Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happened upon the Russian Nostalgia channel today - among other things, watched a re-run of the main Soviet news show Programma "Vremya".

Absolutely overwhelming.

I've no idea how they choose which old newscasts to show, but today there was one from the end of 1989, and the main theme was the revolution in Romania. Very Soviet-looking and Soviet-sounding Soviet reporters seemed rather sympathetic towards the revolutionaries - even called Nicolae Ceausescu a tyrant a few times.

There was also an item on Manuel Noriega - he was about to surrender at that time.

And - a piece on Western Ukraine and the conflict between the Russian Orthodox and the Greek Catholic churches: unlike the rest of their stories that day, the tone of this one was hostile, indignant, strangely familiar from both the Soviet times and from today's Russian news. Despite it being 1989, the Orthodox clergy seemed like part of the establishment - a weird feeling, but not surprising. Filaret, the current patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchy), was shown at some high-level meeting - and it reminded me of the 1991 article in Ogonyok that claimed that he had collaborated with the KGB, using a code name Antonov (the Wikipedia entry on Filaret mentions this bit of info, too, by the way).

Soviet anchors were simply phantasmagoric. Especially that bespectacled woman. She and the male anchor shared the common idiocy but looked differently enough to resemble a couple married unhappily for too long, forced to tolerate one another, possibly because of kvartirnyi vopros (the Soviet curse of having to share the same tiny apartment with half a dozen generations of one family). What a leap it must've been for Leonid Parfyonov to re-introduce male-female teams on NTV a few years ago - two teams in which both anchors acted as if they were buddies, almost. And how awkward they looked at first, how unnatural - must've been the burden of the Soviet past...

Sports host Vladimir Maslachenko, on the other hand, was allowed some freedom: he was dressed in a hip-looking checked suit!

Anyway, I'm hooked and will most likely watch Programma "Vremya" regularly from now on. I'm not feeling nostalgic at all - but I am very curious. Curious about the time I wasn't paying too much attention to because of all those stupid boyfriends and other teenage distractions... :)


  1. I used to watch Vremya every night when I was living in Kiev. It was absolutely fascinating. Being American, I always got a kick out of the stories when they would go talk to some American crackpot that was agitating for American nuclear disarmament or for communism of some stripe.

    The other thing I loved was when the news would fulfill all soviet news stereotypes and lead off with some story about how crop yields or tractor production had exceeded the current five year plan or some other nonsense. It was like seeing first hand the crap that I had read about in all my College Soviet study textbooks.

    I eventually figured out that the news was always from the same date in the past, but I never saw any rhyme or reason to the year that the date was chosen from.

    Anyway, Nostalgia gave me at least a year of amusement, and strange as it sounds, one of the things I miss most about living in Kiev was watching Vremya over dinner.

  2. Hey, Veronika, when I got Nostalgia on my cable I started watching Vremya all the time, too. I never figured how they picked out the year, but the date was usually the same as the one I watched it on. My mom got really tired of it, though. Once I made her lunch over Breazhnev's speech "inaugurating" the 1977 constitution. Vremya broadcast the entire speech. After 30 minutes of it, mom said she couldn't handle it anymore.
    My favorite thing on Nostalgia, though, is Ritmicheskaya Gimnastika... I actually used to DO it when it was shown in the mid-1980's.