On the trails of the past, in search of the future
Today, on the 14th of July, a sea journey dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the exodus of the Russian Army and civilian refugees from the Crimea, started from the Tunisian shore. That event was the tragic end of the Civil war in Russia which followed the Bolshevik coup of 1917. Descendants of the Russian emigrants of the first wave are taking part in the action. This trip into history was organized by the Centre of Russian National Glory and the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, and blessed by Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Turkey, Greece, Tunisia. In 1920 that was the itinerary of the Russian ships hastily leaving the Crimea seized by revolutionaries and the civil war. About 150,000 Russian citizens left Sevastopol at that time and among them world-famous noble Russian families, such as the Trubetskoys, the Chavchavadze, the Narishkins, the Shahovskoys, the Golovins and the Sheremetevs. General Kutepov’s Army Corps was stationed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, General Abramov’s Donskoy Corps was around Istanbul, General Fostikov’s Kubansky Corps was on the island of Lemnos.
The Russian fleet of 35 ships commanded by Admiral Kedrov found its last refuge in Tunisian Bizerte. The participants in the current expedition will go all the way in the reverse order, from Bizerte to Sevastopol, as if bringing back to Russia all those who had to leave it in the past. It was the emigrants’ most cherished dream all those years abroad. The idea of this sea journey arose a few years ago, says Alexander Gatilin, the press-secretary of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called and goes on:
“A monument to our compatriots, who had to escape from Sevastopol and spent some time in the Turkish town of Gallipoli, was unveiled in Turkey in 1921. In the middle of the 20th century that monument was destroyed. In 2008, on the initiative of our Foundation and with the support of the descendants of Russian emigrants, the monument was reconstructed and unveiled. The idea of a sea voyage along the itinerary of the Russian Army in 1920 appeared then.”
The participants in the sea voyage are the descendants of Russian emigrants, Russian statesmen and public figures, priests, famous artists and cultural figures. All in all, about 100 people from Russia, Ukraine, France, the USA, Australia and some other countries. We hope to find answers to the questions, important for all the Russian world, says one of the participants in the sea journey, priest Philip Riabikh.
“For the last decades we have been trying to determine what is the new Russia, what ideals it must have, what historical memory we must keep and pass to our posterity.
Today it is very important for Russians to remember the patriotism of the first Russian emigrants and their high ideals which can serve as an example of boundless love for the Motherland and which can help to form a vision of Russia’s future," he added.
During short stops in the ports of call, where emigration points were located in the past, the participants in the expedition will be visiting Russian cemeteries and churches. The journey will end in Sevastopol on the 25th of July.