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    VLADIVOSTOK, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian sailing cruiser Pallada (named after the Russian battleship, which fought in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905) ended its religious cruise over Asia and returned to Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific naval base, on Friday.

    The religious and historical mission entitled "Be Blessed, Far East" was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the heroic defense of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese War.

    Icon "The Triumph of Our Lady", which also celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2004, was on board the ship.

    The ship with 120 cadets of Vladivostok and Nakhodka naval schools and Orthodox clergymen on board put out to sea on April 15.

    The mission visited the ports of Nagasaki (Japan), Yosu (South Korea), Luishun (former Port Arthur) and Dalian (China).

    The cadets and clergymen attended the sites of the Russian ships' wreck and burial places of Russian seamen. The priests held commemoration services.

    In Japan the Pallada frigate took part in the international festival of sailing ships. In South Korea she took on board a crew of local seamen.

    All in all, the ship covered over 6,000 nautical miles during the Asian campaign.

    In the late 19th century Russia promoted its foreign policy in the Far East. In 1897 China granted Russia a 25-year lease on the Liaotung Peninsula with Port Arthur having a highly favorable position on the Yellow Sea. It allowed the Russian fleet to control the Gulf of Pechili and the Korea Bay, i.e. the most important sea routes of the Japanese Army in case of its landing in Manchuria (Northern China). The fortress became the main base of the Russian fleet. At that time the Russian troops occupied all Manchurian territory. This provoked Japan, which considered this region its sphere of influence, to unleash the war (1904-1905).

    The Japanese war plan implied the sea dominance and the seizure of Port Arthur, Korea and Manchuria.

    On January 27, 1904 the Japanese fleet attacked the Russian squadron in Port Arthur without a war declaration and destroyed the battleships Retvizan and Tsesarevich and the Pallada cruiser. It was the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War.

    The heroic defense of Port Arthur started in late Jule - early August of 1904 and lasted for 8 months. The Japanese army and fleet lost about 112,000 men and 15 ships. Sixteen Japanese ships were seriously damaged. Russia lost some 28,000 people.

    The fall of Port Arthur meant Russia's defeat in the war. It lost its Pacific fleet and naval base. In 1905 Japan got the right on Port Arthur's lease. Moreover, Russia had to yield the southern part of Sakhalin to Japan.

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