Libmonster ID: U.S.-1221
Author(s) of the publication: V. V. BELYAKOV


Doctor of Historical Sciences

In the modern world, persistent ideas about other nations have become fixed in the public consciousness of peoples. They were formed over the centuries-both from the primary source, i.e. mutual communication, and from secondary sources - works of literature and art. At the same time, the process of forming the image of another nation in each particular case had its own specific features. What has been said fully applies to the formation of the image of Russians in Egypt.

Russia's ties with Egypt seem to date back at least a thousand years. As early as 1001, Prince Vladimir sent the first ambassadors to Egypt, 1 most likely on ecclesiastical matters. On the Egyptian Sinai, there are Christian shrines - the Burning Bush (the bush in the flame of which the Lord first appeared to Moses) and Mount Sinai, on the top of which Moses received the tablets of faith from the Lord. It is true that the earliest known pilgrimage to the shrines of Sinai, that of Archimandrite Agrefenius, dates back to 1370. 2 However, there is reason to believe that the first Russian pilgrims appeared in Sinai at the same time as in Palestine, i.e. in the XI century. 3

The pilgrimage to the holy places of Sinai in the Russian Orthodox tradition is on a par with the pilgrimage to Palestine and Mount Athos - with the only difference being that due to the relative inaccessibility of the area, it is difficult to reach Sinai was visited less frequently than other shrines. As a rule, the pilgrimage to Sinai was made from the Holy Land. The shortest way from Jerusalem to the monastery of St. John the Baptist. St. Catherine's-the guardian of Sinai shrines-goes through the Negev Desert, then along the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea, and from there into the depths of Sinai. However, it was only at the end of the 19th century that it became possible to use this route: before that, to get to the monastery, you first had to get a recommendation from its Cairo metochion. This restriction forced pilgrims to use a longer route, through Egypt. This is how the first contacts of the Egyptians with the Russians took place.

In Islam, pilgrimage to holy places is even more important than in Christianity, being one of the five "pillars of faith". Therefore, the attitude of the Egyptians towards Russian Christian pilgrims was also respectful. As a rule, the Egyptians had no idea where Russia was, but they understood that the Russian pilgrims had made a long, difficult and dangerous journey in the name of their faith.

Russian pilgrims, according to A.V. Eliseev, who visited Sinai in 1881, were distinguished by their faith in God and in their own strength, contempt for hardships, and simplicity. These qualities appealed to the Egyptians. "Everywhere I met a friendly attitude, I heard greetings, whole phrases in broken Russian, and nowhere anything hostile," claimed Russian traveler 4.


At the beginning of the 19th century, Russian priests and merchants began to settle in Egypt. However, the number of them was small. Thus, in 1830, according to the Russian Consulate, only 26 Russian citizens permanently resided in Egypt.5 The appearance of the first Russian travelers in Egypt also dates back to this time. However, until the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian community remained small, and travelers from Russia were rare visitors to Egypt. So it was the pilgrims who represented the Russian people in the first place in the eyes of the Egyptians.

N. V. Berg, a writer and translator who had visited Egypt two years earlier, mentioned the attitude of the Egyptians towards the Russians in his notes published in the November 1862 issue of Otechestvennye Zapiski. In Cairo, the Portuguese told him: "This people are very fond of Russians, especially over all other Europeans, and do you know why: the Russian treats them more simply and humanly; the Frenchman and Englishman, especially the latter, treat them like animals. The Englishman will never talk to them and will throw them a gi-

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like a piece to a dog. These apparently simple, half-naked people, wrapped in a piece of dirty linen, poor and cramped to the last degree, are more sensitive than anyone to the caress of a wanderer brought into their desert. Give him less, but give it in a human way, and he will remember it for a long time and carry your name from generation to generation. " 6

It is unlikely that Berg composed this passage to please his fellow readers. It is also unlikely that the Portuguese told a lie to please the Russian interlocutor.

The peculiarity of the Russian Empire, unlike the British or French, was not only the unity of territory, but also the unity of citizenship, and therefore a certain equality; regardless of nationality or religion. This helped the Russians avoid the "white man" syndrome characteristic of Western European colonialists, disregard for other peoples.

