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Russian Cities in China
Embassy of Russia: Little town in the heart of Peking
A large piece of ground in the district of Dongzhimen (Eastern Straight Gate), on which the Embassy of Russian Federation is placed, our compatriots made habitable long time ago. At the end of 17 centuries there the Russian cossacks on a service for Kangxi emperor settled, being, apparently, the most efficient division of Chinese armed forces. In 1715 under the decree of Peter I the Russian Orthodox Spiritual Mission was based on the place. The priests of mission have put the bases for Russian sinology: father Iakinf (N.Ya.Bichurin) and archbishop Palladius (P.I.Kafarov) open the list of national classic sinologists.
For many years diplomatic missions of Russia, and then of Soviet Union were placed here. After disintegration of USSR, Russia, having undertaken burden of the Soviet debts, has reserved the rights to foreign property of Soviet Union.
Now the territory is the property of Russia. It is fenced with a stone wall, behind which the complete settlement is placed: office buildings, apartment houses, complex of engineering maintenance, cultural hall, kindergarten and school. Too small for a city but enough for a settlement of an urban type. In total here live about a thousand of people. They are not only employees of Embassy and members of their families, but also workers of trade representation of Russia, and some of Russian businessmen who constantly work in Peking.
In the 60-70s the life of Embassy inhabitants was not so idyllic as nowadays. Then the Embassy resembled the besieged fortress, around of which the hongweibings permanently raged, practicing in writing slogans and throwing litters over the stone fence. The street where Embassy stays was officially renamed Revisionist Street.
Behind the walls of Embassy there reign rest and peace. The territory is wastly planted and actually represents a park with rare buildings. Among trees and bushes the local fauna (rabbits and cats) feels freely. The cats, despite of belonging to predators, do not offend the rabbits. All of them enjoy a generous feeding from the minor inhabitants of the Embassy. In ponds and springs the fish is found, and for birds here is a sole place in Peking to feel safely. The birds try to keep inside the perimeter, otherwise they can be killed by the descendants of hongweibings armed with slingshots.
Photos by author
© Dmitry Alemasov
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