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History lessons in the “pocket” of Russia: how African motifs began to sound on the bank of the Volga

Date: April 15, 2024 Time: 18:02:50

Dmitry Zubov and Lawrence Bale, main cooperators of Russia and South Africa. Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

We have just crossed the Mother Volga and here we have it, a sprawling market that gave Nizhny Novgorod the title of “Russia’s pocket”. In this “place of power” at the confluence of the Volga and the Oka many things have been seen and heard. Since the Horde raids on the Makaryevsky Monastery and the decree of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich on the establishment of the fair, since its heyday under our relatives and greats. Like the “father of radio” Alexander Popov, engineer Ivan Shukhov, merchant and philanthropist Savva Morozov, artist Mikhail Vrubel, Volgar singer Fyodor Chaliapin…

But, probably, only at the International Forum “Cooperation: Time, Traditions, Peoples”, which opened here in the fall of 2023, could something happen here that was unprecedented and previously unheard of.


Thus, on the main stage of the Fair’s exhibition center is the black envoy from southern Africa, Lawrence Bale. President of the Supreme National Union of South African Cooperators. He is also the head of BRICS cooperatives. The fire tribune begins the room with a half turn:

– Oh, great Russia! You know how to grow bread. Teach us, we really need bread. The land of my Africa is full of rare minerals. Show us how to get them and we’ll share them fairly. I am ready to sign a memorandum, even within the framework of the BRICS!

The final chord of a loud speech. The speaker raises a clenched fist in solidarity. And he loudly chants President Putin’s name (I counted it five times!).

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

The host of the Forum, the Chairman of the Council of the Central Union of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Zubov, to thunderous applause, answers his friend Lawrence: we are also ready to “tighten the ties”, but later, but for now we will give the word. to the President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Ariel Guarco.

From the country of Argentina, even further away than Africa, the smiling face of the planet’s main aid worker floats on a huge screen. He warmly greets great Russia, congratulates the inhabitants of Nizhny Novgorod on the 155th anniversary of the Savings Society and reminds that the main thing in cooperation is not capital, but people, it is solidarity and independence, “and That’s why we will always be together!” (By the way, today the ICA is made up of 222 organizations from 88 countries, more than 12 percent of the world’s population, the Alliance’s turnover exceeds 600 billion euros.)

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

“Yes,” continues Dmitri Zubov, “the previous VI International Forum of Cooperators brought together guests from 40 countries. Today, in addition to South Africa, Iran and China, Turkey, Morocco, Belarus and Azerbaijan have dared to participate in it. But first of all, we ourselves have gently asked our foreign friends: wait until better times. Secondly, as you know, you don’t win with numbers, but with skill. And, most importantly, no matter how hard we tried, our ill-wishers could not “isolate Russia.” Our Polish “friends”, for example, demanded it three times, but to no avail! Apparently you forgot your history lessons?

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

And we have not forgotten them. After all, it was at the walls of the Nizhny Novgorod Fair, not far from the local Kremlin, that the local merchant, citizen Kuzma Minin, gathered the people’s militia. He led it, growing and multiplying, through the lands of the Tatars and Chuvash, Mordvins and Murom, Suzdal and Vladimir, under the command of the Moscow prince Dmitry Pozharsky. And they, having gathered, expelled the Polish, Lithuanian and other European invaders from their native Moscow Kremlin!

This was more than four centuries ago. What’s up today? At the same fair the same public rally is held, only under the new slogan “Cooperators at the front!” And the same mighty heroes, although, of course, not in armor, not in chain mail, but in light summer camouflage, utter words of gratitude to the “civilians” for helping the soldiers in the Northern Military District.

