This article originally appeared on a new site about the Christian renaissance in Russia: Russian Faith. Their introductory video is at end of this article. You can also take a new Poll at Russian Faith to vote on the next Hero in the Series!
This article is part of the series ‘Russian Christian Military Heroes’, which illustrates the close interrelationship of the church, state, and military in Russian history. In contrast to the uniquely American idea that it is best to keep church and state separate, Russians believe the opposite – that this is, in fact, harmful, and that society is best served by a close cooperation, poetically described as a ‘symphony.’
Weigh anchor, and raise the Saint Andrew’s Cross of the Russian Fleet, it’s time to sail back into history, with this latest Russian Hero’s tale. Amongst his feats, this Hero can boast over 40 battles without tasting defeat; this is Fyodor Ushakov, Admiral of the Russian Fleet.
Admiral Saint Ushakov, was a contemporary of Admiral Lord Nelson, however unlike his British counterpart, Ushakov was never defeated in over 40 battles, oh…and did I mention he once inflicted 2000 casualties without taking more than thirty?
His talent was so great that the famous British Vice-Admiral was to be put under his command during the joint siege at Malta, to the ire of Nelson, who later sabotaged the alliance.
Ushakov was canonized not for his military heroism, that alone does not qualify for canonization—it was instead, how he preserved the spirit of a true Christian in the horrible conditions of battle, always risking and ready to sacrifice his life for those under his command.
While we will discuss his faith, let us first establish that Saints were not magical superhumans without sin, they were normal people like you or I, who obtained Holiness and oneness with God, and to understand them, we must look at the normal aspects of their life.
Saint Fyodor Ushakov was born into a family of petite nobility, in the village of Burnakovo, in the ancient Yaroslavl region, around 150 km north of Moscow. According to Pravoslavie.ru:
“His birthday, February 13th, falls between the commemoration days of two warrior-martyrs—Fyodor Stratilat, and Fyodor Tiron.”
If that is not an omen that Fyodor Ushakov was destined to be a Hero, I don’t know what is. As it was in the story of many Saints, his parents were religious people of profound faith, who set the early Christian values which he would accept as he grew in the Orthodox way. According to Pravoslavie.ru:
“He was baptized in the Church of the Epiphany-on-the-Isle, as if receiving from above a blessing to “serve on water.”
Learning humility form his uncle, a monk, this young nobleman spent much time with the common folk, giving him a strength and understanding of the stark realities of the world, unlike sheltered Western aristocrats, who (literally and legally), purchased their military ranks.
By age 14 he was fully capable of hunting Russian bears, and he entered the Naval College two years later ,graduating as a midshipman in 1765.
He spent his early naval career learning how to survive the cold of the northern seas, and quickly distinguished himself as a worthy sailor. He learned tricks from the older sailors you can not learn in schools, as the old Russian military maxim holds true “The best practices are passed down by the survivors – there is no better practice than surviving the real thing.”
Ushakov learned one of the most important military rules of all – how to be flexible.
He took this flexibility with him the rest of his life, fluid as the waves of the sea and strong like the first of a tsunami. He was the Champion of the Black Sea.
These beautiful pink lakes in Crimea are not far from the site of some of his greatest battles.
When Russia liberated what is now Southern Ukraine from the Ottoman-Turkish rule, he guarded the coasts of what was then “New Russia”.
One of his most lasting and peaceful contributions to Russian and Ukrainian history was when he oversaw the construction of two significant naval bases at Kherson the Old and Kherson the New.
Ancient Kherson was a Greek colony, the northernmost metropolis of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the site of the Baptism of Saint Vladimir of Kiev – the Baptizer of All Russia.
Kherson is derived from the Greek word for Peninsula, as in the Crimean Peninsula.
We know Old Kherson by a different name: the Hero-City of Sevastopol, the greatest city in Crimea. Legendary for its battles, Sevastopol is Russia’s most precious warm water port. Ushakov built the first naval base in Sevastopol, which remains to this day crucial to Russia’s national defence.
The Russian Fleet on Parade at Sevastopol, note that the flag which resembles the British Union jack is actually a Russian ensign.
Since it’s founding by Potemkin on Catherine the Great’s orders in 1778, modern Kherson is Ukraine’s second most famous port after Odessa, and located at the mouth of the legendary river Dnipro (the river where all of Russia was baptized upstream in 988) north of Sevastopol where Crimea meets Ukraine. There Ushakov build the famous docks.
It was in this Black Sea, where Ushakov became a legend, the dread of the Turkish navy who called him “Ushak-Pasha”. Perhaps an insult or a title of infamy and dread, it was one that carried a modicum of respect: “Pasha” is the highest Turkish honorific, similar to Lord in English, Vladica in Slavonic, or Pan in Ukrainian and Polish.
