Planet November 4

Still haven’t posted my impressions about the march of Putin’s supporters in Moscow on November 4 (the ‘Unity Day’ in Russia).  On this holiday I usually work—first because I still can’t understand the sense of it, and second, because it became a kind of ‘Fascist Day’ with nationalistic rallies in Moscow streets almost immediately after it was established.  This year however, things were a bit different as my friends, specialists in cultural anthropology who conduct a regular monitoring of different political meetings and rallies in Moscow, proposed me to join them.  I took part in photographing the march ‘We Are Together’ in Tverskaia Street that was organized by the People’s Liberation Movement (NOD)—a government-organized right-wing movement that supports President Putin.  I have never been to pro-government rallies, so it was quite interesting.  Putin’s supporters (proud to make 85 per cent of the population) and I live in rather different worlds that have almost nothing common, and I really like it, but it has another side: I know what the faraway planet Great Russia looks like and what its inhabitants think about mostly from the others’ words.  It was a good idea to visit that planet by myself at least once.

The impressions described below are not probably full enough because we were able to see only a half of the column—the NOD members and those who were marching behind them—but we couldn’t reach the head of the column.  There were too few of us—only four persons, and one of us had to leave before the march finished, and the march was really huge—there were probably even more people than at the oppositional rally in Sakharov Avenue in December 2011.  (The number of participants is the most popular argument among the supporters of Putin as they hardly can understand any other parameters.)

The centre of Moscow was completely closed.  Nobody was allowed to come to the Red Square or to Manezhnaia Square, the shopping mall under Manezhnaia Square was also closed.  I don’t know what (or whom) ‘they’ were so afraid of.

The first difference from the oppositional events that I saw immediately after I passed the police cordon was…the colour.  Oppositional rallies are usually rather variegated, even at the Marches of Peace the great number of the Russian flags was compensated by the same number of blue and yellow Ukrainian flags, and there were a lot of other flags and banners as well.  Here the colours of the Russian flag were dominating, so the column at first sight looked monotone and rather ‘cold’, although there are a red stripe, as well as a blue one, in the Russian flag, that is, the both ends of the spectrum.

But not only the colours were monotone.  The same were placards and slogans on them.  ‘Serial’ posters, printed on a computer, can be seen at oppositional rallies as well, but there aren’t many of them there, individual creations are dominating.  They are often not so well made as the ‘serial’ ones, but they are original and often quite witty.  In Tverskaia Street one could see mostly printed posters.  Many of them were printed with script types, probably in order to bear a likeness to the real handmade ones, but the difference was obvious.  There were several hand-written placards, but very few.  Many of them were made using the same technology as the printed ones, only the text on the sheet of paper was really hand-written, but from a short distance, one could see that the sheet was ruled in squares with a pencil as if the text was just copied after a pattern prepared beforehand.  If the organizers wanted to make their march looking similar to the oppositional ones, the result looked miserable.

The slogans on the posters were not original either.  The same slogan could be seen on lots of placards and banners of different design, both on printed and hand-written ones.  The placards which were really original could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

From the loud speakers, one could hear either Soviet songs (mostly good ones) or the newest ‘patriotic’ pop music that was terrible.  Some tracks were repeated many times.  There was also a live entertainment, but I missed the beginning.

The march in general, with a small exception which I’ll say about a bit later, was mostly like a purely Soviet demonstration of working-people: slogans about peoples’ friendship, columns of state-run enterprises and pro-government trade unions, delegations from the province with symbols of their towns, delegations from the republics in national clothes.  Almost everyone was marching rather quietly, talking to each other, without crying any slogans.  Someone was playing the accordion and singing Soviet songs.

Later, when we went to a café and tried to summarize what we had seen and heard, one more detail became clear.  During our survey (which I didn’t take part in), several persons, when they were asked why they took part in the march, answered they went ‘to all the rallies’, but when they heard the next question about taking part in political protests, they immediately said they went not to all the rallies literally, but only to the rallies on holidays, on the Victory Day and November 4.  Only one man said honestly that he had come to the march under compulsion, but there were so many columns of state-run enterprises (the names of those enterprises could be read on posters the people were carrying) that it was difficult to believe all those people had really come of their own free will.  Some more persons answered to all our questions with the same phrase, ‘I’m a patriot’.  It didn’t look as if they didn’t want to answer—more likely, they simply didn’t know what to answer.  They had no political views and couldn’t understand our questions.  Neither did they see any necessity to detail their ‘I’m a patriot’.