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky


However, everything is in order. To imagine the magnitude of the Forum’s work, let’s turn to the famous “arrow” near the Volga and Oka. On the right is the majestic mass of the New Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Fair, on the left is the building of the Betancourt and Montferrand Fair, which is in line with it in appearance and color. Among them is a large historical market area and the exhibition center with pavilions and halls, in all the splendor of “super high-tech”. Almost since spring, presentations of projects of the Central Union of the Russian Federation, exchange of business contacts, exhibitions of cooperating dynasties and history posters (with the mottos of the poet Mayakovsky and the brush of artists Moore and Malyutin) have been prepared. , help at the front and popular arts and crafts. There were more than a dozen round tables and expert sessions, which brought together food experts and lawyers, producers and processors, specialists in import substitution and the creation of young companies…

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

What’s behind the walls of the exhibition? Everything here is like in Valery Leontyev’s song about “painting fairs, colorful dances.” The fruits of the labor of qualified workers were brought here in advance from 50 regions of Russia. Shiny Gazelles, Sobol and Valdai were running out of the GAZ company. In the form of car workshops, touring houses on wheels and even a whole concert complex for massive shows in squares and stadiums. He drove, as in a fairy tale about Emelya, a real Russian stove, with pots and handles. Tents and pavilions were erected with boilers and a supply of firewood for cooking soups and stews, and giant samovars for preparing “teas from around the world.” Bearded men and young men without mustaches from historical reconstruction clubs sharpened axes to cut boats and twisted hemp to weave ropes. Musicians with Bashkir kubyz, Tula harmonica and harmonious brass of the local provincial orchestra tuned their instruments…

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

And finally, on the first of September, all this beautiful splendor began to work, to sing, to sound…


It began earlier in distant Kamchatka. How it began? Because? NTV gastronomy expert Sergei Malozyomov asked local aid workers about this topic during the Nizhny Novgorod-Kamchatka teleconference. And to us, sitting in the darkened room, it seemed that the smell of the salty Pacific Ocean, wild plants from the Far East and seafood wafted from the huge screen. The energetic and smiling Alsou Nabieva, rector of the Russian Cooperation University, highlighted the role of knowledge in our lives. The role of friendship, traditions and mutual help are the main vitamins for a growing organism. The hall was filled with yesterday’s students, ready, with excitement on their faces, for the freshman initiation ceremony. Among them, for the first time, there are guys from new regions of Russia. Strong camouflaged volunteers of the “Berkut” detachment of the Novosibirsk cooperative technical school. Young beautiful students dressed in colorful national costumes. Everyone has to study and study. And who, what will they become? I really wish they became like that.

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

In the next room there is a huge tree with many branches that turns green. This is not just a plant, it is a “family tree” of Russian cooperation, dotted with “golden fruits.” In total there are 75 dynasties, the longest, up to 330 years, is that of the Zaslavskys of Gatchina. And the total duration of dynastic service, added up by simple arithmetic, amounted to 9076 years! Question: with which of the earthly empires or civilizations can such a long period be compared? Which of them ruled so much? What did you leave behind? It turned out that no one reached our record: neither the ancient Sumerians with the Aztecs, nor the Mayans with the Mongols, and certainly not the British, whose “domination of the sea” or, more simply, the theft of other people’s wealth by bandits It lasted only 500 bloody years. Can you compare this to the peaceful centuries of our hardworking creators?


As for the visible and tangible feats of the craftsmen-cooperators, the noisy fairground already votes for them with rubles and stomachs, accessories and purchases. Another feature of the forum is the so-called “press rounds”. That’s when, between all the meetings, as they say, “to disperse the blood”, the main cooperator, Dmitry Zubov, organizes a “flyover of the territory.” Here is a brief report on one of these “flights,” in the company of regional leaders and curious journalists.

