Page 6 - The Mirror of My Soul. Vol. 1
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Nicolai Levashov. The Mirror of My Soul. Vol. 1. Born in the USSR

           1. My childhood. My family’s past

                I  was  born in  1961  in  Kislovodsk,  Stavropolsky,  to a  family  classified  as  "the
           former " (i.e., "the former aristocracy")—a fact that I certainly discovered only later on
           in my life. My parents lived with us, three children, in a basement, which my father
           adapted for living quarters; there was simply nothing else available. Before his wedding
           my  father lived  with  his  parents  in  a  small  semi-basement  shed  on  the  outskirts  of
           Kislovodsk. The basement that became our home was attached to this shed.

                The world of my childhood consisted of mountains, canyons and gorges, which
           were right behind my house. Mountains made the strongest and brightest impression
           upon me. Their beauty and grandeur simply charmed my child's imagination. But before
           I continue my recollections of childhood, I would like to give my ancestors their due.

                Lately it has become very popular to search for aristocratic roots. Although, until

           quite recently such roots gave no advantage to people who authentically had them; on
           the contrary, they brought only problems. Most “formers” were totally destroyed by the
           Soviet power, and those who survived were doomed into oblivion by this power. My
           ancestors experienced it in full measure. More of this later, but for now—some words
           about my ancestors, who, for centuries, served their Motherland Russia with honor.

                The  origin  of  the  last  name,  Levashov,  is  quite  interesting.  It  comes  from  the
           nickname “Levash”. At the time of the Ryurikovich, boyars  sat to the left of the tsar in
           the Boyar Duma , while to the right were Duma dyaks . One of my ancestors of an old
           princely  family  was  a  Duma  boyar:  hence  his  nickname  “Levash”.  According  to
           centuries-old tradition only one representative of a family had the right to be a member
           of the Boyar Duma; usually the most outstanding representative merited that right.

                Subsequently, everyone was given a nickname, which reflected his occupation or
           personal qualities. Family surnames were numerous, and nicknames prevented mixing

           up people of the same family. In the course of time, this nickname was attached to the
           descendants, designating all the family members, and was transformed into the surname
           of Levashov.

                The  Levashov  family  had  been  the  richest  noble  family  of  Russia  before  the
           Romanovs,  a  westernized  clan  who  seized  the  power  in  the  country  in  1613.  The
           Levashovs conserved their status even during the rule of the first Romanovs. Such a state
           of affairs, certainly, could not please the new tsars. My ancestors fell into disfavor, as
           they were not a “new” nobility and refused to cooperate with the new dynasty. In 1682,
           in order to strengthen his power, Tsar Feodor Alekseevich Romanov ordered the ancient

           1  After the 1917 revolution the term was applied to a broad spectrum of Russian society, including the royal family,
           aristocrats,  bourgeoisie,  clerics, as  well  as  the  intelligentsia, business entrepreneurs,  landowners  and  kulaks  (well-off
           peasants), all of whom at various times were declared "enemies of the people," "enemies of the proletariat" or "class
           enemies." The latter, highly derogatory terms, were meant to imply that these "enemies" were conspiring against the entire
           state of workers and peasants. This was done to justify the Red Terror, a campaign of mass arrests, deportations and
           executions conducted by the Bolshevik government in Soviet Russia from 1918 to 1922. The victims were thereby subjected
           to imprisonment, exile or execution, plus confiscation of their property without any judicial process.
           2  A boyar was a highest-ranking member of Slavonic aristocracy, second only to the ruling princes.
           3  The term is derived from the Russian word “to think” or “to consider”. The Boyar Duma (10 -18  centuries) was an
           advisory council to the grand princes and tsars of Kievan Rus and Muscovy. The Duma was discontinued by Peter the Great,
           who transferred its functions to the Governing Senate in 1721.
           4  Dyak denotes an historical Russian bureaucratic occupation, the meaning of which varied over time and approximately
           corresponds to a “Bureaucratic Chief”.

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