Galli Monastyreva tells about an Arab country that has become the last shelter of thousands of Russian people
Our colleague, almost from the beginning of the activity of the RUSSAR Foundation, Galli Monastyreva, published in the well-known and popular in Russia “Novel-magazine XXI century” author’s materials from the Atlas of the Russian Abroad for travelers and the curious. Galli Germanovna is the author-compiler of the Atlas created to popularize the outstanding historical and spiritual heritage brought by Russian civilization in foreign countries. In issue 6 of the novel magazine for 2021, there is, in particular, an article by Galli Monastyreva “Russian Carthage”. This metaphor refers to the Arab Mediterranean country of Tunisia, on the territory of which ancient Carthage was once located.
In 1920, 37 ships of the Russian squadron with crews and their family members arrived in the Tunisian port of Bizerte from Sevastopol. They preferred a foreign land to the service of the new Bolshevik government in Russia. Admirals, officers and sailors and their relatives hoped that this foreign land was temporary, but history ordered otherwise. The commander of one of the ships of the squadron — the submarine “Duck” was Captain 2nd rank Nestor Monastyrev. Our Gally is his great-niece. As Galli narrates in his article, now former officers began to look for work. They were in demand as surveyors, topographers and builders. They created modern roads and water supply in Tunisia. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a job to feed themselves and their family in their specialty. Russian russians, despite the hardships of emigrant life, managed in 1938 to erect an Orthodox church in Bizerte in honor of the Holy Blessed Grand Duke Alexander Nevsky, and in 1953 the Russian Orthodox community received from the benevolent Tunisian authorities the right to build a church of the Resurrection of Christ in the capital of the country, Tunis, which was completed in 1956. Funds for the construction came from Russian emigrants.
Some of the Russian people gradually moved to France. But many of our compatriots stayed in Tunisia, got closer to the local population and found eternal rest in the cemeteries of Tunis, Bizerte and other Tunisian cities. When the current president of the RUSSAR Foundation Oleg Fomin arrived in Tunisia in 1994 as director of the Russian Center for Science and Culture and adviser to the Russian Embassy, he found only one representative of the Russian world in the country before the October Revolution of 1917. It was Anastasia Alexandrovna Manstein-Shirinskaya. Since 1920, she lived in Bizerte, where she worked as a mathematics teacher at a Tunisian school, earning the high respect of the entire urban population. Evidence of this is the decision of the municipality of Bizerta to rename one of the central squares of the city, where the Alexander Nevsky Temple is located, and to name it after Anastasia Shirinskaya. The decision was timed to coincide with her 95th birthday.
Oleg Fomin participated in 1999 in the ceremony of awarding Anastasia Shirinskaya a Russian passport and obtaining her Russian citizenship. He also contributed to the publication of her book Bizerte. The last stop” in the Russian “Military Unit” and her first trip to her homeland. Another participant of the RUSSAR Foundation, the well-known journalist Nikolai Sologubovsky, is the author of a number of publications about Manstein-Shirinskaya and the International Award-winning documentary film Anastasia. Galli Monastyreva often returns to the topic of the life of her glorious ancestor and the heroine of the movie, with whom she has repeatedly met. In December 2009, Anastasia Alexandrovna died at the age of 97 and was buried on Tunisian soil next to her father’s grave. Another outstanding Russian woman, Elvira Vladimirovna Gudova, who took care of A.A. Shirinskaya in her last years, the founder of the Anastasia Alexandrovna Manstein-Shirinskaya Foundation for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Heritage, made a decisive contribution to the creation of the Anastasia Alexandrovna Museum in Bizert.
The graves of our compatriots are being cared for together with the Tunisian authorities by organizations of former Soviet and Russian citizens — the spouses of Tunisians who have received higher education in our country. Russian graves in a friendly Arab country are currently being cared for by a local branch of the IPPO in Tunisia, one of the tasks of which will be to take care of Russian graves in a friendly Arab country.
Photo Sergey Rodionov