I join others around the world who are applauding Marina Ovsyannikova for her brave stand on Russian News. Her placard, which includes the words: “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda” was a welcome sign that the tradition of Russian womanhood is as strong as ever. If there is ever going to be a reversal of the current Russian system, it will be founded on the courage and honesty of women such as Ms Ovsyannikova.
This is another example of the similarities with the Russian civil-war that took place one hundred years ago and reminds me of the story of General Brian Horrocks’ experience at a station near to Krasnoyarsk on 18 March 1920. As he stretched his legs, an unprepossessing girl approached, but was ordered to move away by a Soviet guard who drew his sword from its sheath. Instead of kow-towing to the bully, she sprang towards him with a storm of words. She didn’t say anything that might not be repeated in a court of law, but she “burned him up with retorts that made him cringe” and he retreated to the train, while the girl spoke to the future British corps commander.
“Where you not afraid that he might strike you with his sword?” Horrocks asked.
“Bah, the son of a swine has no heart, none of them have!” she replied.
This was not the only time that the British prisoners-of-war came across heroic Russian women who faced up to state terror. For more tales of the extraordinary bravery of Russian women, see chapters 4, 13 and 14 of Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners.