Mikhail Alekseevsky

(The State Republican Center of Russian Folklore, Moscow, Russia)

The Tomb of the Unknown Priest: Narratives and Ritual Practices of the Supreme Soviet's Supporters after the Russian Constitutional Crisis of 1993
Abstract of the report on The 10th international SIEF congress «People Make Places - ways of feeling the world»
(CRIA-Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Lisbon on April 17-21, 2011)

        The Russian constitutional crisis of 1993 began in earnest on September 21, when President Boris Yeltsin tried to dissolve parliament (The Supreme Soviet of Russia and The Congress of People's Deputies of Russia). At the beginning of October street fighting between Supreme Soviet supporters and special police took place in Moscow. The army, by Yeltsin's orders, stormed the Supreme Soviet building in the early morning hours of October 4, and arrested the leaders of the resistance. According to government estimates, 187 people were killed during the conflict.

       The place of street fighting of 1993 became sacred for the Supreme Soviet's supporters. After the crisis they organized near the Supreme Soviet building an unofficial shrine with monuments, fragments of barricades, signs, flags and graffiti. One of the most unusual parts of the shrine is the so-called "Tomb of Father Viktor". It is thought that priest Victor Zaika, one of the Supreme Soviet's supporters, was crushed by an army tank during the storm. However, priest Viktor was not killed in 1993, and he lives in Ukraine to this day, but the legends about the death of the martyr Victor are still popular among the Supreme Soviet's supporters. The Requiem Mass for Father Viktor takes place every anniversary of his "death." The report is devoted to narratives and ritual practices associated with Father Viktor and his "tomb".

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