Learning the Lessons of History

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After 2.4 million votes cast, the survey of history's "greatest Russian" is coming down to the wire. Top three contenders? Tsar Nicholas II, Stalin, and Lenin, of course. The (London) Times has details:

The Soviet tyrant and Second World War leader is battling Tsar Nicholas II for first place in The Name of Russia, a domestic version of the BBC series Great Britons. Stalin had been well ahead in the online vote until the show's producer appealed to members of a popular Russian social networking site to back Nicholas II.

The Tsar edged in front tonight as communists and monarchists whipped up support for their candidates. Stalin has received almost 263,000 votes so far, against more than 267,000 for Nicholas II.

Lenin, the Tsar's nemesis, was third with nearly 187,000 votes. The top dozen included Peter the Great, Pushkin, Catherine the Great, Yuri Gagarin, Boris Yeltsin and Ivan the Terrible.

Leader of the Communist Party in St. Petersburg, Sergei Malinkovich, was excited about a potential victory for party hero 'Koba' Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili:

"If he wins, we will ask the Russian Orthodox Church to consider canonising Stalin. Lenin was a Communist for the Church, but Stalin was a real national leader. For us, he is like Napoleon is to the French."

Full article.

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  1. My vote goes for FDR.

  2. It’s a three way tie.

    Henry Wallace, Ensign Chekov, and Armand Hammer.

  3. please shoot me

  4. Nicholas II who lost two wars, got deposed and executed a “great Russian?” If he’d been halfway competent maybe there wouldn’t have been a Russian Revolution.

  5. Peter the Great! He could have taken out any other 3 Russians on the list with one had tied behind his back.

  6. Rasputin, it’s so obvious I’m embarrassed for them. Just as crazy as the other candidates, but not a mass murderer and virtually impossible to kill. Steven Seagal can kiss his ass.

  7. Interesting, as many hardcore Russians I know would only consider Lenin to be really Russian (Stalin was Georgian, Nikolai was of German/Danish descent.)

    My three would be Pushkin, Peter the Great, and Dostoevsky.

  8. I mean can anyone think of someone better than these candidates? When your history is one of oppression and fear the greatest “Russians” will be the greatest perpetrators of fear and oppression.

    My vote for greatest Russian I guess would go to Peter or Catherine but I can’t think of any russians I truly admire.

  9. Rasputin’s a good choice, too.

    He kept the nation out of war (until the first attempt at life kept him away from the Court), protected Jews and other minorities, and never refused to give help to anyone.

    And, of course, he’d be very much at home here amongst us.

  10. And now we’ve got that Russian brides banner ad back. 🙂

  11. My three would be Pushkin, Peter the Great, and Dostoevsky.

    Ditto. Also Nabokov and Ivan Drago.

  12. Why no Tarkovsky?

  13. Greatest Russian? Easy: Anna Kournikova.

  14. I wonder if “Nabokov” and “Ivan Drago” had ever been part of the same sentence before.

  15. my vote goes to Valeri Kharlamov

  16. I guess I admire Sergei Brylin the most. I’d give the title to him.

  17. I think Stalin should be disqualified as a candidate unless the dead, whom he was responsible for killing, get to vote, Chicago-style. If he wins THAT election, he’s the man of steel for sure.

  18. No Kalashnikov?

  19. When the Germans held a “greatest Germans” contest, there wasn’t even an option to vote for Hitler and other Nazis. Why didn’t the people running this contest make similar rules here?

  20. The Greats, Peter and Catherine*, vie for first. The rest can fight over the show position.

    * Could get disqualified on the tecnicality that she wasn’t really a Russian.

  21. If this story is true…

    …I’m thinking we should be checking to make sure the nukes still work.

  22. the survey of history’s “greatest Russian” is coming down to the wire

    In Soviet Union, the wire comes down on the greatest Russians

  23. Garry Kasparov. At least he’s not a mass-murderer, like most of the people on the list.

    And why does Stalin (a Georgian, Dzhugashvili) even qualify? Soviet, yes, Russian, no.

  24. Where the hell is Peter the Great? I can’t believe they chose Nicky ahead of him.

  25. Jerry | July 17, 2008, 5:32pm | #
    Why no Tarkovsky?

    Seconded.

  26. Obviously, the correct answer to the question who is the greatest Russian is t.A.T.u.

  27. There would be no Russian Empire without Peter the Great. Tasr Nicholas was as inept at ruling as GWB. Rasputin was a total sexually depraved drunken bad ass. But I’m going with Bingo, Kalashnikov created the most widely used weapon in modern history. It’s probably killed more people than smallpox.

  28. What the devil! Seems I’ve tripped over Gogol!

  29. Peter the Great was every bit as much of a mass murdering warmonger as Stalin was. Makes me wonder if 200 hundred years from now people will be talking about Hitler the Magnificent.

  30. For us, [Stalin] is like Napoleon is to the French.

    A paranoid but charismatic foreigner who usurped control of the country, destroyed it, trashed Europe and much of the rest of the world, but left his people enthralled with the majesty of just how much damage they could do.

  31. Peter the Great was every bit as much of a mass murdering warmonger as Stalin was.

    Though hardly a saint, Peter the Great is not even in the same league as Stalin. Neither in total numbers nor percentage of the population.

    As far as warmongering goes, it was all the rage in Europe during the 17th – 18th centuries.

  32. I’m thinking that no matter how the vote turns out, Putin will win the election.

  33. What a vile abomination! It seems I’ve stumbled over Pushkin!

  34. “Though hardly a saint, Peter the Great is not even in the same league as Stalin. Neither in total numbers nor percentage of the population.”

