Excerpt of Resource Rich Murman Coast – About the settlement process in Murman
by Andrey Repnevskiy, Northern (Arctic) Federal University
In 1863, the tsarist authorities in Russia allowed foreigners (the majority of whom were Finns and Norwegians) to settle in Murman on condition of acquiring by the latter of the Russian nationality. In doing so, they hoped that emigrees would foster the development in those remote cold parts of the empire and set a good example for the Pomors – who were very hesitant to settle in Murman. The Arkhangelsk County’s intelligensia were both puzzled and outraged by the passivism of Pomors and the enthusiasm of Finnish and Norwegian settlers. Their critical remarks got coverage in the Arkhangelsk Guberniya News. They were appealing to the Pomors’ patriotic pride and warning that the foreign stranglehold on the fish and seals abounding in the Kola Peninsula waters would threaten the resources of the Russian North. Below is the excerpt of an article covering the issue.
The author of the series of articles titled: “Resource-Rich Murman Coast” (published in several AGN issues) unknown. Arkhangelsk Guberniya News, Issue 52, 1868. Excerpt of “Resource-Rich Murman Coast” about the settlement process in Murman
… Let us consider northern Norway we all hear a lot about. There, every tiny bit of coastland suitable for settling is inhabited and bigger ranges are all spotted with the full-fledged villages or towns. Their two and three-storeyed houses smack of European chic and civility, they evidence profitable trades. Do you really think that people there have resources we can’t find on our Murman coast? … Aren’t they an immediate and worthwhile example for us to follow? It’s high time we the Pomors woke up from the oblivion to shake off the legacy of past and channel our efforts to settle on our resource-rich coast… I know my call to action won’t be heard by simple-minded Pomors. I know that they won’t do a thing. But I say Murman coast will definitely find its settlers! For the lucid minds – Norwegians, Finns and Swedes who know the worth of Murman coast – have already come at the first summons of the government. It took them few years’ time to settle in the fertile parts of the region that stretches from Norwegian border to the left shore of the Kola Bay. The other thing I’m wondering about is how tolerant the Russian people are observing their northern heritage being taken over by the immigrants? Will they lose dignity and give away resource-rich Russian coast? It may well be that settlement is only in its infancy and poses no grave danger at the moment. But, the seeds are sawn. And later on, when plants begin to peep, the Pomors’ vigor won’t suffice to confront nobly grown power.
Yet, Russian folk will find it difficult to settle in this area, for these have to be the fishermen to settle first. And there is hardly anyone enthusiastic enough to give up their well-to-do farms to move up north to settle on a barren land and start from scratch. And, secondly, the biggest challenge is remoteness of the Murman coast. Its desolate vastness and the freezing sea cut off the area from the mainland and complicate the growth of population. The forced well-organized resettlement, is аt the same time not in keeping with the folk traditions, as they say. Though, with the government’s benevolent incentives and awareness of what the coast is worth trade-wise, it won’t be long and difficult to bring life to this land.
Commented and printed by A.V. Repnevskiy