“There is something to lose your head from”

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin as a role model of responsible citizen at the lockdown

Reading time 5 minutes

Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin is the father of contemporary Russian language. Pupils read “Eugene Onegin”, “Belkin’s Stories”, plays “Mozart and Salieri”, “The Miserly Knight”, “A Feast during the Plague” as well as adults reread. And who can remember from his youth that all these works were written at the height of the cholera epidemic of 1830?

How Alexander Pushkin got into the backwoods far away from his friends

Pushkin and Natalia Nikolaevna Goncharova were engaged in may 1830. He obtained the consent to the marriage only from the third request. The financial affairs of the bride were so up the spout that Alexander Sergeyevich himself had to earn money for the dowry which he allegedly received. Sergey Lvovich found with difficulty a not mortgaged estate that he could give to his son.

Master's house in Bolsino, family Pushkin's estate
Master’s house in Bolsino, family Pushkin’s estate

Boldino is a village of 500 souls. The father allocated to the son a nearby village Kistenevka, a part of Boldino estate. “Collegiate Secretary Alexander Sergeev, son of Pushkin” hastened to draw it up in a separate possession and pawn to get money for the wedding. For this reason, he arrived in Nizhny Novgorod province in September. He was forced to stay there for two months due to cholera quarantine.

Why should we take the poet for a model?

He didn’t lose composure

Alexander Sergeevich wrote two dozen of letters during the autumn in Boldino. He made up with the bride. Natalia Nikolaevna agreed to marry without a dowry.

Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova, the bride and then the wife of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
Natalya Nikolaevna Goncharova, the bride and then the wife of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin

At the same time, the writer did not forget about literary and critical practice. He asked Pogodin who was the publisher of the “Moscow Vedomosti” to send his tragedy “Marfa, Posadnitsa Novgorodskaya” for criticism. And in response, Pushkin sent a poem “The Hero” written on the occasion of the appearance of Nicholas I in cholera Moscow. The poet was not embarrassed to speak out against the regime naming himself but he wanted to publish the “apocalyptic song” with approval of the autocrat’s actions anonymously.

Pushkin willingly wrote many poems in Boldino. Autumn was the most fruitful time for him. The author was glad to be unexpectedly free to write what he wished and walk where he could. That feeling was expressed to his friend Pletnev in letters.

Pushkin approved of getting information in time

He read the cholera bulletins named “The Bulletin on the State of the Moscow City” which were published in the “Moscow Vedomosti”. The suspense tormented him. Alexander Sergeyevich was worried about the health of his family and the bride. He asked her to write regularly and was upset when the letters were long. Natalya Nikolaevna’s reply of October 1, he received on the October 26th. All suspicious and unverified information about the disease was rejected by him. A year earlier Pushkin had been to Arzrum where he had seen an outbreak of the plague, so he knew that the picture of devastation and the number of victims were often exaggerated.

Pushkin's letter to Praskovya Osipova. Punctured envelopes mark "cholera" correspondence. Letters were fumigated with sulfur or chlorine through the holes for disinfection
Pushkin’s letter to Praskovya Osipova. Punctured envelopes mark “cholera” correspondence. Letters were fumigated with sulfur or chlorine through the holes for disinfection
The writer was aware of necessity of precautions and lockdown

While there were no letters from Goncharova, the poet repeatedly tried to find out where the bride was. He was angry and concerned about her staying in Moscow and advised her to go to the country. Pushkin recalled a trip to the Caucasus and asked Natalia Nikolaevna to be careful and avoid cholera places. He also tried to go to Moscow and connect with his beloved. He was ready to stay in quarantine for as long as it would be necessary, though the poet did not visit the cordoned-off areas.

The strongest

How did the humanity fight dangerous viruses in different eras?

Reading time 6 minutes

When the coronovirus epidemic walks around the world, it’s time to recall what diseases people have already defeated. In the article we will tell you who, how and when saved the humanity from epidemics.


According to historians, up to 300 million people died from the plague. The disease was rolling in wave during the Middle Ages and the New Age. The most ferocious pandemics are the Justinian plague in the 6th-8th centuries and the “Black Death” in the 14th century. More often people got sick with bubonic plague – lymph nodes became inflamed and formed characteristic “buboes”. Pulmonary plague happened less frequently. A person began to cough and spit blood. In the first form, the probability of recovery was 25%, in the second – 0%. All the doctors could do was to protect themselves when approaching a sick patient.