    “As far as warmongering goes, it was all the rage in Europe in any century.”(fixed)

    You have a point. Stalin murdered millions, but if your one of the lucky few to be unjustly killed would you care about percentages.

    It’s hard to now how many people died as a result of Peter the Great. Tens of thousands died being forced to turn a swamp into St. Petersburg. He basically kept Russia in a constant state of war throughout his long reign. First with Sweden & later with Turkey. Many a hot Russia girl ended up in the Slave market in Istanbul as a result.

  35. *facepalm*

    I am ashamed of my people.

  36. Does this mean that the “Greatest American Evar” contest will come down to George Bush II, Robert McNamara, and Benedict Arnold?

  37. Ding-ding! Pavlov? Ding-ding! Pavlov? Ding-ding! Pavlov?

  38. thoreau,

    We can campaign for Kissinger, Mises and Einstein. If for no other reason than to piss off LoneWacko.

  39. It’s the mustache. Chicks dig it.

  40. If you’re picking a filmmaker, I’d think you’d have to go with Eisenstein over Tarkovsky. But that’s only if you consider Eisenstein Russian, and many Russians don’t.

    I briefly considered Gogol, whom Nabokov called the only genius Russia has ever known, but he’s really Ukrainian.

  41. Click my name for my pick for greatest Russian ;)(marginally NSFW)

  42. Agree that Nabokov should be in the running. Others: Dmitri Mendeleev, Andrei Sakharov, Rachmaninoff, Solzhenitzin.

  43. Where are all the great russian historians?

    How can the list exclude Yemelyan Pugachev?

  44. How about Dimitri Ivanovich Donskoi?

  45. Nary a word on Boris Godunov? Or False Dmitri I or False Dmitri II. I thought some might nominate Prince Vasily Shuisky.

    How about Alexander the First? How can we forget him? He crushes Bonapartism and he was responsible for giving us bistros-so the folklore goes.

  46. why not alisa rosenbaum, better known to all of us as ayn rand?

    can’t be an ex-russian? well boris yeltsin then. a drunk AND an anti-communist, can’t be bad.

    vladislav tretyak, one of the greatest hockey goalies ever.

    the fat old guy at my gym always yelling in russian in the jacuzzi at the top of his lungs. oh yeah, no ex-pats allowed.

  47. Man, the Russians seriously test my commitment to cultural relativism.

    Nice novels, if you can wipe the blood off.

  48. Jimmy –

    You wanna go with sports?

    How about Olga Korbut? Vasily Alexiev?

  49. Joe-

    If you haven’t been, go to St. Petersburg. It is so much more than just the Venice of the North. Just wait till you stroll up and down Nyevski Prospyect-home of the Winter Palace, hundreds of bridges, the summer midnight sun,the grand architectural beauty, teeming with history and hordes of scandanavian/slavic hotties.

  50. Also Tchaikovsky and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

  51. “If you haven’t been, go to St. Petersburg. It is so much more than just the Venice of the North. Just wait till you stroll up and down Nyevski Prospyect-home of the Winter Palace, hundreds of bridges, the summer midnight sun,the grand architectural beauty, teeming with history and hordes of scandanavian/slavic hotties.”

    Those poor bastards that died building St. Petersburg did one hell of a job. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are so many palaces in St. Petersburg you get tired of looking at them. You also can go on a tour of the place were Rasputin was murdered by the Russian Princes.

  52. Some great names listed. Mike, you’re pleasantly surprising me. 🙂

    When I lived in that part of world, I wanted to visit St. Petersburg (or Peter, as many Russians call it), but I had visa problems. At that time, not only could you take the Rasputin tour, but you could also take a Raskolnikov tour.

    Every single stone described in Crime and Punishment was real. This tour took you everywhere in the book, including the closet where Raskolnikov got the ax. You could even count the steps to the pawn broker, just like Raskolnikov did! Wow.

  53. Some other great names: Shostakovich, Bulgakov, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Chagall, Nevsky, Potemkin, Lermontov, Lomonosov, Pasternak, Mandelstam (both of them), Chekov, . . .

  54. kelley FTW

  55. Serious suggestion: Tsar Alexander III. Freed the serfs (biggest single act of liberty, and before US did so), set up trial by jury, almost reversed the downslide of modern anti-Semitism in Russa, was about to establish a real parliament when assassinated.

  56. Ooops meant Tsar Alex II.

    “Louis the XV? I meant Louis XVI….”

  57. I nominate Nikolai Volkoff, Alexander Karelin and Yakov Smirnoff.

  58. Shostakovich rocks

  59. I would say the space guys: definitely Tsiolkovsky and maybe Korolev.

  60. The spaghetti-western version will be called, “The Great, The Terrible and The Ugly.”

  61. Lev Andropov. A real russian hero.

  62. Mijail Barishnikov.

    A MACHO ballet dancer (who knew that would be possible?)

  63. Good to know the russians are also stupid

    Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekov should be getting all the votes.

  64. Tolstoy should get a nod simply for having written What is Art?.

    That little book made the art school students at my university apoplectic.

  65. What, no Fedor?

  66. You people are funny ^_^

  67. Catherine the Great, duh.

  68. “Serious suggestion: Tsar Alexander III. Freed the serfs (biggest single act of liberty, and before US did so), set up trial by jury, almost reversed the downslide of modern anti-Semitism in Russa, was about to establish a real parliament when assassinated.”

    Free the serfs & how do they pay you back they throw bombs at you.

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