My Child Memories of the Last Russian Revolution: The Storming of the Ostankino TV Centre.


God forbid we should ever witness a Russian revolt, senseless and merciless. Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), The Captain’s Daughter.

One evening in the summer of 2012 I was coming back home by tram. I left several stops before to take a walk across the All-Russia Exhibition Centre (also known as VDNKh). The Moscow sky was filled with clouds illuminated purple by the setting Sun and calmness after day heat finally fell on the city. I came in through the main entrance of VDNKh and walked towards the Lenin sculpture and the House of Russia’s Peoples rising above it (by the way, the Peoples Friendship Fountain is situated besides the latter). I turned left from the central alley without saying ‘hi’ to Vladimir Ilyich (i.e. Lenin) and stepped into the garden where luckily I found an outdoor photography exhibition from the archives of the Izvestia newspaper. The exhibition was devoted to the milestones of the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian history. Among the photos there were two which drew my particular attention. These were the photos of the Moscow White House after tank shelling in October 1993 and I took several photos of them on my mobile phone. The memories of the Autumn 1993 events were vivid in my mind.

At that time I was 9 years old, so I didn’t follow the roller-coaster of then-current political situation in Russia. Thus, there wasn’t anything special about the Autumn of 1993 for me until October 3. October 3 was a sunny Sunday in Moscow. The surroundings of the Ostankino TV centre turned out to be the battle scene between Yeltsin’s and the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation (Russian Parliament) supporters. In short, the pro-parliament crowd and some armed people approached the Ostankino TV Centre in the evening and attempted to take it by storm but failed. Many people were killed including passers-by and journalists. I lived near the TV Centre so my parents told me that I should sleep in another room with windows looking out into the courtyard because they were afraid of random bullets. The night sky above the buildings was lit by tracer bullets and the strong smell of burnt gunpowder was in the air. Several days later we went to the battle scene with my father who came to the conclusion that expanding bullets were used (probably by the Interior Ministry units that defended the TV Centre) judging by the bullet holes in the fence which looked like a sieve. I came to the TV Centre yesterday to take some photos of those bullet holes and discovered that now the fence is colored blue (it used to be grey) and most of the bullet holes are fixed.

The next day (October 4, 1993) the storming of the Moscow White House happened.

P.S. Here’s the video of the football TV broadcast interrupted by the news presenter. He says: “Dear TV viewers, due to the armed siege of the Ostankino TV Company we have to stop the broadcasting”. Videos from the TV Centre surroundings: one and two.

P.P.S. To be continued.

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5 thoughts on “My Child Memories of the Last Russian Revolution: The Storming of the Ostankino TV Centre.

  1. Pingback: Crussialism, or the Eternal Fall | Russian Universe

  2. What an interesting read to see Russian history from the perspective of a young boy. I have limited understanding of Russian history and only know the big outline of it and the effect on the world, but reading it like this places it in a bit of another view. The view of the people who where near it, but not in it. The view of a child who knows the smell of gunpowder, sadly.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Anna ( http://www.nightowlanna.blogspot.com )

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  3. Fascinating post. What was the major reason for this event? And what was the final resolution? Looking at the bullet holes reminded me of what happened in LA in 1992. I was living in the Pasadena area which is a suburb. The Rodney King rioting was very intense with many innocent people loosing their lives because of it. It’s the closet thing I’ve ever seen when it comes to this kind of violence. Brought back some of the unsettled feeling I had during that time. Thanks for the reminder that this kind of action never resolves well.

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    1. Thanks! That was my first effort to write a ‘real’ post on WordPress. The reason behind this bloodbath was a conflict between Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet of Russia which resulted in the constitutional crisis (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Russian_constitutional_crisis). The resolution was that Yeltsin became the absolute ruler of Russia – ‘Tsar Boris’- and this date (along with 1917) divides Russians. Happy (?!) end.
      I heard of LA riots. They also had a huge impact on American popular culture (e.g., hip hop). I guess I should watch a documentary about these riots.

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