Limonov for Dummies

2010 - Eduard Limonov with his bodyguards volunteers. Ceremony bestsellers Saint Petersburg

                            LIMONOV FOR DUMMIES

The eXile - Moscow - July 10, 2003

dward Limonov is a great writer and a heroic figure.

One of these distinctions might be forgiven; the 

combination has made him one of the most envied and

hated men in Russia. But Limonov thrives on combat,

and has just emerged from more than two years in

prison looking healthier and happier at 60 than most

middleclass 40-year-olds.

Limonov's whole life has been a struggle between his

"iron will" and the rest of the world. Born Edward

Savenko, Limonov grew up in the tough lumpenprole

Saltovka district of Kharkov. As he recounts in his

superb memoir Podrostok Savenko (translated into

English as "Memoir of A Russian Punk"), little Edichka

decided after being beaten up by a tougher classmate to

become a hooligan, the first of the self-transformations

which have marked Limonov's life. A few years later,

Edward reinvented himself again as an avant-garde

poet, making the jump from Kharkov to underground

Moscow, dropping his "boring Ukrainian name" Savenko

along the way and re-christening himself Limonov.

Limonov was already an admired poet in the Moscow

literary world when he was expelled from the USSR in

1974. Alone in New York, abandoned by his beloved

girlfriend Elena and ignored by the American literary

"mafia," Limonov transformed himself again, seeking

out the most abject sexual roles he could imagine on

the streets of Harlem. He described this free fall in his

first novel, "It's Me, Eddie", one of the biggest Russian

books of the late 20th century and one of the few

memoirs in any language which can stand comparison

with Rousseau's. In all, Limonov has penned over 60

novels, books and short story and poetry collections,

and has been translated into over 25 languages

throughout the world.

He returned to Russia in 1992, after reporting on and

participating in several ethnic conflicts from Yugoslavia

to Moldova and Abkhazia, and became involved in

radical Russian politics by aligning himself with Vladimir

Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party. By 1994 he split

with Zhirinovsky and formed, along with the notorious

right-wing intellectual Alexander Dugin, the National

Bolshevik Party, drawing a young fierce cadre around


In April 2001 Limonov and a dozen of his NatsBols were

arrested in Altai, charged with planning to raise and

army and invade Northern Kazakhstan. Virtually

everyone in Russia expected Limonov to be sentenced

to life in prison, but Limonov's iron will was unshaken.

In his two years of confinement, he produced eight

books and resisted all attempts to cut a deal with a

state he considers illegitimate.

In April, 2003, a judge in Saratov astonished Russia by

declaring Limonov innocent of the more serious charges

against him, finding him guilty only of conspiring to buy

firearms. The Chekists were stunned and outraged.

Russia's pundits scrambled to lionize the man they'd

cheerfully slandered as a dangerous extremist. Boris

Berezovsky sent him a congratulatory bottle of cognac.

Once again, Limonov's iron will had stood alone against

the world -- and won.

Limonov has been a regular contributor to the eXile

since our paper's first issue in February, 1997. His

columns were only interrupted by his arrest and

detention. This issue, we at the eXile are as happy as a

cop stopping an unregistered blackass with a pocket full

of hundred-dollar bills to welcome our mentor Limonov

out of prison and back into the eXile.

To celebrate, we're offering you Limonov's first written

account of how he won his freedom.

                       THE EXILE  -   Moscow   July, 10 2003

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Thorn and Roses for Savenko(Limonov's real name)

             By Edward Limonov 

Moscow   July, 10 2003
oses of colony were shaked by the hot wind, when brigadier walked me on June 18 to Administration building. Brigadier's name was Ali-Pasha, he was tall, bull-like man sentenced to 15 years, he already served eight. Roses of colony were trembling under hot chemical wind, because colony is sitting inside of "prom-zona," industrial zone.

Limonov bidding a fast farewell to his guards as he exits Colony No. 13.

On June 18, Engels city [Volga city where Limonov's prison colony was located] judge have arrived at our colony number 13. My lawyers Beliak and Mishin were also at place. As well as public prosecutor of Engels city, named Ship, what means "thorn" in Russian. I didn't like such name.

There were also about 15 journalists, with cameras and without. I already knew that they will let me out today, that decision of judge would be positive, to free Savenko [Limonov's real name] one year, nine months and eighteen days before the end of his prison sentence. "90%," - said colonel Zorin, - colony's commander. So, I was aware that it could be also 10% of unexpected forces of Evil, what could intervene. Probably that evil Ship-Thorn.

All of theme were seated at colonel Zorin's office, airconditioned, where colorful fish swim in large aquarium waters. Beliak and Mishin hugged me, the rest said nothing, except judge, who proposed me to seat down. I said I will stand. Judge didn't expect me to stand, he said, "If you wish," and he asked my lawyers to speak.

Beliak, wearing very simple and very expensive short-sleeve shirt, stood up and said that Savenko have already served two years and two months and eleven days of his sentence of four years, so he is elligible for liberation. Because he served one half of sentence, have no penalties, imposed by administration. Beliak also said that seven GosDuma's deputies asked by letter to free Savenko, that Savenko has old-aged parents, that himself he is 60-years old...

