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Celebrations of 1812 victory over Napoleon kick off in Russia

August 04, 2012, 15:21 UTC+3

A memorial service for the heroes who died in battles two hundred years ago was held in the Church of the Kazan Mother of God, the cathedral of Russian military glory

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KARDYMOVO, the Smolensk region, August 4 (Itar-Tass) — One of the biggest re-enactments of the Battle of Valutino-Lubino will be held in the Smolensk region on Saturday as part of jubilee celebrations of Russia’s victory in the 1812 Patriotic War against Napoleon. The Battle of Valutino was the final act in the Battle of Smolensk in which the Russian army thwarted Napoleon’s final attempt to wedge between the units and divisions of the Russian army and destroy them one by one. The Battle of Valutino has been included in the list of ten major battles of the 1812 Patriotic War.

“The entire necessary infrastructure has been prepared for the festival and measures have been taken to provide security for the guests and participants in the re-enactment,” Oleg Ivanov, the head of the Kardymovo district of the Smolensk region, told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

A delegation from Desnogorsk, a city of the Smolensk atomic industry, will hand over a capsule with soil from the former battlefield near Valutino. It will be laid down under a future monument. A charitable art auction titled “The Miracle of Lubino” will be held as part of the festivities. The title was taken from the name of miraculous birch-tree whose crown had a form of a live Orthodox cross. The tree grew up on the former battlefield.

“All auction revenues will be spent on the construction of a chapel that will be built here,” Ivanov emphasized.

A religious procession with the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God (Hodegetria), one of the most revered Orthodox relics, is expected to arrive at the re-enactment scene with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill. Prayers in front of the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God helped the Russians to get rid of enemies many times. The Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God (Hodegetria) is believed to protect Russia from the western side.

“About 2,000 participants, including those from Belarus, Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States, cavalry units as well as weapons and pyrotechnics will be involved and used in the re-enactment, which is expected to be watched by more than 10,000 people,” Ivanov went on to say.

A ball of the hussars will end the first festival day.

The Russian and French armies lost 5,000 and 8,000 people respectively in the Battle of Valutino-Lubino. The remains of 28 Russian and French soldiers and officers who died on August 4-7 of 1812 will be re-buried near Lubino on Saturday as part of the ‘1812’ project.

In the meantime, celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Empire’s victory in the 1812 Patriotic War kicked off in St. Petersburg earlier this week. A memorial service for the heroes who died in battles two hundred years ago was held in the Church of the Kazan Mother of God, the cathedral of Russian military glory, on August 1. The priest mentioned the names and military ranks of 25 officers who took part in a battle near the village of Klyastitsy near Polotsk. They were awarded with the Order of St. George. Four of them were buried in St. Petersburg, including General- Field Marshall Count Ivan Dibich-Zabalkansky. The participants in the celebrations laid flowers to his grave at the Lutheran cemetery. Guards of honor took part in the ceremony.

Ivan Shakhovskoi, a member of the public council responsible for the celebrations, said that the battle near the Battle of Klastisty was decisive for the further course of the war. The blood-spilling battle lasted for three days. The 30,000-strong units of the French army failed to defeat 17,000 Russian soldiers and officers and to move towards the capital of the Russian Empire. The road to St. Petersburg was closed for the French.

A picture titled “The Battle of Klyastitsy” by Peter von Hess was put on view at the St. George Hall of the State Hermitage Museum to the sound of 1812 Russian military marches. The banners of Russian regiments were demonstrated.

Major General Yakov Kulnev was a hero of the Battle of Klyastitsy. He had managed to collect important reconnaissance data on the eve of the battle. The data was used to develop a tactics that led the Russian army to victory. Kulnev was killed in action. His name and the name of Lieutenant General Pyotr Wittgenstein, the cavalry of the Order of St. George whom Emperor Alexander I called the savior of St. Petersburg, were mentioned at a memorial service held at the Sophia Cathedral of a hussar regiment of his Leib Guard in Tsarskoye Selo. The participants in the ceremony laid wreaths to the monument to hussars in the territory of the church.

The celebrations were also held in Pavlovsk, a tsarist residence which was owned by Empress Maria Fyodorovna, the mother of Emperor Alexander I, two hundred years ago. Emperor Alexander I, the commander-in-chief of the Russian army, was welcomed in the Pavilion of Roses in Pavlovsk after his successful military campaign against Napoleon.

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