Remembering Vysotsky: why did he visit Donbass and look for traces of Nestor Makhno

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Remembering Vysotsky: why did he visit Donbass and look for traces of Nestor Makhno
Remembering Vysotsky: why did he visit Donbass and look for traces of Nestor Makhno
25 January, 10:17SocietyPhoto: From the archive of the Creative Association "Rakurs"
On January 25, Vladimir Vysotsky would have turned 84 years old. During his short life he visited many countries, traveled all over the Soviet Union.

But one of the most interesting was the trip in August 1970 to Gulyaipole, to the places of military glory of the peasant leader Nestor Makhno, whose name was forgotten in the USSR.

Gennady Charodeyev

Order-bearer Father Makhno
Photo:radiosputnik.ria

For the people, Nestor Makhno is a legendary person. So many tales and anecdotes are still told about his life that it is no longer possible to understand where reality ends and myth begins.

Either he was with the Reds, or he beat the Reds. Either he died during the Civil War, or he lived to be 100 years old in exile. And they also said that Nicholas II himself was a distant relative of Makhno and the tsar saved the anarchist from the death penalty by personal decree.

There was talk among Makhno's supporters that Nestor "did not take a bullet and did not cut the blade". There were also those who claimed that two dozen horses were killed under the father, but during the entire time of the Civil War they never wounded the anarchist himself.

In fact, judging by Makhno's personal records, during the war years he was wounded 12 times! Moreover, in one of the last battles, a bullet entered Nestor in the back of the head, and exited from the right cheek. The Bolshevik newspapers even trumpeted to the whole world that the army commander was dead. However, it turned out that the doctors quickly patched him up, and Makhno fled to Romania with his closest supporters.

The Makhnovists, who wore red stars on their headdresses, did not disdain raids and robberies. Once they pulled off the “Golden Operation”, taking away two convoys with money and valuables from the Volunteer Army. They were intended to pay for the services of the Anglo-American allies, who supplied the troops with General Denikin. By the way, there are still rumors that somewhere in Gulyaipole Makhno buried all the loot. The treasure is still being sought by enthusiasts.

In fact, as Vysotsky's close friend David Karapetyan (1939-2007), with whom they traveled all over the Donetsk region, once told me, Volodya already knew everything about Makhno and his deeds.

Director Andrey Tarkovsky
Photo:kuda-spb.ru

“Somehow he came to me and for no reason thoughtfully said: “It turns out that Makhno did not shoot anyone, although he constantly threatened, they say, “I will personally shoot!”. It’s all lies that they tell us about him”. I literally jumped out of my chair. Volodya said that Valery Zolotukhin was approved for the role of Makhno in the film "Salute, Maria" and that a manuscript of the memoirs of Galina Kuzmenko, the widow of the chieftain, was brought to him to work on the role. I rushed to Zolotukhin, but he said that he had heard about it for the first time”, - David Karapetyan said.

As a result of painful thoughts, a professional translator from Italian, a person far from the director's profession, David Karapetyan decided to write a script about the Makhnovist freemen and persuade Andrey Tarkovsky to make a film based on it.

“Moreover, I passionately wanted Vladimir Vysotsky to play Nestor Makhno in the film and that in the final scene, after the miserable remnants of the Makhnovist army crossed the Dniester, Vysotsky would sing “Hunting for wolves. What a shot! Romanian frontier post, Vysotsky-Makhno and - "But the huntsmen were left with nothing!" dreamed the translator.

The American researcher Mark Tsybulsky generally believes that at that moment Vysotsky became interested in the idea of a friend, but he had to go to Donetsk for another reason. He needed money, and a certain farce from those cuts promised to pay him a large sum if Vysotsky recorded at a studio in Donetsk. But that too fell apart.

Leningrad, VAMI - All-Russian Aluminum and Magnesium Institute, October 16, 1974. Photo by Orik Gryaznov
Photo:Из архива творческого объединения "Ракурс"

But we agreed on two concerts: one free - for the morning miner's shift, the other paid - in the Palace of Culture of Donetsk, for everyone.

“Wasting no time, Volodya expressed a desire to go down to the face. We changed into some kind of overalls, put on helmets. We descended to a kilometer depth, to the so-called horizon. We walked along the ventilation drift and observed. What we saw shocked us: it was sheer hell. How can the unfortunate miners endure this for a whole shift?! A couple of minutes later I was already suffocating from lack of air,” Karapetyan recalled in his book “Vladimir Vysotsky. Memories".

And here is what the eyewitness of those events, miner Vladimir Korzh, said:

“We visited the mine, Vysotsky talked to the miners, watched how they cut coal... He left, washed with us in a bathhouse, in a real miner's. Tasted the taste of miner's coal. After that, we sat, drank tea, coffee, talked, Volodya sang songs..."

The next morning, Vysotsky gave a big concert in a crowded elegant mine - especially for the miners. He also sang “Black Gold” to them, but the audience reacted to it without enthusiasm. Then Volodya sang a few light songs - for vivacity, before leaving for a shift, and stirred up the audience.

“We left Makiivka quite early”, - continued Karapetyan. Finally, we have reached our destination. I look with all my eyes at the Makhnovist capital: huts, wagons - not a single car. It seemed that time stopped and threw us back. Having learned the address of Makhno's nieces (Stepnaya Street, 63), we drove straight to their house. Anastasia Savelyevna Mishchenko herself came out to our knock - sheer apprehension and alertness. Some woman with a cart, seeing us, shouts to her: “Well, again for Makhno?!”

