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11 Aug, 2007 01:45

Russia’s legendary cruiser remembered in Scotland

Scotland will honour the memory of a legendary Russian warship. The cruiser “Varyag” fought in the Russian-Japanese war in the early 20th century. The heroism of the ship's crew is part of Russian military history.

In January 1904, the “Varyag”, accompanied by a small gunboat sailed out to meet the Japanese fleet.

Faced with overwhelming enemy fire, the Russians chose to scuttle the ship, rather than surrender.

The “Varyag” was recovered by the Japanese and later returned to the Russians during peace time. But when Imperial Russia came to an end, the cruiser was seized by the British and sold to Germany for scrap.

Then, en route to Germany the “Varyag” met its fate near the Scottish coastal village of Lendalfoot.

More than eight decades ago the ship hit the rocks off the coast, it ran aground, then sank. Now the wreckage lies beneath the sea. For years Russian divers have been trying to salvage parts of it but they say very little remains.

But what has been salvaged is on display in Russia.

Last year, the first memorial was unveiled at Lendalfoot in a ceremony attended by senior Russian politicians, navy officers and veterans.

The local council says it’s proud of its Russian connection.

“It’s a symbol now to the people of this area of what is Russia and of those who fought in the 1904 war,” believes Winifred Sloan from South Ayrshire Council.

And next month, the Scots will have a new reminder of Russia’s military past.

“We are very grateful to the people of Lendalfoot, and they respect the memory of the Russian sailors and the Russian spirit. We also wanted every Russian who values the memory of the Varyag to make his or her contribution, so we organized a competition here in Russia to design a monument in the Varyag’s honour,” explains  Mikhail Borozin from the “Cruiser Varyag” Charity Foundation.

The winning design will see its unveiling in the picturesque village of Lendalfoot on September 8.