A Russian Moment No. 6 - Palace of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna Topic: A Russian Moment
The palace of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovich (1875-1960) and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) is situated on the Moika Embankment at No. 106, in St. Petersburg. The palace of Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovich (1850-1908) is also situated on the Moika Embankment at No. 122.
In recent years, the former palace has undergone a much needed face-lift. The facade has been restored and freshly painted (the palace was formerly white), a new roof installed and new brick laid in the courtyard.
The palace is now home to the P.F. Lesgaft Instutute of Physical Culture. A monument to Lesgaft sits in the courtyard. Peter Franzevich Lesgaft (1837-1919) was a founder of the modern system of physical education
I had the privilege of visiting the palace some years back. I noted that aside from some notable interior elements dating from the tsarist period, very little of the historical interiors had been preserved.
Church Seeks to Restrict Access to Historic Monasteries Topic: Russian Church
Access to the Solovetsky islands, home to one of Russia's most important monasteries, could be restricted in a bid to preserve the archipelago's "special way of life," a top ranking clergyman said.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said Thursday that the Solovetsky islands in the White Sea and the Valaam islands in Lake Ladoga — both home to historic monasteries — were among several sites the church is pushing to reclassify as "religious-historical places."
"We are currently very carefully working in connection with the topic of Solovki; there is an idea to develop a full federal program. Meetings about this question are taking place practically every week, the questions under discussion are not simple," he told Interfax on Thursday.
In order to give Solovki, Valaam and other historic sites protected status, serious changes to the law are necessary, he said. The government's understanding of this is growing, he added.
"Places like Solovki, Valaam and several other monasteries are special places connected with traditional non-christian religions — it's not just the buildings and the land, it is a place where there is a special way of life, and this way of life is incompatible with mass tourism, building of entertainment and attractions, or noisy political or mass cultural events," he said.
Chaplin stressed that places like Solovki should remain open to both pilgrims and tourists, provided they "respect the internal atmosphere and special way of life — or they will simply be lost."
The monastery at Solovki, a world heritage site, was founded in the 15th century, and grew to become one of the richest and most prestigious religious centers in the Russian empire.
For 16 years in the 1920s and 1930s it served as a prison for political undesirables — becoming the model for the Gulag system of prison camps.
The monastery was restored to the Church in the early 1990s, and the islands have become and increasingly popular place of pilgrimage and secular tourism since the monastery was reopened. Today about 30,000 to 40,000 thousand tourists visit the islands each year.
Patriarch Kirill on Four Years as Patriarch Topic: Russian Church
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill served a liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on the fourth anniversary of his enthronement as patriarch.
"These four years were full of so many events that would be enough for forty years and even more," the patriarch said after the liturgy.
A lot was done by the entire church during his tenure as patriarch.
"We are not summing up the results and we are not making any joyful reports on what we have done. We realize with humility that a lot has not been done yet. But we thank the Lord for these four years, for the joys and sorrows, but above all for the mercy that our Lord, the head of our Church, has given all of us," Patriarch Kirill said.
Patriarch Kirill thanked archbishops for the accord among them, "for understanding the common goals and the importance of working on achieving these goals," and also thanked the clergy, monks, and all people. The patriarch said he is confident that "God will have mercy on all countries of the historical Rus" that are under the care of the Moscow Patriarchate and will keep the Church "united, spiritually strong, and unconquerable by the enemy" in response for labor and righteousness.
During his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill conducted large-scale church reforms, including the change of the diocese management by forming over thirty metropolias and almost ninety new dioceses and ordaining 88 bishops. Considerable changes took place in the administrative system of the church, including the revival of the inter-council presence and the foundation of the church graduate and doctoral programs. Qualitative changes also took place in the social service of the church.
In the four years of his tenure as patriarch, Patriarch Kirill visited more than 100 dioceses, some of which he visited more than once, and also visited Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, Japan, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus.
Faberge Exhibition Coming to Hong Kong in February Topic: Faberge
A special Fabergé exhibition is opening in February at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. Four Fabergé eggs appear in the expo. They include the Trans-Siberian Train Easter Egg, which was created in 1900 for Tsar Nicholas II, who, in turn, gave it to his wife, the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, as a festive present. Also on display is the Moscow Kremlin Easter Egg, the tallest and most ambitious of all of the Imperial Fabergé eggs, made from gold, silver, onyx and enamel. This was given by the Tsar to the Tsarina at Easter in 1906 and represents Uspensky Cathedral, where the tsars of Russia were crowned. There’s also the Memory of Azov Easter Egg from 1891 and the unfinished Constellation Tsarevich Easter Egg.
Among other items on display are works of art and jewellery which have been carefully crafted and lavished with an array of precious metals and jewels, specially created by the House of Fabergé for the Russian court. The Moscow Kremlin Museums and Fersman Mineralogical Museum of Russia have loaned more than 200 pretty pieces to the Heritage Museum until the end of April, making it the first time a Fabergé exhibition has rolled into our city.
Assistant curator at the Heritage Museum, Tang Hing-Sun, explains the painstaking process that would have taken place when making a Fabergé egg. “The creation of an egg took about a year,” he says. “It was a process that had a preliminary period including detailed planning, sketches and models. Fabergé was the mastermind behind it all – and he provided the taste and direction for the creation. Discussions also took place among the goldsmiths, silversmiths, enamellers, jewellers, lapidary workers and stonecutters who would contribute their abilities toward the final Fabergé egg.”
Russia May Fast-Track Citizenship for Imperial Descendants Topic: Imperial Russia
The Russian State Duma has suggested simplifying the granting of Russian citizenship to direct descendants of nationals of the Russian Empire who now live abroad.
The initiative was put forward by the lower house’s Committee for Nationalities.
