December 12, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10372

Russian Commentator Drize Unenthusiastic About Celebrating Beloved National Holidays According To Official Guidelines

December 12, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10372

Kommersant political commentator Dmitri Drize takes note of the official guidelines sent to municipalities and government companies spelling out the way the holiday season is to be celebrated. The upshot is that in wartime the celebrations should be low key and approved performing artists should be patronized.

To be fair, when Russia was suffering defeats in Ukraine, there was an outcry against lavish fireworks displays, when Russian troops were dying. Drize speculates on where all this could lead. Applying the logic of officialdom, Drize facetiously asks if Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet suite should be cancelled since it features a high standard of living and betrays (gasp) signs of foreign influence.

Drize's column follows below:[1]

Drize speculates on whether the Nutcracker Suite is exempt from official guidelines (Source:

There was a lot of gossip surrounding New Year’s Eve, and even locally there was some confusion about what to do and how to celebrate the country’s main holiday, given the changed situation.

But then a document addressed to state companies, regions, and municipalities appeared. It spelled out recommendations on how to deal with [the holiday] and what to do. The document wasn’t widely publicized; however, the media were still able to acquire the text.

The authors cite the results of public opinion polls (in other words it’s argued that this was not a whim of the authorities, but the people's opinion). So, one should proceed precisely from that assumption. The main point is that the [Russian] population favors moderation? i.e., the holiday should be celebrated on a minor scale and rather modestly. Still, one shouldn’t completely forego celebrations, including festive decoration of the cities.

It is recommended to leave unchanged the framework of Children's "New Year’s tree" celebrations and other events for the younger generation. In turn, adults should get more patriotism. For instance, a list of "approved" artists and performers is attached to the document. Perhaps the following should be highlighted as the main point: "Ded Moroz" [Father Frost] and "Snegurochka" [The Snow Maiden] characters must remain intact, as the population doesn’t object to them.

Officialdom gives a thumbs up for Ded Moroz and Snegurochka (

And here is another interesting part: comrades responsible for celebrations are advised to analyze the repertoire of theaters and cinemas, so that they meet citizen demand for "a more low-key program of festive events."

It's not quite clear what are the criteria guiding for these very demands by the citizens. Is the traditional, universally beloved, "Nutcracker" character "socially intimate" or socially alien [to population]? Don't any elements of "dolce vita [sweet life]" or, even worse, of "alien influence" peep through?

Be that as it may, even this is not so important. It is interesting that, for the first time, we’ll celebrate a nationally beloved holiday following methodical guidelines. There is an alarming symptom in this fact.

First of all, even without the guidance, it should be clear that restraint and modesty are needed (to be honest, it was not superfluous before [the SVO], and now all the more so). You must agree that it’s even beyond understanding, if the higherups of various levels don’t understand this fact. It raises questions about their competence.

Second, I’m beginning to be tormented by "vague doubts:" first it was the New Year, then the other holidays could follow, and, thus, our entire life will pass on the basis of the guidelines. Naturally, we all do understand that these are not guidelines per se, but mere recommendations, and they are formed on the basis of our own opinion.

There could be a person, who will say, "I didn't pronounce my opinion, and no one asked me. So, why do they choose for me artists and plays, feature films that I should, or shouldn’t watch? And is it possible to trust the taste of an official, who makes the relevant decisions?"



[1], December 5, 2022.

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