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Loving chess and Stalin – despite everything

Boris (right) and his friends

Boris (right) was out with his friends playing chess on Lenin square in the centre of Elista, the capital Kalmykia. The Republic in the south of Russia is mainly inhabited by the Kalmyk people, a nation of Mongol origin that have settled in the region in the early 17th century. Like many in Kalmykia Boris is a chess enthusiast, which is somewhat of a national sport in the small Buddhist province. His parents were deported to the Altai region in Central Asia in 1944, as Stalin accused the Kalmyk people of having collaborated with the Germans, who briefly occupied their lands in 1942. The deportations were done by cattle trains during winter and historians estimate that about 30% of the Kalmyk population died as a result. Nevertheless, Boris and his friends were eager to point out that Stalin was not to blame for this tragedy, as “he was a great leader”.

Beitrag abgelegt unter: Faces of the East Russland