"Commitment to universal equality is one of the main features of the Russian character, "noted the American weekly Globalist not so long ago. - Unlike some Americans, Russians do not believe that there is a certain boundary separating "real" people from everyone else - Indians, blacks or Arabs. Nor did they exterminate their own "Indians"themselves." 7

One of the explanations for the Russian commitment to the equality of different peoples was recently given by sociologist V. Kirpichev: "The Russian Empire is generally lucky that the Romanov dynasty is basically not a Russian dynasty, they are Germans, Holsteins, which helped them to ensure the equidistance of the boyars-the oligarchs of their time-from the throne, and very important for the empire is the equal proximity of ethnic groups to power" 8.

Another point is also important. "Russia geographically, historically and ethnographically is not only both Europe and Asia,"notes Russian researcher R. G. Landa," but also a certain synthesis, a new quality born of the fusion of European and Asian principles." This leads to the conclusion: "Much less than in Western Europe, the degree of rejection of everything coming from the East, and a much greater ability to perceive everything eastern is, in our opinion, the most remarkable feature of Russian civilization"9.

Egyptians, who were ruled by foreigners for more than two thousand years until the 1952 revolution, have always been extremely sensitive to how other nationalities, especially Europeans and Americans, treat them. Moreover, this quality has been preserved to this day. As the Egyptian sociologist Jaylan Zayan notes, the key criterion for an Egyptian's perception of a foreigner is the latter's attitude to the local culture. "Egyptians sympathize with foreigners who do not flaunt their way of life and do not try to "teach" them, but rather express respect for their values and traditions."10

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, in which Egypt also participated on the side of the Ottoman Empire, made a significant contribution to the formation of the image of Russians. The Russian authorities were extremely humane in their treatment of numerous captured Turkish soldiers, including several thousand Egyptians. Defeated opponents were placed in well-equipped barracks, where they were always given a place for prayers, dressed and fed according to the norm of Russian soldiers, treated in military hospitals and even allowed to get a job. For officers, apartments were rented, they were paid salaries 11This attitude to the prisoners showed them the kindness and generosity of the Russian people.

After two or three years of being held captive in Russia, more than 100 thousand people were captured. Many of the Ottoman soldiers and officers returned to their homeland - healthy, well-fed, shod and dressed, and some with savings. This could not fail to make a favorable impression on their compatriots. If we take into account that Muslim families are numerous, and family ties between them are close, it becomes obvious that a positive image of Russians has spread widely among a significant part of the population of the Ottoman Empire.

A similar situation was observed by A.V. Eliseev: "The war and the hundreds of thousands of prisoners who visited hospitable Muscovy had the most favorable effect on all segments of the population of the Turkish Empire,"he noted." Even on the banks of the Nile, you can now be surprised to find a native marakuyut in Russian " 12.

It is noteworthy that the sympathy of the Egyptians for the Russians was also quite practical. "Even in recent times-the bombardment of Alexandria (by the British in the summer of 1882-V. B.)... one word: "I am Moskov", often took away daggers and scimitars from the chest of the unfortunate, - noted the same A.V. Eliseev in another book. "This was reported to me by a Russian who had lived in Alexandria for 20 years, and who used this magic word to save the lives of many non-Russians, even when the representation of the consuls, who had fled along with others from the ravaged city,was powerless." 13

Summing up his impressions of his trip to Egypt in 1881, A.V. Eliseev came to the conclusion that the best guides of Russian influence in this country are pilgrims and prisoners.14

Looking ahead, we note that the historical memory of being held captive in Russia by both Turks and Egyptians proved to be persistent. "Russians are loved in Alexandria," said A.V. Zhivago, an Egyptian guide, in 1910, "because your compatriots were once highly praised by the Turks who returned from captivity after the war." 15 We will cite another, even later, evidence to this effect.

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score. "The good attitude of the Arabs, by the way, is explained by the good memory left by their fathers and grandfathers in Russia in captivity, - wrote almost half a century after the war, in 1926, Vasily Nemirovich - Danchenko, who emigrated from Russia, who passed it as a war correspondent. "They told the children a lot about the kindness and generosity of the Muscovites." 16

17At the beginning of the 20th century, the Egyptians got additional opportunities to get acquainted with the Russians. During this period, educational (in modern terms, tourist) trips from Russia to Egypt took on a massive character. Moreover, Russians were attracted to Egypt not only by its attractions, but also by the balneological resort in Helwan, on the southern outskirts of Cairo, where there were even several "Russian sanatoriums".

