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Friday, September 4, 2020

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In the beginning of August 2020 a Wikimedia User Group called North-West Russia Wiki-Historians User Group (which includes two members of Wikimedians of Erzya language User Group by the way) accomplished a long-awaited group wiki-expedition using two personal cars. Series of such expeditions were planned earlier this year, but they were all cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic. During the spring and in the early summer, while ban on group gatherings existed, some members of the group made mini-expeditions alone or in two, with taking all of the necessary precautions. And finally, a normal collective gathering became possible. Wiki-expeditions (aka "wiki-rambles") by cars is the new format for this User Group (but not new for the Wikimedia Movement). But it's necessary to say that this Group turned to be the pioneer in organizing the bicycle wiki-ramble in 2019 (see English language photo report).

This year was declared "The Year of Memory and Glory" in Russia, so the expedition's goal was appointed correspondingly to the Road of Life, the memorial route dedicated to period of Leningrad blockade when this road was used for supplying the sieged city. Ekaterina Borisova, member of the User Group, became the main crew's guide during the expedition being the main author of the Wikivoyage's Russian language guide to the route. The participants started off at 8:30 AM from Saint Petersburg (former Leningrad) Lenin square. Before the start, Ekaterina had received her award for the earlier Wiki-contest "Stay at home with Wikipedia" where she achieved 3rd place. The award was delivered by Vladimir Medeyko, head of "Wikimedia Russia chapter" and also the member of the User Group.

The travellers made their 1st stop near Saint Petersburg administrative border at the "Memorial Complex ‘Road of Life — 1 km’" with a monument to "Traffic Controller". The users made pictures of the memorial objects, including the 1st kilometer milestone. Such milestones, made as monuments, are situated at each kilometer of the Road and there are 46 of them in total, so one of the tasks was photographing them all. So that, stops on the route were frequent (but not at each kilometer, though). Also the war-time memorials were not the only goals of the trip because there are lot of interesting places along the route. Particularly, at the next stop at "5th kilometer" the users examined a historical Priyutino mansion situated on the territory of Vsevolozhsk town.

The next stop was made at Rumbolovskaya mountain in Vsevolozhsk at the 10th kilometer of the Road. The mountain is depicted at the town's coat of arms. Russian Wikivoyage guide on Road of Life reads: "The monument to the left, composed of two giant metal leaves of oak and laurel, is visible from afar. The acorn in front of them symbolizes new beginning of life. A granite stele nearby depicts cargo trucks and verses from poem by Olga Bergholz". At the top of the mountain, the travellers examined the memorial to Metrojet Flight 9268 2015 explosion victims, memorial to victims of Chernobyl disaster, memorials to soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Chechnya, military cemetery and other objects including the Church of the Savior and cobblestone stables at the location of former Vsevolozhsk noblemen's manor called Ryabovo.

Next stops were made near the memorials in Romanovka settlement (where the travellers also took a dinner). Memorials of Romanovka are thought to be "trivial" in their composition as viewed by people at Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons website generally prohibits images of memorials in Russia due to so-called "Freedom of Panorama" copyright problem. But artworks that are considered "trivial", are not generally subject to it. Reminder: Wikimedia RU chapter is struggling to liberate "Freedom of Panorama" in Russia, and there were some success in the past.

Wikivoyage's guide continues on 12th kilometer: "Three high steles remind us of signboards installed here during the World War II. One reads ‘To Kobona’, the middle reads ‘The more runs, the quicker victory over the enemy’, the latter reads ‘To Leningrad’. Another plaque reads: ‘200 000 Leningrad residents evacuated, 500 000 tons of cargo delivered to Leningrad’. In front of the memorial there is a genuine 280-meter piece of Road of Life's original track which at some points was laid over the old Swedish cobblestone road, and here it curves slightly". The Guide also reports on 17th kilometer: "Hereby, close to 17th kilometer pole, were situated anti-aircraft artillery units which were protecting the Road of Life from enemy aviation attacks. Strictly speaking, Katyusha rocket launchers were not exactly anti-aircraft artillery, but are strongly associated with air defense. Five 14-meter black steel bars, installed on a concrete base, depict the guiding rails of a rocket launcher in very convincing way. The monument was built in 1966. One of its authors, architect L. V. Chulkevich, was himself commanding a convoy at the Road of Life during the blockade".

Wikivoyage's guide proceeds: "29th kilometer. Irinovka mansion is the former estate of baron P. L. Korf, politician and industrialist, the founder of Irinovskaya narrow-gauge railway. Nice art Nouveau main building is still here used as local hospital nowadays, being naval military hospital of the Ladoga Flotilla during the war. The ancient driveway alley runs to the house from the main road. Further, to the left of the highway, an old giant oak grows in the field. According to legend, famous Russian commander Mikhail Kutuzov used to have a rest under it (Wikimapia website tells the oak is an official natural monument since 2013)". "The oak is easy to approach via arranged pathway, and there's a picturesque view of the surrounding fields. More further, between 30 and 31 kilometer poles, to the right of the highway you can find the mass grave of military nurses, soldiers died in hospital and Leningrad citizens died while evacuating. About 500 people are buried here".

Then the expedition headed to Vaganovo village (kilometer 37) where the Museum of the Ladoga Flotilla is situated. It was founded in 1966 as a museum of young pathfinder club and by now it obtained more than 800 exhibits. The travellers waived museum visits this time, preferring watching monuments and historical locations, so they founded and photographed the monuments to fighters of the Pipeline and Communication Forces. "It sounds boring maybe, but it's important to understand how crucial were fuel supplies and communications for the sieged city; how hard it was to lay down communications while constantly being fired at, including underwater lines in the deep and windy Ladoga lake. Anyone who worked on the Road of Life was unquestionably a hero", — Wikivoyage clarifies.

Next on, the usergroup members came to the shore of Lagoda lake, which was used to maintain link to Soviet military rear at the opposite shore (in Kobona)—on water in summer, on ice in winter. The place is marked with a giant monument called "Broken Ring". The "Freedom of Panorama" problem was raised again: users remembered that some photos of this memorial were deleted from Wikimedia Commons (but not all). User Sergei Rubliov proposed filing of undeletion requests for these deleted photos declaring the "Broken Ring" memorial as trivial, so non-copyrighted. The user referred to his experience of uploading a photo of more complex monument, which was recognized unambiguously trivial by Commons user PlanespotterA320, a well-known Wikimedia specialist on this topic. Other travellers supported the idea.

From the "Broken Ring" the posse moved northwards along the shore and watched the Osinovetsky lighthouse from aside (it's impossible to reach it directly), as well as the windy lake. They also examined the memorial complex "Ladoga Mound" and the wartime-strategic Ladozhskoye ozero railway station, which features memorial steam locomotive. Other landmarks are also available, and Russian language Wikivoyage guide tells comprehensively about all of them. The way back to former Leningrad the expeditionists made by the alternative southern path—through Gannibalovka settlement and Murmanskoe highway, while acknowledging the expedition as informative and useful. The event's gallery at Wikimedia Commons: Wikimeetup in Vsevolozhsky District 2020-08-01.





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