Military Review

"The Convict Republic": how the Decembrists turned Chita from a village into the capital of Transbaikalia

"The Convict Republic": how the Decembrists turned Chita from a village into the capital of Transbaikalia

Decembrists on Senate Square

The Chita old-timers like to tell visitors that the center of their city with its straight streets strongly resembles St. Petersburg, as it is designed by the Decembrists exiled here. They love to show and the main symbol of the city - the log-cabin Michael the Archangel Church. Exiled noblemen-oppositionists and women who followed them to Siberia were married in it. Now the building of the temple is the Museum of the Decembrists, which is popularly called simply the Church of the Decembrists.

"Republic of Katorzh"

The first Decembrists arrived at the Chita jail at the end of January 1827. There were four of them: brothers Nikita and Alexei Muravyovs, Ivan Annenkov and Konstantin Torson. Later, during the 1827 and 1828 years, more 70 participants in the uprising were sent here. For three and a half years of hard labor, they gave a small settlement an impetus in development, which a quarter of a century later turned it into a city and capital of the Trans-Baikal region.

“When the Decembrists arrived in Chita, it was just a village factory department. Small, 75 wooden houses, 393 residents. The Decembrists, of course, gave impetus to the development of this town,” says Nadezhda Baranova, head of the Decembrists Museum. According to historian Mikhail Konstantinov, "despite imprisonment, thanks to the inflexible will and moral strength, the Decembrists actually created an island of free thought and spirit in Chita, a kind of convict Decembrist republic."

The main part of the Decembrists was kept in the prison building completed by them - four rooms with small windows, where it was crowded, stuffy and noisy, including the sound of shackles. The shackles of the prisoners were allowed to remove 1828 in August by special order of Emperor Nicholas I. Later they were allowed to build seven more small log cabins in the prison yard at their own expense. There, in the prison yard of the Chita ostrog, the convicts built a building like a club, a gazebo, and a garden.

During their stay in the prison prison of Chita, the Decembrists achieved an unspoken right to practice science and enlightenment. They called their scientific meeting the "Correspondent Academy", in which reports on exact, natural and human sciences were heard, and mutual learning in foreign languages, mathematics and crafts was practiced.

"Artist Nikolai Bestuzhev left watercolors with views of Chita and its environs, Decembrist Peter Falenberg - a topographical plan of the burg, and Ferdinand Wolf led a medical practice here, for the first time in the region organized a smallpox vaccination. Three and a half years, and so many things have been done," notes Baranova.

Prison in Chita, where part of the Decembrists was kept. Watercolor by Nikolay Bestuzhev, 1830

The Decembrists introduced the local population to horticulture, gardening, floriculture. Adults and children from the prison district of Chita participated in concerts organized by them and collective singing. The prisoners staged literary readings in the prison, they held chess tournaments. Involving adolescents in their studies, the Decembrists collected mineralogical, botanical, zoological, archaeological, and numismatic collections. Sergei Trubetskoy conducted here meteorological observations.

"Deep in Siberian ores"

In February, 1827, Alexandra Muravyova, the wife of Nikita Mikhailovich, came to the Chita ostrog. She secretly brought the famous Pushkin’s message "In the depths of Siberian ores" to the Decembrists. Here, in Chita, Alexander Odoyevsky, on behalf of all the Decembrists, wrote an answer to the “sun of Russian poetry”, in which there are famous lines: “Our sorrowful work will not disappear, a flame will ignite from a spark”.

A year later, in January of 1828, Alexander Muravyov gave another Pushkin message - “My first friend, my invaluable friend,” addressed to Pushkin’s lyceum comrade Ivan Pushchin.

The wives and brides of exiles traveled to Chita prison for several months. Among them were Princess Maria Volkonskaya and Ekaterina Trubetskaya, the general's wife Natalya Fonvizina, the maid of honor of the Imperial Court, Elizaveta Naryshkina - noble, educated women.

