Alexander Prokhanov

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Alexander Prokhanov
Alexander Prokhanov
Alexander Prokhanov
Born February 26, 1938 (1938-02-26) (age 76)
Tblisi
Other names Prokhanov, Aleksandr
Occupation Russian writer

Alexander Andreyevich Prokhanov (Russian: Александр Андреевич Проханов; born on February 26, 1938, in Tbilisi) is a Soviet and Russian writer, a member of the secretariat of the Writers Union of the Russian Federation and the author of more than 30 novels and short story collections.[1] He is the editor-in-chief of Russia's extreme-right[2] newspaper Zavtra ("Завтра", Tomorrow), that combines ultranationalist and communist views.[3][4]

Biography[edit]

Alexander Prokhanov was born in Tbilisi, where his ancestors, members of the Russian Christian molokan sect had been deported to by Catherine the Great. His granduncle Ivan Prokhanov was a leader of the All-Russian Union of Evangelican Christians (1908-1928) and the one-time vice-President of the Baptist World Alliance who left the USSR in 1928 and died in emigration.[5][6][7]

In 1955 Prokhanov enrolled into the Moscow Aviation Institute where for the first time he started to write poetry and prose. After the graduation he worked as an engineer at a Ministry of Defense factory, then, in 1962-1964, a forester in Karelia and the Moscow oblast.[5] In the late 1960s he started writing essays and reports for numerous magazines (Krugozor, Smena, Selskaya Molodyozh), later citing Andrey Platonov and Vladimir Nabokov as major influences.[8]

Career[edit]

Prokhanov's 1967 short story "The Wedding" garnered some critical praise and is considered his breakthrough.[6] Two years later he was already working for two high-profile Soviet newspapers, Pravda and Literaturnaya Gazeta.[9] As a foreign correspondent Prokhanov visited Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, and Ethiopia, these assignments providing him invaluable material for future literary work. Prokhanov was the first to report on the March 1969 events on Damansky Island during the Sino-Soviet border conflict.[5][6]

In 1971 his first book I Am Going My Way came out, his literary mentor Yuri Trifonov providing a foreword for the former. "He liked the expressiveness, experiments with language, the flow of metaphors, my naive youthful pantheism... But my first social-oriented novellas made him skeptical, his tone became tougher and he entrusted me with another patron, Vladimir Makanin, who was my good friend at the time," Prokhanov later remembered.[9][10]

In 1972, Prokhanov became the member of the Soviet Union of Writers. In the mid-1980s he was an active contributor to Molodaya Gvardiya, Nash Sovremennik and the newspaper Literaturnaya Rossiya. In 1990 Prokhanov emerged as a candidate for the post of Literaturnaya Gazeta '​s editor-in-chief, but the staff ignored him, preferring Fyodor Burlatsky, Mikhail Gorbachyov's protege.[9] In 1989–1991, Prokhanov worked as the editor-in-chief of Sovetskaya Literatura, a magazine published in nine languages in more than one hundred countries.[6] Enjoying his reputation of a hard-line Communist, he's never joined the Communist Party.[6]

In December 1990 (while still Sovetskaya Literatura '​) Prokhanov founded Den (Day), and became its editor-in chief. Initially a Soviet Union of Writers' organ, in the summer of 1991 Den moved under the patronage of the Union of Writers of Russia. Sporting the subheading "Organ of the spiritual opposition", it became arguably the most radical Russian newspaper continually challenging Boris Yeltsin and his team of liberal reformers. Regarded by Prokhanov as the "patriotic alternative" to pro-liberal, nomenclature-led Literaturnaya Gazeta, Den managed to attract authors from the conflicting flanks of the Russian opposition movement, united by their hatred of the liberal reforms but divided in their attitude towards Communism. Among them were ultra-nationalists, whose publications caused outrage, several Jewish organizations condemning Den as anti-Semitic.[11][12][5][10]

It was Prokhanov who, in July 1991, wrote the text of "A Word to the People", a political manifest subsequently signed by Gennady Zyuganov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Igor Shafarevich, Valentin Rasputin, Valentin Varenikov and Eduard Volodin among others. The document calling for the formation of a united "patriotic front" was seen in retrospect as an ideological platform for the failed August coup d'etat attempt. The manifest's publication brought about the rift between Prokhanov and General Alexander Rutskoy (whom he once helped to rescue from captivity in Afghanistan and later backed his election campaign). The latter, speaking on the Russian TV, promised his former friend "ten years in jail."[9]

