Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Window on Eurasia: ‘We’ll Always Have Paris -- and Casablanca Too,’ Moscow Officials Say

Paul Goble

Vienna, December 26 -- In a story headlined “We’ll always have Paris. And now we’ll have Casablanca as well,” the Russian news portal yesterday reported on efforts by Moscow to provide the funds necessary to restore and maintain in good condition cemeteries abroad where Russian émigrés of various waves are buried.
Earlier this month, the Russian authorities as part of their outreach effort send the French government 700,000 euros (1,000,000 U.S. dollars) to pay for the rent on Russian graves at the St. Genevieve de Bois cemetery outside of Paris, perhaps the most notable gravesite of Russians abroad in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
That payment attracted a good deal of attention in the Russian media, almost all of it favorable. But as pointed out this week, this transfer of funds is hardly unique now that Moscow has committed itself to ensuring that no grave of a Russian compatriot abroad will be forgotten or ignored (
On Tuesday, the Russian government oversaw the reopening of a cemetery in the Moroccan city of Casablanca which contains the graves of many officers and men from the Black Sea squadron that fled from Crimea at the time of the collapse of the White Movement there in 1920.
Vyacheslav Novoselov, Russia’s consul general there, said that until this restoration effort, “everything [in the cemetery] had been in a terrible condition,” something that he said made him “ashamed” both personally and as a representative of Russia. But now things are much better, he continued, with the gravestones carefully and lovingly restored.
This action, the Russian diplomat said, had helped to improve relations between Moscow and the host government. And he even suggested that what had been done there so far was a model of what others could do in other places to remember those millions of Russians who had died far from their native land but never forgot it.
Now, it is fair to say that their native land, however distant it certainly appeared to them at times, has not forgotten them.

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