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November 3, 2006 by AK

November 4 is almost here — more

I was referring to this in the previous entry. Now, an aside. The BBC reports that

The new holiday [Nov. 4] marks the end of Polish occupation in 1612.

I suppose some Russians think so along with the BBC. Yet “the end of Polish occupation” is too vague and inclusive to be acceptable.

What ended on or about that day in 1612 was the occupation of Moscow (though not its Kremlin, yet) by a joint force of Polish irregulars and unruly Russian Cossacks. The force that recaptured Moscow was the so-called Second Militia led by prince Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, a merchant from Nizhny Novgorod, together with Cossacks commanded by prince Trubetskoy. The Second Militia was not a regular army, non-existent in pre-Petrine Russia: it had been formed and financed by Russians desperately hoping to end the civil war and foreign invasion known as the Time of Troubles (1607-1613). Kuzma Minin had led the fundraising drive, donating all his possessions to the militia.

That grassroot movement aimed to restore order and peace to Russian lands above all. A military victory over Poland and Sweden would only possible after that. (Indeed, the regular Polish army captured Smolensk in 1612 and held to it until 1654.) As the Moscow throne was vacant, the Russian mind put installing a legitimate tsar on the top of its priority list, and indeed, a new tsar (Mikhail, the first of the Romanovs) was elected in 1613. More details in my entry on Ivan Susanin.

I have just discovered a column (in Polish) by Polish journalist Waclaw Radziwinowicz (published in Gazeta Wyborcza) entitled “What is Russia going to celebrate?” It goes as far as call the Second Militia “a 17th-century Orange Revolution.” That aside, Radziwinowicz makes a crucial point: in contrast with other Russian “victory days”, the victor on November 4 was a popular movement — and that deserves to be celebrated.

Indeed.


3 comments »

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not only do you give the wrong link to the BBC story, you mischaracterize what the BBC wrote.

    The quote is “The new 4 November holiday marks the end of Polish occupation in 1612” appears here (it does not lack the date as you indicate):

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4406526.stm

    Not in the link you give, and the article clearly states: “Moscow’s liberation from Polish invaders was achieved in 1612 by a volunteer army raised by a prince and a merchant from the city of Nizhny Novgorod.”

    If you’re going to criticize the BBC, you could at least accurately characterize what they report first. Otherwise, you’ll seem as ignorant as those you are criticizing.

  2. Alex(ei) says:

    Anon: the first two or three paragraphs leave a far greater impression on the typical reader than the rest. This sentence, “The new 4 November holiday marks the end of Polish occupation in 1612,” is the third sentence in the 2005 BBC report. Because of its position and simplicity, its message totally eclipses the corrective, “Moscow’s liberation from Polish invaders was achieved in 1612 by a volunteer army raised by a prince and a merchant from the city of Nizhny Novgorod,” the third-to-last sentence.

    But thanks for the link anyway.

  3. cialis says:

    I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree

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