At the stand in the far end of the room, facing judge, prosecutor and colorful fishes in aquarium, I thought that all those people have trouble to come to colony N 13, under the chemical wind, because of that troublemaker Savenko. Journalists, photographers and camermen from Moscow, my lawyer Beliak, some of them came from Saratov to that steppe on the Asian side of Volga. Accused of preperation to commit terrorist actions in territory of Republic of Kazakhstan, with a goal to create Separatist Republik, accused of formation of outlaw armed units, that Savenko nevertheless is a slippery fish, have escaped the punishment for that and was punished only for purchase of guns. What a man that Savenko, really slippery one...

Hammer, Sickle and bouquet: the sweet smell of victory.

Meanwhile it was my turn to speak about Savenko. I have repeated Beliak's statement about Savenko's old-aged parents, about his 60 years of age, about one-half of sentence served, which Savenko lived in prisons in Moscow and Saratov. The major Nefedov, spokesman from Administration of colony have said that Savenko proved to be a man without penalties during his stay in colony, but also he proved to have no encouragements. Good, quiet man. Administration have no objections to his liberation. Then judge started to read all the papers what he is collected from all sides. Savenko was highly prized by his editors, by GosDuma deputies, by literary unions of a few countries.

Public prosecutor Thorn said that Savenko have not reformed yet, he is only on his way to reformation. Big old fly managed to flow into airconditioned office following camouflaged major Alekseev, who said something to major Nefedov and left. But old fly didn't left. It produced heavy metallic noise. Prosecutor Thorn said that Savenko shouldn't be set free. It's to early for him. Actually, said Thorn, prisoner have to spend a six monthes inside a colony before he should be elligible for Administrations "kharacteristika," - reference. Thorn smiled and have seated. The fate of Savenko was not enviable. He will stay longer in our colony?

Back at the Bunker, Limonov sizes up the new crop of NatsBols. The FSB’s crude crackdown has been the best recruitment drive booster yet.

Beliak asked for reply. Judge gave him permission to speak. Beliak said that prosecutor Thorne is lying, Thorne a liar. Six months regulation was abandoned by Russian law some time ago. Then, how prosecutor could know that Savenko is not reformed, by his eyes, by his ears?


Judge have announced thirty minutes break. All of us, me including, went to corridor where we started to discuss Savenko's fate. Nobody was sure about his fate. Beliak said that he didn't expected prosecutor Thorn's intervention, Beliak was sorry. A man from Saratov's Governor's office said that 90% Savenko will be liberated. "10%, he said, "of course nobody can exclude the possiblity of some unexpected turn of events."


Judge speak in one hour. From his first sentence it was clear that Savenko will be set free, his lawyers demand about liberation have to be satisfied. Beliak was happy. Mishin was happy, even major Nefedov was happy. Journalists were allowed to the Zorin's office with their cameras and equipement. I said that I am happy for Savenko. That justice is triumphed. Second time justice is triumphed said I. That I think Savenko will be resting after his liberation. That he will certainly go to visit his old-aged parents to the Ukranian city of Kharkov.

Three good reasons to go radical right now. Can expats join the NBP?


It was some hesitation about time of Savenko's liberation. Finally, I understood that Savenko will stay inside of our colony for another 10 days, because during those ten days public prosecutor have a right to send a protest against judge's decision.


I said goodbye to lawyers and journalists and waited for Ali-Pasha to come. Ali-Pasha as a good man have congratulated me with a liberation of Savenko. And we walked both amongst the roses, under chemical wind, between the yellow baracks of colony, surrounded by blue grills. Blue sky, green trees. Endless delegations have visited that our Colony No. 13, because it is beautiful place. Prisoners at our detachment No. 13 (of Colonie No. 13) were happy for Savenko's coming release.



In the evening prisoners of 13th detachment come back from their work-places at "prom-zone." Heavy brass-music sounds twice during the day at Colony No. 13. In the morning, at about 7:30, prisoners leaving colony for work, and after 18:30, they are entering the colony. That evening our workers looked especially unhappy. The rumor spread that most of them were beaten up, because yesterday they produced defective goods. The "goods" - the casings of gas-meters. Made of cast-steel these casings of gas-meters supposed to be worked with file. Norm for one prisoner is 30 gas-meters casings per day. To fulfill such norm is impossible task. So, in a rash to fulltfill it, our fellows have produced 500 defected gas-meter casings. One by one they been summoned to a warden's officers at prom-zona and beaten-up with a wodden hummer. Two or three of them could barely walk. No commission will ever discover these beaten prisoners. New, brave, human rights activist should show Colony No. 13 to the world.

Check-out time: slightly over two years. Her bulldog-faced boss don’t look happy, do he?



Prosecutor Ship-Thorn threatened Savenko on June 24. In interview to Engels city newspaper "Our Word" he said the he wrote a protest against Savenko's liberation. Then number of television stations and newspapers have announced that Thorn did submit his protest to the Court of Saratovskaya oblast. On June 28 Savenko's dairy, what he kept in colony, was stolen. On June 30, Savenko was walked out of colony and faced his lawyers, journalists and friends. Prosecutor Thorn didn't submit protest to the Court of Saratov's region. He just wanted to suck some more of Savenko's blood.


Here are 66 Limonov's articles in The eXile :



 Look at the other pages of this website (130 including 34 in English)


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