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Thursday, 30 January 2014
St. Petersburg Lawmakers Attack Bill on Imperial Russian Flag
Topic: Imperial Russia

The black-yellow-and-white tricolour flag was the official national flag of the Russian Empire from 1858 to 1883. In 1858, Alexander II ordered for the black-yellow-white flag to be used during celebrations. In 1865, the emperor issued a decree naming black orange (later “golden yellow”), and white as the state colours of Russia. Today, the flag is being used by Russian Nationalists and Monarchists. It is such a shame that a proud symbol of Imperial Russia has created so much negative media attention today - Paul Gilbert
A bill aimed at officially designating the imperial Russian flag a historical symbol has irked a number of deputies in the St. Petersburg legislative assembly, who say that the legislation is poorly crafted and potentially threatening to neighbouring countries.

The black-yellow-and-white tricolour flag was first introduced by Tsar Alexander II in 1858, but has been widely adopted by nationalist movements since the end of the 20th century.

United Russia's Vitaly Milonov, who introduced the bill to the assembly, said that the flag needs “to be cleared of its negative extremist symbolism” in order “to allow football fans to quietly carry it without being accused of extremism,” Regnum news agency reported Wednesday.

“We are not talking about forbidding anyone from using this flag, but it should not be a simple piece of cloth that can be thrown in a puddle,” Milonov said, reported.

Members of the Yabloko and A Just Russia parties were quick to criticize the proposal.

A Just Russia's Alexei Kovalev said the bill was a prime example of unprofessional legislation, and one that would surely sour the reputation of the assembly.

“It was this flag that became a symbol of the most notorious nationalist organizations, analogous to those, which are now fighting on” Independence Square in Kiev, Kovalev said, “Under this flag people are killed, it has become a symbol of extremism. Why should we make a political gesture today and support this symbol of extremism?”

The assembly's speaker, Vyacheslav Makarov, himself a member of United Russia, repeatedly turned off the podium's microphone during Kovalev's speech.

Another A Just Russia lawmaker, Marina Shishkina, said that much of the bill's explanatory note had been taken from the flag's Wikipedia page. About two-thirds of the article had been used, conspicuously leaving out the final paragraph detailing the flag's contemporary popularity among fascist-leaning nationalist parties.

Yabloko's Alexander Kobrinsky said that granting historical status to the flag would send an unmistakable message to Russia's neighbors that it was rediscovering its imperial ambitions.

Milonov, who coauthored the city's anti-gay legislation, refuted the suggestion and said Kobrinsky feared the revival of Russia as "a Great Power." "You want us to remain an uncrowned chicken,” Milonov said. At this point, Makarov once again shut off the podium's microphone, thereby ending the floor debate.

In the end, the draft legislation passed with 27 in favour, and 13 against. Deputies have three weeks to amend the bill before deliberating on the final version.
© St. Petersburg Times. 30 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:36 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 30 January 2014 9:54 AM EST
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Russia's Hidden Treasure: The Mystery of Kolchak's Gold
Topic: Kolchak, Admiral

The following article was originally published in the January 30th, 2014 edition of The International Business Times. The author Lydia Smith owns the copyright presented below. 
Divers have begun searching for a £50 billion stash of royal gold in Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest lake located in southeastern Siberia.

Kolchak's Gold, named after the commander of the Imperial Russia Navy Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak, is thought to have spilled into the lake around 100 years ago.

The gold is a significant portion of the Russian Empire's gold reserve, which came into the possession of Admiral Kolchak during the Civil War. Originally contained in Petrograd, now known as St Petersburg, the treasure was moved to the city of Kazan over fears the city may be occupied by German troops in 1915.

By mid-1918, the State Bank's vaults in Kazan contained over half of Russia's gold reserves. After a short while, the bullion was moved again by the Bolsheviks, who only managed to ship around 100 boxes of the treasure.

In August 1918, the city of Kazan was seized by the Czechoslovakian Legion, along with sections of the Komuch People's Army, an anti-Bolshevik movement during the Civil War.

