The educational project on “The Civil War: Mirrors of the Epoch”

On April 14 a game was held at MGIMO for students from MSU, MGIMO, MRSU and YSU

On April 14 a game was held at MGIMO for students from MSU, MGIMO,  MRSU and YSU

On April 14, a game was held at MGIMO as part of the project of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called titled “Civil War: Mirrors of the Epoch”. Students from MGIMO, YSU, MSU and MRSU took part in the game.

During the first round teams had to answer some questions which reminded “What? Where? When?” game (a popular TV show). During the second round six teams presented brief performances that had to remind the epoch of the Civil War. The performances presented the way the tragic events were perceived by Zinaida Gippius, Sergey Yesenin, Fyodor Shalyapin, Ivan Bunin and Mikhail Bulgakov. In addition to the scores the teams had obtained in the first round, winners were identified based on scores from the jury and the audience.


MGIMO Deputy Rector Artyom Malgin welcomed participants of the game. The jury included the following figures: Vladimir Bushuyev, Director of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, Candidate of Philosophical Sciences.; Vardan Bagdasaryan, Dean of the faculty of history, political studies and law at MRSU, Ph.D. in Historical Sciences; professor Mikhail Myagkov, Ph.D. in Historical Sciences, Research Director at the Russian Military-Historical Society; professor Sergey Resnyansky, Ph.D. in Historical Sciences; Igor Kuznetsov, Executive Director of the Russian Society of Political Experts; Marianna Abramova, Deputy Head of the department of state politics of the faculty of political science at Lomonosov MSU. 

The project includes weekly posts in the group of the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called in facebook and Within 5 weeks a voting should be held in social networks on “Who managed to characterize or describe the epoch more precisely?” Users should vote in favour of the figure who, as they believe, managed to describe the epoch of the Civil War more precisely and with more details. On the whole, the project comprises 44 personalities and 5 groups: poets, writers, actors of culture, scientists and philosophers.


The Final voting will include a list of 10 personalities with 2 winners in each of the groups. The winner of the final voting will be titled “The Mirror of the Epoch”.

The first round of the game contained interesting questions based on information from posts about writers, poets, scientists and philosophers who had to endure the hard period of the Civil War in Russia. According to participants, they were confused by easy questions. Several teams had to admit that they failed due to overthinking; well, this trick is rather typical for “What? Where? When?” show. A question about Kuprin seemed to be rather unexpected. It appeared the writer had perfect sense of  smell. The question comprised a quote by a perfume expert who learnt about the writer’s talent and said: “You can’t be just a writer!”

The second round started with the scene where Mikhail Bulgakov was interrogated. In the scene the author of the iconic novel was reciting a monologue about his political preferences in different years. The scene was presented by students of the Yaroslavl State University. All performances were well prepared both in terms of artistic approach and historical truth. Vladimir Bushuyev noted that students from different universities performed at the same level and it was interesting to watch their shows.


“There is nothing more left”

It was nice to see familiar faces of participants of the previous project of the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called “Russia 1917. Images of the Future”. “Carl Faberge” from the previous year project said he still sympathized more with the white movement. He had a bitter monologue on behalf of Ivan Bunin saying that Russia was going down into an abyss. The salon of Zinaida Gippius for decadent poets that was presented by MGIMO students  (“the Bolsheviks” of the previous year) seemed to be even more decadent that it really had been. But it was probably the influence of professional deformation of a philologist. 

Bolsheviks who came during the final part of the performance repeated the poet’s  words by saying: “there is nothing more left and even Gippius the Witch is nowhere to find”. Zinaida Gippius and Dmitry Merezhkovsky, who according to kind recollections and opinions  were helping about a half of Soviet writers, were depicted by students as perverted and extremely decadent people.

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“Wretched Days”

In the scene about Ivan Bunin MGIMO students presented a “Shvonder”, a revolutionary officer who spoke about proletarian elements to be added and about rich people who were “all gone to Paris”. While Ivan Bunin responded that he got tired of listening to the everlasting “fairy-tale about the red bull” (a mockery phrase based on a popular Russian fairy-tale).


 “Oh, my God! What times we have to live at!” – were the final words of the writer’s monologue.

Providing fact-based materials for the monologue students told that in 1919-1922 over 2,000,000 people left Russia, including people from all social classes.


“I am the last poet of a village…”

In the scene of students from the MSU faculty of political science and law young people took turns to recite extracts from poems by Sergey Yesenin, the people’s poet, and shared facts from his life that had been properly chosen. The performance was given a special prize of the Audience Award. When Vladimir Bushuyev awarded the students with gift books he told that he had his childhood at the same places mentioned in the poet’s works. 

“The jury asked me to tell you that you had managed to feel this epoch so deeply that not only the writers, poets, philosophers and scientists were mirrors of the epoch, but you as well” – said Vladimir Bushuyev.

The MRSU team became the winners. They told about Shalyapin while one of the students performed “Dubinushka”, the famous song. The jury and the audience were amazed by the performance, so it was their unanimous decision about the winners. The MRSU team prepared greatly both in terms of the personality’s biography and of artistic truth. The second place was given to the MGIMO team. They presented Alexander Block, Maksimilian Voloshin and Dmitry Merezhkovsky in the salon of Zinaida Gippius. The third place was shared by Ivan Bunin of the MGIMO team and Mikhail Bulgakov of the YSU team. The MSU team who told about Sergey Yesenin took the fourth place. It was great to look at all of the performances: the students shared their joy and optimism with everybody around them.


Olga Zyabko


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