Костюм, который вошёл в культуру Средневековой Европы: кожаные доспехи и маска. В «клюв» доктора закладывали травы, которые обладали антисептическими свойствами. При дыхании они нагревались и испаряли вещества, снижавшие риск заражения
This costume was popular in medieval European culture: leather armor and a mask. Doctors laid herbs in the beak that had antiseptic properties. When breathing, they heated up and vaporized substances that reduced the risk of infection.

We learned how to deal with “black death” in the 20th century. Epidemiologist Vladimir Khavkin created an inactivated vaccine against bubonic plague from temperature-killed plague sticks. The live vaccine was created and tested by the bacteriologist Magdalene Pokrovskaya. In 1947, Soviet scientists from the Red Army Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene developed the antibiotic called streptomycin and began to use it in Manchuria, where an epidemic broke out at that time. All patients who received the new medicine recovered. Today, with proper treatment, 90-95% of patients survive.


Chinese annals mentioned smallpox in 12th century BC. In the 6th century AD, the disease entered Europe. Epidemics happened regularly and claimed up to 40% of patients. The ones who recovered often remained blind and had disfigured scars.

A person who had contracted smallpox usually did not get infected again. A Millennium BC the Chinese instilled a mild form of the disease, so, that a person would not become infected with a serious one. However, the course of the disease was still individual and the person who was vaccinated could die. There were few people who wanted to try their luck, and the disease spread further.

Екатерина II первой в России сделала прививку от оспы. Страна последовала её примеру и в XX веке для поступления в учебное заведение уже требовалась справка о прививке
Catherine II was the first who got smallpox vaccine in Russia. The country followed her example, and in the 20th century a certificate of vaccination was required for admission to an educational institution.

The safest way to protect oneself from smallpox was invented by the British physician Edward Jenner in the 18th century. He suggested that  vaccination from cow smallpox, which was easily tolerated by humans, could protect them from dangerous natural one. The doctor conducted an experiment on May, 14 in 1796. The vaccinated boy remained healthy. Jenner later discovered that a vaccine made using the blood of a previously vaccinated person is just as effective as one made from biomaterial that has been infected directly from a cow. Now, vaccination did not require waiting for rare outbreaks of vaccinia. The last case of smallpox was registered in 1977, and in 1980 the World Health Association announced the victory over the disease.


The developed countries faced epidemics of poliomyelitis in the 20th century. The patients were mostly children under 5 years old. The virus affected the nervous system and the gray matter of the spinal cord. The person was broken by paralysis.

Poliomyelitis is not treatable, but it can be prevented. Salk’s inactivated vaccine was launched in the United States in 1955. At the same time, Virologist Albert Seibin invented a cheaper and more effective live vaccine. Soviet scientists Mikhail Chumakov, Marina Voroshilova and Anatoly Smorodintsev tested it on their children, grandchildren and relatives. The vaccine helped to stop the polio epidemic, which has been affecting the Baltic states since 1949.

Основатель и первый директор Института полиомиелита и вирусных энцефалитов АМН СССР действительный член АМН, профессор Михаил Чумаков за работой
Professor Mikhail Chumakov

In 1988, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on the eradication of poliomyelitis in the world. After this initiative, the number of cases decreased by 99%. Today, the virus persists in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.


Сорвись с крючка

Как защитить персональные данные от тех, кто пытается их выудить

Reading time 3 minutes

Sorry, this entry is only available in Russian.

“Journalistic is not a profession to come into, it is a profession to be seduced”

Cheese maker, journalist, and optimist Halina Spasskaya speaks about the ability of living how you want without fears

Reading time 6 minutes

When Moscow began to grow beyond Sadovoe ring, I was working as a cheese making technologist. I was able to distinguish 100 kinds of cheese. But one day I accidentally turned up at the radio-station and fell in love with it. Journalistic is not a profession to come into, it is a profession to be seduced.

Love and session

I entered Moscow state university but was dropped out of it at the end of the first year. Thus, I understood once and for all my life that love and session are incompatible. My choice was never in favour of session… It is a family feature: my grandfather was expelled from a seminary because of his love affairs. By the way, he married a beautiful woman and became an engineer. He worked at Kurskiy railway station, so lobbied landowner L’vova’s interests when she decided to divide her estate into sites and sell them for dachas. Exactly that dachas are said to be described in “Vishneviy sad” by Chekhov. As for the faculty of journalism, I finished it in Moscow State University of Printing Arts.

