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Pride and Punishment

They were rich and powerful men in Russia who seemed to have everything. But it wasn't enough for them. They conspired to replace the autocratic regime of Czar Alexander I by the codes of laws that resembled British or even American Constitution. The poet Pushkin was a friend of theirs.

Their life of privilege ended after their failed attempt to establish free institutions in Russia. They caused the rebellion of several Imperial Guard Regiments, using the confusion and vacuum of power that followed Czar Alexander's death. The uprising was ruthlessly suppressed. Some of them paid the ultimate price, while others were exiled in Siberia. Their friends remained loyal through good and bad times. Their beautiful women followed them to the earth's end. They helped one another survive, including the younger generation that arrived there for punishment. Among them was the great writer Dostoyevsky. They returned victorious decades later. Leo Tolstoy tried twice to write a novel about them. In the end, he went to their origins and wrote War and Peace.

--Vera Spiller



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