Perhaps the most romantic история - this is the wedding of the French modiste Polina Gebl and her beloved Ivan Annenkov in the same Archangel Church, for the sake of which the girl has overcome a long way in Transbaikalia. After the sacrament, the young couple was greeted by the chimes of the shackles of all the Decembrists present at the wedding. The story of their love inspired Alexandre Dumas to the novel "The Fencing Master".

Remember the walls of this temple and another marriage - Decembrist Dmitry Zavalishin and Apollinaria Smolyaninova - a local resident, daughter of a mining engineer. They got married in Chita in 1839, when Dmitry Irinarkhovich was allowed to enter the settlement.

“The wives of the Decembrists have done a lot for our city. They established gardens here, attracting local craftsmen, built log cabins,” said the head of the Museum of the Decembrists. Near the museum is a monument of architecture - the house of Elizabeth Petrovna Naryshkina; now it is a library.

First investment

According to the local historian, Candidate of Philosophy Andrei Bukin, the Decembrists "were the first involuntary but qualitative investment in the development of Transbaikalia". "The money spent here by them and their wives stirred up the economy and commodity production, became the basis for the development of the territory. The Decembrists largely predetermined the cultural development of the region and reflected in far provincial Chita memories of the glitter of the imperial capital. this day, "he is sure.

“Speaking about assigning Chita status of a volost city, one cannot fail to mention Dmitry Zavalishin. He did a lot to prove that Chita’s geographical location allows her, and not Nerchinsk (the oldest city of the region. - Approx. TASS) to be the center of Trans-Baikal Territory” noted Baranova.

Indeed, returning to Chita in 1839, the exiled exile Zavalishin started an exemplary farm there, started cultivating and acclimatizing vegetables and fruits, and distributed seeds free of charge to the peasants and Cossacks. In a word, he behaved like a real colonist, seeking to inhabit the distant lands.

The shackles in which the Decembrists were imprisoned. Exhibit of the Museum of the Decembrists in Chita

"Zavalishin studied health benefits, prepared medicinal herbs from collected and grown drugs and distributed them to those in need. In his house he arranged a room for a school, where he taught children and adults who wanted it, and then he opened several schools for peasant and Cossack families in Chita. He actively participated in compiling the plan for Chita as a cartographer and surveyor, "- it is said about him in the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Transbaikalia."

In 1851, it was Zavalishin who became one of the organizers of the celebrations dedicated to awarding Chita the status of a city and regional center. A decree on this was read from the porch of the St. Michael the Archangel Church. And even after the amnesty that took place in 1856, Dmitry Irinarkhovich remained in Chita for seven more years, watching how the tiny village, which adopted the first Decembrists in January 1827, turned into the most important city in the east of the Russian Empire.

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  1. Echo
    Echo 4 February 2017 08: 24
    Right "cure by labor." We would have sent more of these court schemers and mother masons to Siberia, but attached to a useful business, you look, and there would have been no such upheaval in the history of our country ...
    1. Olgovich
      Olgovich 4 February 2017 09: 07
      Quote: Echo
      . More to these court intriguers and mother masons to Siberia

      The most disgusting thing is that in their crime these people cheating pulled in ordinary soldiers, and even more so got worse than these izsennikami ....
    2. Rastas
      Rastas 4 February 2017 11: 04
      The court intriguers and mother Masons remained mostly at the court, idle and servile. As a result, Alexander II subsequently went to a country that slowed down its development. All contemporaries spoke with one voice about this. And the Decembrists sacrificed personal well-being for the future of the country.
    3. vladimirZ
      vladimirZ 6 February 2017 12: 26
      We would have sent more of these court intriguers and mother masons to Siberia, but attached to a useful business, you look, and there would have been no such upheaval in the history of our country ... - Echo

