On 30 July 2016, at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, the Russian President Vladimir Putin came on a working visit to Slovenia. The presidents of the two countries took part in the memorial ceremony on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the erection of the Russian Chapel at Vršič Pass in memory of the Russian soldiers who died in these places during the First World War. In addition, the heads of Russia and Slovenia opened a monument to the Russian and Soviet soldiers who died in the territory of Slovenia during the First and Second World Wars, and held working talks.
During the memorial ceremony at the Russian Chapel, Mr. Putin and Mr. Pahor, as well as Sasha Ivan Geržina, Chairman of the Russia-Slovenia Friendship Society, laid wreaths at the monument.
“The Russian Chapel has been standing for one hundred years now. It is a reminding inspiration, as if saying – peace is always possible, but it is never something to taken for granted,” the President of Slovenia appealed to the participants of the celebration. “And most importantly, the motivating force for, in addition to the terrible memories of war, must be the beautiful dreams of a happy future for our children, all our children: Slovenian, Russian – all without distinction.”
“With all my heart, from all Russia, from myself personally, I want to thank Slovenia and Slovenians for what you are doing to preserve the memory of the victims that we all, together, including Russia, have brought on to the altar of victory, not only in the First World War, but also in the Second World War,” Mr. Putin stressed in his speech. “I repeat once again – thank you, Slovenia!”
Later, in the capital of Slovenia, the city of Ljubljana, Mr. Putin and Mr. Pahor opened a monument to the Russian and Soviet soldiers who died in the territory of Slovenia during the First and Second World Wars. The monument, made possible with the assistance of the Russian Military-Historical Society, was created by a team of Russian sculptors and painters, which included Maria Tatevyan, Yana Bragovskaya, Stanislava Smolyaninova and Oleg Kalinin.
During the official talks, the two leaders discussed security issues, combating terrorism, issues of trade and economic relations of Russia with the EU and the USA, as well as cooperation in the humanitarian sphere.
Russian chapel on the Vršič Pass – is a memorial dedicated to the memory of Russian soldiers who died in these areas during the First World War. In 1915, at the Vršič Pass, a POW camp was organized, consisting mainly of Russian soldiers. Their task was to build a road through the pass. On 12 March 1916 in the pass near the village of Kranjska Gora, there was a tragedy – one group of Russian prisoners were buried under a huge avalanche, which killed about 500 people. That same year, the prisoners built their own wooden chapel, in memory of their fallen comrades. In total, from 1915 to 1917, during the existence of this camp, at least 10,000 prisoners perished here.
In the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of members of the Russia-Slovenia Friendship Society, this chapel acquired fame and high international status. The Comita Group of Companies is a sponsor and active participant in the activities of the Russia-Slovenia Friendship Society.
In 2016, it celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Russian founding of the chapel, which has become a symbol of friendship between the peoples of Russia and Slovenia, and a monument to all those who died in these places.
Today, the Russian Chapel has the status of a cultural monument protected by the state, the surrounding area has been transformed into a memorial park. The road leading from Kranjska Gora past the Russian chapel to the Vršič Pass is called the Russian Road.