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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK
Crimean press reflects on anniversary

The 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Crimean War drew forth some glowing tributes to the combatants from the region's press.

All the main Crimean papers devoted their front pages to the anniversary, with headlines such as "Pride, sorrow and a lesson for future generations" (Krymskiye Izvestiya) and "Their glory is so pure, their destiny is noble" (Krymskaya Pravda).

None of the papers dwelt much on the many foreign delegations visiting the area to pay their respects at the cemeteries where foreign soldiers are buried.

In what is still an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking and Russocentric part of Ukraine, the press preferred instead to concentrate on the impact of the conflict on the course of Russian history.

In the days leading up to the anniversary, several commentaries reached the same conclusions: that Russia may have lost the Crimean war, but it will never lose again. The historic linking of the destinies of Ukraine and Russia was another popular theme.

Lessons of war

The Crimean government daily Krymskaya Gazeta published an eloquent account of the main remembrance ceremony in the region's capital, Simferopol, on Thursday.

"In spite of the pouring rain (as if Nature itself mourned the warriors who died in the Crimean war), Crimean government leaders and Simferopol residents, students and soldiers honoured the memory of the warriors who gave their lives to defend the Motherland.

We are greatly indebted to our heroic ancestors, who should be immortalized for all ages
Krymskaya Pravda

"Speakers at the ceremony were united in expressing one sentiment - that today it is very important to understand that war has always been a calamity, an irreparable disaster.

"And these are not just empty words, especially in the modern world which cries out in pain from terrorism, where wars go on and on, and the best sons and daughters of humankind are dying at war.

"Only human memory can put an end to war. We are lucky that Crimeans do not suffer from political amnesia. Today, in a cemetery where warriors of different nationalities lie side by side, the memorial has been fully restored."

Year-long siege

The pro-Russian daily Krymskaya Pravda also rose to the occasion with a lyrical description of the service at Petrovskaya Balka, Simferopol's military cemetery.

"The words of the prayers and the sounds of the salute were greeted by a hollow echo from the stones of the Petrovskaya Balka."

The same paper described the port city of Sevastopol, which endured a year-long siege, as "a new Troy".

"We are greatly indebted to our heroic ancestors, who should be immortalized for all ages," the paper said in an article headlined "The heroic defence of Sevastopol saved Russia".

"The war arouses contradictory feelings, thoughts and analysis. It covered the Russian army with immortal glory and marked the beginning of legendary Sevastopol," it added.


The pro-Russian daily Krymskoye Vremya said that the conflict - in which as many as a million people died, whether on the battlefield or as the result of disease and starvation - was a precursor of the era of total war.

"The Crimean war, the slaughter that happened 150 years ago, was a rehearsal for World War II, judging by the number of countries that took part, and the amount of human, material and technical resources involved."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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