March 5, 2011


The slang word “radish” (“rediska” in russian) appeared in 1920-s. Komsomol activist were calling “radish” people who previously worked for the czar government or served in the czar army. They meant: red on the outside, white on the inside.

Later the word migrated to the criminal slang and got a more general meaning – someone unworthy of trust. Most Russians learned this meaning from the movie “Gentlemen of Fortune”.

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February 27, 2011

Civil War in Russia: the basics.

The Russian Civil War (1918-1922) occured on the remains of the Russian Empire and fundamentally changed Russian history. More than fifteen countries got involbed in this great battle between the Reds and the Whites.

There were more than two factions in this war, of course, but the main struggle went between the Worker-Peasant Red Army  led by Bolsheviks and the military forces of the White Movement, as the loosely-allied anti-Bolshevik forces got called. Therefore we say that the war was mainly between the Reds and the Whites.


Reds, ruthless and violent, were saving Russia from the ravishing aristocrats and overindulgent bourgeois. There was no time for indecision. Lenin saw an oppurtunity to grab the power and he seized it. He spilled a lot of blood in the process.

Ordinary members of the party were simple labormen and yestrerday peasants. They were tired of the war and they would follow anybody promising some radical changes. So they followed the Bolsheviks that promised them salvation from the war and equal distribution of land.

Reds were fighting for a future country of equal rights and what was even more important – equal opportunities. Their motto was: “A nobody will become somebody!”





Whites were saving Russia from the terror of Bolshevik dictatorship, from the rule of barbarious uneducated scum.

Officers and soldiers of the Russian Empire they were desperate to keep their Motherland a modern European country. If they could not save monarchy they would proclaim a very much accepted republic.

Their weakness was in their diversity. The only thing they had in common was their hatered towards the Bolsheviks. Other then that, there was no single leader and no common policies.








UPDATE: Posters are translated – check mouseover. If you still can not read it, the poster on the left is a Bolshevik poster “Did you volunteer?” by Moor (Orlov) D.S. 1920.  The one on the right is one of the few Whites’ posters “For united Russia!”, artist unknown, 1919.

February 24, 2011

“The Elusive Avengers”, inspirational movie.

Here is a music video from the movie “Elusive Avengers”. A bit of inspiration to use for your game about Russian Civil War.

You can also watch the full movie with english subs. I highly recommend it.

Also read me this Sunday – I will write about the major factions in the Civil War.

February 24, 2011

The 23rd February – Day of the Defender

Long live the invincible Red Army...Celebrated since 1922,  February 23rd  is a national holiday in Russia – Defender of the Motherland Day. In the Soviet Union it was first called Red Army Day, renamed Red Army and Navy Day in 1949. In 1995 it got renamed for the last time so far – Defender of the Motherland Day. Since 2002 it has become a bank holiday.

To cite Wikipedia: “… as the name suggests, the holiday celebrates people who are serving or were serving the Armed Forces (both men and women), but unofficially, nationally it has also more recently come to include the celebration of men as a whole, and to act as a counterpart of International Women’s Day on March 8.”

Actually the holiday is getting a lot of flak lately. From women who do not wish to praise men who are not serving or did not serve in the Armed Forces, and from some historians that have come to the conclusion that there is actually nothing to celebrate.

The origins of the holiday are indeed unclear. In 1995 the State Duma* passed a federal statute dealing with state holidays connected to the military glory of Russia and February 23rd is mentioned as a day of victory over Kaizer Germany. Unfortunately that is not what really happened. While the February offensive against Russia did bring closer the defeat of Germany in the WWI, for the young Soviet Republic it brought the notorious Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Other sources claim that the 23rd February 1918 is the birth date of the Red Army.  There were calls for a mass draft that day, but they remained largely unheard. According to Leon Trotsky** in february 1918 the Red Army counted less than 2000 men. So, no invincible Red Army either.

The great holiday is a big fat lie. But  it has been celebrated for nearly 90 years already and I reckon it has collected some value by itself. Every man, every boy this day has a chance to think about his role as a defender of his country, his Motherland. His responsibilities for his family, for his relatives, for those that he cares about. Every year he gets a chance to become slightly better, slightly more responsible. And I think that maybe, maybe it was not such a bad lie. A man becoming better certainly deserves a celebration.

* The Lower chamber of the Russian Parliament (Federal Assembley of Russian Federation). The Upper chamber is called the Federal Council of the Russian Federation.

** I will tell more about him later. Now it will suffice to say that he was a founder of the Red Army and People’s Commissar of War.

February 21, 2011

19th February 1861, serfdom got abolished in the Russian Empire.

A painting of dancing peasants.

19th February, 1861: In the course of a major agrarian reform the serfs* got freed. They got little plots of land, most meadows and forests were left in the hands of the ruling class. Some say the abolishment was late, badly thought-out and set grounds for the  Revolution in Russia.

Abraham Lincoln will set the slaves of Rebel states free in 1863.

* The term ‘serf’ means the unfree (some say enslaved) peasants in the Russian Empire. Russian term is ‘krepostnoi krestyanin’. Or ‘krepostnoy‘ for short.