YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, September 10 (Itar-Tass) — Nameless Kuril islands have been awarded names. Two rocky Pacific islets, situated at a distance of about 200 metres from the north-eastern large island of Shikotan have been named in honour of Major-General Alexei Gnechko, commander of the Kuril amphibious operaion in 1945, and Sergei Kapitsa, a noted scholar and TV programme host. Special capsules were embedded and the flags of Russia and Sakhalin Region were installed on the two islands this past weekend.
Vassily Solomko, Head of the Yuzhno-Kurilsk Disitrict, has told Itar-Tass that each of the two islets has an area of about 100 square metres, and rise for 30 metres above the ocean surface.
Curious Shikotan islanders used to approach the islets repeatedly in inflatable boats but it was the first time that an official expedition arrived there. The expedition operating under the motto "A Name on the Map of Sakhalin and Kuril Islands" approached Shikotan aboard the motoroship "Igor Farkhutdinov". The expedition members took soil samples and handed them over to Sakhalin Region Governor Alexander Khoroshavin, on whose initiative a new tradition has been established to collect soil samples from all the islands of the region and put them on view at a museum-and-exhibition complex which will become the symbol of unity of Sakhalin Region and indivisibility of Russian territories.
The first name-awarding expediton included about 140 members: scientists, members of the Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament, physicians, teachers, mineworkers, and journalists of Federal and regional media. Next name-awarding expedition is scheduled for October.