by Tatzhit Mihailovich
Video: Donbass Self-Defense: “My open hand now turned into a fist…” 18+
(please press the ‘cc’ button to see the English language captions)
I subtitled a video about Ukrainian civil war set to the famous song “Cuckoo” by 90’s band Kino, I think it explains a lot of “Russian identity” fairly well. The song can actually be interpreted in many ways, but I’ve always thought it referred to the 14th century battle of Kulikovo – which many consider an event that forged the modern Russian nation, both politically and spiritually.
Let’s talk history:
When Chengis Khan organized the nomadic Mongol and Tatar tribes into a highly disciplined force in the 13th century, it turned out that all other nations have already become civilized and complacent, and no one could stand up to hardy men that rode horses before they could walk and trained to hold a bow before they could ride. The Golden Horde smashed the huge Chinese and Persian empires, forever changing the fate of the world.
When Mongols reached Russia, the Russian Princes were busy squabbling among brothers and did not manage to unite in time. [song lyrics] “The strong and the brave stood firm in the field – and died…”.
Russians passed under the Mongol yoke, many were driven off as slaves and the rest had to pay tribute to foreign overlords. [song lyrics] “Our sweet freedom, where are you now? … It was good with you, and bad without you. …”
After a century of oppression, Prince Dmitry of Moscow rose up against the Khan and rallied all free men to his banner. All Russian princedoms forgot their differences and joined. By that time, many formerly Russian lands were ruled by Lithuanians or other rulers loyal to the Khan – “few still remember, of firm body and mind”; but even there, many broke with their masters and came to Dmitry’s aid.
Knowing that the Khan was personally coming to punish the rebels and his army still hugely outnumbered the Russians, Dmitry put his army with their backs to a river, so they could not retreat. Old songs speak of 300,000 Tatars against 150,000 Russians, but modern historic estimates put the numbers at around 125,000 Tatars against 60,000 Russians.
For comparison, one of the largest European battles of the time, Poitiers, that nearly destroyed France, involved 6,000 English troops fighting 11,000 French.
The fighting went on for most of the day, with both sides taking very heavy losses. Prince Dmitry gave his armor to his retainer, and fought as a common knight himself; the retainer was cut down, and the Grand Prince heavily wounded. When, in the end, Russian infantry started giving ground, hidden Russian knights suddenly charged out of a forest and “rolled” the Mongol line, leading to a general rout; the Mongol army was destroyed, and the Khan soon got assassinated by a rival.
This impossible feat of beating an empire that conquered half the known world is said to have forged the Russian nation – soldiers came onto Kulikovo field as men of Princedoms of Tver, Suzdal, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Polotsk, Murom, Smolensk, Ryazan… and left as men of Russia.
This scenario repeated several times afterward:
Early 17th century (so-called “Time of Troubles”), the last Rurikid Tsar died, state largely collapsed and Poles installed an impostor on the throne – a minor noble Pozharsky and a merchant Minin called up a people’s militia and drove them out (those are the people on “Tatzhit” userpic, by the way).
Napoleon’s invasion of 1812 – the army that took over Europe collapsed due to being unable to break the Russian army (battle of Borodino – the bloodiest day of fighting in human history, and a draw) and Russian commoners attacking its supply lines.
And of course the Nazi invasion of USSR, when Nazis encircled and destroyed the professional Soviet army in the blitzkrieg, only to be faced with an endless stream of volunteers replacing those that fell (see more in footnotes to the video below)
This same spirit is what drives the republican forces in Donbass now: initially very heavily outnumbered and outgunned, they held out through the first summer facing objectively impossible odds, stopping modern tanks with obsolete WWII anti-tank rifles, etc. (cue Dremov and such – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPw–TNpNQg ).
It is also worth noting that many of the militiamen are men in their 40s and 50s, who are propelled by the Soviet ideology of duty, honor, and protecting their homeland, whereas some younger men consider Western values of consumerism more to their liking.
PS. One other note: “Tell me, cuckoo. Count time.” refers to the Russian superstition that the repetitive call of the cuckoo tells the listener how many years one has left to live (interestingly, Germans also believe this).
PPS. Also worth noting that the May 2nd, 2014 Odessa massacre, which was in many ways the precipitating event that escalated armed standoffs into a full-blown civil war, happened in the square named “Kulikovo square” after the 1380 battle.