The gold was brought to the State Bank's Omsk branch later that year. One month afterwards, Admiral Kolchak was declared Supreme Ruler of Russia and from then, the bullion was known as "Kolchak's gold".

The gold comprised coins and ignots, which was valued at around 645.4 million rubles in total. German marks, Spanish alfones, British sovereigns, American dollars, French francs, Chilean condors, Japanese yen and Greek drachmas were found in the hoard.

Where the treasure lies now is still a mystery, however. Divers are investigating Lake Baikal over rumours the gold was buried deep in the sediment after a train derailed into the water.

Another theory suggests troops belonging to the White faction in the Civil War were carrying the gold across the lake, but perished as the temperatures dropped to minus 60C. The gold is said to have sunk to the bottom of the lake in Spring, when the ice melted.

According to another, the gold remains in two sites. One half is hidden in the tangled passages underneath the city of Omsk, where Kolchak's main office was located. The other half is believed to be stashed in Zakhlamino, a nearby village.

Local folklore in the region of Krasnoyarsk, near the Yenisei River, suggests the gold is hidden in a mysterious graveyard where 500 White soldiers are thought to be buried. 
For more information on the search for Kolchak's gold, please refer to the following article;

Where in Siberia is the Last Tsar of Russia's 'Missing' Gold?

© The International Business Times. 30 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:27 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 30 January 2014 9:36 AM EST
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Consorting with the Kings and Tsars for Nearly a Millennium
Topic: Dowager Empress Maria

Empress Maria Feodorovna (born Princess Dagmar of Denmark), 1847-1928
Dave Smith writes in The Copenhagen Post about the strong ties between Denmark and Russia for more than half a millennium. He writes about the 1116 union of Knud Lavard and Ingeborg of Kiev, a Russian princess who would go on to mother one of Denmark’s most noteworthy Danish monarchs, Valdemar the Great, who would in turn go on to take a Russian bride himself, Sofia of Minsk, in 1157, and the marriage of Princess Dagmar to the future Emperor Alexander III in 1866.
To read the full article, click on the following link;

Consorting with the Kings and Tsars for Nearly a Millennium 

© The Copenhagen Post. 28 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:39 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 January 2014 8:47 AM EST
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Monday, 27 January 2014
Extracts from Letters of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna to Emperor Nicholas II
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II
There survive some 100 letters and cards written by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth to Nicholas II. They were all written in English, although the Grand Duchess sometimes uses expressions in Russian, French or German. In the extracts selected below, originally published in the Russian journal Istochnik No 4, 1994, all Russian words have been translated into English and here appear in italics. Expressions in other languages are translated in brackets after them.
To read the letters, please refer to the following link;     

Extracts from Letters of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna to Emperor Nicholas II 

© Orthodox England. 27 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:57 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 27 January 2014 7:03 PM EST
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Sunday, 26 January 2014
A Russian Moment No 30 - The Palace of Peter the Great, Strelna
Topic: A Russian Moment

The wooden travelling palace of Peter the Great situated along the Peterhof Highway, not far from the Konstantin Palace at Strelna
In 1710 Peter the Great ordered to build an estate at the Strelin Farmstead (now Strelna). It was here that the tsar originally intended to create a grandiose palace and park ensemble to rival that of Versailles. Problems with the local terrain, however, forced him to abandon these plans and move further down the coast where he constructed the Grand Palace and park at Peterhof.

The estate was constructed in 1711-17, and consisted of a small palace, a church, hothouses, vegetable gardens, an apiary and nurseries. The wooden palace, designed by Jean-Baptiste Le Blond, was designed as a travelling palace for its use by Peter (and later by Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine the Great) for rest on the way from St. Petersburg to Peterhof and Kronstadt. 

The Palace of Peter the Great includes a central two-storey building with two attached wings. The palace is adorned by a six-column portico supporting a balcony and lending the building an imposing view overlooking the Gulf of Finland. 

The original palace consisted of two halls and eight rooms. In 1749-50 the architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli reconstructed the palace. In 1786 the former imperial residence came into the possession of the War Ministry and was used to house a military hospital. In 1837-39 the architect Christian Meyer reconstructed the palace. From the 19th century it was used as a hospital up until the Second World War. 