Ushakov distinguished himself as a brave commander during the Russo-Turkish War in 1788. At the Battle of Fidonisi Island, his fleet supported the infantry of the legendary Aleksandr Suvorov, himself the undefeated victor of over 60 battles.
Second-in-Command Ushakov saw the Turks outnumbered the Russians by almost three to one. Realizing this was a fair fight, he did what any Slav would do and charge directly at the Turkish flagship.
In all seriousness, he made a brilliant but risky decision. He knew his troops were better trained and equipped than the Turks, but their numerical advantage could spell the end for him in a battle of attrition, so he decided to leverage his strength while he had it to even the odds swiftly.
Seizing the initiative, he charged the enemy flagship. He awestruck the Turks, winning the day not only for the navy, but paving the way for Suvorov and Potemkin to drive the Turks from Ochakov fortress.
At the decisive Battle of Kurch, now Rear-Admiral Ushakov found himself yet again at a numerical disadvantage (come to think of it, I believe during every battle he fought he was outnumbered), the result? He took less than 30 casualties and lost no ships while the Turks lost five ships, hundreds of men, and had their admiral and captains captured.
At Tendra he continued this trend, but inflicted thousands of casualties on the Turks, and at Cape Kaliakra, he won the Naval War. He was soon promoted to Vice-Admiral and given command of the Black Sea fleet.
It’s remarkable his life is not known in the West, and the Russian Navy is thought of as insignificant. Ushakov had feats even Admiral Nelson could not match, having captured the unconquerable fortress of Corfu, Greece, from Napoleon in three months, whereas Nelson spent a year besieging Malta. The power of Orthodox culture aided him at Corfu, as Orthodox Greeks fought on land with their Russian brothers.
Orthodox Greek natives welcomed Ushakov with a triumph. He ordered a thanksgiving service in gratitude to the Lord for saving his people. On Easter, 1799, he led a cross procession with the relics of St. Spyridon Trimifuntsky, a beloved saint to Greeks and Russians.
Here is how Pravoslavie.ru describes the meaning of his works:
“Here, on the islands, the God-loving admiral manifested yet another of his God-given talents: that of statesman and public figure. He not only ensured “peace and order” for the Greeks, but gave them one of the most democratic for that time constitutions, setting up the “Republic of the Seven Islands,” opening an episcopal faculty on Corfu and inviting an Orthodox bishop, which they had not had since the sixteenth century.
When the time came for Ushakov to leave the Ionic isles, their population turned out with tears in their eyes to see him off. They presented him with medals with the inscription: “These peoples unanimously proclaim him to be their father.” Children were named in his honor, and one and all promised to never let time obliterate his merits and achievements from their memory.”
Ushakov earned his promotion to [full] Admiral for his heroism at Corfu.
He, was later sent to assist the famous Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (whom he technically outranked), though his English colleague reacted to the idea of cooperating with a Russian equal quite negatively, and reacted shamefully.
After Napolean was finally defeated, Nelson offered the French garrison terms of surrender so amicable, it could be mistaken for a truce. They would be ferried back by British ships, permitted to bear arms, and, most ridiculous of all, not even forbidden from “waging war”.
So great was Nelson’s spite at the thought of working with Ushakov, and moreover, he so badly wanted to keep the Russian Admiral from parading in French-controlled Rome and receiving the praise he deserved. Ushakov considered this treason, and in return, paraded his troops through Rome, even though the French had already left.
Ushakov behind the Saint Andrews Flag (a white flag with a blue x), the standard ensign of the Russian Navy. The Russian Navy also uses another flag which resembles the British union jack.
Though his military carrier was the thing of song and legend, he fell out of political favour, and was eventually recalled to Russia. To read more about his military carrier, see here. Finishing his service honourably, he withdrew to Sanaksary Monastery, 500 kilometres east of Moscow, never to fight again.
He struggled in prayer for the rest of his life, praying for every comrade, and even those wanderers he met by chance. He spent his final years thusly: First in prayer, which lead to peace, which lead to mercy in the Kingdom of Heaven.
He died in 1817, at the age of 74, and was buried at the Sanaksary Monastery. In his honor, the local newspapers wrote:
“You knew him as a great naval commander, we knew him for his outstanding charity to others.”
Cathedral of Saint Ushakov in Saransk, Mordovia
He wasn’t a Saint because he won hundreds of battles, or because he was brilliant, he was a Saint because this highborn officer was never afraid to take a bullet to the heart for the common man. He was merciful and never forgot what it means to be a Christian “There is no greater love than laying down your life for another.”
And thus passed into legend the life of Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, Patron Saint of the Russian Navy.
Which Russian Hero would you like me to write about next?
These articles are part of the series ‘Russian Christian Military Heroes’, which illustrates the close interrelationship of the church, state, and military in Russian history.
