Newcastle Lyon Sonvillier Dresden Berlin Petersburg Chita Moscow Helsinki Amsterdam Newcastle

In progress.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

8am, by Lenin's head

I am confirming some dates, which is scary because I'm giving myself a rather tight schedule to start off with - but I think that's okay because that's the mindset I'll be setting off with.

So dates:

Belarus transit visa 4th-5th August paid for but not completed.

Train leaves Berlin 4th August, through Belarus on 5th, arriving in St Petersburg on the 6th. Paid for and confirmed - bed in a 3-bed compartment.

Russian business double entry visa paid for but not completed, 5th August to 5th November.

Actually that Belarus train trip is exciting in itself. The German lady on the phone had a very sexy voice and the route is this:

Berlin Hbf We, 04.08.10 dep 15:22
Berlin Ostbahnhof
dep 15:34
dep 17:09
dep 17:49
Poznan Gl.
dep 19:46
Warszawa Centralna
dep 23:00
Warszawa Wschodnia
dep 23:53
dep 01:22
dep 03:30
Brest Central
dep 07:20
dep 11:14
Orscha Central
dep 16:50
dep 18:31
dep 19:11
dep 20:01
Newel 2
dep 21:40
dep 22:54
dep 00:15
dep 00:49
dep 01:42
dep 02:23
dep 03:07
dep 03:25
dep 04:05
St Petersburg Vitebskii Fr, 06.08.10 arr 06:13

heh heh, 'brest central', heh heh

Books to read en-route (green are ones i've read, red are definites)

I am planning NOT to stop at most of these places, at least on the way out and into Siberia, but these are books I would like to either read as I go past, or have already read and so remind myself of them as I go past. I need to find a good english-language bookshop in Siberia to avoid carrying some of these out there.

Versions of the train trip to scan through - Mark Taplin 'Open Lands: Travels through Russia's once forbidden places'; Ryszard Kapusinski 1958 trip in 'Imperium'; David Mitchell 'Ghostwritten'

Nizhni Novgorod - Maxim Gorky (born there, had the city named after him) & Andrey Sakharov (exiled there)

Perm - Dr.Zhivago written there, Chekhov's 'three sisters' set there.

Kazan - I will stop here, Tatar, Muslim, Genghis Khan themes

Yekaterinburg - death of Romanovs in 1917. Also features a lot in 'Railwaymen and Revolution: Russia 1905' by Henry Reichman, which i read on google books and was a bit boring - I guess it's hard to tell stories when you're working off such a vast geographical area and primarily using statistical sources. But basically it was the railwaymen who kicked off two general strikes in 1905 that galvanised the country and which, despite the military repression that followed, served to change the material basis of 'possibility' in old tsarist russia.

Tobolsk - exiles, Solzhenitzyn 'One Day in the Life...' etc..

Omsk - Dostoyevsky 'The House of the Dead', and centre of anti-Bolshevik forces in civil war.
(also Dostoyevsky's Idiots looks good)

Novosibirsk - built for the railway.

Tomsk - I might stop here, old Russia.

Krasnoyarsk - good place to go hiking.

Zima station.

Irkutsk - Siberian folktales, eg. 'The Sun Maiden and the Crescent Moon' James Riordan, and the Ugadan publishing books by Kira van Deusen, 'Fox Mischief', 'Shyaan am!', 'Woman of Steel''

Also Vladimir Korolenko 'Makar's Dream'; Avvakum's 'Life'; Dimitry Stonov 'In the past night: the Siberian stories'; Sergei Zalygin 'the commission'; Viktor Astafiev 'the cursed and the dead'; Vasili Shukshin 'Stories from a Siberian Village'; Valentin Rasputin 'Farewell to Matyora'

About Lake Baikal: Bartel Bull 'Around the Sacred Sea' (on horseback); Harmon Tupper 'To the Great Ocean'

Ulan Ude - Buryat/Buddhist centre, where I get off.
Local indigenous authors include:
Chuckhi - Iurii Rytkheu
Nivkhi: Chuner Taksami
Khanty: Yeremei Aipin
Anna Nerkagi (in 'Anxious North')
Yukagir: Semyon Kurilov
Antonina Kymytval
Vladimir Sangi
Teki Odulok
Yuvan Shestalov
Sulungu Onenko

Chita - Decembrists 'The Queen of Siberia'

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Trying to look like Kropotkin

With my head blatted by the attempt to work out visas and how to only be in Russia for the 30 day maximum, I decide I am starting to look like Kropotkin.

Did HE have to get a HIV test before he could escape the country?
I mean Bakunin, yes, he'd have to. But Kropotkin?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Voline's history and places en route

Today I've skim-read Voline's sad history of the Bolshevik destruction/takeover of the Russian revolution, which included the brutal wiping out of the anarchist movements of the time.

