Russia: Remembering Deportation Victims; "Dzhigit Day"

Global Voices Online
Sunday, March 2, 2008

On Feb. 23, the day on which Russia marks the Defender of the Fatherland Day, two relatively small rallies were held in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, commemorating the Chechen and Ingush victims of the 1944 deportations. Some 50 people attended the first rally, most of them activists of a Russian anti-war movement, and even fewer people showed up for the second one, most of them members of the Ingush community in Moscow.

Ingush LJ user kaloy posted three pictures from the second memorial rally and wrote this (RUS):

[...] [Moscow] authorities treated the request [to hold a rally] [...] with understanding and [issued their permission].

Every Ingush family (and not only the Ingush) probably still has someone who survived the hardships of this horrendous crime against humanity. There is no family that has forgotten it, because a thing like this cannot be forgotten... This tragedy will stay forever in the hearts of the [Vainakhs] and [all the deported peoples], and Feb. 23 will never be the Defender of the Fatherland holiday for them - even though [things could've been different]. Because when fathers and sons of those being deported were dying "for the Motherland" and "for Stalin," the latter stabbed them in the back by claiming those who are the dearest for [gortsy, the natives of the Caucasus Mountains] - their children, mothers, wives...

And today, when the authorities are being cooperative and provide us with a place in the very center of the capital, so that we could commemorate the hundreds of thousands of those who perished in this catastrophe of the nation, only 30-40 people show up for the memorial event. [...]

Don't we value the memory of our ancestors anymore? [...]

The earlier rally received a mention in this post, too:

[...] Many may accuse me of asking for too much, but it hurts when more Russians than ourselves [the Ingush] attend such rallies. [...]

The comments to kaloy's post, however, pointed to a number of organizational problems that seemed to have prevented many people from coming to Bolotnaya Square on Feb. 23.

There was also this comment, from LJ user grend:

[...] I'm one of those Russians (not one of the Vainakhs, at least) who were at the rally. I feel bad about something else: that there were few of us, Russians. You have nothing to be ashamed of - it was not you who were driving Russians from their homes in 1944, it was not you who were throwing them away into the frozen steppes, it was them [doing all these things] to you. I feel uneasy because not even 100-200 Muscovites came to stand next to you at the rally, thus saying: "Forgive us!"

So I'll say it for myself: Please, forgive us. Even though my grandfathers most likely did not take part in this crime. Let's cherish the memory of those who died during the deportations. May God rest their souls!


Even though it's the Defender of the Fatherland Day that's slated for Feb. 23 in Russia, the holiday is perceived by many as a perfectly lay, non-militaryMen's Day (which is conveniently followed by the International Women's Day two weeks later, on March 8).

In Ingushetia, they celebrate manhood, too, only not on Feb. 23: an alternative holiday - the Dzhigit Day - has been introduced, to be marked on March 1. (Dzhigit, according to Wikipedia, is a word "used in the Caucasus to describe a skillful and brave equestrian, or a brave person in general.")

Here's what LJ user kaloy wrote:

Today, on March 1, Ingushetia celebrates Dzhigit Day!

Feb. 23, which is the Men's Day all over Russia, is the day of mourning in Ingushetia - the date of the Chechen and Ingush deportations by the criminal Stalin.

So, in order not to hurt the men's feelings, March 1 has been declared the Day of the Man in Ingushetia!

Speaking of the holiday-mourning days (Feb. 23 for the Ingush and Chechens, March 8 for the [Balkars], Nov. 10 for the [Karachays]), I have this question: is it really normal when in one country one specific date is a holiday for some people and a memorial date for others?

When I was in the States, an American woman told me they had a similar situation with the aboriginal Indians (although they aren't called this way anymore). And their government decided to move their holiday a couple weeks. Now all Americans celebrate this day, and also mark the mournful date with the Native Americans (this is what they call the Indians now). A very interesting example, especially for a multi-ethnic state that aspires to national unity.


Below is one of the comments to this post:


Congratulations! I totally agree about holidays for some and mourning for others. If we really want to be one people, one nation, we should perceive these events as our common tragedy. It's hard to imagine a wedding and a funeral taking place in one family at the same time.

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