Greg Afinogenov

28 June 2023

Prigozhin’s March on Moscow

In late May, the pro-Kremlin political PR hack Konstantin Dolgov published a startling interview with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the commander of the Wagner private military company. Prigozhin said that the entire ‘denazification and demilitarisation’ rationale behind the invasion of Ukraine was a sham; that the war was a failure; that the Ukrainian army was now among the strongest in the world; that the children of the Kremlin elite ‘allow themselves to live a public, fat, worry-free life applying face cream and showing it on the internet while ordinary people’s children are coming back in zinc [coffins]’; and that ‘this divide might end with a revolution, like in 1917, when first the soldiers rise up, then the people close to them’ to ‘stick the elites on pitchforks.’ Last weekend Prigozhin appeared to put his money where his mouth was.

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15 October 2018

The Voyage of the ‘Pobeda’

Desperate crossings – Lenin’s sealed train, Luding Bridge, Granma – were at the heart of several 20th-century revolutions, but the one that killed my great-grandmother seemed to be a perfectly average late-summer voyage. According to the official account, on 1 September 1948, the steamer Pobeda (‘Victory’), bound from New York to Odessa, was in the Black Sea, nearing its destination. A sailor rewinding some movie reels in a storage cabin inadvertently caused a spark, igniting the thousands of highly flammable filmstrips and phonograph records inside. Two crew members and forty of the 310 passengers were killed. Among them were Evgeniia Afinogenova, née Jeannette Schwarz of the Lower East Side, and Feng Yuxiang, former war minister of the Republic of China, on his way to bend the knee to Mao Zedong. Among the survivors were Afinogenova’s two daughters, aged six and eleven, my grandmother and her older sister, who were taken to Moscow to be raised by their grandmother.

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