The truth, nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth

.A sign at Sukharevka Square, south of the Garden Ring, inner side.

My verbatim translation, with every attempt made to preserve the flavour of the original:

Department of housing-utility
services and improvement of the city of Moscow
Sukharevskaya Square received its name
after the regiment of Streltsy [musketeers] of L. Sukharev.
In 1692-1695 here was built the famous
Sukharev tower (architect M. Choglokov).
Later around the tower expanded Sukharevsky
flea [literally: crowded] market, the famous “Sukharevka”, in place
of which a park was laid out in the beginning of the 20th century.
Total area of the object – 0.65 hectare
Works to improve and maintain the object
are performed by the State establishment of the city of Moscow
“Unified city service of client for the planting of greenery
works in Moscow”, tel.: 628-48-29

What’s missing? It is the most dramatic part of the story – the destruction of the tower in 1934.

Leaving out (like here) or obscuring key information is a typical feature of modern communication style as practiced in this land. Official texts in particular are full of omissions. This one lacks subtlety so I used it as an illustration.

Please don’t ask me how to get these successors of Bysantium to talk to the point. Helping you be aware of the phenomenon is the best I can do.

Somewhere in my files there is a photo of an advertisement that says

garment making and repairs”

The final four words were in much smaller letters than the overblown preamble. Same trend – obscure the main point. Why? I don’t have an answer. But it happens over and over.

In the Tzar days the manifestos would start with the listing, in large letters, of all of the monarch’s titles while the point of the document would be in small print.

The laws that ban standard liberties are phrases as anything but a prohibition and will not use the word. The laws “On the feedom of religion” passed in late 1990s to ban all but the Russian Orthodox Church, would not say anything like “not allowed”. That example comes to mind because of was hired by Mormons to translate a bunch of these while these laws were in the making.

I too almost forgot to at least mention what the fuss was all about with this sign. This is the Sukharev tower from a 1927 postcard. More about the Sukharev tower in Wikipedia >>  The construction was ordered by Peter the Great to commemorate his victory over his half-sister Sophia in 1689. The tower stood at the entrance to Moscow from the Sergiev Posad side. That was where Peter sat out his sister’s successes till some of the Streltsy (I assume those led by Colonel Sukharev after whom the tower was named) joined him. Then they went back to Moscow and took over without any resistance from the Streltsy on the Sophia’s side. Proceeded to celebrate, drank a lot, remembered Streltsy’s past offences, and next day proceeded rounding them up. Tortured and killed about a thousand, which was a lot at the time when the whole army was no more than 10th., had his sister bull-whipped and sent to convent prison, and happily proceeded to build the empire and earn a name of someone who made Russia what it is. During the purge he introduced an assembly line methods of torture, where the subjects were moved from chamber to chamber for greater efficienty. Improvements were also made, both technical and organizational, in how beheadings were carried out. There seems to be poetic justice in one tyrant building a tower to commemorate his questionable deeds, and another one knocking it down.

While at it I’d like to point to a couple of places around the Sukharevka Square (Metro Sukharevskaya). First, the Sukharevka Hostel where you can have a bed for about $20/night or a tiny room for under $80. Second, it is the famous Indian Spices. If you are into hard-core authentic travel visit Cheburechnaka Druzhba next door to Indian Spices, and if you may like places of that sort check out my list of low-life drinking establishments.  The Sklifosovsky Hospital of Emergency Medicine is on the opposite (outer) side of the ring. More on Sukharevka when I get around to doing a feature page on the Sukharevka Hostel. Their site does not do justice to either the hostel itself or the neighbourhood….

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