      One has only to laugh at your fabrications. You do not seem to understand at all in history, nor in political science and sociology. Apparently these sciences are unknown to you?
      The development of the human community develops with the development of production relations in society and the state. Inconsistency in their development with existing forms of power, formations and leads to political crises, leading to development, the change of formations and power.
      Revolutions, revolts, Maidans are born not troublemakers and rebels, revolutionaries, but the authorities themselves, which are inappropriate to the era, time and production relations, creating unbearable living conditions for the people. The revolutionaries carry out only the mission of liberation for the people, removing the rotten power, the system and replacing them with more progressive ones.
      You need to learn friends, engage in self-education, and not flog nonsense, like Famusov: "To stop evil, collect all the books and burn."
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 4 February 2017 08: 31
    Who knew loneliness on a long journey
    Whose companions are woe and blizzard,
    To whom Providence is given to find
    In the desert a friend unexpectedly
    He will understand our mutual joy ...
    - Tired, I'm tired, Masha!
    ? Don’t cry, my poor Katya! Will save
    Our friendship and youth are ours!
    One lot has inextricably linked us
    Fate deceived us equally
    And the same stream of your happiness sped away
    In which mine was drowned.
    Let’s go hand in hand the hard way
    As they walked in a verdant meadow.
    And both we will carry our cross with dignity
    And we will be strong with each other.
    What have we lost? think sister!
    Toys of vanity ... Not much!
    Now we have the road of good
    The road of God's chosen ones!
    We will find humiliated, mournful husbands,
    But we will be their comfort
    With our gentleness we will soften the executioners,
    We will endure suffering with patience.
    Support dying, weak, sick
    We will be hated in prison
    And we won’t lay hands until we complete
    A vow of selfless love! ..
    Our sacrifice is pure - we give everything
    Our elect and God.
    And I believe: we will pass unharmed
    All our difficult road ...?
    N. Nekrasov .. "Russian women"
  3. V.ic
    V.ic 4 February 2017 08: 46
    Thank you very much for this act to the Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich!
    1. parusnik
      parusnik 4 February 2017 12: 48
      Thank you very much for this act to the Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich!
      ... I won’t tell you ... When Nicholas I interrogated the Decembrists, he told them that he advocated the abolition of serfdom ... but they canceled it, no .. There were reliefs for the Balts, Poles .. for the Russian peasants did not .. Under him, a Committee was created ... which developed the concept of abolishing serfdom. 30 years were held. 30! Karl! ... Serfdom was canceled, only because the peasant revolution, with an ax, was knocking on the door and there was a party that could lead this revolution .. Hold on a little more .. with the abolition of the serfdom .. this has begun .. and .. and in In principle, it started after 50 years .. and continued after 12, since the abolition of serfdom did not solve many issues .. drove them inland .. Tightened the screws Nicholas I, and torn the thread .. then it all fell apart .. Nicholas error I, he made the “Martyrs of Freedom” from the Decembrists .. But he didn’t have to do it .. Yes .. someone to the Caucasus, atone for the blood .. with the preservation of the title .. Someone to the Committee on the abolition of serfdom .. and really cancel it .. They would then gnaw their throats then .. And it so happened that: ".. we see clearly three generations, three classes that acted in the Russian revolution. First - the nobles and landowners, the Decembrists and Herzen. The circle of these revolutionaries is narrow. They are terribly far from the people. But their business was not lost. The Decembrists woke Herzen. Herzen launched a revolutionary campaign. It was seized, expanded, strengthened, tempered by revolutionaries of different races, starting with Chernyshevsky and ending with the heroes of “Narodnaya Volya”. The circle of wrestlers became wider, their connection with the people became closer. “Young navigators of the future storm,” Herzen called them. But this was not yet a storm itself. A storm is a movement of the masses themselves. The proletariat, the only revolutionary class to the end, rose at their head and for the first time raised millions of peasants to an open revolutionary struggle. The first storm attack was in 1905. The next begins to grow before our eyes. "V.I. Lenin" In memory of Herzen "
      1. bober1982
        bober1982 4 February 2017 12: 59
        Herzen is a Russophobe and hater of Russia, he had a pathological hatred of everything Russian, he was allowed to safely escape to London, from where he broadcast, but he had to be sent to Chita, maybe he would have recovered.
        1. Rastas
          Rastas 4 February 2017 15: 35
          Herzen was not a Russophobe. He criticized the existing political system in Russia. By the way, he welcomed the initial stage of the reforms of Alexander II. But Europe also got a lot from him, he did not accept its orders ..
          1. bober1982
            bober1982 4 February 2017 16: 37
            Herzen is a classic citizen of the World of those years, it is not clear what nationality, even surname, occupation, citizenship of which country, place of residence, etc.
            But Europe also got a lot from him ...
            After the European revolutions failed, he immediately became disillusioned with Europe, and switched to Russia, writing the so-called theory of Russian socialism, or populism. It ended with terrorist groups, murders of people.
        2. Pravodel
          Pravodel 19 August 2017 10: 43
          A.I. Herzen in infancy was taken out on a sleigh from Moscow just at the time Napoleon’s troops entered Moscow.
          Herzen's family was the richest noble family that owned more than 1000 serfs. After Herzen fled to Europe, he lived there comfortably with the money received from Russia. With the same money, he founded a newspaper in which he poured mud on Russia.
          When the sovereign decided to turn the property of the escaped Herzen into state revenue and thereby deprive Herzen of the means to conduct political activities from abroad, Baron Rothschild stood up for Herzen, threatening the sovereign that if Herzen's estate was confiscated, Russia would not receive a loan in Europe which she really needed. The sovereign had to yield. As a result, Herzen became the ideologist of the political platform of the extremely liberal layers of the Russian intelligentsia with all the consequences for Russia.
          The consequences of Herzen’s political activity are still felt in Russia among the intelligentsia. Look at the statements of individual figures in which they recognize "Crimea is not ours," the war of Russia against Ukraine in the Donbas ... These are all consequences of A.I. Herzen. The bacilli introduced by this figure into Russian spiritual life and culture exist and are still ripening in a certain environment of Russian society. Question: how to etch them? ... One way: I do not agree, go west and live there on your own funds, and not on funds coming from Russia. This action is the best medicine for cleansing the brain. Russia should not repeat the story of Herzen. This story should be completed on Herzen itself. There should not be followers.