Защитники Донбасса – “Моя ладонь превратилась в кулак”
Алексей Кораблин – War Pictures Entertainment
Song: “Cuckoo” by Kino, sung by Polina Gagarina
Footage is mostly taken from NewsFront / Maksim Fadeev videos, I have some of them translated, e.g. this:
[Gorlovka – Voiceover]
“This is Sparta” [Subtitled]
The song: “Tell me, cuckoo. Count time.”
From popular Soviet film “Optimistic Tragedy”
An award-worthy film. The editorial judgments and the emotion and pathos captured are used by Tatzhit in a powerful poem of image and sound.
The original content was excellent craftsmanship of camera and sound recording. Reusing it this way so an historical connection to all of Russian martial legends is constructed is inspired work.
It is a tribute to the heroes of Donbass, a memorial to the victims of the criminal war waged by Kiev, and an eternal flame in the fight for Liberty against Tyranny.
I’ve worked on over 800 films, won many awards, some Oscars and nominations, some International film awards. I wished I had worked on this one in my long career.
It is addictive. I’ve played it a dozen times since I first saw it several days ago.
Well, note that I merely made the subtitles, the guy who made the music video is listed under “Source” :). I’ll pass your kind words to him though – he’s quite approachable.
Out of curiosity, in what capacity did you work? If someone pointed out good training videos on voice acting, for example, that would be quite helpful :)
Great article and videos. Every time I see things like this,I think “does Russia really think these people will accept living under the junta”,what are they smoking.If they are forced to kneel to the junta.What will be the reaction of the thousands of now battle-hardened Russians that have gone and shed their blood to protect their brothers.And the tens,maybe hundreds of thousands of Russians involved inside Russia with supporting Donbass. I would not want to disappoint those people if I sit in the Kremlin.It could be a fatal error for any Russian government to be seen as traitors in their eyes.The video where it was asked “can you smile” and answered “Nyet” should cause deep soul searching in Moscow.
As for the junta on the other side.They need to remember what happened in Germany after the return of the German troops from WWI.That led directly to the “freikorp’s” and to the rise of Hitler.The best thing for Russia,Novorossia,Ukraine,and ultimately all Europe.Would be the utter defeat of the junta.And denazification in the region.
People being pissed about Donbass being betrayed is what I call the “Yugoslavia scenario” (when Miloshevich was overthrown after being unable to protect Serbs in the other republics)
Read the end of the text in this article:
The ending quote is worth repeating. All the drills and discussions about new tanks are not the issue. The issue is more about having a people and a ruling class who believe in standing up to the West.
The overall problem with doing shows of force – that was needed in the previous era.
If you watch Soviet training exercise footage from the 80s, there are bridges built across huge rivers in 30-60 minutes, armadas of tanks pouring through, everything working as a Swiss watch… But all of that was useless because people didn’t know what they’re fighting for.
And if, God forbid, we get defeated in the Donbass, the Russian regular army may also go down without firing a shot.
@ Tatzhit Mihailovich.
Armed with the right information, we won’t be shooting in the dark. But remember, tracers work both ways…
I try to keep that in mind, yes :) But in the end, truth helps us more than the enemy
Thank you very much Tatzhit for the videos and the historical account, those of us who know almost nothing about Russian history we expect more.
Beautiful Video with the song of Kino “Kukuska” I love the song and I love Kino. Viktor Tsoi I consider a great artist, although he and me, I guess, we would not agree on many things, or maybe yes … .
His songs are very evocative and convey much.
In the end, music is art and as such lends itself to different and personal interpretations. Imagine, for my ПЕРЕМЕН! today is like an anthem for me and those who resist here in the West.
I like a lot these:
The old video about the family that slowly are realizing that everyone has to fight is very timely, given the circumstances.
I think that we, here, at least at times, we are aware that we will have to fight hard as they do now fellow comrades in Donbass.
I just hope to get well, have the strength and not faint, and be as brave as them.
Concerning Mongols and the Golden Horde, there are two Russian films that I watched some time ago, both films are very good, imho, and here they are in full version
2007 Russian historical film about the early life of Temüjin, who later came to be known as Genghis Khan. It is directed by Sergei Bodrov, with the storyline conceived from a screenplay written by Bodrov and Arif Aliev.
a 2012 historical film directed by Andrei Proshkin and written by Yury Arabov. The film is a highly fictionalised narrative of how Saint Alexius healed Taidula Khatun, the mother of the Golden Horde khan Jani Beg from blindness.
