NEWS

You Can Now Follow The October Revolution On Social Media

"Project1917 in Russia" maps the lives of key figures - including Vladimir Lenin and Grigori Rasputin - in a tumultous year that changed the world forever.

06/02/2017 15:18 SAST | Updated 06/02/2017 15:19 SAST
Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
A man reads a newspaper at Ploshchad Ilyicha metro station, with a bust of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin seen in the background, in Moscow, Russia, March 5, 2016.

Want to know how Czar Nicholas II felt on a frosty morning, sometime in January 1917? Or perhaps what palace gossip Grigori "The Black Monk" Rasputin might have been sharing with his close friends and followers? Or what occupied Leon Trotsky's mind, as he observed from exile?

One hundred years after the original events unfolded in Russia, you can now follow the October Revolution, and the events leading up to it. Project 1917 is a brainchild of Mikhail Zygar, formerly the head of the liberal television network Dozhd.

Tens of thousands of Russians have been following the daily minutiae of various historical figures, ranging from royalty to artists, clergy and revolutionaries. Drawing from archives, letters and diaries, the lives of these prominent people are recounted in social media post format, either on the website, or on Facebook and its Russian equivalent VKontakte. An English version is due to launch this month, but the Pushkin Project has been publishing some translated posts on Facebook.

What really sets this project apart is the immersion of the public. "To feel the era, you have to forget about how it ended," said Kirill Solovyev in the Economist. He's a historian at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and one of 40 historians consulting on the project.

"The network immerses its users in the daily details of the period. A table displays 'current' exchange rates and the prices of meat and grain. A widget notes the weather in Petrograd, as St Petersburg was then called, and Moscow (-24ºC and -21ºC at midnight on February 1). Clips from newsreels and excerpts from newspapers offer a window onto a world at war. Announcements advertise exhibitions and performances by Kandinsky, Diaghilev, Mayakovsky and Stanislavsky," the Economist continued.

How the October Revolution is perceived in Russia today isn't simple to understand. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin attempted a break from that legacy. Vladimir Putin has shown more of an affinity to the age of the Czars and the Soviet rulers and has often roused this form of Russian nationalism for his own ends.

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