As the author, I would like YOUR feedback. Take this Poll at Russian Faith to vote on which Russian Hero you would like me to write about next, or let me know in the comments down below!
A video introducing Russian Faith:
DiverXo: Spaniard Dabiz Muñoz named best chef in the world | Culture
Spanish star chef Dabiz Muñoz was awarded the prize for being the best chef in the world at the fifth edition of The Best Chef Awards 2021 on Wednesday. The owner of DiverXo, a restaurant in Madrid with three Michelin stars, accepted his award at a live event in Amsterdam. At a press conference following the award ceremony, Muñoz (previously known as David Muñoz) said that chefs around the world are in a “hard” situation “due to the coronavirus pandemic,” which saw strict restrictions on the hospitality sector.
The Best Chef, a project created in 2015 that is dedicated to celebrating culinary talent, also released a list of its top 100 chefs, which includes 13 Spaniards. Muñoz said these types of awards not only “help restaurants, but also the people of the country” that feature on the top 100 list. “What comes to me, comes to Madrid, which to me is one of the most exciting cities in the world today for gastronomy,” said the DiverXo owner, who added that the recognition will help the Spanish capital “to continue to grow.”
Last March, Muñoz appeared at a culinary conference called “Dialogues in the Kitchen” in San Sebastián, where he talked about the “disruptive” way he had overcome the challenges that emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant owner told the audience that the experience had made him “renew his vows” with DiverXo. But the same could not be said for Muñoz’s restaurant in London, StreetXo, which was forced to permanently close last December, five years after it was opened.
The Swedish chef Björn Frantzen came in second place on the top 100 list, and also won The Best Chef Voted by Chefs Award. Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, from Mugaritz restaurant, came in third place, while Joan Roca, from Catalonia, took home the Science Award. At the ceremony, Roca said his team “is strongly committed to science and sustainability,” and added that such awards “benefit the country more than the chef,” as the prize-winners represent “a structure, products, producers.” He also said that chefs strengthen the tourism industry and the work of local producers.
Italian chef Alfonso Iaccarino won The Best Chef Legend Award; Fatmata Binta, from Sierra Leone, received the rising star award for her work at Fulani Kitchen; Italian chef Franco Pepe won the prize for the best pizza and Vicky Lau, from Tate restaurant in Hong Kong, was awarded the food art award.
English version by Melissa Kitson.
Commitments to end direct provision ‘already behind schedule’
Government commitments to end direct provision are “slipping”, the State’s chief human rights and equality commissioner has warned.
Sinéad Gibney, chief of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), said slippage meant delays and “people continue to languish in this system which deprives them of so much”.
She was addressing the Oireachtas committee on public petitions on progress implementing the Government’s White Paper on ending direct provision. Published in February by Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman, it envisages closing all direct provision accommodation centres by the end of 2024 and replacing them with a new system of accommodation and supports.
Ms Gibney said “relatively simply fixes”, such as ensuring asylum seekers had the right to apply for a driving licence, were “already behind schedule”. The White Paper had promised legislation would be introduced before summer 2021.
“As we appear today the commission is not aware of any specific legislative amendment having been introduced to allow applications for driving licences . . . Being barred from even being able to apply for a driving licence is a massive State-built barrier to securing or seeking employment,” she said.
“The right to seek employment was hard won for asylum seekers in a Supreme Court case by a determined Burmese man . . . That victory is made hollow by such administrative barriers as access to driving licences.”
IHREC, she continued had “concerns” that an independent inspection regime of accommodation centres had not yet begun.
Before the White Paper the State had been in breach of EU directives by not ensuring vulnerability assessments were conducted on every asylum seeker on arrival.
These were now happening but at far too low a rate. “Figures provided to the Oireachtas in April this year show that 258 applicants had entered the vulnerability assessment process with 151 assessments completed and 107 then ongoing. This obviously needs to be significantly scaled up given there had been 886 applications received this year alone,” said Ms Gibney.
Stephen Kirwan of the Law Society’s human rights and equality committee, described “frustrations” among colleagues that clients in the asylum process were often not getting legal advice until “a very late stage”.
One of the “most significant obstacles to the White Paper being realised” was delays in the processing of international protection, or asylum applications, said Ihrec commissioner Colm O’Dwyer SC.
At the end of July there were more than 5,000 people awaiting a “first instance” decision on the applications and the median time to get a decision was 26.9 months, he said.
Ms Gibney called for a “mindset change” in the whole international protection system.
“It’s about moving towards informing our system with a mindset that we are lucky to welcome in many of the aspirant citizens . . . We need to invite them. We need to offer them integration from day one. We need to see and value the contribution they can make to our society and I think when we do that we do start to then see a system that is informed by trauma, that understands the trauma that some of the people have been through [and] that provides wraparound supports tailored to their needs.”