Personal contacts with the Russians continued to be the main source of impressions about this people for the Egyptians. It is unlikely that the inhabitants of the land of the pyramids at that time could get any detailed information about Russians from newspapers and magazines, and besides, there were few literate ones among them. But at the beginning of the 20th century, the works of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy were translated into Arabic and published in Egypt.

Meeting with Russians, reading books by Russian writers, the Egyptians found similar features in the national character of this people, first of all, the priority of moral values over material ones. Russian travelers also noticed the similarity of characters. Prince S. S. Abamelek-Lazarev, recalling his trip to Egypt in the winter of 1881-1882, wrote: "In all their (Egyptian - V. B.) relations with you, there is something sincere, sincere, warm, human, which in them resembles a Russian commoner" 18. Similar features of national character contributed to the formation of a positive image of Russians among the Egyptians.


The Egyptians ' sympathy for the Russians was evident in the early 1920s, when refugees from Russia arrived in the country on the Nile. This can be seen from the testimonies of the refugees themselves. Thus, reporting on the lottery held in Alexandria in favor of the starving in Russia, the magazine "Na Chuzhbine", published in 1921-1922 in the "Russian camp" in Sidi Bishr, noted that "not only wealthy Europeans and Arabs took part in it, but also the poorest population, who gladly donated their last piastres to those who are dying of hunger and are more miserable than they are. " 19

The refugees also felt a good attitude towards themselves. A teenager from the Don Cadet Corps, whose camp was held in 1920-1922. located on the banks of the Suez Canal, I recalled such an episode. During a small excursion, the cadets slept right in the desert. Suddenly, the author of the memoir woke up. Several Egyptians with camels were standing at his feet. The teenager greeted them in Arabic. They answered and asked: An Englishman? "La, la (no. - V. B.)!" - I hurried to dissuade them, since the Arabs hate the British, and explained: "Moskob (Russian)". < ... > "Moskobi kuays, moskobi karasho!" - they answered me as a reward, and everyone retired into the depths of the night ... " 20

"The Arabs were sympathetic to the Russians," noted V. E. Chirikova, who passed through the Tell al-Kebir refugee camp. - They always greeted us with the word "good". Sometimes, as they passed by, they muttered their password in a rapid patter, like conspirators: "Muscovite - good, Anglise-bad" " 21.

This attitude contributed to the adaptation of those Russian refugees who, after leaving the camps, turned into immigrants. It then spread to the Russian diaspora as a whole. "Russians in Egypt were loved and respected, calling them 'el Moskofi', and this was considered an honorary title, " said the son of the director of the Russian Polyclinic in Cairo, V. V. Bellin, in the late 1960s. - King Farouk, and after him Gen [eral] Naguib and the regiment [ovnik] Nasser continued to treat us well. " 22

The image of a nation does not always coincide with the image of its state. This is clearly seen in the attitude of the Egyptians to tsarist Russia, and then to the USSR.

During the first Russian Revolution of 1905 - 1907, the sympathies of the Egyptians were on the side of the people, not the government. This is indicated by newspaper publications of those years, the creation of public organizations.-

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for demonstrating solidarity with the people of Russia, holding charity events in favor of victims of tsarist repressions 23At the same time, the policy of the Russian Empire was repeatedly criticized in his writings by the leader of the Egyptian national movement, Mustafa Kamil24.

After the October Revolution, Egypt shied away from establishing official relations with the USSR for a quarter of a century, accusing Moscow of trying to export communist ideology. Official propaganda was characterized by hostility to the Soviet state. Diplomatic relations were established only in 1943, when after the defeat of the fascist armies at Stalingrad and on the Kursk Bulge, it became clear that the Soviet Union was close to winning the war. But the formal exchange of diplomatic missions did not mean the disappearance of Cairo's hostility to Moscow. "Not a single positive article about the Soviet Union was published in August (1945 - V. B.)," said the press review compiled by the Soviet mission in Cairo.25 Naturally, with such a position of the local press, it was difficult for ordinary Egyptians to form a positive image of the USSR.