During the failed August 1991 coup, Prokhanov supported the State Emergency Committee.[5] In 1992 he joined the Russian Unity movement's leadership, alongside Gennady Zyuganov, Nikolai Pavlov, Mikhail Astafyev and Igor Shafarevich, among others. The same year he created the Day Movement in an attempt to turn his newspaper's readership into a political force.[9] During the September 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Den became the loudmouth of the Russian radical opposition and Prokhanov got notoriety as a harsh critic of Yeltsin. After the Russian Parliament's demise in October that year Den was banned by the Russian Ministry of Justice.[9] The newspaper re-emerged as Zavtra on November 5, 1993.[11]

For the rest of the 1990s Prokhanov felt persecuted and marginalized. "Even in the Soviet times I had the reputation of an "ode-singer to the State", they called me "the Army Headquarters' Nightingale". Now in all of their [new] dictionaries I've got demonized. While my friends, like Anatoly Kim, emerged as the aesthetes, I have been presented as an obscurantist. They advised Western publishers against translating me, putting me under blockade," Prokhanov complained, speaking to Zakhar Prilepin.[13] Things changed in the early 2000s when Prokhanov found himself among the Russian literary elite, even if his prose was getting increasingly morbid, surreal and apocalyptic. As the 1999 terrorist attacks upon residential houses shocked Russia, Prokhanov accused the state secret services in plotting these attacks and based his next novel upon these suspicions. In 2002 Mr. Hexogen (2001) brought him the National Bestseller Award.[10][14][12]

In the mid-2000s, churning out several books a year (including numerous re-makes of his best-known 20th century work), Prokhanov became an omnipresent character of the Russian media, frequenting TV talk shows and disputes as a token "opposition's spiritual leader". Since 2003 he has been a regular guest of Vladimir Solovyov's prime time political shows On the Stand and Duel. In 2007-2014 Prokhanov had a one-hour weekly slot at the pro-liberal Ekho Moskvy radio station.[15] Another prominent station he's been contributing to since 2009 is The Russian News Service where he has two one-hour programs a week.[12] In 2013—2014 he appeared regularly at the Russia 24 TV channel with his Replika (A Comment) slot.[16]

Political activism[edit]

Prokhanov with Alexey Mozgovoy, the Lugansk militia leader. August 7, 2014

A controversial figure, Prokanov in Russia is seen by some as a spiritual leader of the opposition movement, and condemned by others as a purveyor of extremist nationalistic views which formed the ideological platform of Zavtra, the ultra-conservative newspaper he's been the leader of since 1993. Fellow Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin credited Prokhanov with being "the godfather of the New Russia opposition movement" even if deploring his refusal to take the more active part in it and choosing instead to back up political figures Dugin referred to as "the Staraya Square monsters".[9]

In 1991, during the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic presidential election, Prokhanov worked for the campaign of General Albert Makashov, an ultra-conservative candidate. In September 1992 Prokhanov was one of the initiators of the national Salvation Front, of which until April 1994 he was a co-chairman. In September 1994 as one of the organizers of the All-Russian Congress of Patriotic Forces Prokhanov was among those who signed the petition demanding the President's resignation.[9][16]

In July 1991, he signed the open letter, "A Word to the People", sometimes considered a program for the August coup makers.[11] During the failed August 1991 coup, Prokhanov supported the State Emergency Committee.[9] In the summer of 1992, Prokhanov formed the so-called "Day Movement", as an attempt to turn the newspaper's readership into a political movement.[17][18]

On October 4, 1993, the Ministry of Justice of Russia ordered a stop to the editorial and publishing activity of the newspaper Day, its office raided by OMON, archive files and property confiscated, staff members physically assaulted.[5] On October 4, 1993, after the Supreme Soviet's defenders' defeat, Prokhanov, accompanied by fellow Den journalists Vladimir Bondarenko and Yevgeny Nefyodov, went into hiding in the woods on the outskirts of Ryazan. A week later he managed to publish several issues of Den in Minsk. In November 1993 Prokhanov's son-in-law Alexander Khudorozhkov registered the newspaper Zavtra (Tomorrow). Prokhanov became its editor-in-chief.[9]

In April 1994 Prokhanov refused to sign the so-called "Social Accord Treaty" and joined the leadership of the "Accord for Russia" (along with Valery Zorkin, Gennady Zyuganov and Alexander Rutskoy whom he by now has made peace with.

