Fallen soldiers of Russian White Army commemorated in quiet ceremony
Tens of thousands of Russian White Army soldiers, who fled from the Bolshevik Revolution and took refuge in Turkey 100 years ago, have been commemorated in a quiet ceremony in the Aegean province of Çanakkale’s Gelibolu.
Gelibolu Mayor Mustafa Özacar, Russian-Turkish Friendship House Chairman Erol Uğurlu, Crimean Tatar Cultural Associations Federation Chairman Ünver Sel and Russian nationals living in the city attended the memorial ceremony.
The ceremony, which started with the Turkish and Russian delegation laying carnations and flowers at the monument, continued with a religious ritual directed by priest Iuri Sergeev.
Later, the museum in the backyard of the monument was visited and the memorial book was signed.
Speaking at the event, Özacar said that Gelibolu has an important place in the history of Russian-Turkish relations, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
“We left our carnations in the name of friendship to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Russians who lived here and became the symbol of Turkish-Russian friendship,” Özacar noted, adding that the grand ceremony was canceled as part of the COVID-19 outbreak measures.
The message of Russia’s Ambassador to Ankara, Alexei Yerhov, was also read during the ceremony.
Last week, 100 saplings were planted around the monument where the ceremony took place in memory of the arrival of 30,000 White Army soldiers who settled in the city after fleeing from Crimea.
Another religious ritual was also held at the Church of St. Konstantin and Elena in Istanbul on Nov. 22 at the initiative of Gelibolu Grandchildren’s Istanbul Representative Aydın İbrahimov, Institute of Political Analysis Director Anjelika Zaharova and priest Georgiy Sergeyev.
In November 1920, around 150,000 White Army troops and civilians, which includes Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Don Cossacks, Kalmyks, Circassians, Turkmens, Armenians, Georgians, Greeks and Jews, under the command of Russian General Pyotr Vrangel were brought from Crimea to Istanbul.
While some from the army that came to Istanbul reached Gelibolu, the Russian soldiers who could complete the journey remained in the city until May 1923.
After the journey, during which some soldiers lost their lives due to hunger, cold, illness and wounds, a monument was erected for the dead soldiers and a monument was opened on June 16, 1921.
While the monument was removed after it was destroyed by a magnitude-6.6 earthquake in 1949, a renovated new one was opened on May 17, 2008.