Songs of Soviet Collapse (“Chamomiles” and “Yurii Prishepnoi” by Rasteryaev)

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Fort Russ, September 8th, 2016
by Tatzhit Mihailovich

I’ve subtitled these two songs mostly to accompany recent article about the huge toll of post-Soviet social and economic collapse (this one: Causes and Impact of Post-Soviet Collapse). 

<Igor Rasteryaev – the singer. Starting as a college student, he became really popular precisely because his songs talk about the real issues>

“Chamomiles” talks about many millions of people left jobless and homeless by the “democratic reforms”, and the devastation left by their deaths, especially in more rural areas.

Chamomiles – Igor Rasteryaev


Airplanes above,  criss-crossing the sky

Probably flying someone to Dubai

And I am once again walkin’

Out through the brush in the open –

To visit those killed by vodka

My friends Vasily and Roman

I have many friends strewn about out there,

On some overgrown village cemetery

Where the steppe breeze sings a gentle call

About dangers of bootleg alcohol…

Yes, guys have chosen this road –

But someone forced them to choose.

Left them no home and no job,

Provided plenty of booze.

Someone, somewhere has made,  

A few profitable deals –

And in the end of the day,

Roman and Vasya are fields.

I have many friends strewn about out there,

On some overgrown village cemetery

Where the steppe breeze whispers through the moss

And a familiar face stares from every cross…

Now there is nothing to say

And none of it can be healed.

Before I go on my way

I’ll leave them fresh chamomiles.

Just flowers  in a tin can,

Beauty in simple frame.

A monument to these men,

Somewhere in Russian plain.


“Song about Yuriy Prishepnoi”

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The second song talks about the civil wars that broke out when USSR fell apart, caused by various demagogues using violence to seize pieces of the fallen empire – or simply directing the angry and impoverished populations to attack each other, rather than their new overlords.

North Ossetia/Ingushetia, Chechnya/Dagestan, Abkhazia/South Ossetia/Georgia, Karabakh/Armenia/Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Transnistria/Moldova, Ukraine/DLPR… And these are only the large conflics – ones that lasted for months, involved hundreds or thousands of deaths each, and each displaced hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.
These conflicts would see recent neighbors, colleagues or classmates killing each other over issues that did not concern them few short years or even months ago.

Transcript –

Rasteryaev: I dedicated this song to a guy who grew up in the village of Subbotin, close to my house, and died like a hero in the 2nd Chechen War [wounded, covering the retreat of his comrades].

This is “Song about Yuriy Prishepnoi”

Sun scorches the road in the end of summer,

But the burning heat does not spoil my mood

We grew up by Volgorad, here in Southern Russia

We’re have been through worse, running here on foot

Village of Subbotin  –  downhill and turn westwards –

Here, once again, I meet the neighbor’s boy –

All that’s left of him – Blue plaque and white letters –

“Street named after hero Yuriy Prishepnoi”

Yuri was my age – Soviet kindergartens,

Decade with same friends, played amongst ourselves,

Growing up among old stories and free lunches,

Kept on drawing tanks with our ballpoint pens

Everything was perfect: all sang peacemakers praises,

The Olympics showed us to a friendly world,

No one was expecting kids of 1980s

To be used as soldiers for upcoming wars

Sent against same Soviets born a little earlier,

Our generation was marched to mountain gorges

Meeting head to head with those a little darker,

Who liked to wear beards and pray in different churches

They have paid in blood for someone else’s greed,

Walked into gunfire – “death before retreat”,

Turning into pride, turning into grief,

Into small blue plaques on curvy village streets …

Time does not heal wounds  –  only pain gets duller.

Ever since that time, I’ve been left to wonder:

“Years pass, and I’m not getting any older:

Day by day, it’s only – Yuri getting younger”

But I do believe, I’m waiting for the days;

When in all the books that chronicle our nation

Year 1980 be blue from bookmarks –

Small blue plaques, a symbol of our generation

Plaques will scream to us, openly and loudly:

“You should live like men! Believe in truth and love!”

All the thoughts of Yuri, memories of childhood,

From that moment on will become the past…


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