During World War II the wooden palace of Peter the Great at Strelna suffered extensive damage resulting in many of the original architectural elements being lost. It was reconstructed in the 1950s and used as a kindergarten and nursery. In 1987 the estate became a branch of the Peterhof State Museum-Preserve and restoration work began there. The lost details of the decor of the building were restored, its overall layout was recreated and twelve of its interiors were redecorated. In the summer of 1999 the Palace-Museum of Peter the Great opened its doors to visitors. 

Today there is a permanent display on the ground floor that recreates the interiors of the 18th and 19th centuries. During my last visit to the palace about 10 years ago, the museum also included a permanent exhibition on the Konstantinovichi branch of the Romanov dynasty, who owned the magnificent Konstantin Palace at Strelna nearby. In 1797, Strelna was granted to Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich (second son of Paul I) and his wife Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna. After Konstantin's death in 1831, the palace passed to his nephew, Grand Duke Konstantin Nicholayevich (second son of Emperor Nicholas I). The Konstantinovichi branch retained ownership of the Konstantin Palace up until the Revolution, the last owner being Grand Duke Dmitri Konstantinovich (1860-1919).
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 26 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:24 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 26 January 2014 10:10 AM EST
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Saturday, 25 January 2014
Vienna Prepares for Faberge Exhibition
Topic: Faberge

The Memory of Azov Egg. Photo: State Kremlin Museum
As part of the Russian-Austrian Cultural Season the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna presents the work of Carl Fabergé, probably Russia’s leading and most influential jeweller and goldsmith at the turn of the 20th century.

The name Fabergé conjures up exceptional creations, virtuoso craftsmanship that combines outstanding artistic and technical skill with the finest materials. This is particularly true of the work produced by Peter Carl Fabergé following his appointment as court jeweller to the last Russian Tsar in 1885. Under him the House of Fabergé grew into one of the largest contemporary jewellery companies, at times employing over five hundred goldsmiths, stone cutters and jewellers from different countries. The company worked for the imperial Russian court and other European dynasties, for the nobility, plutocrats and financial magnates, but they also produced less exalted work designed for the Russian bourgeoisie.

Over 160 loans from the Kremlin Museums and the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow showcase Fabergé’s virtuosity, placing him in the context of contemporary Russian goldsmith work; another focus is the role of the imperial family. Four Imperial Easter eggs form the centre of the show - precious objets d’art commissioned by the Imperial family that frequently contain a world en miniature, a microcosm. Other artefacts that once belonged to members of the House of Romanov, treasured possessions that stayed with them until their final days, offer fascinating insights into life, both private and ceremonial, at the imperial court. We also showcase hardstone carvings by Fabergé and the imperial manufactories at Petergof and Yekaterinburg, documenting the continued popularity in late-nineteencentury Russia of an art form closely connected with Kunstkammer collections.

And, last but not least, Fabergé’s multi-facetted oeuvre is juxtaposed with the work of other Russian imperial jewellers such as Bolin, Carl Blank, Pavel Ovchinnikov or Ivan Khlebnikov, inviting visitors to enjoy and appreciate the outstanding technical and artistic virtuosity of late-nineteenth-century Russian jewellers, first celebrated in 1873 at the World Fair in Vienna.

The World of Fabergé opens at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna on February 18th and runs to May 18th, 2014. 
© Kunsthistorisches Museum. 25 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:05 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 January 2014 5:52 PM EST
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Friday, 24 January 2014
The Peacock Clock, State Hermitage Museum
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 3 minutes, 41 seconds
Topic: State Hermitage Museum

The Peacock Clock is large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds. It was manufactured by the entrepreneur James Cox in the 2nd half of the 18th century and through the influence of Grigory Potemkin it was acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781. Today it is a prominent exhibit in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Click on the to read a full length article about the history, construction and maintenance of Catherine the Great's elaborate clock in the Winter Palace.

