Ashinov and his activities

Ashinov and his activities

15At the end of the 19th century, Russian colonists attempted to master and consolidate a part of the coast of the future French Somalia (now Djibouti) for the Russian Empire. Back in 1883, Penza bourgeois Nikolai Ivanovich Ashinov, an adventurer, went to Abyssinia, setting himself a plan to promote the political and ecclesiastical rapprochement of this Christian country with the Russian Empire, posing as a representative of the Russian government. Ashinov planned, Russia needed a safe harbor in order to go from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean, or at least have a place where it would be possible to stop during sea cruises to replenish fresh water or repair ships. Returning to Russia, he, calling himself a "free Cossack", started in 1888 an expedition to Abyssinia.

Ashinov personally wrote to Alexander III, requesting only 5 thousand rubles: “For everything to you, great sovereign, we will serve and die with honor for you and Russia, and do not disgrace the name of the Russian, and, God willing, your royal crown will be crowned with an African precious stone and pearls for glory of Russia ".He also wrote to Pobedonostsev: “It’s not for nothing that all Europeans are trying, almost in a fight, to occupy places on this worldwide path. Why not take Russia? We need it even more if we develop trade with the East, as with Vladivostok. And Abyssinia is the key of all Egypt and Africa, and whoever owns Abyssinia will also own the world way. And the political burden, without our diplomacy, of course, can always be transferred instead of the Balkan Peninsula to the African side. ” No help from the Ashinov government received.

On December 10, 1888, the Ashinov and 150 "Russian volunteers" sailed from Odessa to Alexandria on the ship "Kornilov". To consolidate on the coast and create a kind of outpost on the way into the continent, the Ashinov had to find a refuge for the mission. He found the abandoned Egyptian fort Sagallo on the coast of French Somalia.

16
Flag raised by a Russian expedition in the colony "New Moscow" (village of Moscow) over Fort Sagallo

Fort Ashinov proclaimed Russian and christened New Moscow, or the village of Moscow, and said that "fifty miles along the coast and a hundred inland is Russian land." January 28 raised the Russian flag.

For construction, Ashinovtsy had a forest; seedlings brought from Russia and fifteen thousand cuttings of grapes of the best Crimean varieties were planted on the land plots. Ashinovtsy planted alien cherries and cherries here. For planting were purchased about a hundred oilseeds, lemon and orange trees. Cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, and watermelons appeared in the gardens. Exploration in the vicinity of Sagallo found the presence of salt, iron ore, coal, and a hot sulfur source.

The expedition of Ashinov made a lot of noise in the press due to false rumors about a significant number of its participants. A light cruiser, the Pangwan, was sent to the New Moscow. The officer who arrived in the fortress handed over the request to leave Sagallo as soon as possible. Ashinov refused.

On the thirtieth of January, three French warships approached Sagallo. The messenger demanded to lower the Russian flag and thereby renounce claims to this territory. To which he received the answer: "We are Russian subjects, and we consider lowering the flag to anyone humiliating." Ashinov pointed the Frenchman to a place next to the fortress, saying: "If you want so much to plant your flag, you can hang it there, we will not touch it"

The biggest diplomatic scandal was brewing. Alexander III was furious.He put a resolution on an encrypted telegram: "By all means we should rather remove this Ashinov cattle from there ... it only compromises us, and we will be ashamed of its activities." Good relations with the great powers, and especially with France, the most important strategic ally, turned out to be more important for the autocrat than the unclear prospects for the acquisition of an ice-free port.

On February 5, the Cossacks noticed a French squadron consisting of a cruiser and three gunboats. The ships slowly passed by the fortress, then lined up opposite it in a battle line. The French demanded the immediate release of the fortress. Ashinov behaved absolutely serenely. He refused to speak with the native and transmitted his request through him: that any of the officers should arrive for the talks. The envoy went back to the ship, and in the meantime, the Ashinov made orders to organize a solemn meeting of the representative of the French authorities. For a festive dinner, a sheep was slaughtered, and wine was poured from barrels kept in the basement. Ordinary Ashin people got reinforced portions of vodka for a good mood and for treating French sailors.

The commander of the French squadron waited for a while. Through the binoculars from the ships it was perfectly clear that the Ashinites did not even think of fulfilling an ultimatum. Unlike them, the French were extremely serious. The first shot of the ship's gun was warning and at the same time served as a sighting. Ashinov was so sure of his immunity that even a volley of gunfire did not bring him to his senses. He took a shot from the ship for ... salute and ordered his orderly to wave the French in response to the flag.

Started shelling Sagallo. The shelling lasted 15 minutes, 11 shells of 140-millimeter guns were fired at the fortress and 52 shots were fired from Hotchkiss’s rapid-fire guns. During the shelling, six people were killed. French shells destroyed all the landings. A shirt was raised over Sagallo as a white flag - Ashinov and the settlers were arrested by the French. Then they were taken to Russia.

The reaction of Alexander III was unequivocal - he unconditionally supported the actions of the French sailors. An official message was printed in the Government Gazette: “The imperial government believesthat there is no reason to impose responsibility on the French authorities in Obock for the bloodshed in Sagallo and that responsibility should entirely fall on Nikolai Ashinov, who decided to disturb peace in the territory under the jurisdiction of a country that is friendly with Russia. <...> The confusion that occurred in Sagallo will remain without influence on the relations between Russia and France. ”

Ashinov himself did not think to calm down. Escaping from under the supervision of the police, he offers his services in the development of Africa to the Italians. Then the French, then the British. From London, the "free Cossack" sends a letter to Alexander III. He asked the highest permission again to go there to capture a vast territory, "rich in gold and precious stones." The Ashinov was going to present this land to the Russian emperor for the atonement of his own sins. Brought out of himself by the impudence of an impostor, Alexander III returned the letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with an inscription in large letters in red pencil: "Notes of a Madman."

The expedition of Ashinov, despite its failure, was of great importance for the development of Russian-Ethiopian relations.Immediately after the events in Sagallo, another Russian went to Abyssinia alone - Lieutenant VF Mashkov. Unlike Ashinov, he really managed to reach the Abyssinian capital and visit the new Negus Menelik. Upon his return in January 1890, Mashkov was received by Alexander III and handed him letters and gifts from Menelik. In 1891, Mashkov undertook a new journey to Abyssinia, and this time he received government assistance. This expedition actually established official relations between the two states.

Among the adventurers who labored in Abyssinia, the most prominent place was occupied by the retired captain of the General Staff N. Leontyev, who became in the late 1890s. the closest adviser to Negus Menelik and who served at his court until the title of count and governor of one of the southern provinces of the country.

Lunochkin A.V.

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  • Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

    Ashinov and his activities

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