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

This is how the gastronomic festival begins. We headed towards the alluring aroma of campfire smoke. Behind the catchy poster “Everything, in the ear of Astrakhan!” A spacious fishing cabin was built. In transparent cages, fattened pike-perch and bream, carp and pike flutter. 50-liter cauldrons boil on nearby fires. Happy diners sitting at the transformable tables eagerly slurp up the delicacy offered to them. Hey, I’d like to join in for a quiet meal! But you can barely keep up with the “flying commission”, which is already with the giant fat-bellied “hundred barrel” samovar. This is the know-how of Tatpotrebsoyuz, in which the national soup, lamb shurpa, is skillfully prepared. Then we learn how to do it correctly: no, not pour, but “pour” and “fold” the thick Kuban borscht. How to prepare a particularly satisfying (for the bride and groom!) “branded” Chuvash product called “shartan” from different types of meat. How to use a handle to carry pots of homemade chicken stewed with fresh vegetables. Directly, from the hot bowels of that same, Emelya recalls, the Russian oven. The craftsmen of the Bolshiye Mosty village of Nizhny Novgorod do excellent work. By the way, Vladimir Khramov has three children, Yuri Sergeev (half-face smile and spade-shaped beard) has seven!

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky

Probably, only here, without having to travel far, can you taste the best of gastronomic Russia. Healing fern from Altai and Transbaikalia, lemongrass and marinated seaweed from the Far East, Siberian jam from pineapples and sea buckthorn, service berries and honeysuckle, Bashkir honey, which gives “health all year round”, gingerbread gun from Tula “Victory – behind us!”, Yaroslavl dandelions and nettles in honey, with mint and lemon zest, dried and salted mushrooms from the Russian North and, on the contrary, bulk apples from the South of Kabardino-Balkaria , which were generously given to the guests of the fair. .

And where else can you try on and buy vintage and modern felt boots made from natural Gatchina felt, Orenburg wonders, the most delicate lace from Mstera, lacquered miniatures from Fedoskina…

Photo by Boris Vishnevsky


Meanwhile, another competition is being held for the first time in the exhibition hall. We are talking about a phenomenon of cooperators like Her Majesty Automatic Shop. I write with a capital letter because, let’s be honest, no commercial network or private trader-seller is going to a remote village, a cordon or a seizure. It won’t work because it’s not profitable. And the cooperators won’t go either, they’ll go as if they were cute. A non-profit organization does not have profits at stake, but rather a social mission. Provide people with everything they need. Nobody else. Therefore, to support these devotees, the Central Union of the Russian Federation, together with the magazine “Autopark 5 Wheel”, announced the “Leader of Mobile Commerce” competition. Of the fifty applicants, the leaders were a couple from Bryansk: the saleswoman Marina Anikeets and the driver Alexander Letushov. Its border district of Pogarsky has long been under fire from the Ukronazis. All trade disappeared, but it remained. And maybe that’s why they made a record million in revenue. Only during the first month of summer. Well, aren’t they heroes?


But back to the fairgrounds. The highlight of our trip was the “flying” press conference in the “Cooperators at the Front!” pavilion. Handing over the key to a new cargo van, fraternization between Dmitry Zubov and a two-meter-tall hero in a military uniform, Lev Makeev. He is a sergeant of the Red Banner Special Forces Center “Vityaz” of the Russian National Guard. Clearly, in accordance with the rules, he thanks the cooperators for their help, the amount of which at the end of August exceeded 164 million rubles. Now, says the sergeant, we will load the car with their gifts and take them to the Northern Military District area, where they are eagerly awaiting us.

– What questions will journalists have? – asks the director of the Information and Communication Center of the Central Union of the Russian Federation, Galina Lashmanova.

Of course, Russia’s main collaborator, Dmitry Zubov, has something to tell Komsomolskaya Pravda. He also comes from that Komsomol, the military wing of the Komsomol, which at one time forged a golden, royal and innovative experience. These are youth residential complexes (YRC) and student construction teams (SSB), the first non-state commercial bank, the production of cutting-edge construction products from waste (the “House in 5 hours” project) and products healthy, organic foods. treatment of water bodies – with the help of tropical plants “domesticated” for our climate, etc.

Yes, the Komsomol disappeared along with the USSR. But much of the advanced experience, half forgotten with the change of era, passed to another Union: the Russian cooperators. And there it flourished, multiplied by the best and proven traditions, acquired demand and worked for the benefit of the people. So, isn’t it time to share this capital, develop and distribute it in the conditions of new times, new challenges and opportunities?


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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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