28 июня / 2013

Events at the Russian Chapel under the Vršič pass

On July 28 the traditional memorial events in remembrance of the Russian prisoners of the First World War, who were building here a mountain road in the absence of the basic conditions for survival, were held for the 21st time at the Russian Chapel under the Vršič mountain pass (Kranjska Gora).

The scale of the tragedy that happened under the Vršič pass does not allow to forget it up to now. Hundreds of Russian war prisoners were buried under an avalanche of which the locals had warned repeatedly. The Slovenians still do not stay indifferent to the inhuman attitude towards our compatriots in those hard times. That is why the Russian Chapel became the symbol of friendship, the place of annual meetings of the authorities and the public of our countries.

Celebrations at the Russian Chapel were organized by the Russian Embassy in cooperation with the Slovenia-Russia Friendship Association and the Administration of Kranjska Gora. This year they were held under the honorary patronage of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Karl Erjavec.

The Russian side was presented at the ceremony by the delegations of both Chambers of the Federal Assembly, headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Yury Vorobyov and the member of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Relations with Compatriots Vasily Lihachev, the Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolay Nikiforov, the Head of the Government of the Volgograd region Oleg Kersanov, the Ambassador of Russia to Slovenia Doku Zavgajev.

The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Archbishop Yevgeny of Vereya, the rector of the Moscow Theological Academy. From the Slovenian side the event was attended by the President of the Republic Borut Pahor, the President of the National Assembly Janko Veber, the President of the National Council Mitja Bervar, the Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Karl Erjavec, the Minister of Education, Science and Sport Jernej Pikalo, deputies, the mayor of Kranjska Gora Jure Žerjav, mayors of other cities, the hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church and representatives of business circles.

Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Yury Vorobyov in his speech expressed gratitude to the government and people of Slovenia for maintaining in excellent condition of all burial sites of our compatriots who fell on the territory of Slovenia in the two world wars.

According to him, the Russian Chapel has become a true symbol of friendship, mutual understanding and fraternal relations between our nations. Yury Vorobyov noted that the unique history of this modest church in the Alps shows that the place of a distant tragedy can become the place connecting the nations on the grounds of spirituality and human values.

He highlighted the bright presentation ceremony of the documentary film “The Russian battalion“ held in Ljubljana on May 3. The movie tells about the heroism of the Soviet people, who fought against fascism on the Slovenian territory. The head of the delegation said that Moscow and Ljubljana are considering the idea to set up in Slovenia in 2016 the monument for the Russian soldiers and officers who fell on the Slovenian land.

Yury Vorobyov underlined that the bilateral relations are developing extremely well, both countries are actively moving forward on the outlined way of developing multidimensional partnership.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Alenka Bratušek stressed that it is an honor to pay tribute to memory of the Russian prisoners of war who died tragically in these places, of their companions, who almost 100 years ago built the chapel as a reminder of the futility of war.

According to the Prime Minister, the Russian-Slovenian cooperation, dynamically developing in various areas, enables the implementation of major joint projects. The telling example is the construction of the Slovenian section of the “South Stream” pipeline. Alenka Bratušek underlined that the project not only solves the issues of energy supply, but also opens great opportunities for the country's economy. She assured that she would put maximum effort to strengthen friendly relations between our two countries.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Karl Erjavec in his speech noted that the Russian Chapel built in the place of the tragic death of several hundreds of Russian war prisoners became a symbol of the fraternal friendship between our nations.

During the official ceremony the wreaths were laid at the common grave of the Russian soldiers from the President of the Republic of Slovenia, the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Minister of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Slovenia-Russia Friendship Association. Archbishop Evgeny of Verey served the lity for the dead.

The high level of Russian and Slovenian representation at the ceremony was yet another confirmation of the strengthening ties between our nations. The Russian Chapel gathered several thousand people - Slovenian citizens, among them a lot of young people, Russian compatriots living in Slovenia, the Russian tourists. The memorial ceremony was imbued with a special sense of spiritual unity that best reflects the social, political and cultural significance of the events.

After the official part of the ceremony at the Russian chapel, the guests were invited for a dinner in Kranjska Gora. The representatives of the Russian delegation, the Slovenian authorities, the Russian Embassy and others who took part in the ceremony as well as local citizens gathered under the common tent. The Ambassador of Russia Doku Zavgayev solemnly presented the letter of gratitude from the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to the mayor of Kranjska Gora Jure Žerjav for his great contribution to the commemoration of the Soviet soldiers who died in the struggle against fascism on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia.

Great interest of the local audience was aroused by the rich cultural program related to the events. It included the performance of the State Academic Chapel of St Petersburg and the Choir of the Moscow Theological Academy. The performance of the Honor Guard of the Russian Armed Forces was also warmly received by the Slovenian public.

Celebrations were widely covered in central and regional media of Slovenia.