or Italian, but my Russian is more at the "just learning to read" level of books... even first-grade books are going to send me running to the dictionary every other sentence.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
41,522
27,717
Toronto
#5
Thanks. I might give that a shot some day, but it looks like it's still way, way over my level. I could likely handle them in German or Italian, but my Russian is more at the "just learning to read" level of books... even first-grade books are going to send me running to the dictionary every other sentence.
I will see what else I can find you :)