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What remains of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia? FRANCE 24 brings you a special documentary on how Russians are living with this cumbersome legacy, as the Kremlin keeps a low profile for the centenary of the event which gave birth to the Soviet Union and changed the world.
In Russia, Lenin is ubiquitous. Whether it’s in Moscow, St. Petersburg or Ekaterinburg, every major city has a Lenin avenue or square, or an October Revolution boulevard. Statues and monuments in memory of the former revolutionary leader can be found everywhere. The authorities have decided to leave these tributes in place, partly out of collective nostalgia and partly out of their own concern not to stir up the ghosts of the past.
A hundred years after the revolution, the year 1917 remains embedded in the country’s collective memory. Although the USSR disappeared 25 years ago, its founder continues to be a part of ordinary Russian lives. Lenin still fuels discussions and debates where he is made in turn a demi-god or a tyrant. Why does his image endure? Is it the difficulty of relinquishing the revolution’s hope for a better world? How do 21st-century Russians relate to this historical figure and, moreover, to the series of events he embodies that cost so much in bloodshed: the 1917 revolution, the fall of the tsars, the victory of Bolshevism, the end of the old Russian world and the start of a new era?
In this documentary we delve into the collective memory to give voice to the past. We spoke to four Russians whose lives have been shaped by a ghostly history — sometimes fantasised, still filled with Soviet propaganda — but an important influence in their lives, nevertheless.
Renée Armand, a writer and documentary maker, is the descendant of a major revolutionary figure. Irina Ivanova, a lawmaker and activist, still believes in the Communist ideal. Olga Oukolova, a secondary school teacher, is responsible for passing on history to younger generations. Finally, Georges Ossorguine is the grandson of an officer loyal to the tsar – a “White Russian”, who saw his life turned upside down a century ago.
All four of them tell us what 1917 means to them.
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