Neighborhood of the Embassy
To get an idea of the location of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Russian Federation, you need to get familiar with the history of Moscow. Historical archives mention Moscow already in the XII century, and gradually the city became the center of Ancient Rus.
At the end of the 16th century, the city's borders were surrounded by a white-stone wall, 10 meters high, 5 meters thick and 10 kilometers long. The wall covered the oldest central part of Moscow, the Kremlin, in a semicircle and ended next to the territory where the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia is currently located. Due to the white color of the walls, as well as the fact that the "white lands" belonging to the privileged estates were located here, this fenced area was called "White City". The Wall of the White City had nine gates, the names of some of them have survived to this day, for example, Nikitsky, Pokrovsky, Petrovsky, Yauzsky Gates, etc. Over time, the wall gradually collapsed, and in its place, boulevards were built, which in our time form the Boulevard Ring.
Later, additional lands were annexed to the territory of Moscow, among them was also a section of the territory of the Embassy. This territory was named "Earthen City" (“Zemlyanoy Gorod”) and occupied the area from the Boulevard Ring to the present-day Garden Ring. At the beginning of the 18th century, a few blocks from the Embassy, the Triumphal Arch was built, which is popularly called the "Red Gate". The arch repeatedly suffered damage from fires, in 1918 the two-headed royal eagle was removed from the gate, and in 1927 the gate itself was demolished. Today, a square and a metro station are named after the disappeared historical monument. It is only a couple of hundred meters from the territory of the Embassy to the Boulevard Ring, passing which you can get to Chistye Prudy.
In 1990, the name "Chistye Prudy" was given to the Moscow metro station (since its opening in 1935, it was called "Kirovskaya"). During the Second World War, a department of the General Staff was located at the Chistye Prudy metro station. It was here that Stalin and his advisers planned their first attacks on the Nazis.
Since the 17th century, the reservoir has been known as the Rotten Ponds (the waste of the nearby butcher shops and slaughterhouses was dumped in them). By order of Catherine I and Count Menshikov, at the beginning of the 18th century, the reservoir was cleaned out and from that time it was named Chistye Prudy.
The history of Chaplygin street
Chaplygin Street is located in the center of Moscow, in the Basmanny district between Bolshoy Kharitonevsky lane and Pokrovka Street. Previously, the street was called Mashkov Lane in honor of the 18th century homeowner of the palace Gof-Junker Mashkov.
Basmanny District was formed in 1995, its area is 8 square kilometers; in 2010, 100 thousand inhabitants lived here.
In 1942, the street was renamed in memory of Academician Sergei Alekseevich Chaplygin (1869-1942), one of the founders of modern aerodynamics, who lived from 1920 to 1941 on this street in house number 1a in a small apartment on the second floor. Not far from the beginning of the street there is a marble bust of S.A. Chaplygin, created by the sculptor Z.M. Vilensky.
In 1911, in a house on the street. Chaplygin 1a, built by the architect G.A. Gelrikh, many famous people lived: the biochemist A.N. Bach, historian Y.V. Gauthier, doctor N.F. Gamaleya, a member of the first expedition to the North Pole E.T. Krenkel and the first wife of the writer A.M. Gorky E.P. Peshkova with her son. Also, the writer himself lived in this apartment during his visits to Moscow.
Chaplygin Street is 320 meters long, starts on Bolshoy Kharitonevsky Lane and runs to the southeast, parallel to Chistoprudny Boulevard. Furmanny lane and Mashkova street adjoin it on the left, and Makarenko street on the right. It merges Pokrovka directly opposite Lyalina lane.
Chaplygin Street, in addition to the building of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia, can also be proud of other beautiful buildings with expressive facades.
No. 2/10 - apartment house and mansion of N.F. Gribov in the style of baroque-classicized eclecticism (1900). The building occupies the entire narrow end part of the quarter and faces the corners of the alleyways with two-storey, three-quarter faceted bay windows with baroque domes.
Behind Furmanny lane – there is a house No. 7/2 – of the merchant A.F. Fedorov, built in 1875 and next to the building No. 9 (built in 1848) with high semicircular windows on the second floor.
At the beginning of the 19th century, there were two small estates on the site of house No. 8: in one of them, owned by the court councilor M.Y. Silin, at the beginning of 1801 Alexander Pushkin's grandmother Marya Alekseevna Hannibal arrived from St. Petersburg. Here she lived until 1801 with her sister Ekaterina Alekseevna. The existing building was built in 1903 and architected by P.V. Yakovleva.
