Paros in the Voice of Russia

Flotilla-2009 regatta kicks off in Greece

In a show of paying tribute to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Navy, a sailing regatta kicks off on Friday in Bay of Navarin , Greece to cover almost 2,000 nautical miles on its way to the Mediterranean-based places of interest connected with this country’s military history.

Taking part in the Flotilla-2009 regatta is certainly a huge task for the yachtsmen, says Oleg Smirnov, the event’s organizer and president of the Russia-based Skipper naval club. We are going to call at many Greek, Italian, Maltese and Tunisian port towns, which previously saw Russian sailors’ heroic deeds, Smirnov explains, citing the Rodos Island, Athens, Syracuse, Valletta and Bizerta, among others. He remarkably likened the yachtsmen’s living conditions during the regatta to those of sailors, who served in Russian Navy under Admirals Ushakov and Nakhimov in the 1700s and the 1800s, respectively.

It was the Mediterranean Sea, where the Russian Navy prevailed over its Turkish rivals – victories that Smirnov said added substantially to promoting European security at the time. Later on, he added, Greece and Italy moved to proclaim their independence with Malta’s sovereignty upheld with the help of the Russian Navy. This is why we could not but organize the regatta so as to try to pay tribute to the immortal feat-of-arms of our sailors – something that I am sure will help us to optimistically look into the future, Smirnov underlines.

Among the participants,10 naval cadets from the Moscow Cadet Corps, who will for the first time be on the high seas on board two yachts called Solnechnaya (Sunny) and Oxana.

Smirnov explains that the cadets will surely remember for keeps their yachts’ short-term sojourn on the Paros Island, which is to coincide with a consecration of Russia’s war memorial there. Few know that in the early 1770s, the Paros Island was part of Russia’s little-known Archipelago province, Smirnov goes on to say.

Back then, the island was, in fact, our country’s military base in the Mediterranean – a home to more than 3,000 Russians, Smirnov explains. Remorsefully, the base’s then infrastructure, including plants, schools, the Admiralty building and shipyards showed signs of dilapidating, Smirnov complains. Currently, he says, there are lots of Russian expats on the Paros Island, who continue to perceive Russia as their second Motherland. For our part, we plan to visit the island’s sole temple of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is cautiously protected by locals in a sign of respect to the island’s history.

Apart from fulfilling historic-culturological mission, the yachtsmen are going to rub elbows with the Mediterranean-based Russian expats, including Anastasia Shirinskaya-Manshtein from the Tunisian port of Bizerta. An elder of the Tunisia-based Russian community and daughter of a naval officer, she remarkably saw Russian flotilla of warships calling at Bizerta in the 1920s. Among them was her father’s Zharky (Hot) destroyer, of which he was in command.

Smirnov signaled that the regatta would once again show Russian people’s determination to continue to pay tribute to their country’s history and its valiant defenders. We would very much like both Russians and the rest of the world to take pride in Russia’s past and future, Smirnov concluded.

Milena Faustova

03.04.2009
The Voice of Russia RUVR

www.ruvr.ru

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