On this day: the death of a prima ballerina

Maya_Plisetskaya_-_1974Plisetskaya performing in Carmen (1974)

As Carmen in 1974.

Soviet ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, one of only a handful of dancers in history to hold the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta, died on the 2nd of May, 2015.

Born into a prominent family of Lithuanian Jews, Plisetskaya completed her ballet training in Moscow, first performing at the Bolshoi Theatre at the age of eleven.

Maya Plisetskaya Grand Jete Ballet Vintage

Despite being one of the most respected dancers in history, she was treated badly by the anti-Semitic Russian authorities. For the first sixteen years of her career she was banned from leaving the country.

Her father was executed during the Stalinist purges, and her mother, a famous Lithuanian film actress, spent several years in a gulag in Kazakhstan.

Maya Plisetskaya Ballet Vintage

Plisetskaya followed in the footsteps of another great Soviet ballerina: Galina Ulanova, and took over her position as the Bolshoi’s star dancer upon Ulanova’s retirement. Plisetskaya was a member of the Theatre until 1990.

Succumbing to a heart attack, she was eighty-nine at the time of her death.

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On this day: Russia’s mass deportations of the Baltic peoples began.

Estonian children who had been forcibly deported to Siberia by Russian authorities. 1952.

Estonian children in Siberia in 1952

Operation Priboi (“Coastal Surf”) was the code name for the Soviet mass deportation from the Baltic states on 25–28 March 1949. The action is also known as the March deportation by Baltic historians. More than 90,000 Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, labeled as enemies of the people, were deported to forced settlements in inhospitable areas of the Soviet Union.

Over 70% of the deportees were women and children under the age of 16.

Day of Remembrance

The 23rd of August is the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

The image below depicts Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia attacking Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus and Georgia.

August 23 - European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism Ukraine Lithuania Belarus Georgia

On this day: the beginning of the June Deportation

The Kremlin began its mass deportation of the people of the Baltic countries and Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Poland on the 14th of June, 1941. Tens of thousands of people were moved from their homes in regions occupied and annexed by Russia.

Many people did not survive.

Deportation taking place in Latvia:

Latvia_deportation The Kremlin began its mass deportation of the people of the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Poland on the 14th of June, 1941. russia.

On this day: the Night of the Murdered Poets in Russia

Flag of the Russian SFSR (1937-1954)

The flag of Russia in 1952

On the 12th of August, 1952, thirteen Jews from across the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania were executed in Moscow on orders from the Russian government. All were falsely accused of espionage and treason, and their executions came after three years of imprisonment and torture.

Five of the murdered were Yiddish poets, hence the name of the infamous day.

Lina Stern Latvian Jew Persecuted by Russia and Stalin in the 1950s Women's History USSR Moscow

Lina Stern

A fourteenth person died in prison five months later, and a fifteenth, a Latvian scientist by the name of Lina Stern, was the only survivor. She spent time in a labour camp until Stalin’s death, but was officially declared “less guilty” so that the USSR could continue to make use of her medical research.

Neither the trials nor the executions were ever mentioned in the Russian media, however the families of the accused were exiled by Stalin. They did not learn the fates of their family members until 1955.

On this day: Russia’s Lithuanian press ban was lifted

3Imposed by the Russian Empire, Lithuanian language publication was banned from the early 1860s through to the 24th of April, 1904.80px-Auksa_altorius_latinImposed by the Russian Empire, Lithuanian language publication was banned from the early 1860s through to the 24th of April, 1904.368px-Auksa_altorius_cirillics

Illegal and legal versions of the same prayer book.

Imposed by the Russian Empire, Lithuanian language publication in Lithuania was banned for some forty years, and finally lifted on the 24th of April, 1904.

This was one of many attempts to stop the rise of nationalism throughout the non-Russian regions of the Russian Empire.

The ban made it illegal to print, import, distribute or possess any publications in the Latin alphabet.