In the 1996 Russian presidential election, Prokhanov supported the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov. In 1997 he co-founded the Agency of the Patriotic Information. Twice (in 1997 and 1999) he was physically assaulted, the first of these accidents ending with him hospitalized, suffering severe concussion.[10]

In 1999, together with Konstantin Kasimovsky, Prokhanov invited former klansman David Duke to visit the Russian Federation.[19]

In the early 2000s Prokhanov became close to Boris Berezovsky and, as rumours had it, meet him regularly in the years of his London exile. In 2003 Prokhanov, Berezovsky and Viktor Alksnis issued a joint statement concerning the Nord Ost terrorist attack, blaming the Russian authorities for the heavy loss of life and accusing Vladimir Putin of inefficiency. Also in 2003 Berezovsky and Prokhanov issued another joint memorandum, this time blaming the authorities for the murder of Sergey Yushenkov and warning the people against the "great dangers coming form the Kremlin." [12]

His newspaper, Zavtra, had supported the Russian Communist Party since the mid-1990s, but in 2005 it switched its support to the Rodina ("Motherland") party.[20] Commenting on the Russian war with Georgia Prokhanov said that Russia "has not been defeated by the West in the Cold War, because the Cold War continues. We lost gigantic territories, but we held Moscow. From here we launched our counterattack."[21]

During the 2014 conflict in Ukraine, Prokhanov praised the Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed pro-Russian Donetsk People's Republic as a "true White Russian nationalist".[22]

In November 2014 the Russian court ordered Prokhanov to pay 500 thousand rubles to Andrey Makarevich whom he falsely accused (in the Izvestiya-published article) of entertaining paratroopers in Sloviansk ("where he was heard by people in basements with broken hands and put out eyes") while the singer in fact performed in Sviatohirsk, singing for refugees.[12]

Works[edit]

Prokhanov on June 14, 2007, presenting the book Beyond the Rublyovka Fences.

Alexander Prokhanov debuted with a short story collection I Am Going My Way (1971), starting out as a proponent of the village prose movement, portraying the life of the ordinary Soviet villagers obsessed with keeping the old traditions and customs going. "The theme of Russia and Russian people for Prokhanov is not a vogue, but part of his very soul; this young author's prose is incredibly sincere," Yuri Trifonov commented in a foreword. It was followed by The Unburnt Blossom (1972), the collection of sketches from the Soviet country life, and The Grass Gets Yellow (1974), a collection of stories and novellas much in the same vein.

Prokhanov’s first novel The Nomadic Rose (1975) dealt with the Soviet life in Siberia and Russian Far East which he had travelled over extensively by this time. The Time is Noon (1977), The Locale (1979) and The Eternal City (1981) continued exploring the technological progress versus nature theme.[16]

In the 1980s Prokhanov moved into the field of war and politics, using his vast foreign correspondent experience. The Tree in the Center of Kabul (1982), the Campuchea chronicles Hunter of the Isles (1983), the Africanist (1984) and the Nicaraguan epic And Then Comes the Wind (1984) formed the "The Burning Gardens" tetralogy, all four novels characterized by dynamic action, over-the-top style of language and idealized, heroic protagonists. The Afghan War was the subject of his next two novels, Drawings of a Batalist (1986) and 600 Years After the Battle (1988).[16]

Among Prokhanov's well-known work of the time were novellas "Polina" (1976), "The Unseen Corn" (1976), "By The Moon-Ray", "Snow and Coal" (both 1977), "Grey-Haired Soldier" (1985) and "The Armourer (1986), as well as short novels The Admiral (1983) and Lighter Than Asure (1986). Prokhanov's 1989 novella "The Muslim Wedding" brought him The Anton Chekhov Prize (as the Story of the Year). [16]

According to critic P.V.Bekedin, everything that has been written by Prokhanov since 1991 goes under the heading "the literature of Russian resistance." The Last Soldier of the Empire (1993) told the story of the 1991 Coup and the demise of the USSR. Brown-Red (1999),[23] a surreal portrayal of the nightmarish events of October 3-4, 1993, has been defined by Prokhanov himself as "the Catechism of resistance."[16]

In 1990s Prokhanov made several journeys to Chechnya and a series of Chechen War-themed books followed, writer Yuri Bondarev calling The Chechen Blues (1998) the best book Prokhanov has ever written.[24] "Filling those pages I felt like I was painting frescos, with soldiers as angels and saints, BTRs and tanks for horses and halos," Prokhanov said in an interview.[25] It was followed by Those Marching Through the Night (2001), the novel on the second Chechen campaign, highlighting the author's belief that Russians and Chechens were two brother nations destined to live in peace and love but torn apart by enemies from abroad.[16]

Mr. Hexogen (2001), a surrealist thriller telling the story of a joint Russian secret services and oligarchs' plot aimed at wiping out the existing political elite via blowing up houses, has been compared to Dostoyevsky's Besy. In May 2002 the novel brought him the National Bestseller Prize. In 2003 the post-modernist satire The Cruiser Sonata came out, its exclusive edition's 500 copies illustrated by the author himself in his favourite lubok style. "Avant-gardge has finally got to Prokhanov," commented Kommersant critic Irina Kulik.[26]

