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HISTORY OF THE DAY According to Oleg Loginov. May 30. THE KHODYNKA TRAGEDY

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HISTORY OF THE DAY

According to Oleg Loginov

May 30

THE KHODYNKA TRAGEDY

Painting by Vladimir Makovsky. «Khodynka». (1899).

On May 30, 1896, festivities were planned in Moscow on the Khodynka Field on the occasion of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II. The organizers wanted to make them according to the script, as in 1883 at the coronation of Alexander III. Then about 200 thousand people came to the celebration, all of them were fed and presented with gifts. In 1896, at the request of the tsar, his uncle, the Moscow Governor-General, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, was appointed the master of the festivities. 20 million rubles were spent on the organization of the holiday.

Temporary «theaters», variety shows, booths, shops were built along the perimeter of the Khodynka field, including 20 wooden barracks for the free distribution of vodka and beer and 150 stalls for the distribution of free souvenirs — gift bags, in which rolls, pieces of boiled sausage, gingerbread and earthenware mugs with a portrait of the tsar were laid out.

However, the organizers did not take into account the increased passion of the Russian people for freebies. Already at 5 o’clock in the morning, at least 500 thousand people gathered on the Khodynka field. 1800 policemen could not contain the crowd when a rumor swept through it that the barmen were distributing gifts among «their own», and therefore there would not be enough for all the gifts. People rushed to the temporary wooden buildings. The floorboards covering the potholes collapsed, people fell into them without having time to get up: a crowd was already running over them. Distributors, realizing that people could demolish their shops and stalls, began to throw bags of food directly into the crowd, which only intensified the commotion.

Drawing by Anton Batov

Vladimir Gilyarovsky very colorfully conveyed what was happening, who wrote: «Suddenly it buzzed. First far away, then around me. Immediately somehow… Screeching, screaming, moaning. And everyone who was peacefully lying and sitting on the ground jumped to their feet in fright and rushed to the opposite edge of the moat, where the booths were white above the cliff, the roofs of which I could only see behind the flickering heads. I did not rush after the people, I resisted and walked away from the booths, to the side of the races, towards the mad crowd that rushed after those who had left their seats in an effort to get mugs. Jostling, crowding, howling. It was almost impossible to hold out against the crowd. And there in front, near the booths, on the other side of the moat, a howl of horror: those who first rushed to the booths were pressed against the clay vertical wall of the cliff, above the height of a man. They pressed down, and the crowd from behind filled the moat more and more tightly, which formed a solid, compressed mass of howling people. In some places, children were pushed up, and they crawled over the heads and shoulders of the people into the open. The rest were motionless: they were all swaying together, there were no separate movements. Another will suddenly be lifted up by the crowd, his shoulders are visible, so his feet are on the weight, they do not feel the ground… Here it is, death is imminent! And what!»

Swept away by the human wave, the police could do nothing. Only after the arrival of reinforcements (by the next morning) did the crowds disperse, leaving the bodies of trampled and mutilated people on the field. According to official data, 1,389 people were killed on the Khodynka field, 1,500 were injured.

However, Nikolai, who later received the nickname «Bloody» for the Khodynka tragedy, did not curtail his festive program because of such «trifles».

It seems rather cynical on his part that part of the celebration took place even on the Khodynka field, hastily cleaned and cleared of all traces of the tragedy that had played out before his arrival. It is difficult to remember what else has ever been done in Russia, with such zeal and efficiency, as in cases when it was necessary to please the sovereign. The corpses were still piled on carts and taken away mainly to the Vagankovo cemetery. And on Khodynka they were already preparing for his reception. Gilyarovsky wrote: «The feast over the corpses has begun! Gifts were still being distributed in distant booths. The program was carried out: choirs of songwriters sang on the stage and orchestras thundered.»

The tragedy occurred early in the morning, and by 14 o’clock a marathon was brought to the field. As a result, the sovereign was greeted with a thunderous «hurrah» and singing of the National Anthem to music performed by an orchestra conducted by the famous conductor V. Safonov.

For the aristocracy, the festivities on the occasion of the coronation continued in the evening at the Kremlin Palace, and then with a reception at the French ambassador.

Vladimir Makovsky. «After Khodynka. Vagankovskoye cemetery». (1901)

The newspapers «Moskovskie Vedomosti» and «Moskovsky Leaf» did not write anything about the disaster, as if it had never happened. And the police tried to arrest the circulation of the newspaper «Russian Vedomosti» with Gilyarovsky’s article.

The Emperor allocated more than 85 thousand rubles to the families of the victims of the stampede and about a thousand bottles of madeira and port wine for hospitals and hospitals. He ordered to pay the family of each deceased benefits in the amount of 1,000 rubles, but simple arithmetic shows that he gave almost twice as much money for this. As a result, officials dodged, paying some full and some incomplete benefits — 750, 700, 500, 350 and 250 rubles. Of course, the tsar-priest can be understood, he has already restrained himself, having spent at least 10 million rubles on coronation celebrations.

It is also curious that the Moscow Chief of police Alexander Vlasovsky, who was declared the culprit of the tragedy and was dismissed after it, was given a pension of 15 thousand rubles a year.

Rating on the topic «The worst stampedes in history»

*Texts from Wikipedia and other Internet resources were used.

*Translated using an electronic dictionary. The original text in Russian and much more on the criminal topic can be selected on the main page of the site — http://crimerecords.info/

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