To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, Arctic-2015 Russian polar expedition delivered the fire taken from the eternal flame in the Victory Park in Moscow to the North Pole and the island of Spitsbergen. The initiative was intended to remind people of heroic battles for the Arctic and the crucial role they played during World War II.
The conquest of the Russian North became one of the most important strategic goals of the German command. The military history of Spitsbergen itself is quite uneventful, the only reminder of those times being the cannon that was placed in Cape Heer on the outskirts of Barentsburg.
The only human settlements in the archipelago are located on its largest island – West Spitsbergen. They are Norwegian Longyear and Russian Barentsburg. The number of people living in the archipelago full time is 2.6 thousand.
The expedition into the high latitudes started on April 3 from the Victory Part on Poklonnaya Hill, where three lamps were lit from the Eternal Flame. The fire lighting ceremony was attended by Sergei Donskoi, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Sergei Mironov, Deputy of the State Duma, Nikolai Drozdov, Chairman of the Management Board of Living Planet International Environmental Movement and TV personality, Vyacheslav Bocharov, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Public Chamber and a Hero of Russia.
On April 4, the expedition of 72 people from more than 30 Russian regions took a special flight from Moscow to the island of Spitsbergen. Among the Arctic expedition participants were Gennady Lisovichenko, Director General of Antipinsky Oil Refinery CJSC, and Vadim Ryabinin, Head of the Information and Analytical Department of New Stream Regional Public Organization. New Stream RPO supports social and political initiatives aimed at upbringing the younger generation as responsible citizens and patriots. Such unprecedented initiatives preserve historical memory and inspire a sense of pride in and respect for our country’s experience and the feats performed by our ancestors.
On April 5, the central square of Barentsburg became the venue for a large-scale show attended by all settlement residents. As part of the festivities, the handover ceremony of eternal flame lamp was held. The lamp was accepted by Alexander Veselov, Head of Arcticugol company. The flame was also delivered to the monument to Norwegian soldiers in Cape Heer and the memorial naval cannon, which participated in the defense of Spitsbergen from Nazi invaders. The third lamp went to SP-41 drifting station at the North Pole.
The fire symbolizes that no salvos, whistling bombs or machine guns stutter should ever be heard again in the Russian Arctic and Kola Polar Region. If there is a fire there, it should be a symbolic and peace protecting one.
Further, a flag unfolding ceremony led by Nikolai Drozdov was held. State flags made of special hi-tech fabrics were consolidated in four large pieces of cloth: two of them had 30 flags each and the two other ones had 12 and 17 flags respectively. Three large seрarate flags represent Russia, Serbia and Norway. The picture was completed by flags of Russian socially responsible companies including New Stream. The flags with overall record size of 1.5 thousand square meters were simultaneously unfolded in honor of the 70th anniversary in the Great Patriotic War near the North Pole.
On April 7, the expedition participants went from Barentsburg back to the Norwegian administrative center Longyear, where the First Arctic Forum “Living Planet — 2015” was held. The Forum focused on ensuring Arctic environmental safety and fighting global warming.
The Forum culminated in the signing of the Social and Environmental Ethics Charter by all participants to ensure sustainable development in a globalized world economy, and the Charter is proposed to be sent to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for the draft of the new climate change agreement to be adopted at the forthcoming Paris Conference in December 2015.
Antipinsky Oil Refinery CJSC represented by Gennady Lisovichenko was awarded a Certificate of participation in the official demonstration ceremony of the flag of Russia, flags of Russian regions, Russian cities and towns and the flags of socially responsible companies in the Russian settlement of Barensburg, and a Certificate of participation in the First International Arctic Forum “Live Planet — 2015” for supporting public initiatives, projects and programs in the area of sustainable growth and environmental protection.