We didn’t feel any aggression, there were neither anti-Ukrainian slogans nor attacks on the ‘fifth column’.  Does it mean the war against Ukraine is really over?  It would be a good news…  The Syrian question wasn’t exploited either, except only one flag and only one slogan which somebody cried, but nobody joined him.  As most of the placards were with the same words, the main message of the event was quite clear: Russia is a multi-ethnic state; our strength is in unity—national, cultural, in ‘united’ history etc.; until we are united, we are invincible (this slogan was stolen word for word from opposition), and we’ve already proved this (without any details on how exactly we did it).  And, of course, ‘we believe in Russia’, ‘we trust Putin’, and so on and so on.

Different from others were members of NOD, Cossacks, ‘Officers of Russia’ (an association of army and police officers) in military uniform.  We’ve seen even children in uniform—one boy in Cossack uniform and another in army uniform, both were of preschool or primary school age.  One had even a toy pistol in a holster.

NOD members were more active and more militant than those who was going behind them.  As we could understand, it was only they who were crying slogans.  Something new was a demand to abolish the article of the Constitution about primacy of the rules of international law over domestic legislation.  For the ‘national liberators’ themselves, this fundamental principle of international relations meant a kind of ‘external management’, but their ‘curators’ from the Presidential Administration have thus agreed in fact that Russia’s foreign policy does violate the rules of international law in recent months.  And their own favourite argument that Europeans and Americans violate international law as well, is already not so convincing for them as it was previously.

The general impression is bad.  It was an interesting experience, but the march itself looked miserable and boring.  It was certainly not that great Russia where I’d like to live.  My Russia is more interesting.

JOINT ABSTRACT: Image of the Enemy in Perception of Russians and Germans during the First World War (in Russian)

Published in Trudy po rossievedeniiu, ed. by Irina I. Glebova (Moscow, 2014), 5: 397–405 (in Russian).

Continue reading ‘JOINT ABSTRACT: Image of the Enemy in Perception of Russians and Germans during the First World War (in Russian)’ »

My Collection of Abstracts and Reviews on the USSR in World War II Has Been Published

My collection of abstracts and reviews on the USSR in World War II was published this spring (in Russian):

WW2-title

It was printed after the fire at our Institute; luckily the typography has survived.  Theoretically, the collection may be ordered here, but it looks like it’s not at stock yet.  Some of the materials were prepared by my colleagues from our Department of History.

Initially we were going to show the current situation in historiography, but so many publications have appeared in recent years that we had to limit our work to a relatively small set of the most interesting works standing out for their subjects or research methods.  As a result, most of materials in the collection are based on works of Western historians who still much more often use different methodological innovations than their Russian colleagues.  Yet there are also abstracts of several Russian books that deal with some insufficiently explored aspects of the history of the Soviet Union in the Second World War.  We used almost no works on history of military operations or of the Red Army as, in spite of their importance, they are not so interesting from the viewpoint of methodology.  Instead, we devoted special attention to publications that deal with ‘non-military’ subjects, that investigate a human dimension of the Second World War, its long-term consequences and historical context.

As the work at the collection has shown, there was little change in the situation with stocking the library funds by foreign literature in Moscow since I was preparing my previous collection Nachalo Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny: sovremennaia istoriografiia [The beginning of the Great Fatherland War: recent historiography].  Even the biggest libraries can only buy rather a few books in comparison with the Soviet period, many books are available only at one of the libraries in one copy.  Along with the library of the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences, we used books from the Russian State Library (‘Lenin Library’) and the library of the German Historical Institute in Moscow, and also a lot of books, electronic copies of which had been published illegally in the Internet.  Piratical libraries continue to collect new literature—luckily for researchers, although to growing displeasure of the publishers’ community which can’t however offer any acceptable alternative.  Michael David-Fox (Georgetown University) has brought us a copy of the book The Holocaust in the East that he had edited with Peter Holquist and Alexander Martin.  Fortunately, the book was at my colleague’s home when the fire began at the institute.  Everything else that had been at our department is at the dump now along with remains of the roof :-(

