Sunday, August 29, 2021

Kurbsky-Grozny Correspondence Still ‘Best Text’ on Russian Politics, Shaburov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 28 – In another confirmation of the frequent observation that Russia is a country where things can change overnight but remain unchanged for centuries, Aleksey Shaburov says that the correspondence between Russia’s first political émigré, Prince Andrey Kurbsky, and Ivan the Terrible is still “the best text” for understanding Russian politics.

            The editor of the Yekaterinburg Politsovet portal says that it is “no secret” that this correspondence, now 500 years old, remains “the best text about Russian politics” and underscores how “unchanged” political relations in Russia have remained over that period (

            Shaburov gives three examples:

            First, “when Kurbsky reproaches Grozny for his harsh executions, the latter literally answers him ‘but in the West, it is just the same and even worse.” These are words that Russians hear from their rulers to this day.

            Second, Grozny continues in response to criticism of himself just how awful the boyars were before he came to power and put things in order. “Now, we know this trick in the form of ‘but you remember what things were like in the 1990s.’”

            And third, Shaburov continues, “Kurbsky’s claims are the eternal claims of the opposition to the Russian government, and Grozny’s response is also typical: ‘and you a dog are a traitor and you have sold yourself to your enemies’ (not literally, but close enough).”

            Thus, “we live” even now just as we did half a millennium ago.

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