The Russian became a fictional language in
the early 1700s, when Peter the Great's reform policy
brought about a cultural boost for Russia. A century
later, Ivan Krylov published his first fables. Somewhat
later, the romantic lyricist Alexander Pushkin (Eugen
Onegin) and the novelist Michail Lermontov (The Hero of
Our Time) appeared, followed by the satirist and
socialist Nikolaj Gogol (Dead Souls, The Auditor).
From the middle of the 19th century, Russian
literature experienced a flourishing era and a number of
writers became internationally famous. The Russian
classics include Ivan Gontyarov (Oblomov), Ivan
Turgenyev (Fathers and Sons), Fjodor Dostoevsky (Crime
and Punishment, the Karamazov Brothers), Lev Tolstoy
(War and Peace, Anna Karenina). Alexander Ostrovsky
(Storm) created the realistic drama. The next classic
generation was the playwright and novelist.
Latest population statistics of Russia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Anton Chekhov (Cherry Garden) and the first
proletarian author Maxim Gorkij (The Night Army, My
Modern lyricism had its breakthrough decades after the
turn of the century through poets such as Vladimir
Majakovsky, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Achmatova and Boris
Pasternak. Prose writers after the October Revolution of
1917 (see Modern History) include Isaak Babel, Michail
Bulgakov, Ivan Bunin and Michail Sjolochov. In the early
1900s, the Russian theater became a role model for
foreign countries through innovative directors such as
Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold.
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Russia. Artists and albums are also included.
During the Stalin period (1929–1953), all artistic
directions except the "socialist realism" were ascribed.
Many significant writers and other artists were
silenced. Several were arrested and died in prison
camps. After Josef Stalin's death in 1953, a brief
"thaw" came with the publication of socially critical
novels, as well as an emerging critical and centrally
critical poetry. A number of blacklisted plays,
including Majakovsky and Bulgakov, were released. In the
1970s, the experimental tradition of the 1920s was
passed on by Yuriy Ljubimov at the small Tagan Cathedral
The criticism of Stalinism culminated with Alexander
Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
(1962). Thereafter, the cultural climate again hardened.
Instead, there was extensive illegal manuscript
distribution (samizdat) within the country and smuggling
of manuscripts to the West. Boris Pasternak's great
novel Doctor Zhivago, who was smuggled to Italy, aroused
great prominence in the West. Pasternak was awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1958 but was forced to resign.
Solzhenitsyn received the 1970 Nobel Prize for smuggled
novels such as The First Circuit and the Cancer Clinic.
The award led to fierce controversy with the regime and
in 1974 Solzhenitsyn was expelled. In the early 1970s, a
large number of other cultural creators were forced or
allowed to emigrate.
Under President Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policy in
the late 1980s, the Soviet period began to be openly
criticized and previously banned authors and works were
published. In the 1990s, a young postmodernist
generation of writers appeared with an outspoken and
narrative technique that the Russian readers were not
used to. Vladimir Sorokin's novel Blue Fat aroused
excitement for both experimental style and candid sex
depictions, which led to prosecution for pornography
offenses. Viktor Pelevin's novels, such as Omon Ra, did
not stir less resurrection. Both of these authors have
retained their positions as the foremost in Russian
contemporary literature. An esteemed and more
traditional storyteller is Ljudmila Ulitskaja. A younger
generation of writers is trying to pick up the glove
after the Strugatskij brothers' science fiction
depictions of the 1980s with newly written fantasy
books. This includes author Dmitry Gluchovsky.
In the drama, a young generation sought new paths
during the late 1990s. They broke through in the early
2000s under the name "New Russian Drama" and portrayed
young people's difficulties finding their place in a
society where the cohesive kit was violence in various
forms. Among the most interesting playwrights are
Nikolai Koljada, Vasilij Sigarev, Evgenij Grishkovets,
the brothers Presnjakov, Ivan Vyrypaev and Jury Klavdiev.
Mention should also be made of the new documentary
theater verbatim, represented mainly by the small
theater Teatr.doc in Moscow.
After the takeover of the Bolsheviks, Russian film
gained a special position as a propaganda medium. The
foremost innovator was Sergei Eisenstein whose 1925 film
Panzar Cruiser Potemkin is regarded as an international
classic. The great Soviet postwar films include the
Cranes of 1957 (Michail Kalatozov) and Ballad about a
1959 soldier (Grigorij Chuchraj), who were the first to
portray the reality of the small world in the shadow of
Among the most internationally acclaimed Russian
filmmakers who began their career during the Soviet era,
Andrei Tarkovsky with films such as Andrej Rubljov,
Solaris, Stalker and The Victim. This includes Alexander
Sokurov with the movie The Russian Ark, and Nikita
Michalkov with Burned by the Sun.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in
1991, some difficult years for the Russian film industry
followed, but then a series of film successes were
produced. These include Alexei Balabanov's Brother and
Brother 2 and Cargo 200. The latter is a nightmare
account of events surrounding the body of a Russian
soldier sent home from Afghanistan in a zinc chest.