The Peacock Clock, State Hermitage Museum + VIDEO 

© State Hermitage Museum. 24 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:13 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 January 2014 8:54 AM EST
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Thursday, 23 January 2014
Concert at State Hermitage Honours Romanov Dynasty
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 1 hour
Topic: 400th Anniversary
This story is nearly a year old, however, it is still noteworthy. On March 6th, 2013, the State Hermitage Museum hosted a unique concert marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. The concert featured the Imperial Mikhailovsky Theatre orchestra and choir, under the direction of artistic director and maestro Alexei Karabanov, who performed a collection of music celebrating the history of the Romanov dynasty and their legacy.
The concert was held in the Nicholas Hall of the former Winter Palace, and based on a similar concert held in 1913 marking the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. Documents found in the archives indicate that some of the works performed for the 300th anniversary concert were selected by Emperor Nicholas II.
The Nicholas Hall was originally simply known as the Great Hall, and was the setting for many Imperial balls and receptions. Following the death of Emperor Nicholas I in 1855, a large equestrian portrait of the late tsar was hung from the wall, and the hall was renamed the Nicholas Hall. 
The concert opens with a beautiful rendition of God Save the Tsar, sung by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Choir - observe as many of the people seated in the audience stand at attention for the former Imperial anthem. Works by other Russian composers such as Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov and Mussorgsky are also featured in this concert.
This hour long video offers some beautiful music, refelctive of an extremely important event in the history of Russia, with the election of the first tsar in 1613, who founded the dynasty and ruled the Russian Empire for more than 300 years. I highly recommend setting aside a quiet evening complete with your favourite beverage, sit back, relax and allow this wonderful compilation of tunes take you back in time to the splendour and glory of old Russia. Enjoy! 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 23 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:37 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 23 January 2014 4:45 PM EST
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Tuesday, 21 January 2014
The Fate of the Tsesarevich Alexei's Dog, Joy
Topic: Tsesarevich Alexei

Tsesarevich Alexei with his canine companion, Joy
I have a great love of all animals, so much so that I have been a vegetarian for much of my adult life. No animal touches my heart more than that of a dog, so it is only natural that the following article, published in today's issue of The Siberian Times should pull on my heart strings.
The article retells the fate of the Tsearevich Alexei's favourite dog and faithful companion, Joy. We have all seen photographs of the two of them together. Given Alexei's illness which prevented him from playing like most boys his age, his canine friend must have surely brought much comfort and companionship during the days and weeks in which his illness restricted his movement, often making him bedridden for weeks.
The article was written by Kate Baklitskaya, it was inspired by Maja Proescholdt who wrote an extensive article on her personal blog about the fate of the last heir to the Russian throne's favourite canine companion. To read the article in full, view the photos and video, please click on the following link; 

The Fate of the Tsesarevich Alexei’s Dog, Joy

Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:05 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 21 January 2014 3:34 PM EST
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A Russian Moment 29 - Emperor Nicholas II Opening the Livadia Palace, Yalta
Topic: A Russian Moment

Emperor Nicholas II Opening the Livadia Palace by Sergei Bocharov
This beautiful painting is the work of Russian artist, Sergei Bocharov. It was unveiled for the first time at Livadia who played host to an exhibition which showcased the artist’s work in September of last year. The canvas shows the Emperor Nicholas II at the official opening of the Livadia Palace on September 14th 1911, surrounded by no less than 250 figures.
In the foreground, the Emperor Nicholas II is accompanied by the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, as well as their only son and heir, Tsearevich Alexei Nicholayevich. To the right of the August Couple is the architect of the Livadia Palace, Nikolay Krasnov (1864-1939).

Bocharov is a member of the Artists’ Union and the Union of Cinematographers of Russia.  He is a professor of painting, and the recipient of numerous international awards, such as the Grand Prix Award in France and Italy, and the recipient of the Golden Brush Award in Paris.

Sergei Bocharov has painted portraits of King Olaf of Norway, President Kim Il Sung of North Korea, Gianni Versace, Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Vysotsky and many other celebrities.

Bocharov notes that Yalta is his “favourite place on earth”.  His solo exhibition at Livadia in September 2013 coincided with the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 January, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:11 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 21 January 2014 1:13 PM EST
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