The contents of the abstract collection:

  • Foreword
  • Preddverie i nachalo Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny: Problemy sovremennoi istoriografii i istochnikovedeniia [The eve and the beginning of the Great Fatherland War: Problems of recent historiography and source criticism] (Abstract)
  • David M. Glantz about the Red Army in World War II (Joint abstract)
  • A. B. Orishev, V avguste 1941 [In August 1941] (Abstract)
  • The Blockade of Leningrad (Joint abstract)
  • Karel C. Berkhoff, Motherland in Danger: Soviet Propaganda during World War II (Abstract)
  • D. D. Frolov, Sovetsko-finskii plen, 1939–1944: Po obe storony koliuchei provoloki [Soviet-Finnish Captivity, 1939–1944: On Either Side of the Barbed Wire] (Abstract)
  • Jörn Hasenclever, Wehrmacht und Besatzungspolitik in der Sowjetunion: Die Befehlshaber der rückwärtigen Heeresgebiete, 1941–1943 [Wehrmacht and the Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union: The Commanders of the Army Groups’ Back Areas] (Abstract)
  • Igor’ G. Ermolov, Tri goda bez Stalina: Okkupatsiia: Sovetskie grazhdane mezhdu natsistami i bol’shevikami, 1941–1944 [Three years without Stalin: Occupation: The Soviet citizens between the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, 1941–1944] (Abstract)
  • Bogdan Musial, Sowjetische Partisanen, 1941–1944: Mythos und Wirklichkeit [The Soviet partisans, 1941–1944: Myths and Reality] (Abstract)
  • Evacuation and the Rear (Joint abstract)
  • V. N. Krasnov, I. V. Krasnov, Lend-liz dl’a SSSR, 1941–1945 [Lend-lease for the USSR, 1941–1945] (Abstract)
  • Irina V. Bystrova, Potselui cherez okean: ‘Bol’shaia troika’ v svete lichnykh kontaktov (1941–1945 gg.) [A kiss across the ocean: the Big Three in the light of personal contacts, 1941–45] (Abstract)
  • Anna Krylova, Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front (Abstract)
  • Soviet Jews in the Years of War and Holocaust (Joint abstract)
  • A. Iu. Bezugol’nyi, N. F. Bugai, E. F. Krinko, Gortsy Severnogo Kavkaza v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine 1941–1945: problemy istorii, istoriografii i istochnikovedeniia [Mountain-dwellers of the Northern Caucasus in the Great Fatherland War 1941–1945: problems of history, historiography and source criticism] (Abstract)
  • Warlands: Population Resettlement and State Reconstruction in the Soviet–East European Borderlands, 1945–50, ed. Peter Gatrell and Nick Baron (Abstract)
  • The Veterans of World War II in the Soviet Union (Joint abstract)
  • The Significance of World War II for the History of the Soviet Union and the Post-Soviet States (Joint abstract)
  • Notes on Contributors

PHOTOS: Frogs’ ‘Weddings’

Last spring, or, more exactly, on 20 April in the previous year, I happened to see frogs’ ‘weddings’ in a forest not far from Moscow.  As I found out later, they last only three days a year, so that’s really a good luck to see it.  It looks rather funny: a large puddle full of frogs like a saucepan with dumplings, and gurgle and bubble can be heard almost everywhere in the forest.  I heard all of this even before I actually saw it, and my first impression was that it was a sound of a train ;-)  And there were quite a lot of such puddles in the forest. In some of them those frogs who had already finished all the ‘work’, were having a rest; they looked as if they were already in nirvana.  I had nothing to record the sounds, but at least I had a photo camera.  Have fun:

Лягушачьи свадьбы

DSC_0018_01

Лягушачьи свадьбы

PHOTOS: HP3000 computer, still functioning

These photographs were made in the previous year.  I had just prepared them for publication on this website a few days before the fire at my institute, but I hadn’t actually posted them by the time of the fire.  The ‘main hero’ didn’t suffer from the fire itself, but was heavily flooded with foam, and I decided not to post the photos until it was recovered.  Now it’s finally at work again, so I publish the pictures and the text without changes :-)