A pure Ukrainian, Anastasia Savelyevna spoke Russian poorly. But her younger sister, who had lived for many years in Siberia and was more open in nature, helped to “translate” her sister’s stories to two “Muscovites”. In order to win her trust, Vysotsky and Karapetyan, when asking questions, deliberately called their uncle only by his first name and patronymic - Nestor Ivanovich. It worked, and the niece, gradually overcoming suspicion, began to tell everything she remembered.

The very first story of Anastasia Savelyevna greatly embarrassed the guests. And it was like that. Some Makhnovist took a loaf of bread from a resident of Gulyai-Polye. He complained to the father, the offender was quickly found, he confessed everything, asked for leniency, but Makhno was inexorable and personally shot the culprit from a Mauser. After listening to this episode, the "screenwriters" silently looked at each other...

The famous "tachankas" - spring four-wheeled twin wagons with a light body - of Nestor Makhno
Photo: smolbattle.ru

The niece spoke mainly about the peaceful, initial period of Makhno's activity, when he was elected chairman of the Gulyaipole Soviet of Deputies, passionately agitated for powerless councils and free communes, where both kulaks and "repentant" landowners could work together with the poor peasants. It turns out that Makhno was very fond of speaking at rallies, he was incredibly energetic and purposeful.

“He didn’t touch the churches,” the ataman’s relative emphasized. “But the priests could have been shot if they were spies”.

Both nieces were indignant at how their uncle was shown in the movies: “It’s not true, he wasn’t like that!” But when asked by Vysotsky how Anastasia Savelyevna relates to her uncle’s activities, she answered literally the following: “Negatively, because all of us, his relatives, suffered because of him”. So fight after this for the happiness of the people!

“The niece was not exaggerating. Later, already in Moscow, I learned that her father, the older brother and associate of the father, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War, was shot by the Bolsheviks - mainly because of his last name. Another brother, a peaceful, God-fearing peasant Yemelyan, was shot by the hetmans - for the same reason. The third, Grigory, died in battle with Denikin. Father-in-law Makhno, the father of Galina Kuzmenko, was liquidated by the Reds - also for family ties. The house of the father himself was burnt down repeatedly - either by the hetmans, then by the whites, then by the reds. Left homeless, for some time he huddled with his family in the cramped hut of Anastasia Savelievna's parents, although he could requisition the best house in Gulyaipole. However, later this hut was also burned down,” David Karapetyan recalled. David asked Anastasia Savelyevna if she had any photographs of her uncle? It turned out there was something. She brought out a picture of Makhno with her daughter Lena: a lovely girl of eight or ten years old next to her father - pretty, intelligent, with a tie and a sword on her side. This picture greatly surprised Vysotsky.

The niece also showed me a large, crudely retouched photograph of my uncle on the wall, and a letter from Makhno—along with a photograph, it came quietly from Paris in the early thirties. The niece assured them that, apart from this letter, they had nothing left of their uncle; that a copy can be made of this picture, but she will not give it back to us, because some people from the city have already arrived, they took a photo with Makhno and did not return it.

“And what did Nestor Ivanovich write to you about? Vysotsky asked.

The already long story of Anastasia Savelyevna about her famous ancestor, the letter added to the overall picture of the last years of the life of Nestor Ivanovich Makhno. After the victory of the revolution, the Bolsheviks outlawed it. He once again briefly entered into a truce with the current Soviet government, even performed feats with the Insurgent Army at Perekop. But soon the chieftain, under black banners, dissociated himself from the red ones. He fled from the USSR, although there was an order not to release Makhno by any means. A hard fate awaited the Ukrainian anarchist abroad - wandering around Romania, Poland, France. Once in Paris, once a brave ataman, and now a man undermined by serious illnesses, Makhno vegetated in poverty and took on any job. Finally became a journalist, wrote articles, essays, books. All the hardships and joys in a foreign land with Nestor Makhno were shared by his wife Galina. In 1934, the father died of tuberculosis.

Few people know, but it is the Makhnovists, and not the Budyonnovists, who owned the primacy of the "invention" of the machine-gun cart - a formidable weapon during the Civil War. Infantry moved on such carts, an army of up to 35 thousand people with 50 guns and 500 machine guns overcame up to 100 km per day, which is almost three times faster than movement according to the charter of the cavalry.

Commander Makhno for services to the Soviet government, for courage and courage was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of War at number 7.

As the writer Fyodor Razzakov said to "Novye Izvestia", neither the script nor the film turned out. Apparently, David Karapetyan was far from directing, not a single studio in the country would have accepted his application for a film about the “enemy of the people and bandit” Nestor Makhno. Vysotsky understood this well and did nothing to break through the "dangerous" topic. Yes, and at the very beginning of the 1970s, cinema began to fade into the background for Vladimir Semenovich himself.

Now Donbass is again restless and people, listening to the songs of Vladimir Vysotsky, often ask themselves the question: what would he say about this war?

Recently, in an interview with the Personally Familiar (Lichno Znakom - editor's note) program, this question was answered by the son of the poet Nikita Vysotsky:

- Father considered the war a terrible disaster for the people. He would hardly get into big politics. Vysotsky would write about the fear and suffering of ordinary people. Yes, he has already said everything in his poems: “Lay, lay at least a tunnel along the bottom of the river, but, look, blunt your sharp fangs”...

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