Nina CHEKHONADSKAYASome 2000 years ago the Celts swept Europe, and plundered the city of Rome and the homeland of Alexander the Great. But did they ever come to Russia?
Now, perhaps, it is time.
The Russian Celtic Society was founded two short years ago, but it already has branches in many cities in Russia and the CIS. Its goal is to bring together all people interested in Celtic music, culture and history. Among the members are musicians, journalists, artists and historians — so to speak, everybody and anybody who wants to know more about the Celts.
"We're trying to destroy many widespread myths about Celts and Celtic culture, [many of] which emerged in our society partly because of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels," said Mikhail Gladkov, 28, a leader of the society. Although he holds a degree in economics, Gladkov is a journalist who writes for the newspaper, "Moskovskaya Pravda," and the magazine, "Harper's Bazaar."
One of the society's first events was a concert at the Moscow night-club, Pilot, on St Patrick's Day in 1996. Bands played Celtic music — Muscovite bands, of course — including Slua Si (Irish for "The Fairy People") and Telyn Gwad (Welsh for "The Harp of Blood").
"I especially admire our friends in cities other than Moscow — [such as] Perm and ... Kishinev," said Yuri Andrechuk, 26, a philologist who sings in Slua Si. "They often don't have books and magazines like us, but they nevertheless organize festivals and concerts ."
Earlier this year the society staged the First Celtic Festival in Moscow; one of prominent guests was Roy Galvin, a dancer reputed to be the best whistler in Ireland. The Irish Embassy in Moscow is co-sponsoring a festival slated for mid-November, when not only musicians but writers and poets — such as Irish Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney — are expected.
"Recent archaeological excavations show that the Celts actually came to the territory of the former Soviet Union," Gladkov said. "So perhaps we Russians also have a drop of Celtic blood!"
The Russian Celtic Society maintains a web site,
in both English and Russian, at: http://celtic.atom.ru
¹5, September, 1998