Беженцы (Refugees) by Ilya Krichevsky

On and on we go over steppes,
forests, swamps, and grasslands,
still yet a long, long way to go,
still yet many who will lie in ditches.

Fate is harsh: you there will go to the end,
you will not,
you will tell grandchildren all of it,
you will die as the dawn barely breaks,
blinded by a pistol’s fire.
But ours is to go on, and on, tearing calluses,
not eating, not sleeping, not drinking,
through forests, hills, and deaths –
in an open field!
To live is what we want, we want to live!

By Илья Маратович Кричевский
(Ilya Maratovich Krichevsky)
(3 February 1963 – 21 August 1991)
translated by Albert C. Todd


Мы идем и идем по степи,
По лесам, по болотам и травам.
Еще долго и много идти,
Еще многим лежать по канавам.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
Рок суров: кто дойдет, а кто нет,
И расскажешь ты внукам об этом,
Ты умрешь, как забрезжит рассвет,
Ослепленный огнем пистолета.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
Но идем мы, идем, раздирая мозоли,
Нам не есть, нам не спать, нам не пить,
Смерть везде, смерть в лесу, за холмом, в чистом поле…
Как смертельно нам хочется, хочется жить!
. . . .


Additional information: I was only able to find a fragmented version of the poem in Russian but it matches the English translation I had as reference. It is possible it was always intended to be in that form but any help on clarifying the matter would be appreciated as there is so little information on him in English.

His only collection of poetry Красные бесы (Red Devils) was published in Kyiv during 1992.

Krichevsky died on 21 August 1991, during the Soviet coup d’état attempt.

On 24 August 1991, by the decree of the President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev, “for courage and civic valour shown in the defence of democracy and the constitutional order of the USSR“, Krichevsky was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal (No. 11659).

Gorbechev also decreed that the  families of the three defenders Dmitry Komar, Ilya Krichevsky and Vladimir Usov would receive a one-time award of 250 rubles each and a Zhiguli car from VAZ. Later, by decree of Boris Yeltsin, Krichevksy was posthumously awarded  the second ever “Defender of Free Russia” medal.

He was a Jewish Russian and there is an interesting story regarding his funeral. It was held on the sabbath, when no work or activities outside the home should be done, but Yeltsin insisted. It is speculated this was in order to publicly show the country needed to break away from the previous era’s Soviet symbols, values and practises. His grave has a memorial statue beside it.

Krichevsky is one of the three killed on the Sadovoye Koltso road during the August 1991 putsch that attempted to overthrow the government of Mikhail Gorbachev. For some time he had been bringing his work to the seminar in poetry conducted at the journal Iunost’, and the discussion of his poetry had been scheduled for the fall of 1991.

Biographical information about Krichevsky, p.1058, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Loss by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1932 – 2017)

Russia has lost Russia in Russia.

Russia searches for itself

like a cut finger in the snow,

a needle in a haystack,

like an old blind woman madly stretching her hand in fog,

searching with hopeless incantation for her lost milk cow.


We buried our icons.

We didn’t believe in our own great books.

We fight only with alien grievances.


Is it true we didn’t survive under our own yoke,

becoming for ourselves worse than foreign enemies?

Is it true that we are doomed to live only in the silk

nightgown of dreams, eaten by moths? –

Or in numbered prison robes?


Is it true that epilepsy is our national character?

Or convulsions of pride?

Or convulsions of self-humiliation?

Ancient rebellions against new copper kopeks,

againsy such foreign fruits as potatoes are

now only a harmless dream.


Today’s rebellion swamps the entire Kremlin

like a mortal tide –

Is it true that we Russians have only one unhappy choice?

The ghost of Tsar Ivan the Terrible?

Or the ghost of Tsar Chaos?

So many imposters. Such ‘imposterity’.


Everyone is a leader, but no one leads.

We are confused as to which banners and

slogans to carry.

And such a fog in our heads

that everyone is wrong

and everyone is guilty in everything.


We already have walked enough in such fog,

in blood up to our knees.

Lord, you’ve already punished us enough.

Forgive us, pity us.


Is it true we no longer exist?

Or are we not yet born?

We are birthing now,

but it’s so painful to be born again.


by Евгений Александрович Евтушенко

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (18 July 1932 – 1 April 2017)

Потеря / Loss – first published 13 March 1991

translation by James Ragan and Yevgeny Yevtushenko