Descendants of the Russian Empire – which collapsed after the February 1917 Revolution – are part of “the same nation and civilization,” committee head Gadzhimet Safaraliyev told Izvestia daily.
People of Russian heritage currently live all around the globe. Syria, for example, is the home of the Cherkessian diaspora. Their forebears moved to the region from territories that were part of the Russian Empire following the 19th-century Caucasian war. “What should we do with them? Leave them [in war-torn Syria]?” Safaraliyev said.
The biggest wave of emigration from Russia followed the dramatic events of the beginning of the 20th century: Revolutions, the fall of the Tsar, World War I, a civil war and the creation of the Soviet Union.
If the suggested amendments to the Law on Citizenship are passed, emigrants’ children and grandchildren will be able to get Russian passports and come to back to their historic homeland; archived documents would help them prove their Russian heritage.
Earlier, President Vladimir Putin urged Russian lawmakers “to develop a simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to our compatriots, the bearers of the Russian language and Russian culture, the direct descendants of those who were born in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, for those who want to take up permanent residence in our country and, therefore, to give up their current citizenship.”
In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Putin said that Russia needs new blood – educated and hardworking people who want to move to the country and consider it their homeland.
Meanwhile, opponents of the proposal worry that a mass repatriation program could become a financial burden for Russia. Critics also argue that the bill may cause an increase of immigration from the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia, adding to the thousands of migrant workers from those regions that have already come to Russia.
According to Yevgeny Borbrov from the presidential Council for Human Rights, those who need help the most should be taken care of first.
“Descendants of the Russian Empire feel not bad in foreign countries, unlike descendants from the USSR who were left by the state holding an empty bag,” Borbrov told Izvestia.
Currently, those who wish to get Russian citizenship have to go through a long and complicated procedure.
Russia's Largest Collection of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Memorabilia Topic: Dmitri Pavlovich, GD
Tsarskoye Selo now holds Russia’s largest collection of belongings of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich donated to the Museum by Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, Dmitri’s grandson.
Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky is a great-grandson of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (who was born at Tsarskoye Selo). His grandfather Dmitri Pavlovich (1891–1942) was a grandson to Alexander II and a cousin to Nicholas II. Michael lives in the U.S.A. and keeps a large family archive which includes the library, photographs and personal belongings of his grandfather. He became one of the first members of the Tsarskoye Selo Friends Society when it was founded in 2006. For the past years, Michael has donated to our museum a Fabergé photograph frame, opera glasses, silver shot cups, a cigarette case and other objects that belonged to Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.
His latest generous donations include books from Dmitri’s library, such as a 1893 edition of Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin (Gautier Publishers, Moscow), boasting a great number of engraved illustrations and Dmitri’s bookplate, which is very rare in Russia; the No.2 on it shows how precious the book was to its holder. Another valuable addition is Tsarskoye Selo during the Reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the famous book of 1910 by Alexandre N. Benois. This edition has a typographically printed No.10 on the title page, which proves it was one of the first 10 copies published for the Imperial family members.
Besides those unique books, our collection has received A Book of Notes for 1878 with engravings by the F.A. Brockhaus firm; a ten-volumed Armorial of the Russian Empire (gold-edged); the Paris-published memoirs of Olga Paley and the reminiscences of Dmitri’s sister, Maria; a watercolour portrait of the mounted young Dmitri; an album of Dmitri’s photographs from 1941 and lots of other pictures reflecting various moments of his life in emigration.
According to Dr. Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoye Selo’s Deputy Director for Science and Education, ‘The photos show Dmitri was still fond of sports and active pastime in his latter years. He liked yachts and golf, as well as hunting and dogs. Some shots have him together with celebrities like Feodor Chaliapin, or surrounded by elegant and interesting people in Paris,London, Monte Carlo and Davos, having la dolce vita, a full-fledged life of a private individual – the life he had dreamt of, as he wrote once in his journal. Of the materials we have got, particularly noteworthy is an album of newspaper clips Dmitri gathered for years, picking the information interesting to him, including that on the Soviet Russia. It’s what we have yet to study and analyze, which will probably help us know and understand Dmitri better, for there’s nothing we know of his life in the 1920s–1940s’.
On January 27th 1944 the Siege of Leningrad was finally lifted. The siege which lasted 872 days is considered one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history and overwhelmingly the most costly in terms of casualties.
It was also during this period that the former Imperial palaces located in the suburban areas of the city suffered near annihilation at the hands of the Nazis.
The Peterhof State Museum-Preserve have compiled this virtual album to mark the 69th anniversary of the lifting of the blockade. Vintage photographs from the palace-museum archives show the devastation inflicted upon "Russia's Versailles" and the heroic efforts of the museum workers and local townspeople who did their utmost to save what treasures they could.
Memorial Chapel in Memory of the Crowned Martyrs at Harbin, China Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs
The Memorial Chapel in Memory of the Crowned Martyrs was erected in 1936 at Harbin, China. It was designed by the architect M. Oskolkova on the initiative of Archbishop Nestor (1885-1962) in honour of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King Alexander I of Yugoslavia.
Tsar Nicholas II was murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918, and King Alexander I was murdered on October 9th, 1934 at Marseilles, France.
Alexander is remembered for offering a safe refuge for tens of thousands of White Russians who fled their homeland after the Bolshevik Revolution. The town of Sremski Karlovci became the seat of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and served as the spiritual center for Russian emigrants for many years.
Each year up until 1945, Archbishop Nestor would hold a secret liturgy in the chapel in memory of the members of the Imperial family who were murdered at Ekaterinburg, Alapayevsk and Perm.
With the establishment of the Communist Regime in China, many Russians left the country. The chapel was desecrated by local Communists and fell into disrepair. During the 1950s "cultural revolution" it was destroyed and replaced with an apartment block.