Dynasties to Meet in Istanbul

The Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Osman Selahaddin Osmanoglu, grandson of the sultan Mehmed V,
attend the historical ceremony at the Russian consulate in Istanbul.

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The 210th birthday of one the greatest names in Russian literature, Pushkin, will be celebrated in Istanbul. Overcoming hundreds of years of conflict, Russian and Ottoman dynasties will come together for the first time, albeit symbolically. Grand Duchess of Russia Maria I Vladimirovna, who is a descendant of Czar Nicholas II, Sultan Abdülmecit’s granddaughter Nesliþah Osmanoðlu and Hanzade Sultan will come together during the Czardom Charity Ball

The immortal poet of Russian literature and world poetry, Alexander Pushkin, writer of the well-known poem “I Loved You,” is 210 years old.

At the Czardom Charity Ball, during which the birthday of the poet will be celebrated, members of the Russian Czardom and the Ottoman Dynasty, which have been in conflict for hundreds of years, will come together, albeit symbolically, in the capital of empires, Istanbul.

During the ball, which will be held by the Russian Consul General and the Russian Association for Education, Culture and Cooperation on Dec. 12, Grand Duchess Maria I Vladimirovna will come together with Sultan Abdulmecit’s granddaughter, Nesliþah Osmanoðlu, and his aunt’s daughter Hanzade Sultan. The ball will be attended by high-level guests including a 20-person committee made up of Russian Czardom members, Russian parliamentarians and businesspeople from Moscow. The duchess is expected to arrive in Istanbul on Dec. 10 and stay for five days. Before the ball, she will meet Patriarch Bartholomew and attend a ceremony at the Fener Greek Patriarchate. A 30-person orchestra will come from Russia for the ball and the Classical Russian Ballet.

Turkish-Russian marriages increased

The Russian Association for Education, Culture and Cooperation Ball Committee President Erkan Murat spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review about the ball and Turkish-Russian relations. “The Ottoman Empire and Russian Czardom fought against each other for 700 years. There was no high-level contact between the dynasties. Even though it is symbolic, this meeting will be the first contact between them hundreds of years later,” he said.

Murat said another reason why such an important organization was held in Istanbul was a result of the increase in marriages between Turks and Russians in recent years. “We will use the revenues of the ball to diversify the activities of our association and increase interest in Russian language and literature. We will also make contributions to the education of children born into Turkish-Russian families,” he said.

Soviet regime vetoed Czardom tradition

Charity balls come from hundreds of years of Czarist tradition. Russian aristocrats used to gather at balls to allocate revenues among needy villagers. According to Murat, the ball tradition began at the time of Tsar Petro I and ended when the Soviet regime was established.

A few years ago, when the dynastic family retained the right to continue organizing their balls, the ceremonies started again, said Murat.

“In all countries where Russian diaspora exists, particularly in New York, London and Vienna, balls began to be organized again. This year’s ball will be organized in Istanbul as a result of our attempts.”

Reaction to the perception of ‘Natasha’

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Turkey accepted immigrants from Russia who were fleeing economic problems. As a result of the immigration, the “luggage trade” between the two countries accelerated. The fact that many Russians who came to Turkey were women and some became sex-trade workers created misunderstanding in the public and each blonde Russian woman was nicknamed “Natasha.”

He said many mistakes had been made regarding this fact. “It is not possible how the perception of this Natasha appeared in our country, this perception seriously damaged Turkey’s prestige, and accordingly, its economy.”

The family’s status rehabilitated

According to historical sources, the last Russian Czar Nicholas II, was taken to Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Urals after the Bolshevik Revolution. At midnight on July 16, 1918 Nikolai II, his wife Alexandra, daughters Olga, Tatiana, Marie, Anastasia and son Alexei, his doctor and three servants were killed in the basement of the house, where they were imprisoned and then buried in a forest. Their bodies were found in 1991. The body of Czar Nicholas II was buried in 1998 in St. Petersburg at a state ceremony. Grand Duchess Maria I Vladimirovna went to court in 2005 and asked for the rehabilitation of the status of her family. The Russian Supreme Court ruled in favor of full rehabilitation for Russia’s last czar and his family on Oct. 1, 2008.

Hurriyet Daily News
8 December, 2009