What this blog is for and about

I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

Remember: all pictures can be expanded to full page size by clicking on them.


26 March 2012

Forthcoming Event: CERBA at the Yar Restaurant on Wednesday

Anyone in Moscow with money to spare for those less fortunate than themselves should consider attending the Charity Auction which is to be held by the Canadian, Eurasian, Russian  Business Association (CERBA) this Wednesday evening at the Yar restaurant on Leningradka.
     Historians of Russia will remember that the Yar was where Rasputin exposed himself in public one night in late 1915 to the scandal of many. But the event resulted not in any curb on Rasputin but in the dismissal of two of the Tsar's most competent and popular Ministers, Djunkowsky and Samarin. The First World War was going badly for Russia by then, a fact that many people thought partly due to the evil influence of Rasputin at Court. The incident has come to stand as a symbol of the galloping degeneracy of the Tsarist system as it tottered towards final collapse.
    This is the account of that evening written by a British eye-witness, Robert (later Sir Robert) Bruce Lockhart, the Consul in Moscow at the time. It is taken from his wonderful book, Memoirs of a British Agent (1932, though still in print) which I discussed a year ago on my radio programme:
Cabaret at the Yar Restaurant
“One summer evening I was at Yar, the most luxurious night-­haunt of Moscow, with some English visitors. As we watched the music-hall performance in the main-hall, there was a violent fracas in one of the neighbouring “cabinets”. Wild shrieks of women, a man’s curses, broken glass and the banging of doors raised a discordant pandemonium. Head-waiters rushed up­stairs. The manager sent for the policeman who was always on duty at such establishments. But the row and the roaring continued. There was more coming and going of waiters and policemen, and scratching of heads and holding of councils. The cause of the disturbance was Rasputin—drunk and lecherous, and neither police nor management dared evict him. The policeman telephoned to his divisional inspector, the inspector telephoned to the Prefect. The Prefect telephoned to Djunkowsky, who was Assistant Minister of the Interior and head of all the police. Djunkowsky, who was a former general and a man of high character, gave orders that Rasputin, who, after all, was only an ordinary citizen and not even a priest, should be arrested forthwith. Having disturbed everyone’s enjoyment for two hours, he was led away, snarling and vowing vengeance, to the nearest police-station. He was released early next morning on instructions from the highest quarters. He left the same day for St. Petersburg, and within twenty-four hours Djunkowsky was relieved of his post. Samarin’s dismissal, which followed later, made a very painful impression. A nobleman of splendid character, he was then Oberprokuror or Minister in Charge of Church Matters and one of the very best representatives of his class. No one but a madman could accuse him of anything but the most orthodox conservative opinions or of any lack of loyalty to the Emperor. Yet every Liberal and every Socialist respected him as an honest man, and the fact that the Emperor could thus sacrifice one of his most loyal advisers for a creature like Rasputin was accepted by nearly everyone in Moscow as a complete proof of the Tsar’s incom­petence. ‘Down with the autocracy!’ cried the Liberals. But even among the reactionaries there were those who said: ‘If the autocracy is to flourish, give us a good autocrat.’ This was the only occasion on which Rasputin came across my path.”
CERBA cannot produce Rasputin on Wednesday night, and will surely avoid any unpleasant scenes. But if you want to see the restaurant where all that happened, which is almost unchanged from those days, then buy a ticket to the auction and join the fun.


  1. Excellent article Ian. By the way, I wonder which of these editions of Lockhart's book you would recommend? (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Memoirs+of+a+British+Agent+&x=18&y=26)

    1. Thank you for the compliment. My edition is the 1974 Macmillan one, with the Introduction by Robin Bruce Lockhart, Sir Robert's son. It is the only one I have owned so I cannot comment on any others. But it is a great book, as I said on the radio.