An Inconvenient Anniversary: How Russia Did (Not) Celebrate the Centenary of the Russian Revolution

Pål Kolstø's chapter in "In the North, the East and West Meet" investigates how the Russian society handled the Centenary of the October Revolution.

A man with the sea in the background
Photo: Orkana Forlag

Brightness or descent?

In this chapter, Pål Kolstø argues that the Centenary of the October Revolution in November 2017 seems to have been rather inconvenient for the Kremlin. Should 1917 be celebrated as a bright dawn after a long night of reactionary tsarist authoritarianism – or as marking the descent into a nightmare of oppression and suffering? Surveys show that opinions on this matter were sharply divided in Russian society.

Denounced and hailed

Both czarists and liberals denounced the communist period as an unmitigated disaster, while members of the Communist Party and other Soviet nostalgics continued to hail Lenin and Stalin as great leaders, and celebrated the revolutionary anniversary every year. In the end, no Kremlin leader participated in any celebrations of the October Revolution, while the Conservative Minister of culture, Vladimir Medinskii, tried to frame the Centenary as an occasion for “reconciliation and national unity,” something which the communists rejected as an affront.


The book is available through Orkana Forlag.

By Pål Kolstø
Published Apr. 25, 2020 11:23 PM - Last modified Apr. 25, 2020 11:23 PM