Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NKVD Choir and Dance Ensemble in the Vatican 2004

The NKVD Choir and Dance Ensemble was established in the Soviet Union in 1939. NVKD stands for the National Committee of Internal Affairs. This organization was responsible for deaths of millions of people within the Soviet system of terror. Later, as NKVD was renamed into the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ensemble name was changed accordingly.

Interestingly, there are two ensembles using the name "Red Army Choir". One of them is the proper ensemble of the Red Army, established in 1929 by Alexandrov within the organizational structure of the Ministry of Defense. The other is the NKVD Ensemble, later renamed into the Red Army Choir MVD Ensemble. MVD stands for Ministry of Internal Affairs in Russian. Of course it is odd to have two ensembles sharing the same name, especially since MVD is separate from Red Army.

Imagine for a moment that Nazi Germany had two choirs, Wehrmacht Choir and Gestapo Choir. Wouldn't it be odd to say "Wehrmacht Choir" in reference to Gestapo Choir? It would. So it is odd to use the name "Red Army Choir" in reference to NKVD (a.k.a. MVD) Choir.

When Poland was invaded in September 1939 by Nazi Germany from the west and by Soviet Union from the east, large number of Polish soldiers and officers were imprisoned in the Soviet Union. In Spring 1940 some twenty thousand Polish officers were executed by NKVD. The killing has been conducted over the course of several weeeks in several locations. The best known of them is Katyn in western Russia, where officers were shot on NKVD grounds by a single gun shot in the back of the head.

Pope John Paul II invited the MVD (former NKVD) Ensemble for a special performance in the Vatican on 15 October 2004 to celebrate the 26th anniversary of his pontificate. Among the songs performed that night was "Oka", specially composed in 1943 for the Polish communist division formed within the structures of the Red Army. That first division was the origin of the entire communist army and a symbolic beginning of the communist dictatorship in Poland. Since the concert's repertoire was agreed upon in advance with the pope, the inclusion of the "Oka" song was no accident. The pope was "visibly moved" during its performance.

The Polish pope repeatedly turned down requests to hold a religious ceremony to pray for the Polish officers murdered in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD. Inviting to the Vatican the ensemble representing the traditions of NKVD, Karol Wojtyła (John Paul's Polish name) unequivocally expressed his political sympathies.

The time has finally come to stop spreading lies, that John Paul II played a significant role in the "defeat" of communism in Eastern Europe.

Two points should be made. Neither was communism defeated, nor John Paul II was its adversary.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Red Army ensemble in Poland

Red Army choir, known as Alexandrov Ensemble, was a frequent visitor to Poland in recent years. Organizing concerts of representatives of armed forces of the country which imposed communism all over Eastern Europe and conducted genocide of those opposing communism is a bad idea.

On Sept. 13, 2014 I sent an email to the agency EAR representating the choir in Poland, where I said

I would like to know if Alexandrov Ensemble will perform in Poland on the anniversary of the October Revolution, just like it did in recent years.

Does the Ensemble have any songs of the prisoners of the Soviet concentration camps in its repertoire? My parents spent jointly 17 years in those camps and I would welcome a chance to become acquainted with the products of the camps' culture.

I would appreciate if you send me information about Ensemble's concerts in 2014.
Later I found out that the 2014 tour in Poland was cancelled. However the 2015 tour is on.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cultural imperialism. How much has really changed?

In the period 1990-2015 many Russians and Ukrainians found employment in Polish elementary and secondary state schools of music. This would be ok if their professional qualities exceeded those of the local candidates and if there were no qualified candidates from Poland. However, graduates of Polish musical academies often experience great difficulties in finding suitable jobs. This makes the practice of employing foreign nationals highly questionable.

It is clear that this employment policy did not have good results. Combined with other circumstances and facts, it is an evidence of continued cultural imperialism from the East. It is also one of many proofs that things have remained essentially unchanged in the area of job inequalities and discrimination faced by some Poles in Poland. During the communist dictatorship 1944-1990 all those with anti-communist views were strongly discriminated and often harassed in their jobs and in private life. Not much has changed. Discrimination continues, sometimes even more openly than before 1990. I and my wife experienced and continue to experience a vicious political persecution.

There is an interesting case of a Russian citizen Olga R. employed in 1993 by the Musical Academy in Wroclaw with the rank of adiunkt, which may be roughly compared to a mix between a post-doc and an assistant professor at an American university. In a July 4, 2007 ruling, case II PK 358/06, the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy) stated that she did not have the academic title required for this job. She was a Russian citizen, a graduate of the Musical Academy in Sankt Petersburg.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Repressive measures in Poland

The Polish daily Rzeczpospolita informed in a Jan. 18, 2002 article about the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court (Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny) concerning the university rector's refusal of examinee's access to the written examination record conducted at the Warsaw University (Uniwersytet Warszawski). The case concerned university entrance exams that occurred probably some time in late June or early July 2001. The person who was refused admission to the university requested access to the written record of the exam. The rector refused.

The matter went all the way to the Supreme Administrative Court where the rector failed to provide any justification whatsoever for his decision. The court ordered the rector to consider examinee's application once again. It was not the order to simply grant access to the exam record. The ruling said only that the application should be reconsidered.

This case is representative of a great number of everyday situations where information is either hidden or access to information is flatly denied by representatives of an institution. This is one of the simplest ways to violate basic rights which is common in Poland. It is a repressive measure applied arbitrarily. Repetitive denial of rights to select persons is a deliberate policy. It is probably presented to the outside world as an unfortunate exception. However, a closer inspection reveals often an obvious pattern of abuse of human and constitutional rights.

There is a huge difference between the concept of the state in the democratic countries of the West and the concept of the state in the "newly-democratic" countries of Eastern Europe. This is certainly a deep and severe problem in Poland.