Letter: The good, the bad and the 'terrible'

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Sir: Perhaps it was the shock of hitting a salmon-pink Mercedes in Moscow, perhaps his false modesty about his knowledge of the Russian language that caused Andrew Higgins (Out of Russia, 15 January) to render the meaning of Grozny as 'Terrible'.

Indeed, Ivan Grozny is usually translated as 'Ivan the Terrible' but, in fact, the epithet means 'awesome' or 'dread', reflecting an attribute that, alongside 'wisdom', was regarded by Russians as most suitable for a Tsar. However, as Grozny was the name given to warships in both the Imperial Russian and Soviet navies, I suspect that 'redoubtable' or 'formidable' might have been the qualities in mind when the Russian frontier town was named. Yours faithfully,


Lecturer in Russian Studies

University of Bradford

Bradford, West Yorkshire

15 January