Sunday, November 5, 2017

Russians Marked More than a Day of National Unity Yesterday

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 5 – All days of the year are a palimpsest of events, with a wide variety of events having occurred on any particular day in the past. But for Russians, who yesterday marked what the current Moscow government calls the Day of National Unity, November 4th is an unusually rich and instructive combination.

            Not only is it the anniversary of two Russian defeats of the Poles, the first in 1612 when Polish forces were expelled from Moscow and the second in 1794 when Aleksandr Suvorov was named a field marshal for occupying portions of Warsaw, but it is also the anniversary of two other important events ( and

            On the one hand, it is the anniversary of the 1721 decision of the Russian Senate to declare Petr I an emperor and Russia an empire, a day that Russian imperialists to this day consider “the day of the founding of the Russian Empire” and thus one that they celebrate even as the current Kremlin is ostensibly promoting something else.

            And on the other, November 4 is the anniversary of the founding in 1905 of the notorious Black Hundreds organization, the Union of the Russian People, which in the name of defending the tsar organized and carried out some of the most vicious pogroms against Jews and other minorities and opposition groups during the last years of the Russian Empire.

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