In an odd moment, I had a good opportunity to see and to photograph our main computer.  Here it is—HP 3000 Series 70, produced in 1985, and still at work:

HP3000 Series 70 Continue reading ‘PHOTOS: HP3000 computer, still functioning’ »

33

Finally I became a full age hobbit.  A good reason to look back ;-)

I was born in 1982, at the very end of stagnation years.  After my birth, Brezhnev was alive for seven more months ;-)

When I was about a year old, Andropov just began his struggle against violations of labour discipline.  My mother had to take her passport with her even when she went to the shop at the ground floor of our house—as a confirmation that she really had a baby and was not shirking work.

When I was three, Perestroika began.  My parents subscribed to so many magazines that they had to put a schedule of their delivery on the wall.  We still try to put in order a vast collection of those magazines…

A first independent current affairs program appeared on TV.  It’s strange to remember that now, but it was called Vesti [Tidings]; now it’s become completely official and propagandistic.

At the age of seven my father took me for the first time with him to the elections.  These were the first real elections in the history of the Soviet Union.

At the kindergarten, our nursery teachers hang a new radio set on the wall to ‘listen the Congress’ (of Peoples’ Deputies).  To my surprise, they and my parents explained what it was in almost the same words.  My father, when I asked him what those people in the TV set were speaking about, said they were discussing why there were no goods at the shops.  Just a few days later a nursery teacher at the kindergarten said after the Congress, ‘milk, cheese and so on will appear at the shops again’, or something like that.

I remember well the empty shelves at the shops that time.

While being in the first grade at school, we were admitted to Little Octobrists.  But I have never become a Young Pioneer ;-(

When I was nine, a column of tanks passed along Michurinskii Avenue near my neighbourhood, armed patrols emerged in the streets, and all the programs on TV were replaced with endless Swan Lake ballet.  My father went to defend the White House—then a housing of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation which became the main stronghold of resistance to the putsch.

Several days later he took me for the first time to a meeting.  I remember a crowd in front of the White House, barricades that had not been pulled down yet, Yeltsin’s voice talking something about the victory of democracy, cries ‘Down with the CPSU!’.  It was boring to stand long at the same place, so we began walking around the building and missed the change of the flag.  When we were going back to the metro station, the red, with a blue stripe, flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic had already been replaced with the white, blue and red tricolour.

Four more months later the Soviet Union came to an end.  My parents said (without any enthusiasm) that at the shops ‘everything will soon emerge.  But will become more expensive’.

Everything became so much more expensive that new bank-notes of an adequate nominal value could not be put in circulation in time.  Following my parents’ advice, I opened both of my coin boxes to use their contents before it decreased in value.  We had to steam the cap of the wooden mushroom, and I didn’t want to break the piggy bank because it was a present from my sister-in-law for my tenth birthday, so we made a little hole in it and took the coins out ;-)

I don’t remember when the Vremia [Time] current affairs program was closed on TV, but I remember what it looked like.  A strange notice ‘TV-Inform’ appeared in the screen instead of the usual picture of the globe, then the speaker said Vremia would never more be produced, and the news would be televised live, without any censorship.  After that a new current affairs program began.  There were two speakers, a man and a woman, as usually, but now they were talking with each other, exchanging the papers—they obviously wanted to show they were really televised live, not on tape delay as previously.

Somewhere at the same uneasy months my mother gave me a book, unknown to both of us, by an author, also unknown to both of us.  The book belonged to her and my father’s friend.  The title was attractive: ‘John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first part of The Lord of the Rings’.  You can see  some long-term effects of reading it on this website ;-)

Meanwhile, times were changing rapidly.  On weekends, my father and I went to a market some forty minutes way from my house for potatoes.  In winter, we continued to go to ski in the vicinities of Moscow, but there were not so many people like us, the forest had become quite ‘depopulated’ in comparison with the previous years.