Wow! The Donbass Self-Defense: “My open hand now turned into a fist…” work is incredibly well done. The others are well done, as well. This version of the Кино song “Кукушка” sung by Polina Gagarina is also well done.
For those unfamiliar with Кино/Kino and Viktor Tsoi, their reputation in Russia is something like a combination of “The Beatles” and “Elvis Presley” with regard to all time popularity and their role in the creation of Soviet rock music. This is a video put to their original version of the song:
The pictures at the beginning are Kino’s album covers. The film scenes I believe are from the film Игла/Igla/Needle, which Tsoi starred in. More than 10 years after Tsoi’s death and the disbanding of Kino, Земфира/Zemfira did a live version of Кукушка on Russian television. At the time, she was probably the most popular singer/musician in Russia:
Zemfira – Kukushka (Земфира – Кукушка)
Her emotions while performing and reaction of the audience show how Russians were still moved by this song. This page has the lyrics in Russian and English for those who want to see them all in one place. The translation is very similar to the one by TM.
Кукушка / Kukushka / Cuckoo
BTW, it was a line from this song which I chose for a nick.
Maks Fadeev, who is credited in the Donbass Self-Defense: “My open hand now turned into a fist…” work, is a long time musician, as well as music, film and television pruducer and director. Many famous Russian music groups got their start through him, including several of the Russian entrants in the Euro Song Competition. He has several films and television productions under his belt. One of his music videos from the 1990s of his own work:
Максим Фадеев “Беги по небу”
A video he made for Linda around the same time:
Линда “Танец под водой”. 1994г.
This video is one he produced this year:
НАРГИЗ – “ТЫ-МОЯ НЕЖНОСТЬ”
One of his more famous films is Triumph: The Red One from about 2000:
A grim story about young adolescent gangs and drug dealers taking place at the end of the 90’s. Shows the Yeltsin brought about decay very well, both mental and the living conditions. Has English subtitles.
Hi Everyone ! This is ot…but really really pretty song and singer – Serbian holy music
here’s another great singer and song..its called the werewolf prince
Both Divna Ljubojević and Пелагея sing well. As for songs about “Оборотень”, another:
Мельница – Оборотень (Дикие травы. Олимпийский)
Today Serbs celebrate Vidovdan.
Here is a video with a song. Please be bothered to read commentary about the lyrics.
And another one from the movie Nephews
WIth titles for anyone interested
Brothers, Kosovo is swarming
Were we grains of salt instead
… we could not salt
the Turkish army’s dinner.
Brothers, just because the
enemy is considerable…
… is it any reason for us not
to defend our homeland?
Battle is not fought by
shining weapons, …
… but by the hearts of heroes.
Other people’s feet wont
trample all over our country.
My friends, we’d rather
be ploughing the land, …
… listening to the shepherd’s
… celebrating a wedding or
mounting our women.
But when the cloud of an enemy
is hanging above Serbia, …
… we all must take our guns
and polish our boots. All of us.
Kiss your bride, bless the kids
and the baby in its cradle, …
… and off to battle.
Mighty is the oath of
our righteous prince!
And he who comes not to
fight at Kosovo, …
… beneath his hand let nothing
Let him rust away like
dripping iron, …
… until his name shall
Woe be to him on whose head
falls the despise…
… of his own people, his
ancestors and descendants.
There is no greater
punishment that that.
My friends, my brothers,
Your lives are no more. The
Supreme Command has erased…
… our regiment from its
records. None of us will return.
Many mothers will wear black.
Many widows and sisters will
tear out their hair.
But victory will be ours.
Because justice is on our side.
God is on our side.
Our people are behind us.
An army which has its people
behind it is invincible.
My sons, my falcons!
Don’t have the hearts of
cowards, but of heroes!
There’s nothing that can’t be
brought before the altar of…
… your homeland! No price is
too high to pay….
… when the honour of the
fatherland is at stake!
My friends. If anyone wants
to piss on our hearths, …
… rob our graves, upset
our cradles, …
… for him there can be
no mercy. True? -True!
