Vyacheslav Kirichuk, the Head of the sector working with Federal and International Media of Telecom and Mass Communication Department of the Altai Krai, got acquainted with Maria Mira Christova, correspondent of the Bulgarian National Radio, during the last day, or let’s say more precise, during the last hours of the XII International Media-Forum «Dialogue of Cultures».
Although she gained my attention on the first day of the Forum with her speech and those words about the Russian language, Russian and Bulgarian culture on the Bulgarian national Radio.
Report about the Dialogue of Cultures experiance by Mira Christova for BNR
Hermitage's workers about the museum's daily life
Nikola Mihov presented his photo series on the photo-exhibition Here I Live in the frame of the Dialogue of Cultures
Romeo and Juliette of our time (interview with bthe authors of the photo series The Kurdish Bride
Maria learned that the prototype for the statue of the Russian soldier «Alyosha» situated in Bulgaria is a real person, our fellow countryman Alexey Ivanovich Skurlatov from the Nalobikha village of the Altai Krai.
A person of an amazing destiny. The same moment Mira decided to make a report for her radio and I told her in short the story of Alyosha. We shared our contacts and decided to make a joint project together!
There were millions of brave hearted soldiers in USSR like him, witty and generous, marked with lots of military decorations. Alexey Skurlatov could remain the ordinary soldier for the rest of his life if not the front-line road that had led him to the ancient Bulgarian town Plovdiv in 1944. There Alexey and his fellow-soldiers from the same 234 Artillery Regiment of the 188 Nizhnedniprovsk Infantry Division had been working as builders and communicators for several months: they were stretching the telephone line from Plovdiv to Sofia. Russian Siberian guy took a liking so that the statue of a USSR soldier, located in Plovdiv, received his name «Alyosha». But it’s not only about the name. That statue looks like a smart strongman Alyosha, who returned home after the war’s end, as two peas.
Years passed, the surname of a soldier, who became a prototype for the statue, along with the place of his living, vanished from the memory of the Plovdiv’s citizens. However, the exploit of Alyosha has never been forgotten. Metodi Vitanov, the participant of the Bulgarian resistance, who was the closest friend of Alyosha, while staying in Plovdiv, decided to search for his Russian soulmate and to invite him to his house. He had been sending letters to USSR for one year, but sadly only the namesakes gave a feedback.
The magazine issue with an article about Alyosha came into the workers of the Ovchinnikovskiy repair plant of the Kosikhinskiy district’s hands, where Alexey Skurlatov was working in those days.
The story of Metodi Vitanov was energetically discussed by the workers:
— And you, Lyosha, why are you staying silent? asked Andrey Usoltsev, who brought the magazine to the group of workers. — You’ve been a front-line soldier. Could you be that guy?
— Yes, of course... answered Alexey with a smile. – Probably, I am that Alyosha…
But the mates did not trust him. They thought that it was another trick of a funny man and joker. And he, in turn, didn’t start to argue and had never returned to this conversation again.
Six years later Andrey Usoltsev was passing his vacations in Belokurikha; his roommate was a teacher and local historian from Sverdlovsk city Leonid Golubev. A song «Alyosha» was on the radio. Golubev told that he had been searching for the hero of this song with the school club for many years, but with no success.
— You know, a combat veteran, who considers himself being that Alyosha, is also working with me, said Usoltsev. — But no one trusts him.
— Maybe, it’s no purpose! answered the teacher and took the address of Skurlatov.
The correspondence started. The photograph of Alexey Ivanovich was send to Plovdiv. Soon telegram came to Nalobikha: «I’ve found you, Alyosha! Yours Metodi Vitanov».
Two years later, in 1982, friends met in Plovdiv near the statue of Alyosha. And again, as in 1994, Bulgarians carpeted the way of a liberator soldier with roses. That year Alexey Ivanovich turned 60. He had become the honorary citizen of Plovdiv and the song «Alyosha» — a hymn of this Bulgarian city. That is how our compatriot became a legend.
But even if the Bulgarians did not set him in stone next to the monument to the Russian heroes of the 1877–1878 war and it did not spread on earth:
«Stands over the mountain Alyosha
In Bulgaria, a Russian soldier…» — Alexey Ivanovich Skurlatov would rest in the hearts and memories of his fellow countrymen a legend forever. Nature and parents endowed him with power, intelligence, beauty, love to life and creation. He passed through all the main battles of the Second World War, through three wounds and contused wounds, he passed it alone for his brothers, who were missed in action, he was living and working for tree of them. Never complaining of fate, he was light and kind person, even though he had to pass through all these terrible hardships.
I am pleased to announce that during the Forum was created an idea for a joint TV and Radio Project: «The Story of the Bulgarian Alyosha from Altay» in a dialogue with Viacheslav Kirichuk -— a member of the Delegation from the Altai Krai.
As a Bulgarian journalist I would be grateful, if our idea will become a successful documentary during the next year and to be realized for the 2019, when the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv where a monument of Alyosha stays will be acting as a European capital of culture.
Maria Mira Christova