“Tyoshcha”, convicts and full bears

This painting was drawn by Halina Romanovna's pupil. By common consent of her old friends, it depicts her character most of all.
This painting was drawn by Halina Romanovna’s pupil. By common consent of her old friends, it depicts her character most of all

One day I was promptly sent to the event in Onega at White sea. When I rushed to the ticket office, it turned out that Onega can be reached just by the only trailer car which went once a week. That trailer car had already gone. That is why I developed the tactic and went with changes to Plesetsk then by Murmansk train to the station from which train for workers, “tyoshcha”, went twice a day. However, I did not count that Murmansk railway was a single-track one and after driving through one section, the train waited for the oncoming one to do the same. Due to this fact, I missed the “tyoshcha”. So, I went to the station masters-on-duty and said that I had to be in Onega till 7 p.m when the event started. They replied, “Easy as pie! Once you have gone right through the taiga about 2 or 3 km, you will see the road along which convicts are carrying the forest. They will give you a lift. People as people. Don’t be frightened, bears are full in Autumn”. Well, I am a sensible woman I asked for another way. It was pretty suitable. Girls stopped the passing locomotive, “You’ ll be transferred to the track crossover. We’ve called the duty. She’ll stop the oncoming car to Onega”. How unique northern people are! I was afraid that convicts might pass by but the duty reassured, “Don’t worry, I closed the crossover, nobody can pass by without stopping”. Yeah, they gave me a lift, so I was in time for the event.

PhD’s envy

Nowadays Halina Romanovna takes any possibility to travel, though, by more comfortable transport. She prefers rucksacks to suitcases which never takes with her
Nowadays Halina Romanovna takes any possibility to travel, though, by more comfortable transport. She prefers rucksacks to suitcases which never takes with her

My progress in journalistic was quick I became an editor at “Podolsk-radio” but still felt that I have lack of knowledge in social science. That is why I started searching for places where I could study. At that very time Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences was opened. It was the only place where sociologists were taught and I was lucky to get after-graduate programme as academic Igor Bestuzhev-Lada tutee. I was attracted by the programme of social psychology. Studying was splendiferous: lectures were held once a week and we got wages for it. Moreover, a month time off was given to us to prepare a dissertation and we could take another one without salary to finish it. Of course, I used them all! My husband envied he said, “I am a scientist of the Russian Academy of Sciences and I have only 45 days off while you have 54”.

Don’t wait – live now

In childhood my health was poor. I had congenital heart disease and diabetes but father always told me, “You can always lie as an ill person but you ought to live energetically. Now”. He taught me to ride a horse, drive a car, swim. There is a 300 metres long pond in our town and father said that I should swim it across to learn how to swim. I was stunned. It was scary… However, I succeeded at the second try. When I was floundering, he held me up. My father skied with me, let me drive a motorbike, even sent me to a shooting club. By the way, I had the first ranking because I could shoot 96 targets from 100. In my opinion, active social lifestyle starts when you stop frightening of working.

Halina Romanovna's Instagram page
Halina Romanovna’s Instagram page

Nowadays, Galina Romanovna is Podolsk star. Over 17 hundred of people are subscribed to her Instagram blog. “Orel i reshka. Babushka” casting must have added fame indeed.

Два Новых года и два Рождества?

Как так вышло, что в России отмечают новогодние праздники по-разному

Reading time 3 minutes

Sorry, this entry is only available in Russian.

Туризм как SOSтояние души

Репортаж о треккинговом марафоне в ноябрьском лесу

Reading time 3 minutes

─ Ребята, пора: конец привала! Все в сборе? А Саша, Саша где? Кто-нибудь его видел? Участник пропал, ищем участника!

Так начался этап «Медицина» на «Ноябрьском марафоне-2019» Турклуба НИУ ВШЭ. Где-то в подмосковных лесах в сумерки четыре девочки и три мальчика искали четвёртого. Организаторы марафона заметили его в начале привала, но больше Сашу никто не видел… пока минут через 15 его не нашли у елового бурелома. Саша оказался «пострадавшим». Надо было оказать ему первую помощь и транспортировать до скорой. Таково задание этапа.

