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The Stalin epigram, also known as The Kremlin Highlander (Russian: Кремлёвский горец) is a satirical poem by the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, dated as being written in November 1933. Mandelstam read the poem only to a few friends, including Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova. The poem played a role in his own arrest and arrests of son and husband of Akhmatova, Lev Gumilev and Nikolay Punin.
The Kremlin Highlander is Stalin, referring to his Caucasus Mountains origin. The last words in the poem about "Ossetian torso" refers Stalin's ethnicity as his father Besarion Jughashvili's paternal grandfather was an Ossetian, which in contrast meant Stalin's great-grandfather was an Ossetian. The poem describes the climate of fear in Soviet Union:
We are living, but can’t feel the land where we stay,
More than ten steps away you can’t hear what we say.
But if people would talk on occasion,
They should mention the Kremlin Caucasian.
His thick fingers are bulky and fat like live-baits,
And his accurate words are as heavy as weights.
Cucaracha’s moustaches are screaming,
And his boot-tops are shining and gleaming.
But around him a crowd of thin-necked henchmen,
And he plays with the services of these half-men.
Some are whistling, some meowing, some sniffing,
He’s alone booming, poking and whiffing.
He is forging his rules and decrees like horseshoes –
Into groins, into foreheads, in eyes, and eyebrows.
Every killing for him is delight,
And Ossetian torso is wide.