          "People-State-Fatherland" - this is the slogan of every Russian patriot.
      2. V.ic
        V.ic 4 February 2017 13: 59
        Quote: parusnik
        ..I won’t tell you ... V.I. Lenin "In memory of Herzen"

        And I’ll say the truth is not my words, but to this day are relevant:
        N. Korzhavin
        "Love for Goodness to the sons of nobles burned the heart in dreams,
        But Herzen was sleeping, not knowing about evil ...
        But the Decembrists woke Herzen.
        He did not sleep enough. From here everything went.

        And freaking out of their daring deed,
        He picked up a terrible world chime.
        What accidentally woke Chernyshevsky,
        Not knowing himself what he did.

        And that one from sleep, having weak nerves,
        I began to call Russia to the ax, -
        What disturbed Zhelyabov’s sound sleep,
        And that Perovskaya did not let him sleep.

        And I wanted to fight with him right away,
        Go to the people and not be afraid of rearing.
        So the conspiracy was born in Russia:
        The big deal is a long lack of sleep.

        The king was killed, but the world did not heal again.
        Zhelyabov fell, fell asleep unsweetened.
        But before that he prompted Plekhanov,
        So that he went a completely different way.

        Everything could get by with the passage of time.
        Russian life could be drawn into order ...
        What power woke Lenin?
        Who bothered that the baby was sleeping?

        There is no exact answer to that question.
        What year are we looking for him in vain ...
        Three components - three sources
        They don’t clarify anything here.

        He began to look for the guilty - will there be? -
        And being awake is terribly angry
        He immediately made a revolution for everyone,
        So that not one of the punishment left.