-I can’t hear you. True?
Be merciless with enemies,
be gracious with prisoners.
Gallantry is more important
They want our country,
they’ll get jackshit!
A steaming, rancid pile of shit
– that’s what they’ll get.
Before us stands uncertainty,
the enemy, hunger and death.
But the hour of the final
victory is nigh.
What’s ours is ours. We don’t
need anything from anyone else.
Nothing is dearer than Serbia!
Isn’t that true, my brothers?!
-True, my friends?!
-True, my falcons?!
His words have the power
We bow down to you, Major sir!
-Long live the Major!
Long live Katunac!
That’s the spirit!
So onward to glory,
for the king, …
… for the fatherland, for our
sweet Orthodox God, …
… for the honour of the cross
and precious freedom.
To battle, to freedom, to death!
One of my favorite Serbian songs of Kosovo:
Russians are too kind for their own good.
re: Russia and the legacy of serfdom. A group of us were discussing the legacy of racism in our country dating back to when in the 1860’s Afro Americans went from being slaves tied to the land to wage slaves tied to the land in defacto terrorist states as a Northern Industrialist-Southern Agrarian political pact was stuck. Then someone popped up with the fact that the serfs in Russia were supposedly “freed” in the 1860’s—so how is Russia today on the edge of the computer age with a much more educated population still affected by the lingering echoes of this ?
None of us, it seems knew a darn thing about Russia except—weren’t there peasant revolts lead by Mozgovoi type figures which were brutally suppressed? And wasn’t there always this Nobility-Intelligencia alliance that would periodically try to assassinate the Czar? Oh, and there were always career bureaucrats with lifetime positions who kept things humming along in the usual ruts? ( unlike in the US where they would be replaced periodically when the party in National power changed). And everything was appointed from the top down? We started laughing and saying that everything we knew about Russia came from Tolstoy. How many of you ( no lying) have actually slogged through War and Peace? we asked one another. Hey, I always liked those long religio-philosophical discussions in Dostoyevsky, sez I. And he was big on redemption by the love of a good woman.
Seriously, the question about serfdom and its reverberation though history is a worthy one especially since the challenge of Russia is not to become the Sparta of a Sino-Russian alliance but rather to become the cutting edge of change in the world. There is no 5 year or 50 year plan for this but rather it is a profoundly creative pioneering process that requires a certain mind set. Whoever came up with that proposal in Armenia ( i.e. we will audit the books of the electric company and assess the electrical use situation in Armenia ( solar power grids anyone?) and in the meantime the difference in rate will be absorbed)…someone was thinking with that kind of mindset for how things need to be done in the future.
The crucial difference between African slavery in the US (and its aftermath).Compared to Russian serfdom, was race.The African (and US born “African-Americans” were never accepted as full citizens compared to the other US citizens.And never were allowed to “melt in the melting-pot”.While in Russia the serfs were mostly fellow ethnic Russians.And most of the entire peasant farming class had been in serfdom.That wasn’t particular to Russia either.But was true throughout Central and Eastern Europe (and some areas in Western Europe).Serfdom lasted in those countries until the French Revolution in some, and depending on the country ,until the 1840’s in others.Russia’s ending of it was the 1860’s,but in the Baltic areas (today’s Baltic States) and in Russian Poland, Russia ended it much earlier.They used those areas as “test” cases. To see if it would be a feasible idea for the ethnic Russian areas of the Empire to implement .
That was a really beautiful video Tatzhit. Thank you so much.
Recognised some of the folk from war footage: the woman who lost her son ‘who never hurt anyone’ ( and whose daughter and her baby were also hurt badly in the shelling ) I remember from one of Graham Phillips reports (about five weeks ago I think.)
I have circulated it on the enemy front – Facebook.
Donbass is winning because they were really prepared and many men had military training.
It seems that for some military training begins early in life:
“The All-Girl Soldier Club: Child Warriors of Donetsk”
This song has a deep root of history on Russian believe system. Every single word is tactfully chosen on heroism and patriotism of resilience soldier. They might be fall short in numbers but they have strategy and unbreakable mentality to protect their land and people.
All message are encrypted by poetic question, creates original and perpetual emotion of hidden spirit of independence and freedom. No wonder Russian original folk songs are popular around the world discreetly.