Meanwhile, sympathy for the Russians as a people persisted. This can be seen from the memoirs of the Azerbaijani writer Suleyman Veliyev. At the end of 1944, after his release from Nazi captivity in Italy, he spent five weeks in a transit camp in Egypt on his way home. 26 On the other hand, according to V. V. Bellin, the attitude of the Egyptian leadership towards Russian immigrants, in contrast to its attitude towards the USSR, also remained good.

* * *

So, let's summarize the above. The image of Russians was formed in Egypt in the second half of the XIX century as a result of the humanitarian, i.e. personal, ties of the Egyptians with our compatriots. The main role in these relations was played by Orthodox pilgrims heading to the holy places of Sinai, and Egyptian military personnel who were held captive in Russia in 1877-1880. The image of the Russians was positive, mainly due to their respectful attitude towards the Egyptians. Some common features of the national character of the Egyptians and Russians also affected. This contributed to the adaptation in Egypt of Russian immigrants who arrived there in 1920, and probably later-and the development of versatile cooperation between the USSR and Egypt after the Suez crisis of 1956.

1 Complete Collection of Russian Chronicles, vol. 9-10. Patriarchal or Nikonovskaya Chronicle, Moscow, 1965, p. 68.

2 The Walk of Archimandrite Agrefegna // Orthodox Palestine Collection, 48th issue, St. Petersburg, 1896.

3 For more information, see: Belyakov V. V. "To the sacred banks of the Nile..." Russian in Egypt, Moscow, 2003, pp. 15-16.

Eliseev A.V. 4 The Path to Sinai. St. Petersburg, 1883, p. 7.

5 Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire. F. 317, op. 820/2, 35, l. 12.

6 Cit. by: Danzig B. M. The Middle East in Russian Science and Literature (pre-October period). Moscow, 1973, p. 298.

7 Cit. by: Literaturnaya gazeta, 08.12.2004.

Kirpichev Vadim. 8 Code of "Eugene Onegin" / / Literaturnaya gazeta, 26.3.2008.

Landa R. G. 9 Islam in the history of Russia. Moscow, 1995, p. 10, 17.

Zayan, Jailan. 10 Egypt. The Culture Smart Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Cairo, 2007, p. 83.

11 See: Belyakov BB. Egyptian prisoners of war in Russia // Voenno-istoricheskiy zhurnal, 2007, No. 4.

Eliseev A.V. 12 The Path to Sinai, pp. 2-4.

Eliseev A.V. Meeting with Russian pilgrims in the Holy Land in the spring of 1884. SPb., 1885, p. 67.

Eliseev A.V. 14 Path to Sinai.., p. 4.

15 A.V. Zhivago-doctor, collector, Egyptologist, Moscow, 1998, p. 144.

Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vasily. 16 Nashi v dalyakh [Our people in the distance] / / Afrika glama emigrantov [Africa through the eyes of emigrants], Moscow, 2002, p. 139.

17 For more information, see: Belyakov V. V. " To the sacred banks of the Nile...", pp. 74-85.

18 Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov. Elena Dmitrievna Polenova. Chronicles of the family of artists, Moscow, 1964, p. 302.

Belyakov V. V. 19 "Russkiy gorod" v Sidi Bishr [The Russian City in Sidi Bishr]. Vostochny archiv 2006, N 14-15, p. 118.

20 Children of Russian Emigration, Moscow, 1997, p. 396.

21 Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin. Articles. Letters. Memoirs of the Artist, L., 1970, p. 191.

Bellin V. V. 22 Zhizn russkikh v Egipte [The Life of Russians in Egypt]. Paris, 1971, p. 321.

23 For more information, see: Belyakov V. V. Russian Egypt, Moscow, 2008, pp. 47-49.

Sabry Mohammed. 24 Russia and the Historical and Political Works of Mustafa Kamel // The Cultural Heritage of Egypt and Russia. Extracts from research papers submitted to symposium at Helwan University, Cairo, May 7 - 9, 2005, p. 5.

25 Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation. F. 87, op. 8, p. 8, 18, l. 29.

Veliyev Suleiman. 26 The way to the motherland. Memoirs-See: Veliyev Suleiman. Zhemchuzhny dozhd, Moscow, 1963, pp. 300-302.


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