Если осматривали «пострадавшего» засветло, то фиксировали обнаруженный «перелом» уже в темноте. Травму зафиксировали с помощью коврика-пенки, палок и репшнуров. Параллельно этому вязали носилки. Когда группа маленькая, а свет от фонариков неяркий, кажется, что лес вокруг бесконечен и беспросветен, а вы – всего лишь светлячки. Светлячки, которым надо вынести «пострадавшего» в цивилизацию. Где она, цивилизация, уже все и забыли, потому что тропинок не видно.

Для вязания хороших носилок нужна верёвка не меньше 30 метров длиной и команда минимум из 6 человек
Для вязания хороших носилок нужна верёвка не меньше 30 метров длиной и команда минимум из 6 человек

Темнота чуть не сделала Сашу пострадавшим на самом деле. Подстелив пенки и куртки, его положили на носилки, привязали крепко. Когда подняли конструкцию, одно бревно треснуло. Его пришлось ремонтировать и переносить вес на верёвку. Проходя ельник, мы увидели, что два дерева стоят слишком близко. Обойти не смогли, и «пострадавший», вереща, несколько метров ехал боком между ёлок.

На «Медицине» приключения не закончились: каждый из трёх дней марафона участники проходили по три-четыре этапа. Отрабатывали необходимые в походных условиях навыки. Так как организаторы – люди опытные и побывавшие в различных ситуациях, задания получились разнообразными.

─ Вы точно заберёте рюкзак на ночь?

─ Конечно.

─ Вот этот, на целую ночь?

─ Да, на целую ночь.

─ До утра?

─ Именно так, отдавайте уж, чего тянете.

По легенде команда остановилась на скальной плите, и один рюкзак улетел в пропасть. Ещё не развязав носилки с «Медицины», стали решать, кто заночует без снаряжения: тянули спички. Я успела подумать, что не смогу остаться без свитера, пухового спальника, так как на улице 0 градусов… и вытянула короткую спичку.

Душа замерла, ноябрьская ночь поблёкла, и, почти как у Бальмонта, «…от птичьего крика // В сердце стало грустнее…». Хотя в официальном походном отчёте о моих тревогах потом написали: «Жеребьёвкой выпало остаться без вещей Лизе. Повезло, что общественного снаряжения у неё почти не было».

У туристов не бывает плохой погоды, бывает плохое снаряжение. Согрелись все
У туристов не бывает плохой погоды, бывает плохое снаряжение. Согрелись все

Повезло, потому что ужина, состоявшего из булгура с шампиньонами и куриной грудкой в сметанном соусе, команда не лишилась. Палаток и кострового инструмента тоже. Без них пришлось бы тяжелее, чем без аптечки и двух шоколадок. Однако впереди была ночь: минусовая температура, ветер, от которого скрипят сосны, и снег. На командном вече решили, что я с приятельницей буду спать в её спальнике. Поле такого не поспоришь с тем, что походы сближают. Тёплой одеждой со мной тоже поделились. А во время вечерних посиделок я была как диско-шар, потому что спасодеяло, в которое меня закутали, шуршало и отражало блики костра.

Испытания ожидали участников не только на стоянках и этапах. Во второй день, когда запланировали пройти 30км, все команды столкнулись с многокилометровым зелёным забором. Он был настолько длинным, что команда «Петушки» решилась идти в темноте по болоту, лишь бы не обходить. Команда «Ой», обойдя его с трёх сторон, насчитала три с половиной километра и потратила на этот путь два часа. Наша команда «Счастливый случай» подтвердила название и обнаружила в заборе дыру. За металлическими гофролистами высотой в два человеческих роста скрывалось поле. Такое же, как с другой стороны. Потом мы вышли на дорогу и увидели вдалеке огни жилищ, но что их обитатели хотели огородить, так и не поняли. Поэтому забор вошёл в отчёты с эпитетом «иррациональный».

Команда «Петушки» залезала в болота не один раз. Даже днём такая дорога трудна, а уж ночью...
Команда «Петушки» залезала в болота не один раз. Ночью дорога еще более трудна, чем днем

«Ноябрьский марафон» – это 60 километров дорог и тропинок, полей и буреломов, холмов и болот. Три группы начинающих туристов и профессионалов, три дня шуток и приключений, две ночи песен. Одно незабываемое соревнование.