Here’s Radio Liberty reporting from the north of Russia:

Some 7,000 demonstrators have rallied in Russia’s northwestern Komi Republic against the construction of a new landfill in the neighboring Arkhangelsk region…

The demonstrators gathered in Michurin Park in the Komi capital, Syktyvkar… protesting what they called Moscow’s “colonial politics”…

Similar rallies have been held in recent months in other Russian cities and towns.

You can images from the Syktyvkar rally here. This one is particularly interesting.

These protesters are rather young – I’d say teenage. The big banners are official flags of the Komi republic (blue, green, and white); the smaller flags sport an unofficial, “Scandinavian” design based on the same colors. The red on white sign on the right says “the North is not a garbage dump” in Russian.

The white on blue sign is in the Komi language. According to Russian sources, it means literally “we want (it) like/as in Winterfell.” Apologies for the awkward translation. A more grammatical but wordier and less precise version could be, “we want things to be as they were in Winterfell.”

I don’t know Komi but have some idea of its workings. The first word is the verb “to want” in the indicative mood, present tense, first person plural. It’s got to be “we want,” yes. The second word can mean “as,” “like,” or “how.” This makes sense, too. The third word, “Winterfell,” is uninflected although I’d expect a locative case ending. Perhaps the intended meaning is “we want to be like Winterfell,” not “in Winterfell.”

What could it mean? “We’ll defend our fortress from the attacking zombies and defeat them?” Or, possibly, “we want an independent North?”


  1. Interesting to see (1) that the Komi language is not dead, and (2) the global reach of “Game of Thrones”, all in one sign.

    • The number of native Komi speakers is dwindling, and the language is no longer a required subject at schools in the Komi republic. However, it could be that a basic knowledge of the language is a badge of regional pride, as it were, for some of the young people living there, not necessarily of Komi ancestry.

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