For my family’s four privatization checks, my father bought forty shares of the Moscow Realty voucher investment fund.  I still keep the certificates in my desk, although the fund itself, as well as the other voucher investment funds like it, has for a long time already become a part of history ;-(

By the way, at school we were studying history using a Soviet text-book, although published in the years of Perestroika, so one day we were told to prepare a report about one of the heroes of the Civil War.  A long and difficult evening talk with my mother followed; as a result, she finally managed to shake my Communist convictions formed at kindergarten and elementary school.  Since then I became quite anti-Soviet ;-)

I was eleven when all the TV channels became silent except the Second Channel that continued broadcasting from the Shukhov Tower instead of Ostankino Tower and transmitted alarming news: armed supporters of the Supreme Soviet are attacking the Moscow city hall and the TV centre in Ostankino, a state of emergency and a curfew are imposed in the city.  It happened only a night before the White House was shelled from the tank cannons…

Unlike 1991 my parents didn’t take part in that small civil war in the centre of Moscow.  Now, twenty-two years later, it seems to me that they were right.

Several months later, George Soros, now quite unpopular in Russia, tried to support Russian scientists with small grants.  My father invested his grant into shares of MMM company (the largest Ponzi scheme in Russian history) that had just entered the market and were the only instrument for investment of money that brought in an income exceeding the hyperinflation.  My initials were then popular more than ever ;-)  We happened to be among the first investors and managed to sell some part of our shares in time, so we were not at a loss when MMM collapsed.  We spent our income for summer vacations and also bought a tortoise—just one or two days before the collapse of MMM.  We called her Marina Sergeevna—in honour of a heroine of MMM advertising.  She lived twelve years at our home…

An ‘operation of restoring the constitutional order’ in Chechnia, that is still far from an end, began six more months later.  It was my grandmother who was the first one in my family to say the word ‘war’.  After two years at the front in 1943–45 she really new what it means…

It turned to be not so easy for me to chose a profession because, being an excellent pupil, I was interested almost in everything; my parents told me, ‘Don’t study so much’ ;-)  I wanted to become a physicist, but at the ninth grade I understood physics is too difficult for me.  I was (and still am) interested in computers, but in the tenth grade it became clear that my ability for mathematics was over, too, so I couldn’t become a programmer as my elder brother did.

Finally I decided to be a historian and graduated from the Russian State University for the Humanities in 2004.  The years spent at the university were a wonderful time.  Only my travel to the USA in 2012–13 was the same full of events and impressions.

On holidays between the first and second years at the university I went to Iceland for the first (and, I hope, not the last) time.  It wasn’t my first trip abroad, but it was the first time I had to arrange everything myself because I travelled together with my mother and she doesn’t speak English.  I took a dictionary to that trip ;-)

My first employment was the same as that of my both elder brothers—a worker at our father’s geological expedition (two travels to Karelia in 2000 and 2001).  Since 2008, after the defence of my Ph.D. thesis, I have worked at the Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences.  By the time of my employment, salaries of researchers had been significantly increased (by staff reduction at all the academic institutions), but nevertheless, they still remain the only successful nanotechnology in Russia ;-(

In 2009 I went to Israel for the first time.  I enjoyed it ;-)

In the beginning of 2010 I made a report at the Major Tolkien Seminar in Saint Petersburg and was rather surprised when discovered that I had no more ‘stage fright’.  It was also confirmed by my further experience of making a report at a conference on history of the Second World War at the Russian State University for the Humanities.  It was a really good news as I had lots of problems previously because of that fright.

A conference in Budapest in summer 2011 was my first travel abroad on business.  For the first time I spent several days in a foreign city alone.  My second trip to Israel the same year in September was my first travel on holiday without any organized tour, I booked hotels and bought tickets myself, travelled along the country just by intercity buses, and so on.  Later, in November, I had an opportunity to talk a lot to my Hungarian colleagues in Moscow and found out that I finally could speak English well enough.  The next year this allowed me to receive a Fulbright grant and to go to the USA for six months for a research.

While I was in Israel in 2011, Putin decided to become a president once more.  Several of my friends who had never voted before decided to vote that time.  After the parliamentary elections which were quite ‘magic’ as well as the previous ones, I began to go to political rallies.  Wish I weren’t ill at the day of the first meeting at Bolotnaia Square…  At the presidential elections in February 2012 I was a scrutineer.