Great commercial success met the fantasy films Night
Guardian and Day Guardian by Timur Bekmambetov. Among
the "new wave" of Russian filmmakers in the 21st century
are Boris Chlebnikov with the film Free Flow, Andrei
Zvjagintsev with The Return, Kirill Serebrennikov with
Imagining Victims and Ivan Vyrypaev with Euforiya.
Visual art has a long tradition from icon painting
and folk art through realists such as Ilja Repin (died
1930) to modernism. International art development has
received crucial impetus from the Russian avant-garde of
the 1910s and 1920s with names such as Natalja
Gontjarova, Michail Larionov, Marc Chagall, Vasily
Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko. In the
early 1930s, modernism was banned and the partisan
"socialist realism" was raised to the norm in painting
as well as in all other art forms, that is, art would be
realistic in form but future-oriented socialist in
With the thawing weather under Nikita Khrushchev, the
young artists sought new ways and their experimentation
first found expression in abstract expressionism.
Following scandals and strong criticism from the
Communist Party, the innovative art was forced to become
underground. Under the collective term "non-conformism",
Soviet underground art developed in the 1970s and 1980s
a number of directions which should first be mentioned
Moscow conceptualism, represented by Ilja Kabakov,
Dmitry Prigov and Andrei Monastyrsky and SotsArt with
Komar & Melamid, Alexander, among others Kosolapov and
The market for Russian contemporary art exploded in
the mid-2000s and a number of galleries and art centers
opened in closed industrial areas. Art activist groups
have won both Russian and international fame through
political protest actions in artistic form.
Russian music has evolved from a rich folk and church
music tradition. In folk music, balalajka and accordion
were the most popular instruments. In the 18th century,
St. Petersburg became Russia's musical center, where
both German and Italian music gained great influence.
Concert life was developed and a number of
conservatories and music schools were set up. The
Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, which was built in 1825, has
formed the hub of the Russian musical theater with grand
opera and ballet sets.
Major composers during the 19th century were Nikolaj
Rimsky-Korsakov and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Alexander
Skrjabin and Igor Stravinsky noticed the "modernist"
music life before the revolution in 1918. Prominent
composers during the Soviet era were, among others,
Sergei Rachmaninov, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry
Shostakovich and Aram Chatyaturjan. Apart from Alfred
Schnittke and Sofija Gubajdulina, Russian composers of
later generations now belong to the much younger
Prolonged penalty for Chodorovsky
A court sentenced former Yukos owner Michail Chodorkovsky, who is still
serving an eight-year prison sentence, for embezzlement. Chodorkovsky must
therefore remain in prison until 2016. In the West, the verdict is termed
political, since before he was arrested Chodorkovsky had supported the
Car bomb in North Ossetia
Five Russian soldiers are killed in a suicide attack against an army base in
Dagestan. In North Ossetia, 16 people are killed by a car bomb in a market.
Medvedev dismisses Luzhkov
Medvedev dismisses Moscow's longtime mayor Yuriy Luzhkov. He has been accused
of corruption and inaction during the big forest fires around Moscow during the
summer. He also criticized Medvedev for letting him stop a motorway construction
in a Moscow suburb.
Islamist leader killed
In Dagestan, Russian anti-terrorist forces kill Magomedali Vagabov, a radical
Islamist leader who is accused of being behind the attacks on Moscow's subway.
Russian spy ring in the US is revealed
A Russian spy ring is revealed in the US. The US authorities seize ten
Russians who plead guilty and flee to Vienna where they are exchanged for four
Russians who have been imprisoned in Russia for spying on the West's behalf.
MRI counseling resigns
Ella Pamfilova, the president's adviser on human rights issues, resigns since
the duma passed a law that gives the security service greater powers. It
triggers speculation about a power struggle in the Kremlin between conservative
forces and more liberal-minded groups.
Forest fires kill in Moscow
Large forest fires are raging outside Moscow, sweeping the city into smog. At
least 50 people are killed.
Attacks in Stavropol
Six people are killed in an attack on a concert hall in the southern Russian
city of Stavropol.
Explosion in the Caucasus
Twelve people are killed in Dagestan and two in Ingushenia in various
39 people killed in attacks in Moscow
In Moscow, 39 people were killed in two suicide attacks on the subway.
United Russia wins elections
In new local and regional elections, United Russia again wins, but with
poorer results than last year. The electoral authority criticizes irregularities
in the elections.
Demonstration in Kalingrad
Large protest demonstration against the Kaliningrad government.