Thursday, November 22, 2007

Answer to My Wordless Wednesday Photo

In case anyone's just dying to know who those rulers are in the Wordless Wednesday picture, here's the list:

  • Ivan the Terrible--ruled 1533-1547--"the first ruler of Russia to assume the title of tsar (or czar)." Also--"When Ivan's tomb was opened during renovations in the 1960s, his remains were examined and discovered to contain very high amounts of mercury, indicating a high probability that he was poisoned."

  • Catherine the Great--ruled 1762-1796--"She exemplifies the enlightened despot of her era." And "Catherine's patronage furthered the evolution of the arts in Russia more than that of any Russian sovereign before or after her."

  • Nicolas II--ruled 1894-1917-- He was "the last Tsar of Russia, King of Poland,[1] and Grand Duke of Finland." Also, "Nicholas and his family were imprisoned firstly in the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe family and later moved to the Governor's Mansion in Tobolsk and finally to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg. On the night of 16/17 July 1918, Nicholas and his family were shot by Bolsheviks." I remember enjoying the novel "Nicholas and Alexandra," by Robert K. Massie, when I read it back in high school.

  • Joseph Stalin--ruled 1922-1953--"Stalin's increasing control of the [Communist] Party from 1928 onwards led to his becoming the de facto party leader and the dictator of his country, in full control of the Soviet Union and its people." And "Stalin created a cult of personality in the Soviet Union around both himself and Lenin. The embalming of the Soviet founder in Lenin's Mausoleum was performed over the objection of Lenin's widow, Nadezhda Krupskaya. Stalin became the focus of massive adoration and even worship."

  • Nikita Krushchev--ruled 1953-1964--"He was removed from power by his party colleagues in 1964 and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev. He spent the last seven years of his life under the close supervision of the KGB." He made the public statement, "...we will crush you," to President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ah, he was wrong. And as a side note, my father traveled to the USSR with a Russian program of the U of Chicago during this time.

  • Leonid Brezhnev--ruled 1964-1982--"Brezhnev met Nikita Khrushchev in 1931, shortly after joining the party. Before long, he became Khrushchev's protégé as he continued his rise through the ranks." Also, "By the mid-1970s "one of his closest companions was a KGB nurse, who fed him a steady stream of pills without consulting his doctors". He had developed narcotic dependence on sleeping pill nembutal and died of a heart attack. He was honoured with one of the largest and most impressive funerals in the world."

  • Mikhail Gorbachev--ruled 1985-1991--"He was the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as well as head of state of the USSR, serving from 1985 until its collapse in 1991." Also, "his paternal grandfather was sentenced to nine years in the gulag for withholding grain from the collective's harvest." I was fortunate enough to visit during his rule, in 1986--interesting and rather disgusting factoid--while we were there, and maybe still to this day, instead of finding soda machines on the sidewalks, we found beer vending machines--they dispensed beer (pivo) into a glass, and when you were done drinking you put the glass back for the next person--ew!

  • Boris Yeltsin--ruled 1991-1999-- "the first President of the Russian Federation." Interesting: "Yeltsin also used his retirement to pursue his considerable love of tennis." Boris Yeltsin died of congestive heart failure on 23 April 2007 at the age of 76, and "Yeltsin is the first Russian statesman in 113 years to be buried in a church ceremony, after Emperor Alexander III, although Yeltsin declared himself an atheist."
I bought the matryoshka doll in Minsk, Belarus, in 1992, while visiting my parents there for two weeks in December--Eddie came with me and we were just dating at the time, so that shows just how far the man would follow me :). Of course, he loves cold weather, so he was probably much happier there than I was.

Just as an example of life there, when we ate out at a restaurant, the temperature inside must have been about 5o degrees F, but it's considered impolite to leave your coat on. And menus were a joke, just to tease you with what you might have been able to eat had they had the ingredients. We did get to see a circus while we were there, and that was quite fun! My brother and his then-girlfriend, now his wife, also came for this trip, so I guess she showed how far she was willing to travel, too. :)

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