A delegation of scientists from Greece and Ukraine visited the Southern Scientific Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SSC RAS) on July 9-16. The goal of the visit was to study the input of the Greeks into the economy and public life of the South of Russia (the Russian Empire) in the 19th and 20th centuries, Taganrog and Rostov-on-Don being exemplified.
During the mission, the Greek and Ukrainian researchers visited Taganrog State Literature and Historical-Architectural Museum-Reserve and Archaeological Museum-Reserve «Tanais».
The international workshop entitled «Economic and Social Development of the Azov Port – Cities and the Greeks in the Long 19th Century» took place on July 14.
Researchers from the Institute for the Neo-Hellenic Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Ionian University, University of Thessaly, University of Piraeus, Mariupol State Humanities University (Ukraine), Berdyansk State Pedagogical University (Ukraine) participated in the workshop. Researchers from the E.D. Felitsyn Krasnodar State Historical-Archaeological Museum-Reserve, Rostov Regional Studies Museum, State Archive of the Rostov Region, Regional Studies Museum of the Taganrog State Literature and Historical-Architectural Museum – Reserve, and SSC RAS also gave presentations.
«At the end of the XIX century, the impact of the Greek community on the economic and social life of the Sea of Azov Region was immense, and could be compared only with the impact of the Armenian and Ukrainian communities» (Academician RAS Gennady Matishov, Chairperson of the SSC RAS).
Before the WWI, the largest grain export from Russia was via the Black Sea. It was the centre of business, with the leading positions being occupied by the Greek merchants. At the workshop, the researchers talked about the impact of the Greeks on the economy and culture of the Azov-Black Sea Region.
«The culture of the South of Russia is closely interwoven with the Greek culture», said PhD Irina Tolochko, Senior Researcher at the SSC RAS. «Already in the 7th – 5th centuries BC, the Greek settlements, located on the coasts of these seas were very well developed. The ancient Greeks resided in the mouth of the rivers and along the coast, that is to say, using the language of today, in the places strategically important for trade of that time».
A large part of the workshop focused on the presentations on the economy in the Sea of Azov Region of the late XIX century and on the most interesting individuals of that time. Dr. Gelina Harlaftis (the Ionian University) conducted a research on the life and activities of a well-known Taganrog businessman of Greek origin Maris (Mark) Vagliano. At the end of the XIX century, he was the most successful entrepreneur of the South of Russia. He controlled thousands of transactions and bargains at the port of Taganrog. Vagliano was even called «The Emperor», that great was his impact on the economy. When he was accused of fraud against the Russian State and got imprisoned, the port of Taganrog suffered great damage as most of the trade was done by him. The economy of Taganrog suffered an overwhelming blow.
Dr. Evrydiki Sifneos (the Institute for the Neo-Hellenic Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation) introduced the formation of the middle class natives of Greece in Taganrog, Rostov, Mariupol (nowadays Ukraine), and other port-cities, presenting numerous rare photos dating back to late XIX – early XX centuries that depicted the lifestyle of the Greeks on the Sea of Azov and Black Sea coasts.
All studies were within the framework of a joint research project of SSC RAS and several Greek institutions (institutes and universities) «Economic and Social Development of the Sea of Azov Port – Cities and the Greeks in the Long 19th Century». The four-year project will be completed in 2010. Thanks to this project, the Greek researchers managed to get a new look at the South of Russia.