        And with the song they went to Calvary under the banners
        Fathers after him - as in a sweet life ...
        May the half-sleepy faces be forgiven us,
        We are the children of those who have not slept.

        We want to sleep ... And we can’t get anywhere
        From the thirst for sleep and the thirst to judge everyone ...
        Ah, the Decembrists! .. Do not wake Herzen! ..
        You can’t wake anyone in Russia. "
        1. parusnik
          parusnik 4 February 2017 16: 05
          Sorry, not carefully .. you read my post ..What power woke Lenin? I will answer, Nicholas I .....
          1. V.ic
            V.ic 5 February 2017 08: 21
            Quote: parusnik
            What power woke Lenin? I will answer, Nicholas I.

            Is it in 15-20-30 years? repeat Something very inert force! lol
  4. midshipman
    midshipman 4 February 2017 10: 02
    I also join in the congratulations of our Emperor Nicholas I, who did not allow the Decembrists to disintegrate Russia into 15 separate states. I want to note the great role of M.A. Miloradovich, who saved A.S. Pushkin, after exiling him to the south, after a conversation with him. He knew Pushkin was sympathetic to the Decembrists, but Russia needed Pushkin. I have the honor.
    1. Cat
      Cat 4 February 2017 11: 03
      All this was worth the life of M.A. Miloradovich, that also must be remembered!
      1. andrewkor
        andrewkor 4 February 2017 16: 32
        Hero of the Patriotic War of 1812 !!!
        1. Cat
          Cat 4 February 2017 16: 46
          He left in a ceremonial uniform and began to exhort the soldiers, for which he gave his life.
    2. Monarchist
      Monarchist 4 February 2017 17: 47
      Michman, you are right: among the Decembrists there were such "fellows" that praise be to the Almighty, they lost. Pestel robbed a soldier, Ryleyev squeezed "brew porridge", and to the side himself. On Senate Square, when he sees that he “smells of kerosene” he says: “You stay here, but I will look for Trubetskoy” and go home
  5. moskowit
    moskowit 4 February 2017 13: 59
    From the article it is not entirely clear how many women followed their husbands. Most of the "Decembrists" were single .... For fans of details, I present a certificate, as well as the address of the site where you can ask about the biographies of the wives of the "Decembrists" ...
    "... ... following their husbands and continuing their marital relationship with them, they will naturally become involved in their fate and lose their former rank, that is, they will be recognized only as wives of exiled convicts ...” (From the order to the Irkutsk civil governor) .

    Until 14 December 1825, 23 Decembrists were married. After the sentence and execution, the widows of the wife of the Decembrists K. Ryleyev and I. Polivanov, who died in September 1826, remained the widows.

    11 wives followed their husbands to Siberia, and with them another 7 women: mothers and sisters of the exiled Decembrists.

    Almost all the women who left left their children in Russia - Volkonskaya left her son, Alexander Muravyov - four, and Alexander Davydov - as many as six children, attaching them to relatives.

    Here are the names of women who followed their husbands who were exiled to hard labor in Siberia:


    Praskovya Egorovna Annenkova (Pauline Goble), Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya,
    Alexandra Ivanovna Davydova, Alexandra Vasilyevna Entaltseva,

    Camilla Petrovna Ivasheva, Alexandra Grigoryevna Muravyova,

    Elizaveta Petrovna Naryshkina, Anna Vasilievna Rosen, Ekaterina Ivanovna Trubetskaya,

    Natalya Dmitrievna Fonvizina, Maria Kazimirovna Yushnevskaya.

    They were very different women: by their social status and by age, by nature and by level of education ... But they were united by one thing: they sacrificed everything in order to be with their husbands during the years of trials.

    Only 8 of them survived the prison, hard labor and exile. After the decree on the Amnesty of the Decembrists 28 on August 1856, only five returned with their husbands (M. Volkonskaya, P. Annenkova, E. Naryshkina, A. Rosen, N. Fonvizina).

