September 27 in Russian history


Emperor Alexander I restores the privilege the Magdeburg rights in Kiev. Russian cities were self-governed since the earliest times. I described the structure of their self-government in Russian history 20 and Russian history 26. After the fall of the Kievan Rus, the power of the local knyazes increased and the republican structures were dismantled. However, when a large part of the territory of modern Ukraine was controlled by Lithuanian and Polish rulers, they started to promote the cities' self-government by granting them the Magdeburg rights: Vladimir-Volynsky in 1324, Syanok in 1329, Lviv in 1352, Galich in 1367 and so on. Kiev was granted the Magdeburg rights in 1494. In XV-XVI centuries the Magdeburg rights were used in many cities, but only Lviv, Kamenets and Kiev enjoyed the full set of these rights, while in the other cities they were limited in favor of the Polish and German rulers.

The autonomy survived the re-union of Ukraine and Russia and Peter I confirmed the rights of Kiev. In 1775 the empress Ekaterina II issued the decree "On the adjoining of Kiev to Little Russia" (Little Russia was the name of the lands of modern Ukraine in the Russian empire) and since then the city was governed by the governor of Little Russia. In 1796 and 1797 emperor Pavel I restored the self-government in Kiev, but only formally. At last, in 1802 Alexander I officially confirmed the Magdeburg rights of Kiev.

Kievans collected money and by 1808 the chief architect of the city A.Melensky erected the monument as a gratitude to the emperor. It is still there, on the place where in 988 knyaz Vladimir baptized the Kievans. The monument is a column with two inscriptions: "To Saint Vladimir, the Enlightener of Russia" and "Built by the efforts of the citizens of Kiev for the confirmation of the rights of this ancient capital by the Emperor of the all Russia Alexander on September 15, 1802"

By the way, Alexander didn't know about the plans of the Kievans and was rather displeased when he finally learnt of the monument. He even issued a decree prohibiting erection of new monuments without the approval of the emperor and wrote a letter to the general-governor of Kiev A.Fensh: "As pleased as I was to see the efforts of the citizens of Kiev in the erection of the monument to the Saint Great Knyaz Vladimir, I was extremely surprised that I did not received any notifications from you on this matter... Nevertheless, I ask you to express my gratitude to the citizens of Kiev."

The Magdeburg rights of Kiev were cancelled in 1834 and the magistrate was replaced by the city Duma. Since then, the people preferred to call the monument the St. Vladimir's column, or the monument to the baptizing of Russia


190 years ago, a monument to the Russian soldiers who defended Riga in 1812 was opened in this city. The Russian army that opposed Napoleon, fought in Latvia, too. They included a certain number of the native population, including Latvian partisans. In 1915, when the German troops were moving close to Riga, the monument was dismantled. The metal parts were taken to Russia, and the column was moved to Viestura garden. In 1990 the city authorities planned to erect it on the Jekaba square, but instead it was transported to a distant location, where it is still lying on the open air, covered by garbage and painted by graffiti "artists".


Sergey Korolyov was sentenced to six years in prison and sent to the gold fields in Siberia. He was lucky, though. He was soon transferred to a "shabashka" (a research lab, where the the arrested scientists worked). Sergey Korolyov, the head of the Soviet space program, or simply the Chief Designer, played the absolutely crucial role in making USSR the leading country in space research. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky predicted in 1920s that the man will fly to the space in 100 years. Korolyov did this in 30 years. However, when Khruschev asked who was the designer of rocket that sent the first sputnik into space, Korolyov answered: "There is no such man. The rocket was built by the Soviet people." He was born on January 12 1907 and his 100th anniversary is celebrated by Russian and Ukrainian scientific and engineering community. Unfortunately (and inexplicably), not by the general public. In January, there was a celebration in Kremlin. Russian movie director Yuri Kara made a film Korolyov about his years in Gulag, and the premiere had to take place during this event in Kremlin, but it was cancelled.

Korolyov was a unique scientist and person and I promise to write a longer article about his life.

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