In October 2012 I went to America.  It was a wonderful travel :-)

In the fall of 2014 I became a senior researcher.  This year on 30 January, a fire destroyed my working place and also a half of my institute’s library.

There’s nothing to be done, life’s going on.  I don’t know whether I’ll have an opportunity to celebrate my eleventy-first birthday, but at least the past thirty-three years were not so bad anyway.  Let’s be in touch :-)

Dry Books Have Been Taken Out from the INION Building

I had to spend the beginning of this week for writing some more abstracts for our abstract journal, so I’m posting with a delay again.  The dry books have finally been taken out of the building of my institute (INION).  I took part in packing the last newspapers on Saturday, and the rest of them was packed on Sunday without me and taken away on Monday.  Thanks to our volunteers—we wouldn’t be able to do all this work in three weeks by ourselves.  One more thanks to our sponsor whose name I don’t know and who bought for us boxes, bags, sticky tape, clothes and water for volunteers etc.  It wouldn’t be easy to get such money from the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations.

At present, almost all the dry books are stored in Lyubertsy near Moscow, we’ve been given a building there in an industrial zone of the publishing centre of the All-Russian Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI), and it was told we would be given one more building there later.  Tomorrow we are going there to unpack the newspapers that are a bit wet and shouldn’t be stored in polyethylene bags.  The readers’ catalogue is being transported to Lyubertsy, too; it has almost not suffered from the fire or water.  The service catalogue is to be dried, but it’s still inaccessible because of breaking-downs inside the building.  Wet books are being transported to a cold storage facility in Kotelniki near Lyubertsy.  Books are rather heavy in such a condition, so only professional porters strong enough are involved in this work.  Unfortunately that’s why, at least till now, wet books have been taken off the building much more slowly than the dry books have, although it would be better if it were just the opposite.  In February the non-heated building worked itself as a kind of improvised cold storage, but it’s getting warm now; for wet books, that is really dangerous…

REPORT: The Hunting of the Books: How to Search the Foreign Academic Literature in the Internet (in Russian)

My report at Veskon-2015 convent on Tolkien studies and role playing games in Moscow, with an overview of three instruments for searching the academic literature in the Internet (LibGen, Sci-Hub, Academia.edu).  It can be useful not only for specialists on Tolkien, but for any other students as well, whatever problems they are interested in. Continue reading ‘REPORT: The Hunting of the Books: How to Search the Foreign Academic Literature in the Internet (in Russian)’ »

Bibliography on World War I

In the fall of 2014 we finished our bibliographical database on history of Russia in World War I, it didn’t function for a while after the fire, but they have just restored it from a backup.  It’s available at http://www.inion.ru/I_publ.html and contains information about books and articles from the library of our institute, that is, about almost everything published in Russia and also about some foreign publications.  We’ll probably be able later to add information about books available at some other major libraries as well.  The interface is only in Russian, but it’s quite simple.  Search by author, title, annotation and keywords is available, there’s also a subject directory.  Each reference in the search results has a list of tags, each of them is a link to the list of corresponding references.  My role was mainly the communication to the programmers.

News from INION: Taking out Books and Some Other Events

This week I had to make a short break with this website, but events at my institute (Institute of Scientific Information for Social Sciences, INION) and around it have meanwhile been moving swiftly all these days.  On the previous Thursday we finally took out the books and documents from the study of the head of our Department of History.  The study was on the first floor and hadn’t suffered from the fire.  The storage with the production of our typography is said to have burned, so it’s in this study that the only copies of many publications of our department have survived.

At the same time we got an opportunity to see the ground floor and partly the first floor at the damaged part of the building.  The view is oppressive.  Mud all around, no ceiling overhead, frozen flows of water and pieces of half-burned pages underfoot.  Some rooms are really life-threatening to come in—too many heavy things can fall down from above at any moment.  The damaged part of the main book depository can be seen through a hole in a wall at the ground floor—it seems that it was mostly the book depository that was burning at the ground floor and at the first floor.

On the same day we were told the Institute had finally got a new building for temporary housing not far from the old one and we would move there the next (which is already this) week.  They say it’s in a terrible condition, but it’s better than nothing anyway.

