“So it was in 1914, when Russia, driven by fraternal and allied duty, was forced to enter the First World War in the name of the freedom and independence of the Serbian people,” a senior diplomat emphasized in an opinion piece for the Serbian magazine Pechat “So it was in 1919-1920, when only the created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (King Alexander Karageorgievich, we recall, was a student of the Corps of Pages in St. Petersburg) warmly welcomed tens of thousands of Russians who left the country mired in the post-revolutionary civil war.
The Ambassador pointed out that the destinations of emigrants are diverse and unique.
“It is surprising, however, that no matter how difficult – and even tragic – their life circumstances were, our compatriots managed to preserve a sincere love for the Homeland, a strong spiritual connection with it, attachment to its traditions and values,” he said. outside at the same time – to make a solid contribution to the country’s interwar social revival that gave them shelter, renewal and development of science, culture and art. Many immigrants from Russia were accepted into public service, including in key ministries of foreign affairs, construction, agriculture, finance, trade and industry, worked on bills, gave a major impetus to improving the healthcare system.
Hundreds of Russian teachers taught in gymnasiums and schools across the kingdom, gave private lessons in foreign languages and literature, and instilled the culture of reading. Famous professors, passing on their knowledge to more than one generation of students, laid the foundation for new research for the country in the widest areas – from Byzantology to genetics and microbiology (it is noteworthy that already in 1920-1921 academician year, natives of tsarist Russia made up a quarter of the teaching staff at the University of Belgrade) . Several scientists were elected members of the Royal Serbian Academy.”
Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko drew attention to the fact that the First Congress of Russian Writers and Journalists Abroad and the Fourth Congress of Russian Academic Organizations Abroad were held here in 1928.
“At the same time, the Russian Scientific Institute was established, under the leadership of Professors Evgeny Spektorsky and Fyodor Taranovsky, soon, not without the material help of the Yugoslav government, it took a prominent place among similar institutions in other European capitals (it is gratifying that in 2021 – after 80 years – the institute will reopen its doors at the initiative of Belgrade University professor Irina Antanasievich, a researcher of Russian culture abroad), – added the diplomat – The Russian House bears the name of Emperor Nicholas II, founded in the Yugoslav capital in 1933, became the center of culture and education.Experienced engineers and officers from Russia were not only trained in military affairs, but also sent to the construction of technically complex facilities, including highways and railways, they worked in factories and mines.
Thanks to Russian pilots, mechanics and radio engineers, the city of Novi Sad became a real center of military and civil aeronautics, already at the dawn of aviation. Russian architects – Vasily Androsov, Vasily Baumgarten, Roman Verkhovskoy, Viktor Lukomsky, Valery Stashevsky and others – largely determined the modern look of Belgrade. I would like to especially single out the role of Nikolai Krasnov, the royal architect, the creator of the project for the summer residence of the Romanovs in Yalta, the famous Livadia Palace. Krasnov’s authorship belongs to the Royal Palace in Dedin, the majestic buildings where today the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia are located, according to his sketches, the facade and interiors of the National Assembly, the interior decoration of the Church of St.
The head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Belgrade recalled that with the creative participation of Russian cultural figures, the 1920s in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes became the time of the flourishing of plastic and musical arts, the formation of the cinema.
“The theatrical repertoire has been enriched with new works of Russian and world dramaturgy. A distinctive ballet school has been created at the Belgrade People’s Theater thanks to the efforts of Russian choreographers and artists, in particular, the brilliant prima ballerinas. Elena Polyakova and Nina Kirsanova”.
In his opinion, the fraternal communion of the Orthodox churches deserves a special mention.
“The Serbian Orthodox Church took under its patronage the High Administration of the Russian Church Abroad, which arrived from Constantinople, headed by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad settled in the city of Sremski-Karlovtsy”, the diplomat said. “The Russian clergy did not remain in service, taking care of many parishes of the Serbian dioceses and various monasteries. The Russian army was also garrisoned under the leadership of the General, which housed educational institutions evacuated from the Russian Empire, including various cadet corps and the Mariinsky Don Institute for women.
Today, the living memory of Bela Tskrva’s Russian heritage is carefully preserved by a direct descendant of the first wave of emigrants, Vladimir Kastelanov. In his house, he created a unique museum, the so-called. “Cadet room”, which contains valuable evidence of bygone years: rare photographs, drawings, books and other personal items of teachers and their students who came to Bela Tskva from all over the Yugoslav kingdom.
Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko came to the conclusion that the multifaceted heritage of the Russian diaspora in Serbia to this day remains one of the symbols of the inviolable spiritual unity of our countries.
“It seems that its subsequent study and understanding will bring us many discoveries, it will help to ensure the continuity of generations, strengthen mutual understanding, mutual trust, the sense of solidarity,” the ambassador summed up.
In the meantime
In October 2021, the director of the Center of the Russian Geographical Society (RGO) in Serbia, Miroljub Milincic, became the laureate of the XII International Slavic Literary Forum “Golden Knight”, thanks to whose efforts a voluminous work appeared – “Cultural Russian”. Heritage in Serbia” (more than 150 scientific employees, articles were signed by 71 authors from various centers and university institutes, archives and museums, educational institutions, the Serbian Orthodox Church).