On the Road - Stockholm to Beijing travel blog

Todays stop of note was Yekaterinburg,the city was founded in 1723 and named after Saint Catherine, the namesake of Tsar Peter the Great's wife Empress Catherine I (Yekaterina). The official date of the city's foundation is 18 November 1723.

Soon after the Russian Revolution, on 17 July 1918, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their children Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Tsarevich Alexei were murdered by the Bolsheviks at the Ipatiev House in this city. In 1977 the Ipatiev House was demolished by order of Boris Yeltsin, to prevent it from being used as a rallying location for monarchists. He later became the first President of the Russian Federation and represented the people at the funeral of the Tsar in 1998

On 24 August 2007, the BBC reported that Russian archaeologists had recently found the remains of two children of Russia's last Tsar. The remains were in ground close to the site in Yekaterinburg where the Tsar, his wife and their three other daughters were found in 1991 along with the remains of four servants. The 2007 discoveries are thought to be those of Prince Alexei and his elder sister Maria. It is said bullets found at the burial site indicate the children had been shot. Ceramic vessels found nearby appear to have contained sulfuric acid, consistent with an account by one of the Bolshevik firing squad, who said that after shooting the family they doused the bodies in acid to destroy the flesh and prevent them becoming objects of veneration.

During the 1930s, Yekaterinburg was one of the sites developed by the Soviet government as a centre of heavy industry, during which time the famous Uralmash was built. Then, during World War II, many government technical institutions and whole factories were relocated to Yekaterinburg away from the war-affected areas (mostly Moscow), with many of them staying in Yekaterinburg after victory. The Hermitage Museum collections were also partly evacuated from Leningrad to Sverdlovsk in July 1941 and remained there until October 1945.

On 1 May 1960 an American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers while under the employ of the CIA, was shot down over Sverdlovsk Oblast. He was captured, put on trial, found guilty of espionage and sentenced to seven years of hard labour. He served only about a year before being exchanged for Rudolph Abel, a high-ranking KGB spy, who had been apprehended in the United States in 1957.

Statue of the city founders – Vasily Tatishchev and Georg Wilhelm de GenninThere was an anthrax outbreak in Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) in April and May 1979, which was attributed by Soviet officials to the locals eating contaminated meat. However, American agencies believe that the locals inhaled spores accidentally released from an aerosol of pathogen at a military microbiology facility. Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov's account of the Sverdlovsk anthrax leak in his book Biohazard agrees with the American agencies' view. In 1992 Boris Yeltsin admitted that the anthrax outbreak was caused by the military.

The location was closed to the public until 1990, and in 200 there were massive problems with warring Mafia families. What a sordid past, also the most exciting thing that had happened all day!

At night however we had one of our cabin friends leave and another board. A 23 year old Russian, Roman, whom is a border control guard on the China/Russia boarder. He promptly introduce himself and brought out some of his family food to try. It started ok with some lovely jammed strawberries made by his babouska (grandma), then plumeted when he brought out his favourite, tinned horsemeat..... finally out came three bottles of vodka.

I manaaged to sit on a small glass mixed with juice, whilst my fellow traveller (x-army kernal) proceeded top get right sloshed. We played games with the russian English phrasebook a friend lent us and tailoring my diary to mirror the game pictionary. All in all it was a good night, with much laughter. Until it got to whatever time, time that i was tired, and the boys couldnt get the hint I wanted my bottom bunk to sleep in. It was near 3 hours later that I finally kicked them out, not hearing form them until the next morning. Apparently during their night they had a little too much fun resulting in a broken window, dont ask me how and poilce awaiting them at a stop to take a statement of apology and to be paid off, no less than $500AUD was handed over... I am very glad i dont drink!

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