PARIS, October 18 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Cossacks, participants in 70-day-long Moscow-Paris equestrian march, received an exclusively hearty welcome in France. The action that started on Moscow’s Poklonnaya Hill on August 12 was timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Russia’s victory in the 1812 war against Napoleon.
Andrei Belyaninov, the head of Russia’s Federal Customs Service who had initiated the action, described the march as an unprecedented undertaking in the modern history of Russia and France.
“It’s nice that were given a warm welcome in France at any level no matter to whom we talked,” Belyaninov went on to say. He added that the French public and official Paris were delighted with the idea to organize an equestrian march to commemorate the heroes of the 1812 Patriotic War straight from start.
Apart from patriotic upbringing the march’s organizers wanted to call attention to the fate of the once famous horses of the Don breed whose population has dwindled catastrophically over the last decades.
“French experts were surprised to see that the horses were in ideal shape after covering thousands of kilometers,” Belyaninov said.
For many Cossacks the march was a chance to see Europe from the inside.
“I do automobile business in everyday life. I’ve been to these places before but I saw them from a car window. Now, I had a chance to see how people live. I learnt a lot of new things for myself,” the march’s participant Vladimir Selivanov told Itar-Tass.
He said that everywhere the Cossacks had been given a hearty welcome.
“People treated us with apples and honey in Belarus. We were given a hearty welcome in Lithuania. They saw us off with tears in their eyes. We made friends with the Poles. There were no frictions at all. People met us with smiles in Germany and France and gave a storm of applause to the Cossacks,” Selivanov went on to say.
In addition to that, the Cossacks expanded their historical knowledge about the 1812 Patriotic War in which their ancestors played an important part.