09 January 2009

'Namedni': Revealing present-day Russia as a museum 'full of Soviet antiquities'

The 8 January 2009 issue of Transitions Online (www.tol.cz) features an article on the first installment of a four-volume printed companion to the television documentary series, Namedni 1961-2003: Our Era, which began airing on NTV in 1993.

As TO journalist Vladimir Kozlov points out, the volume draws attention to the almost unconscious performance of memory of the Soviet period in contemporary Russian life, to the way in which the Soviet past seeps quietly and continuously into the Russian present. This was not the original intention of the television series, which host Leonid Parfyonov meant as a chronicle of an ostensibly vanishing Soviet culture.  But as Kozlov remarks:  
Now the situation is quite different.  Pieces of what seemed gone for good are coming back to our lives.  'The first generation that did not witness the USSR is entering adult life,' Parfyovnov writes in his foreword.  Yet this new life, 'like a museum, is full of Soviet antiquities.'

'People celebrate holidays, serve in the army, choose their authorities, watch TV, sell natural gas, obtain an education, support sports teams, spend time in hospitals, sing the national anthem, and threaten foreign nations in a Soviet way.'This notion is what gives the first volume of Namedni a special value, making it something more than just a translation of the TV show into another medium, an opportunity to look again at the recent past and ponder why Russians are so unwilling to get rid of many of their old habits and attitudes.

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