Q&A: What is the British government doing to help Brits in Italy overcome post-Brexit hurdles?
On Wednesday the British embassy in Rome organised a town hall-style question and answer session to allow British residents in Italy to raise concerns and put their questions to Minister Wendy Morton and British Ambassador to Italy Jill Morris.
After the session, The Local was granted a brief interview with the minister to discuss some of the major issues for UK nationals in Italy that we’ve been reporting on this past year.
From residency rights to driving licences, here are the minister’s answers to our questions about the post-Brexit rights of British citizens in Italy.
How is the UK government assisting British nationals struggling to access the new carta di soggiorno elettronica?
UK citizens living in Italy have been encouraged by the British government to apply for a carta di soggiorno elettronica, a new biometric card that proves their right to live in Italy under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.
While the card is not required by the Italian government, it’s strongly recommended as the simplest way for Brits who have been resident in Italy since before January 1, 2021 to demonstrate their rights of residency and ensure they can continue to access essential services.
Some UK citizens, though, have had trouble accessing the card due to processing delays or the fact that their local police station, or questura, hasn’t yet got set up to issue the document – and have run into problems obtaining work contracts and applying for driving licenses as a result.
Anti-Brexit protesters on September 22, 2017 in Florence, Italy. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
The minister said that the British embassy in Rome has been holding regular online meetings to listen to residents’ concerns about the card, and also provides updates via a newsletter.
“Our ambassador has a newsletter that is a way of communicating regularly to British citizens, so they can sign up to this, as well as signing up to the Foreign Office’s ‘Living In…’ guide, to get up to date information on an ongoing basis,” she said.
Ambassador Morris highlighted that the British embassy is collecting reports from British citizens who have experienced problems accessing the card (as well as any other issues) via a contact form on its website.
“We encourage British residents in Italy to report to us when they have any difficulties exercising their rights, whether that’s related to healthcare, whether that’s at the questura to get the carta di soggiorno elettronica, or any other issues people may have,” the ambassador said.
“We log the individual cases; we also look for trends, so when we see there’s a trend of a problem, for example stamping passports at a particular airport, then we target the authorities at that airport to give them information and make sure all the border guards have that information.”
The embassy sends a monthly update to the Italian authorities to alert them to ongoing issues, she added.
You can find the embassy’s contact form here.
The ambassador also noted that the British embassy has worked with Italy’s national association of mayors, Anci, to distribute a booklet to comuni across the country laying out the post-Brexit rights of British citizens.
Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement on reciprocal driving licenses before the grace period expires at the end of this year?
After Britain left the EU at the end of last year, British residents who hadn’t yet got around to converting their UK license to an Italian one were granted a 12-month grace period in which they could continue to use their British license in Italy.
Many hoped that Italy and the UK would later come to an agreement which would allow drivers to continue using their British license beyond that point.
But with less than four months to go before the grace period expires, Brits are now wondering whether to gamble on the two countries reaching an accord by the end of this year – and risk being unable to drive come January 1st – or to undergo the time-consuming and expensive process of retaking their driving test in Italy.
When we raised this issue with Ms. Morton, she said: “We absolutely are continuing to negotiate with the Italian government on the right to exchange a UK license for an Italian one without the need to retake a driving test, and I can assure you it’s our absolute priority to reach an agreement before the end of the grace period which is at the end of this year.”
Photo: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
What is government doing to help British-Italian families wanting to return to live in the UK?
UK nationals wanting to return to live in Britain with their EU partners have until the end of March 2022 before the bar for being granted a spousal visa will be significantly raised. That deadline is fixed and will not be extended, the minister confirmed on Wednesday.
“If they want to apply, it’s important that they apply before the deadline,” she told The Local.
“Close family members of UK nationals who return from living in the EU by the 29th of March next year can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as long as that relationship existed before exit day,” said the minister.
“It’s also worth remembering that family members of individuals from the EU, from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, as well as the families of British citizens may also be eligible to apply for a family permit under the EU Settlement Scheme, which will make it easier to travel with a family member to the UK.”
Some EU-British couples, however, are already experiencing problems having their right to live together in the UK recognised, with reports coming out that the Home Office has denied some applications on seemingly flimsy or technical grounds.
“The fundamental thing here is that British citizens can return to the UK at any time. And it’s important that we remember that,” the minister said when asked about this issue.
In case you were wondering.
For British-Italian couples in Italy experiencing problem, “the first port of call should be our team here in the embassy; it may be that they then need to be signposted if it’s a Home Office issue,” said the minister.
“The Home Office has made a whole range of advice available online, and can also be contacted by telephone and by email.”
See The Local’s ‘Dealing with Brexit‘ section for the latest news and updates.
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