150 years ago — Report of Russian secret police

It’s remarkable to me how many of these themes continue to affect Russia, 150 years later.

from De Rebus Antiquis Et Novis:

Since 1827, The Third Section of His Imperial Majesty’s Own Chancellery produced special reports for the tsar, describing the moral and political situation in the Russian society. Four years ago, a large share of these reports was published by the Russian State Archive. Below are some short excerpts from the report summarizing the events of 1860, 150 years ago. Five years had passed since the coronation of Alexander II and only one year remained till the most important act of liberalism in Russia in 19th century (the last three words were, probably, not necessary).

Moral and political review of 1860

On revolutionary projects

For thirty years already, the aggregations of political emigrants in England, France, Belgium and Switzerland have constituted the source of all destructive projects in Europe. The revolutionary propaganda was led by Joseph Mazzini, the tireless advocate of the Italian freedom and the universal republic, in which this dreamer sees the future of the humanity…

The bombs, thrown in 1858 in Paris by Orsini, have proven the extreme danger of the ideas of the emancipation of Italy for the French throne…

Politicians see in the preparations for the popular resistance certain signs of the upcoming merge of the Italian question with the Hungarian, Polish and the Eastern questions. The future may confirm this guess, but it is already clearly seen that the tools chosen for these plans prove their revolutionary and democratic nature.

On Polish expatriates

The Polish emigrants include the expatriates of 1832 and 1848. The former, due to their number and influence, are more important than the latter, who mostly left Poland in young age, because of their inclination to life of leisure, without strict political principles…

According to the directions given in the speech [by Adam Czartoryski], instructions were sent to the Poles in the Tsardom to do nothing till the liberation of peasants […] but that they should make the Polish peasants believe that the Polish aristocrats forced the Tsar to liberate them. Continue reading

A Look Back — 10 years

Today is a good day to post a letter I wrote exactly 10 years ago. This was written just before I moved to Russia.

Little did I know I’d meet my wife in just a few months, and I certainly didn’t expect most of what has transpired in this wonderful decade. It’s been a very blessed 10 years.


27 October 2000

Dear Friends,

Here’s the newest of the news. But first, a very quick recap: Just one year ago Mark Browne, the founder of Mission Russia Outreach (MRO), spoke at my church in Austin. At that time, some friends felt in their hearts that should I get to know Mark and the ministry. Well, I’ve now quit my job, left Austin, and spent over 3 months in Russia–this has been an amazing year, and I thank God for it. And there’s more to come:

A week ago, MRO had a Board of Directors meeting in Atlanta, which I was asked to attend. Since I had worked in Russia for a few months this summer, they wanted to hear my views on the work there. Two things have come from that meeting that I’d like to share with you.

1) I was elected to the Board of Directors of MRO. It’s an honor that was unexpected. Please pray that I and the other members will have wisdom as overseers of that organization. The ministry is growing in several ways, and we all need grace to walk in the way the Lord is leading.

2) I have been commissioned by MRO to establish and direct a charitable foundation in Russia. This organization will coordinate ministry teams, and humanitarian aid that come from America, Finland, and Australia.

A lot will happen over the next 12 months. The Lord willing, I’ll spend most of that time in Russia establishing the foundation; setting up the office; building a staff; learning the language; finding a fellowship of brothers and sisters; finding a home; starting a Bible study in that home; building relationships with orphanage and summer camp directors, government officials, and others; and meeting new friends.

I leave for Russia this Thursday, November 2 (things are happening quickly!!). I will meet with Steve Atkins, a pastor from Australia, and we’ll work with Sasha Kotenkov and others to establish the foundation in Russia. Steve will be there for three weeks, and then I’ll continue the work. I’ll be in Russia until December 15 and return to the States for Christmas holidays. Then I’ll go back in early January for the long haul. I hope to return to the States for a few weeks every 3-4 months from then on.

In reality, this Thursday I am moving to Russia (unless events take a drastic turn). So from now on I reckon I’m “from Russia” whenever people ask where home is; although right now I don’t have a home in Russia either. Hmmmm. . . my life is kinda interesting.

I don’t know yet if I will receive a salary from the new foundation, and I have no source of income. I say this to let you know the truth of the situation, and I know that the Lord will provide what I need, when I need it. God is calling me to trust Him with all of my life, and I’m having to let go of my desire to receive a regular salary. If you feel led to support me financially, donations can be made to . . . . . . .

Please give only if you feel led by the Lord. Perhaps He has other plans for you and your money, and I don’t want anyone to be outside of His perfect will. Pray and be obedient in all things; we will trust Him together. I encourage you to go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. And He who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Finally, and most importantly, I give God the credit for what is happening in my life. He loves the people of Russia, and He is doing some incredible things around the world. I am very pleased to be able to serve as He calls.

Grace and Peace be yours,

Mike Cantrell

130th Birthday of the Alexander Bridge

From De Rebus Antiquis Et Novis

The Alexander Railway Bridge was opened on August 30, 1880. In the end of 19th century, it was the longest bridge in Europe, 1436 meters (just under a mile long). It was also the last large bridge in Russia built from imported iron. Newspapers compared it to the Suez channel. The importance of the bridge was that it was the point of connection of the railroads from Moscow and Western Russia and the railroads of Urals and Siberia, including the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In 1918, two spans were exploded by retiring troops. After the revolution the bridge was renamed to Syzran Bridge, after a nearby city.

In 2004, the original spans of the old bridge were replaced, though its supports remain.

Cantrell Pizza #1

For several years I’ve been wanting us to have a pizza night, like many people do.  Needless to say it’s not much of a tradition here, but we need this tradition in Mother Russia!

Here are Natasha and Olga with Cantrell Pizza #1:

On my last visit to the States, I shared a pizza night with the Tomlins and the Coles in Athens, GA. That renewed my interest.  A couple of days ago we decided to give it a shot.

We made our own pizza sauce, and we found a tasty recipe online. We used whole wheat flour (because that’s all we had on hand.) The dough was pretty good for our first attempt. It wasn’t a pretty pizza, but it tasted just fine. Over all, we’ve had a success.

Now we need to invite a lot of folks over for pizza night.

The Echo of War

This is from EnglishRussia, a great website. I am touched by these pictures, which are a mixing of historic and contemporary photos. A companion post is here.

Vienna. 1945/2010. Soviet soldiers at the Imperial Palace Hofburg:

Moscow is getting ready for defense. 1941/2009. Gorky and Tverskaya Streets:

Berlin 1945/2010. A disabled tank “Tiger” in Tiergarten park:

Continue reading

A Snapshot From Russia

Tavrichesky Palace and Gardens, St. Petersburg Russia. Catherine the Great and her lover/general Grigory Potemkin walked these very paths. The palace was built in the 1780s; it later was the seat the first Russian Parliament (c. 1906), and this is where the Bolsheviks took power.

This park is across the street from our flat; I took the picture walking home from the metro today.