The brushes brushed large drops of rain off the windshield. The great view of Russia’s smallest city, Chekalin, was spoiled by the weather. I was the only guest in this town of 866 inhabitants. You won’t get lost in the crowd.
There is only one dairy plant in Chekalin. 300 private houses, including up to three two-story buildings with apartments and steam heating. It is not a hospital, but a medical clinic with a pharmacy. Three private stores. Only paved on the main streets and school with the only equipped pedestrian crossing, and no traffic lights. Town!
One day, regional officials came to Chekalin. Neighbors gathered at the House of Culture.
– There is a proposal to make the city of Chekalin the village of Chekalino!
– Do not! We were born in the city, we will die in the city!
People amicably got up and went out into the city streets. Any exhortation that electricity is cheaper in rural areas and that credit benefits are significant did not work.
I started to get to know the city from the museum of local traditions. The same manager Andrey Kudryavtsev became my guide. He was born in Chekalin and studied at the school named after the Hero of the Soviet Union Alexander Chekalin until the seventh grade. He graduated from the Polytechnic University of Tula. He worked in the Arsenal factory. But here I was drawn to my homeland. He became a tour guide. I transferred my wife. For seven years, he became the head of the branch of the Devyagorsk-Likhvin Historical and Landscape Museum-Reserve.
The museum, I must say, is at the top. All interactive. You open an old cabinet and there are relics and a huge LCD screen. It even has its own mint. You lower the ruble, and an “old” souvenir coin from the Likhvinsky district treasury is minted.
Until 1944, Chekalin carried the old name of Likhvin. The first mention is from 1565. Oprichnye places. Ivan the Terrible ordered the creation of the Great Security Line from the Crimean-Nogai raids. Likhvin became a fortress.
– There is a proposal to make the city of Chekalin a village! – Do not! We were born in the city, we will die in the city!
Then came the time of the merchants. Iron factories were built nearby. They even installed a narrow gauge railway. By the way, the author of the famous “Dubinushka” Vasily Bogdanov is a native of these places. He has a bust near the rec center. So Repin’s famous painting might just as well be called “Barge Haulers on the Oka.” And recently, a real treasure was found in the basement of one of the merchant’s houses. In a clay pot 1 ruble 37 kopecks with copper. The quantity is small. Also, the youngest coin, a nickel, dates from 1915. It was most likely a stash from his wife.
Likhvin was renamed Chekalin after partisan hero Sasha Chekalin. He was only 16 years old when he was captured by the Nazis. He tossed a grenade at his feet, but it didn’t explode. He was tortured all night and in the morning he was hanged. This was even before Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. Sasha is the youngest hero of the Soviet Union in history. In the 1990s, there was another meeting to change the name from Chekalin to Likhvin. And again the Chekalins insisted on their own. Yes, four Heroes of the Soviet Union came out of the local school! How to betray memory? So sometimes they write on the signs “Likhvin-Chekalin”.
Likhvin remains the birthplace of the first partisan of the Great Patriotic War. Demolition worker Yefim Osipenko placed a pressure mine under the fascist train. But the mine under the locomotive did not work. He then he jumped out of the bushes, pulled out a pole with a sign “Beware, partisans!” and he began to beat them desperately in the infernal machine. There was an explotion. The train went downhill. But the partisan survived. I just lost my sight. And so he was awarded the “Partisan of the Patriotic War” medal for the N 000001.
The rain did not let up. The empty streets of Chekalin-Likhvin really did look rural. Small houses of the last century. Sandboxes in front of the fences. She wanted to talk to the neighbors, but to no one. They all went to work at the nearest regional center, Suvorov, or at a dairy. The bridge across the Oka, which leads to the regional center, was flooded. In this case, launch a ferry. That is why there is not a single tourist in Chekalin during the flood. And so the city is located on the Kaluga-Tula highway. The potential is huge. Last year Chekalin was visited by 5 thousand tourists!
The local House of Culture has recently been renovated. Hall for 198 seats. 17 circles. Four age groups of dances. Margarita Meime regularly visits the high level group of “populists”. she is 81
But the most notable place is the library. There are 402 people in subscribers. Almost half of the city! Here is the owner Valentina Kamaeva. Not without pride she shows a stand where there are books about Moscow.
– It was Sergei Semenovich Sobyanin who sent us 500 books under the program “The largest city – the smallest.” And this is a certificate from our Governor Alexei Gennadievich Dyumin for 500 thousand rubles. We buy computers and replenish the fund …
I thought: wouldn’t it be better the other way around? Moscow would take Chekalin’s patronage not only in the library. After all, the city defended the capital from raids. Far outpost. It would be nice to build a bridge. This will be a real royal gift. And call it “The Moscow Bridge”.
Muscovites are ready to buy houses in Chekalin. The cost is from 400 thousand to 2 million, but there is also an attraction – a house for 200 million rubles. Certainly not worth the money. And it has been for sale for years. But the owners do not concede a penny. Beginning. I also noticed a feature, Chekalins will not be offended. They’re unsociable, or something. They live like partisans. They walk away from the correspondent. And they don’t say hello.
– This is understandable, – says my guide Alexander Kudryavtsev. – I myself am from the locals, but for a long time I could not rent a room. No one wanted to let him go. mentality.
After all, a couple of local guys decided to open a guest house. He bought the house from a merchant. Plumbing and sewage made. But the covid and the crisis have suspended the work. But they are hopeful for the future. And all the people of Chekalin are also optimistic. After all, what places are here! And ok! Thank you, in a word. Come. Chekalin is waiting.
On the way
the youngest hero
Alexander Chekalin. Photo: TASS
In honor of the youngest hero of the Soviet Union, Alexander Chekalin, the city was renamed Likhvin. Sasha’s father was a hunter and always took his son to the forest. When the war started, they both went to the partisans. They knew all the secret paths, so the Sonderkommando was never able to destroy the detachment.
In late autumn, Sasha fell ill with pneumonia and decided to warm herself at home. She turned on the oven. The boss saw the smoke and informed the Nazis. They surrounded the house. Alejandro decided not to give up. He went out on the porch to immolate himself and the Germans, but the grenade did not explode. They tortured him all night, but he did not say where the headquarters of the partisan detachment was, and in the morning they were executed. He was 16 years old.
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