Bellingshausen Monument Unveiled at Russian Base in Antarctica
The monument to the Russian navigator and discoverer of Antarctica, Thaddeus Bellingshausen, was unveiled at the Russian Antarctic station named after him, RIA Novosti reports.
The monument is installed on the shore of King George Island (Waterloo). Neighbors and colleagues of Russians - employees of Uruguayan, South Korean and other bases - arrived at the Russian station at the opening ceremony.
"Each and every perceived the installation of the monument as the most important thing for everyone," said Viktor Veledin, head of the Russian station.
“This is the work of the entire station. Everyone had his hand. The place for the monument was chosen in the winter, as a result of competition,” the staff gathered at the ceremony said. After the ceremony, the first tradition associated with the monument was born - many of those present tried to touch the sculpture “for good luck”.
The monument was installed by the Bering-Bellingshausen Institute for the Study of the Americas (IBBA) together with the Russian Antarctic Expedition and the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute. The author of the monument is the Russian sculptor Alexei Leonov.
A monument was made in Zhukovsky near Moscow. After that, the cast monument was transported by road to St. Petersburg, where it was loaded on board of the ship "Akademik Fedorov". The ship, delivering various cargoes to Russian bases, made a circle around Antarctica, and the Bellingshausen base became the end point of the route, said IBBA President, Sergei Brilev, to RIA Novosti.
"It is probably the longest path that any monument has ever made," he added.
Preparatory work at the base took several weeks. Due to the complexity of the soil, the foundation of the monument had to be installed on special piles. Materials for construction work were brought in by the Uruguayan Hercules transport aircraft. “This confirms once more the international character of this story,” the IBBA president said.
Talking about the project, Brilev emphasizes that in present times cooperation and good neighborliness in Antarctica is the standard, or rather, tuning fork, of joint international actions. And this despite the fact that there are many unresolved issues around Antarctica - including disputes over the shelf, and attempts by some countries to carry out creeping sovereignty by declaring special ecological zones.
This is the second Bellingshausen monument installed by IBBA. The first monument to the mariner was erected in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The IBBA plans to open the third monument to Bellingshausen, this time in Rio de Janeiro: the authorities have agreed in principle, and despite political changes in Brazil, this agreement has recently been confirmed.
“IBBA has been taking a principled position all these years: we, except for two cases (cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and cooperation with state structures of Uruguay), have no budget funding. We are doing projects attracting money from private sponsors,” Brilev said.
“Russia has two great contributions to world geographic discoveries. This is the discovery and knowledge of Siberia and the Far North and the discovery of Antarctica,” continues Brilev. But, according to him, today Russian geographical names on international maps often appear in brackets at best. So, on Russian maps, King George Island is indicated with a second name (Waterloo), but on foreign maps there are no Russian names.
"And now, on the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica, these Russian names must be remembered," said Brilev.