Place of human birth can’t be changed

Those who have read Ilf and Petrov should gain acquaintance with the writing of their contemporary, Belarusian Andrey Mryi.

Those who have read Ilf and Petrov should gain acquaintance with the writing of their contemporary, Belarusian Andrey Mryi
Those who have read Ilf and Petrov should gain acquaintance with the writing of their contemporary, Belarusian Andrey Mryi.

His Notes of Samson Samosuy were written at the same time at The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf, presenting a satirical critique of Belarusian life in the 1920s. Mryi only gained a public following towards the end of his life, having had his work repressed for many years. Only recently has his real birthplace been located, alongside the Minsk street on which he lived. His daughter, literary critic Natalia Prushinskaya, returned from Petrozavodsk, Mryi’s later home, to help. She tells us that encyclopaedias list Mryi (real name Andrey Shashalevich) as being born in Paluzh (today’s Krasnopolie District) but that his true birthplace was Dolgovichi, in the Mstislavl District.

Few believed Natalia’s assertions, until she located the personal records of her father at the Central Archive of the Committee for State Security, showing his actual place of the birth. The documents also reveal the address of his Minsk home, where he lived until his arrest in 1934: Stolpetsky Lane’s Building 6, Apartment 1. The address no longer exists but is indicated on old maps as having led from today’s Romanovskaya Sloboda Street (between buildings 9 and 11) to Korolya Street (between buildings 12 and 18).

Several pre-war buildings remain from those days, indicating the likely style of Mryi’s home, while our knowledge of its approximate location allows it to be included on literary tours of the capital. Meanwhile, those in the Mstislavl District can visit his birthplace.

By Victor Andreev
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