    Three returned from Siberia as widows (M. Yushnevskaya, A. Entaltseva, A. Davydova).

    A. Muravyova, K. Ivasheva, E. Trubetskaya died and are buried in Siberia ... "
  6. moskowit
    moskowit 4 February 2017 14: 13
    No matter how they belonged to the "Decembrists" at different times in history, their Wives and Women who followed them performed the Greatest Civil and Moral Feat!
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 4 February 2017 17: 51
      I agree with that. It is known that the wife of Nicholas1 said: "I would also go for my husband"
      ALEXEY VLADIMIROVICH 5 February 2017 13: 02
      Quote: moskowit
      their Wives and Women

      What a gorgeous face! And you look at Krupskaya or Klarutzetkin, as much as distorting with disgust.
  7. Sasha_Sar
    Sasha_Sar 9 February 2017 16: 03
    Well, everything is as in that proverb: "Wives went to hard labor to their husbands, and from the rotten all hard labor." Here the “reds" again for social justice, and I remember the words, then still Metropolitan Cyril, "look at the field unless the grass is all the same on it and there is no such thing in life among people, but everyone should have equal opportunities" . I'd like to compare the “royal dungeons" [i] "Prisoners held literary readings in jail, held chess tournaments. Using teenagers, the Decembrists collected mineralogical, botanical, zoological, archaeological and numismatic collections. Sergey Trubetskoy made meteorological observations here." Another example: “Later they were allowed at their own expense to build seven more small log houses in the prison yard. There, in the prison yard of the Chita prison, convicts built a building like a club, a gazebo, built a garden.” Recall the leader of the world revolution V.I. Lenin, who "scribbled" his letters using milk. Yes, the Stalinist penitentiary system in comparison with the royal "Mordor" in its purest form. Do not forget that all the Decembrists are officers who have traveled to Europe (fighting Napoleon), have seen enough of the local order and decided to apply it to Russia mother. In the 91st, our liberals also wanted to live like in Europe, they broke it, broke it, but they didn’t build it. So how to be ???
  8. Omsk
    Omsk 9 February 2017 16: 42
    History does not tolerate “would”, but it’s just interesting, the Decembrists won (although I can’t imagine how), what would start? They had too different programs, except the abolition of serfdom ...
    1. Pravodel
      Pravodel 19 August 2017 10: 08
      One of the slogans of the Decembrists: the separation of the outskirts. With their victory, Russia would be divided into specific principalities, the outskirts would receive independent status and would fight with Russia with the support of a freedom-loving west, then England, France, etc. We would get the same thing that we now have in the person of "great Poland", "great Baltic", "great Georgia", "great Ukraine." One can immediately add on an additional war in the Caucasus with Persia and Turkey, which would immediately liberate the "free" states from all freedoms and from Georgians and Armenians.
      The history of the Decembrists is not as simple as it was described in the USSR. Those tasks that the Decembrists set themselves, ultimately, led to the collapse of Russia. And this did not even justify the fact that the Decembrists planned to abolish serfdom. Moreover, it was the Decembrists' speech that delayed the abolition of serfdom in Russia for more than 30 years.
      The historical result: any violent overthrow of power leads to a different result than the result for which the calculation was originally made. In the 20th century, Russia completely drank from this trough. The collapse of the union in the late 80s and the subsequent anarchy, more precisely, the power of the liberal camarilla destroying Russia, is a continuation of the same policy of a violent change of power, the predecessor of which was just the Decembrists.

      "People-State-Fatherland" - this is the slogan of every Russian patriot.
      1. Pravodel
        Pravodel 19 August 2017 10: 22
        Even though the Decembrists “changed their shoes” and changed their minds at hard labor, there can be no justification for their attempted coup, especially since the consequences of the 25-year coup are felt even at the end of the 20th century.

        "People-State-Fatherland" - this is the slogan of every Russian patriot.