A few episodes at certain locations leap out as possibilities for me to focus on:

Moscow - anarchists, syndicalists and others put in Tanganka prison - Summer 1921 Congress of Red Trade Unions protest to Bolsheviks when these prisoners go on hunger strike - triggers first deportation of political prisoners from the new Russia. (better than being shot)

Berlin - arrival of said prisoners by boat into a Germany teetering on revolution (with wrong passports deliberately set up by Bolsheviks) - very unususual/brave solidarity/acceptance of these anarchists by Germans, story to be told.

Paris - Voline buried in Pere-Lachaise cemetery

Voline's online text of Russia

Kronstadt story clearly told - the sailors role before the conflict/ the Bolshevik repression of any independent voices and the sailors' response/ the bombardment and massacre by Trotsky and his Cheka.
(Especially: The role of kitchen gardens; the very evocative statements/bulletins; the independence of soviets versus central control)
(to check: which sailors died in Siberian exile)

"Appointed Commissar of Kronstadt, Dybenko was given full power to "clean up the rebel city". This meant an orgy of massacre. The victims of the Cheka were innumerable, and they were executed en masse during the days that followed the fall of the fortress"

During the ensuing weeks the gaols of Kronstadt were filled with hundreds of prisoners from Kronstadt. Each night, little groups of prisoners were taken out and shot by order of the Cheka.

"In the prisons, in the concentration camps, in the polar regions of Archangel, in the distant deserts of Turkestan, the men of Kronstadt who rebelled against the Bolshevik absolutism for really free Soviets endured, for long years, a miserable existence, and slowly died. There are probably no more of them still alive today."

Nishni-Novgorod - place where anarchist Moscow regiment leader Gratchov lured to and (probably) assassinated when Bolsheviks eliminated original military forces who had defended the revolution in Moscow.

April 12, day that Trotsky had all Moscow organisations rounded up, closed down, shot etc.. under the exact same rhetoric as Stalin used to close his own lot down later.

Summer 1919 command to wipe out the Makhnovists. Intercepted secret telegram from lenin:
- Arrest all the Anarchists and incriminate them. Lenin.

Tolstoyan pacifists rounded up and killed for refusal to serve in army.

Murmansk - location at which 3 delegates who were critical of Bolsheviks were sent deceitfully to die.

Info on Siberian anarchism to collect. Book on the mental Buddhist white general on its way.

"The Bolsheviks moved against the anarchists in spring 1918, using the Cheka to attack them and imprison them. But the disarming of anarchist units in Siberia by the Bolsheviks was hindered by the attack by the Whites led by Kolchak in March 1918. These units, as well as units organised by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, fought too efficiently for the Bolsheviks to allow themselves to destroy them. They were in the first rank of the underground resistance when the Whites occupied Siberia. In autumn 1918 anarchist peasant guerrilla groups appeared in the regions already mentioned. Novoselov was commander of a group of tens of combatants singing The March of the Anarchists and flying red and black flags inscribed with the slogan “Anarchy is the Mother of Order” (a sentence from Reclus also used on Makhnovist flags). Other anarchist detachments elected their commanders.

Shtirbul considers that a significant number of the 140,000 revolutionary combatants in Siberia were under anarchist influence. Like the Makhnovist detachments who contributed in a decisive fashion to the defeat of the White general Denikin in the Ukraine, the Siberian anarchist partisans (Novoselov and Rogov) contributed to the pushing back of Kolchak, From a strictly military point of view, the support of the anarchists in the struggle against the Whites was indispensable. This explains why, despite orders from Moscow, there were severe problems with the crushing of Siberian anarchism, as local Bolsheviks regarded the anarchists as honest revolutionaries."

Mp3 player to buy

I don't like or own any mobile phone. For a few brief weeks I used one when I lived in London, and was staying in different beds each night, but I was happy the day I realised I'd lost it.

However, I thought for arranging things in Russia/Siberia it might come in handy. Plus texts from friends might make me feel less lonely, and also I figure I should have something to give away if I'm mugged/robbed. There's no point having nothing nickable if they then decide 'it'd better be your passport then'.

I will take my digital camera, I think. And also I've decided today that getting a v.small mp3 player would be good for the neverending journeys & snoring carriage-mates. It's also another thing to accept being stolen/exchanged/used as a bribe-in-need. As I've not had one before, I shouldn't mind it once it's gone.

And the bonus thing about it is it lets me spend hours choosing favourite tracks to evoke old times/ to go well with train journeys/ to represent and remind me of different sides of my life. And it doesn't depend upon radio reception or mobile phone reception like a phone would. And it will leave me with my awareness/interaction with my surroundings intact, unlike a mobile which creates a self-centred blockage.

One problem is that I have no money at the moment. I'm £1000 into my £1200 overdraft with £200 to pay for my next zine printing. So I need to arrange a meeting with the bank to get a credit card and/or loan. And in the meantime I'm trying to save money on some things in order to pay for the things I want to (like the £40 worth of books about russia/siberia/anarchism I've sent off for today).

Making my scrapbook & reading the NME today - listening to the highlighted bands - was enjoyable, and kind've informs my decision.