Accessibility links

Russia: Cadets Remain Faithful To Tsarist Idea

  • John Varoli

St. Petersburg, 8 September 1998 (RFE/RL) --Amid the economic and political crisis, Russia's teenage cadets ended today in Moscow 10-day convention designed to infuse the boys with the ideals of the Tsarist military.

The convention was the first-ever gathering in Russia of the United Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, a group of descendants of exiled White Army officers dedicated to preserving the military ideals of the Tsarist era.

Since 1992, the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad has been playing an active role in raising new generations of young Russian soldiers. Some 42 senior cadets, most between the ages of 60 and 75, returned to Russia for the convention.

The convention, the cadets' 16th major meeting since 1931, was filled with exhortations to young Russian cadets, age 8 to 16.

"This is an extremely emotional event for us," Alexei Jordan, vice president of the New York chapter of the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL. "It is the first time that we, the sons of the White officers who fought during the Civil War, and who were educated as cadets abroad, have met in Russia."

Jordan is also the father of the leading Russian-American banker Boris Jordan, head of MFK-Renaissance. Over the past three years, Boris Jordan has made significant personal contributions to the Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg. Also, according to the MFK-Renaissance public relations office, Jordan's bank has donated 200,000 dollars to various cadet activities and to renovating the grave of the 18th-century Russian general, Alexander Suvorov.

The history of Russia's cadet corps began during the reign of Empress Anne. In 1731, she decreed the creation of the corps to prepare boys for study at an institution of higher learning that would eventually lead to a career either in the military or the state civil service.

But when the Russian Revolution of 1917 swept away the Tsarist order, only eight of Russia's 301 cadet corps were able to make their way to Crimea, then a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army under the command of General Pyotr Wrangel. Those boys who did not make it were executed by the Bolsheviks.

The Whites abandoned Crimea in 1920, and the eight cadet corps sailed with other refugees to Yugoslavia, whose king, Alexander I, had also studied in the Russian cadets school in St. Petersburg.

In Yugoslavia, a new generation of cadets were raised in the imperial spirit of, "Faith, Tsar, and Fatherland." There, hoping for the collapse of the Bolshevik regime, they waited to return to Russia.

The cadets were pushed further west by Soviet troops entering Yugoslavia at the end of World War II. Many were scattered as far as the United States and France. By 1956, the last Russian cadet corps educational institution had closed its doors in Paris.

Igor Andrushkevitch, a chief ideologue for the Russian Cadet Corps Abroad, told RFE/RL that the so-called Soviet morality was based on economic materialism and this emphasis has led to moral decline in contemporary Russia.

The Russian Cadet Corps Abroad offers to fill what they see as a moral void with the ethical structure of bygone days.

"The purpose of the cadet (corps) is to educate youth with the ideas of service to the Motherland," Yerzhan Yusupov, a former Soviet army captain and co-organizer of the conference, told RFE/RL..

"It is time to do something about the utter lack of values in the Russian military," Vladimir Braun, chairman of the Russian Order of St. George, told RFE/RL during the convention. "If we do not change the current situation in the military, then we'll have a potentially explosive situation on our hands."

It is not clear whether any representatives of the active Russian military took part in the convention either as participants or observers.