1914 - the "mires" of Kirsanov

This article first appeared on 22 March 1914 in the local paper Narodnaya Niva, published in the nearby town of Kozlov.

[Introductory note from the Kirsanov paper Leninets:-
The ancient town of Kirsanov was like many in Russia. It was an ordinary small town, little different from the others - a small part of the enormous Russian state headed by the most august Romanov dynasty. Everything in Kirsanov was very much like in other Russian towns, everything, as they say, was typical and characteristic. The attitude of the "town fathers" towards the good order of their own town was also typical and characteristic....]

One of the main "amenities" of the town of Kirsanov, which its current solicitous town elders have raised to a model of perfection, must surely be the deep, impassable mires which are cultivated in the town. We use the word "mires" in the plural, because these numerous Kirsanov mires are generously distributed around various parts of the town - on Dvoryanskaya, Tambov-Saratov and Romanov Streets (the best streets), over much of the crowded market square, next to the post office, and by the railway station. Then there are the outskirts - Naberezhnaya and Gryaznaya [literally: Filthy] Streets - which are literally submerged in these Kirsanov mires. Take note, our solicitous town elders: a great deal has been done to cultivate impassable mires in such abundance here.

This distinguishing feature of Kirsanov life cannot help but strike even the most unobservant inhabitant. And if you look more closely you will notice that the better the street, the more valuable the dwellings, the more filthy and ill-kempt the roadway is next to these houses. In general, the greatest negligence and disorder can be observed in those very places where one should expect the greatest care and order from the inhabitants. Near the large and lucrative buildings owned by Luka Lukich Tolmachev in Kirsanov you cannot walk on the pavement. The pavement by these buildings is not a pavement at all, but a series of massive pot-holes. You should not be surprised to learn that these buildings belong to member of the Kirsanov town duma.

If you are in Kirsanov now, as spring approaches, and look at the part of the market square next to the girls' grammar school and the town hall, you will see an impassable cesspool of filth and sewage piled high. Do not be surprised that the square is so neglected - you should realise that it belongs to the town and, therefore, is never cleaned.

Even inconspicuous, lowly town hall employees have been taking the opportunity to demonstrate that they do not lag behind their teachers and masters in ensuring "good order", or, rather, in neglecting the state of the road by their houses. Here, for example, is the inn of A N Budylov, on Tambov-Saratov Street, in one of the busier sections by the post office. What do we see? A mire of dirt, running through the gates of the inn straight onto the pavement, has literally flooded the pavement and made it impassable even in tall boots. It is well known that the innkeeper works as some sort of clerk in the town hall. It would seem that he learned his carelessness from his bosses - the town elders.

Therefore, dear readers, you should not be at all surprised to hear that on the main street, Dvoryanskaya, just opposite the rich merchant's house of the mayor, V P Sviridov, several horses not only got stuck, but almost sank completely on 18 March. They were only saved by the fire brigade. I repeat, you should not be surprised, but should remember, that this took place not outside the house of some petty landowner or impoverished townsperson, but outside the house of the boss of the town of Kirsanov, the mayor, Vasiliy Panteleymonovich Sviridov.

[Translator's note: This article describes the condition of the public space in one small town in Tambov province, central Russia. Kirsanov's main subsequent claim to fame was that it was the epicentre of Russia's last great peasant war, the Antonov rising of 1920-1922. One document from this rising is available on this site. The article was apparently reprinted at some time in the Soviet period in the local paper Leninets (see the top of this page). The Russian original is available online. - FK]