- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
353

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - XVI. Russia in the east. The yellow question

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RUSSIA IN THE EAST
353
must be avoided at any price—indeed, we may add
that it must be avoided not merely for the sake of
Russia herself, but for that of Europe—a defeat of this
kind would have far-reaching consequences to the
whole of European civilization. It is therefore a
great problem with which Russia is here confronted,
perhaps the greatest of any on her whole extended
frontier. But its solution will present great difficulties
even to this mighty Empire, and will for a long time
to come demand the efforts of her best powers.
Before we go further into this question, a brief
retrospect of the history of the Russian domination in
this part of Asia may be of interest. Just as the conquest
of Siberia was begun by a pure accident—when the robber
chieftain Yermak, being outlawed in Russia during the
reign of Ivan the Terrible, went beyond Ural, won there
a new empire for the Russian Tsar, and received his
pardon as a reward—so has this conquest been continued
more or less by a series of casual adventurers. This has
also been the case in these eastern regions. After the
foundation in 1640 of a new voyevodstvo atYakutsk
on the Lena, to serve as a base for further discoveries
and conquests on the east, a Cossack chief named Vasiliy
Poyarkov made his way in July 1643 with a detachment
of Cossacks up the Aldån, a tributary of the Lena, to the
Stanovoi Mountains. With ninety Cossacks he crossed
the mountains on ski, taking arms and equipment with
them on hand-sledges ; they descended into the Amiir
country by the River Séya, and were forced to winter
there. Sixty Cossacks died during the winter, but
Poyarkov went on down the Séya to the Amiir, and was
thus the first European discoverer of that mighty river.
Here they constructed primitive boats, and this bold
adventurer succeeded in navigating the river as far as
its mouth. In the summer of 1646 he even ventured

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