Cupolas come to Campbeltown

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By Hannah O’Hanlon

A man who once had homes in Campbeltown and Moscow will talk about the history of rural Russia.

Ian Mitchell will present his talk, entitled The Russian Clearances – rural Russia, past and present, to the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society’s next meeting.

The theme of the illustrated talk will be how Russians settled in the countryside and were enserfed by landowners and the state, eventually gaining some freedom in the 19th century.

They were cleared from the land to make way for industrialised agriculture in the 1930s.

Mr Mitchell said: ‘This involved the death of millions of Kulaks (rich peasants), but without that campaign it is arguable that Russia could not have fed itself at all during the Second World War, and so might have succumbed to Nazi Germany.’

The second part of the talk looks at the world’s biggest country since 1991 when the industrialised agriculture of Soviet collective farms collapsed due to the ‘marketisation’ of agriculture.

Mr Mitchell will explain how it has not been able to revive this due to limitations on land ownership, which are a ‘disincentive for long-term investment’.

He said: ‘The result is that much of it is now empty – cleared – except round the big cities where it is becoming a leisure resource for those who want cheap country houses.

‘I will show slides of one particular village where a friend of mine, who has visited Campbeltown, lives, and where I have encouraged him to use some of the space to create a croquet lawn, one of the first private ones in Russia.’

The talk will be in the Ardshiel Hotel on Wednesday, February 20, at 7.30pm.

Entry is for anyone, not just society members, at £2.50.

Mr Mitchell will talk about the history of rural Russia. NO_c07russiantalk01