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My Superhero: a remarkable story of man who fought the Soviet Union 
 By Nikita Chirkov

“Hey look at that fool over there boys, wanna have some fun and stretch your legs?” The homeless man stood motionless in front of the police officers. “Sure lets do it” Before the man could say a word a punch landed him right on the ground. “I beg you” he whispered “stop”. But the officers didn’t stop. They didn’t stop until they saw another man that is. A man who had the guts to say “not so fast officers”.  Everyone has their superhero. For some that superhero is the strong and powerful superman who fought for liberties of regular civilians and was nearly impenetrable to enemy weapons. For others that superhero was the flying dark knight named batman or even the wall climbing insectlike spiderman. However I never chose batman, superman or spiderman because I already had my superhero. His name is Vladimir Tsikarev. And yes he was a Russian. But I also happen to believe that he is one of the most important superheroes because unlike all the other comic book characters – he was real. Therefore, in this article I will discuss the following three things: first I will take a look at who Vladimir was as a person. Second I will analyze what he stood for and third I will make sure you understand what exactly makes him my superhero. The following is a true story.

 

If you go outside and take a simple walk in one of the neighborhoods in America you will witness the most spectacular society on the face of the earth. Children playing basketball and football in the yard; a retired war veteran walking his dog Molly to the beach; A caring mother tickling and playing with her baby who it seems only knows a language of love and laughter. And the flags…who could forget those. In all my foreign travels I have not seen a country which so proudly and so patriotically flies its flag upon nearly each household. Let us now rewind the clock 30 years and spin the globe 180 degrees. We end up in the city of Leningrad Soviet Union, year 1981. The country in which government was all, and an individual was nothing; A nation in which private property was non existent and redistribution of individual wealth a key government operation; A society in which one word against the government meant imprisonment or death. This was the country of Vladimir, this was his home. An only son of a WW2 Leningrad blockade survivor mother, Vladimir was a huge man. Nearly 6.8 feet tall he intimidated all his comrades and enemies without even saying a single word. Dark curly hair and a brown beard added even more might to this enormous giant. At this time he was only 31 and did not yet begin to officially challenge the ideologies of USSR. That is not to say, however, that he did not speak. Vladimir was a poet; and his feelings toward the Soviet Union begun to manifest themselves through his poems. One after another they projected a different world, they created new visions; visions of unalienable rights, visions of liberty, visions of democracy, freedom of religion and freedom of a man to be a master of his own fate and not a master of someone else’s. Vladimir also had a family. He was married to a woman named Tatyana, and had a daughter named Natasha. He loved to tell his daughter about poetry and news he heard on BBC. Oh how difficult it was to catch that signal he told her. Sometimes Vladimir even had to go outside city limits to a secret friend of his to listen to the true news broadcasted in Europe. And there they were, standing silently around the radio absorbing every little bit of information they could get. This was my superhero as a person.

 

“Not so fast” said Vladimir to the police officers. Why are you beating up the homeless man? There are five of you and he cant defend himself! “Shut it big guy” Before Vladimir could react he was hit in the face by one of the police officers. But he didn’t hesitate. One two three four …but five was just too many even for a giant. Vladimir was arrested for assaulting a police officer and sentenced for a year in prison. I chose to include this story in the oratory simply because there is no better way to show what my superhero stood for; this is simply a microcosm for his actual attitude toward the soviet government. defending the weak from tyranny. This was the motivator in Vladimirs life, as well as his only true passion. However make no mistake about it, tyranny does not sit around and tolerate those who attempt to restrict it, and this is by no means a jolly story of a kind giant. There was conflict oh yes there was conflict; particularly when Vladimir joined the newly born “Russian party”. If it is not yet obvious to you at the time the Russian party was born there was no such thing as Russia, and the sea of critics and government officials begun flooding the party, demanding it to be closed and its leaders arrested. What did the party stand for you ask? The party stood for democracy and a new list of liberties to all citizens. Radical idea indeed, especially before the perestroika. Vladimir managed however to move up in the ranks of the Russian party, and even got to organize some of their meetings. These meetings took place in Saint Petersburg, and later Moscow but were rarely allowed to take place. The government oftentimes broke down the demonstrations and locked down the area as if dealing with dangerous rebels and not peaceful civilians. But despite all the resistance the meetings continued and the party grew.

 

What makes Vladimir a superhero? As the politics of the region begun shifting toward perestroika- a period of time when the Soviet Union was transforming toward downsizing and dis- socializing, new quote on quote reformers begun to institute new laws for democracy. However, they did so while securing their own positions in government and maintaining enormous levels of government bureaucracy. This reform did not satisfy the Russian Party, or Vladimir who in the year of 1992 became its nationwide chairman. Meeting after meeting, this time less vigorously opposed, attracted new supporters. Vladimir spoke beautifully, majestically, and often even read his poetry to the crowd. So popular became this Russian Party and its message for an institution of true honest democracy that Vladimir was often invited to nationally syndicated television programs and radio shows, where he openly challenged Boris Yeltsin to stop faking democracy and liberty. At the time it was certain that very soon the Russian party will have a national influence, if not a direct involvement in most reform legislation all thanks to the new brilliant chairman. The number of members grew exponentially. Vladimir could almost touch this new Russia, the Russia of justice, of liberty and of true democracy. But tyranny does not sit around and tolerate those who attempt to restrict it. In August of 1993 Vladimir was going to a birthday party of his vice chairman, where he was assassinated by the kgb. Do I know it was the KGB? Yes, but they didn’t make it obvious, after all kgb didn’t knock on the door and say hello we are here assigned by Boris Yeltsin to assassinate your husband. That didn’t happen. Good planning and preparation came into this project, and that was obvious.

           

            After Vladimir was gone, his vice chairman became the head of the Russian party and could not maintain its momentum. The party started loosing support and was dead a few years later. Yeltsin achieved his goal. True democracy never reached Russia. Looking back on those years of my superheroes life I also see something completely remarkable about Vladimir, something what I have not yet told you, but what is undoubtedly the whole point of this story. Vladimir knew he would get assassinated, but remained committed as ever to his cause. In one of his poems that was written 2 years before his death Vladimir wrote:

 

Another Destiny for me

I don’t desire.

The unwanted gift of prophesy will stay.

I am among the ones

Who call upon the thunder,

Thou often perish

With the  lightning’s striking ray.

 

 

This is the trait that we as Americans recognize at first sight, for our history stands upon the shoulders of men who did just that. “Give me liberty or give me death” the famous words of Patrick Henry. Although Vladimir never achieved his goal he would be happy to know that history has not forgotten him. Several months after his death Vladimir’s daughter gave birth to a boy, who will go on to tell the story of his grandfather in a nation of liberty and freedom. And I have to say Vladimirs cause will forever be the foundation of my views toward, true democracy, true freedom and the true fight for liberty. But more importantly, ask yourself this question- would you stand up against oppression? Would you do so in the nation which kills all those who disagree with their ideals? Would you do so if it you knew that you would die and all your efforts would be erased from the history books? If the answer is yes, then that is what it takes to be a true, real superhero. 

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