Meanwhile ‘professional patriots’ go on attacking our director Yuri Pivovarov in the mass media and at the State Duma (we are still trying to understand what it could mean), and the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations (FANO) seems to have recovered from the initial fright (earlier than we hoped, unfortunately) and turned to a decisive counter-offensive using heavy artillery, tanks and aircraft.  The same Thursday Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted the head of FANO Mikhail Kotiukov that ‘overall responsibility for the liquidation of the consequences of the fire lies with the administration of INION’.  Does it mean they aren’t going to help us at all, although FANO is our only sponsor and our Institute is officially subordinated to it?  By the way, INION still receives no additional financing for that very liquidation of the consequences of the fire, we have no money to buy furniture and computers for our new building.  Do they suppose us to use our own salary for it?

A week earlier the minister of education and science Livanov had said almost literary that the fire at INION was the best evidence that the scientists could not manage their own property well and that the ‘reform’ of the Russian Academy of Sciences was really necessary (he calls it nothing less than ‘the main event in our science for the last twenty years’).  Of course those persons prefer not to mention their own ‘effectiveness’ although our Institute (and many other institutes as well) received almost a half of the financing for 2014 in the fall of the year.  Where that money had been the most part of the year and who received the dividends—nobody knows.

It wasn’t all.  After a session of our directorate on Sunday (!) it was said, firstly, that this week we would have to start not only moving to the new building, but at the same time taking the books off the old building (which we were not able to do up to now otherwise than in small shipments because the investigators continued their work in the building).  The motivation is the FANO insists us to leave the old building as soon as possible.  It seems they have finally decided to pull it down.  It’s a pity, but it was predictable, unfortunately.

Secondly, it was said our administration is now required to work without days-off and that the representatives of the FANO had already visited our new building and were very angry as they hadn’t seen our employees there.  I don’t want to comment on this, but I’m afraid I have to.  I don’t mind to sit on the floor in an empty room with a book and a laptop computer without Internet all the working day, but only if those persons from the FANO take the books out of our book depository on the week-end together with us.  But I’m afraid it’s too much for them to do that.

And even this was not all.  On Monday afternoon (23 February, that is still a holiday in Russia, since the Soviet time) we were suddenly said the beginning of taking out books from our damaged building (along with moving to a new building) was planned as early as for the Tuesday morning, the volunteers were needed badly.  The motivation is the FANO, instead of sending the necessary money at last, it threatening to punish the administration of the Institute if the work isn’t begun immediately.  We really began to take out the dry books on Tuesday and managed to transport first several hundreds of boxes to a storage of the All-Russian Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI) in Lyubertsy near Moscow.  Luckily, we’ve found enough volunteers, our work would be much more slow without them.  Since next week we are going to work from early morning till late evening, including on week-ends; our librarians hope we’ll be able to rescue the dry books in about two weeks.

The situation with wet books is much worse.  There are at least two times as many of them as of the dry books, and our librarians are still not ready to allow the volunteers to work with them—one should be too careful with books in such a condition.  Where and how to transport them for freezing, where to dry them then, and where to get money for all of this—is still not clear.  AFAIK they have found a contractor with necessary equipment, specialists and experience, but it costs over a million dollars that we haven’t got at all.  This week they took a small number of books to a cold storage facility in Kotelniki near Moscow that agreed to receive those books into custody without prepayment, but it’s a temporary decision of course.

At least four journalists have arrived among the volunteers on Tuesday and Wednesday to find something exclusive inside our building, but didn’t say they were journalists.  Two of them were working together with me.  They were working well enough, but we found out their real profession only the next day when we saw their accounts in the Internet.  One girl’s article in Sobesednik wasn’t too friendly, she has shamelessly misquoted my answers to her questions, but she doesn’t seem to try to attack the Institute intentionally, so her mistakes were probably due to her bad knowledge of the subject, especially since she wasn’t able to ask me to explain anything additionally because she had to disclose her incognito in such a case.  One more guy’s reportage on TV was rather sympathizing. There’s nothing to be done, professional ethics isn’t a frequent guest in Russian mass media now ;-(

The Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences still doesn’t interfere in the situation.  We don’t know what they think about all of this there.

The causes of the fire are still unclear, too.  The main versions are the same three ones as previously…