His 2005 novel Political Scientist featured a character named Dyshlov, a thinly veiled caricature of Zyuganov whom Prokhanov has been completely disillusioned with recently and holds responsible for the inefficiency of the Russian left.[13] Speaking of this novel, poet and novelist Dmitry Bykov remerked: "Prokhanov is an immensely gifted writer, yet his prose is but a puke."[13]

Prokhanov's 2012 book, The Tread of the Russian Triumph (2012) is a fictionalized treatise on the Russian history promoting the author's very own "Fifth Empire" doctrine stating that the current Eurasian Union already starts to evolve into the new geo-political giant, the successor to the four previous Empires: Kievan Rus'/Novgorod Republic, the Moscovy, Romanov's Russian Empire and Stalin's USSR.[27] "There will be a place for everyone in it: the left and the right, the Orthodox Christians and Muslim fundamentalists, the Synagogue and the big business... Like Bolsheviks used the Romanov's Empire potential, the Fifth Empire is to be composed of all kinds of disparate elements," he commented.[13]

Family[edit]

Alexander Prokhanov is married, he has a daughter and two sons. One, a well-known journalist Andrey Fefyolov, is a member of Zavtra staff. Another son, Vasily, also contributes to Zavtra, as a photo correspondent.[28]

Accolades[edit]

Select bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alexander Prokhanov". persona.rin.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  2. ^ Martin Durham; Margaret Power (19 January 2011). New Perspectives on the Transnational Right. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-230-31628-7. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Olga Shevchenko (17 December 2008). Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow. Indiana University Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-253-00257-5. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Andreas Umland (August 2013). "New Extremely Right-Wing Intellectual Circles in Russia: The Anti-Orange Committee, the Isborsk Club and the Florian Geyer Club". Russian Analytical Digest 135 (8): 3–7. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Alexander Prokhanov's biography". The Best People of Russia. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Alexander Prokhanov biography". www.biografija.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  7. ^ "Alexander Prokhanov". LiveLib. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  8. ^ "Alexander Prokhanov". www.mega-stars.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ivanov, Alexey. "Alexander Prokhanov. We are engaged in constructing the Imperial national ideology". Russia’s Who Is Who. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Alexander Andreyevich Prokhanov". www.peoples.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  11. ^ a b c Russia: Experiment with a People, Service, Robert, 2006, Harvard University Press, 144-145 and 225-226 regarding Den and 74 and 225-226 regarding A Word to the People. [1]
  12. ^ a b c d e "Prokhanov, A.A.". Perebezhchik. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  13. ^ a b c d Prilepin, Zakhar. "Alexander Prokhanov: the Demiurge, Nurturing an Infant". Zakhar Prilepin site. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  14. ^ A.A.Prokanov @ Russian Profile
  15. ^ Alexander Prokhanov @ Ekho Moskvy
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Bekedin, P.V. "Prokhanov, Alexander Andreyevich". www.hrono.ru The XX Century Russian Literature. Prosaics, Poets and Deramatists. The Biobiblical Dictionary, Vol.III. Pp. 143-147. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  17. ^ "Alexander Prokhanov". Prokhanov’s unofficial page at the Communist Party of Russia’s site. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  18. ^ "Prokhanov, Alexander Andreyevich". politix.ru. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  19. ^ Southern Poverty Law Center (2001). "Pan-Aryanism Binds Hate Groups in America and Europe". Intelligence Report. Fall 2001 (103): 3. 
  20. ^ "Party Number Four", Rodina: Whence and Why?, by Alexei Titkov, Panorama Centre, Moscow, 2006, ISBN 5–94420-021-9, p24-25.
  21. ^ Horvath, Robert (21 August 2008). "Beware the rise of Russia's new imperialism". The Age. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Fascism Comes to Ukraine -- From Russia - RealClearPolitics". 
  23. ^ "Brown Red", красно-коричневые, was the term coined by the Russian liberal media in the 1990s to describe the post-Communist brand of Neo-Faschism. Prokhanov used to say he definitely was "brown-red" (immersed, that is, in soil and blood) and was extremely proud of it.
  24. ^ Bondarev, Yuri. The Battle Won // Выигранное сражение // Советская Россия. 1998. №150. December 22, P.4).
  25. ^ Sovetskaya Rossiya // Советская Россия. 1998. № 96. August 18, p.3
  26. ^ Kulik, Irina. Avant-garde Has Got to Prokhanov. // Коммерсантъ. 2003. №170. September 19, p.6.
  27. ^ The Fifth Empire Is Getting Born Right Now. newsland.com
  28. ^ "Alexander Prokhanov". Russky Expert. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  29. ^ http://www.calend.ru/person/1957/ Alexander Prokhanov biography. - www.calend.ru

External links[edit]