№ 10 - the building was built by the architect I.G. Kondratenko in 1894. This is one of his earliest works, made in the tradition of the then widespread eclecticism. Previously, there were wooden buildings on the site.
On Chaplygin Street, at different times and for all sorts of reasons, one could often meet the composer Dmitry Shostakovich, the bards Bulat Okudzhava and Vladimir Vysotsky, as well as Lenin.
The History of Embassy building
The oldest evidence of the land on which the building of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Russian Federation is currently located dates to the beginning of the 19th century. Historical address - Yauzskaya part, 5th quarter, No. 16. Later, for more than a hundred years (from 1803 to 1917), the territory had the address - Yauzskaya part, 1 quarter (since 1833), as well as Yauzskaya part, 1 section, No. 90/113 (from 1888 to 1917).
The first graphic archival material, which gives an idea of the land plot and its development, dates to 1803. During this period, the site belonged to the civil servant Mariona Petrovna Bolgovskaya. Her relative, Lieutenant of the Izmailovsky Regiment, Guardsman Dmitry Nikolaevich Bolgovsky, is mentioned as a participant in the conspiracy against Emperor Pavel I.
The location of the buildings is typical for Moscow mansions in the early 19th century. At the back of the courtyard is the main building, which in the northwest is connected to other smaller one-story wooden buildings. There are several more wooden buildings and outbuildings on the territory. On the north-eastern side of the compound is a wide courtyard. At the beginning of the XIX century. there were two ponds - one, comparatively large, and the second, almost half the size.
In subsequent years, the existing buildings went through numerous renovations. New wooden buildings replaced demolished buildings.
The plan of the surroundings of 1813 allows us to conclude that all the wooden buildings located on the territory of the land plot burned down in the fire of 1812. The archival plan of the land plot for 1833 testifies that the newly built buildings were also made of wood and belonged to the Moscow merchant Gufen. All buildings are relatively small and located on the northwest side of the territory. The main one-and-a-half-story building is still located in the depths of the territory.
It is difficult to judge whether the rebuilding of buildings or changes in the territory were carried out in the next 55 years, since there is no archival data for this period.
The plan of the land plot for 1888 shows that this territory was owned by the wife of the collegiate secretary Maria Vasilievna Gippius. The main building at this time was in the same place - in the depths of the land. However, the plan indicates that a terrace and wooden outbuildings were added to the house. There were stone cellars under the house. The northwest corner consists of two floors - the first floor is made of stone, the second is made of wood. There was also a relatively large pond on the site.
In 1895, the mansion was owned by the Russianized French merchant Lev Vladimirovich Gautier-Dufayer, the head of a trading house that traded in iron, cast iron and cement. The new owner of the land planned to demolish the existing buildings. Those in return were replaced by new buildings designed by the architect Nikolai Ivanovich Yakunin.
- a wooden one-storey house with a mezzanine and a basement (half of which is residential),
- a wooden one-story residential building, the bottom is stone, and the top is wooden, with a basement residential floor,
- a wooden one-story residential building,
- a wooden one-story non-residential building,
- four one-story non-residential buildings,
- wooden gazebo,
- non-residential extension,
- a stone one-story residential building,
- as well as a wooden poultry house.
Embassy building at the beginning of the 20th century
At the beginning of the XX century the house was a one-story mansion. In 1914 the second floor was added and the house acquired a new facade (architect D.S.Markov).
It is a symmetrical building facing the street with a façade with two projections, decorated with flat Roman-Ionic porticos, uniting both floors of the building in height.
The building combines the motives of the Renaissance and Classicism. The panel above the rightmost window (somewhat violating the facade symmetry) depicts the Olympian gods. Next to them you can see cartouches and medallions depicting male heads with characteristic Renaissance hairstyles. On the right, the mansion faces the garden with a faceted bay window with a rooftop balcony.
Karlis Ozols, who has been the Ambassador to the USSR since 1923, writes in his memoirs that before the 1917 revolution, diplomat Adolf Joffe lived in a mansion located in Mashkov Lane No. 3. His wife did not want to leave the mansion and continued to live there even after the Latvian Embassy was in the building.
The description says that the compound includes following buildings:
- the main stone two-storey building with cellars;
- stone two-storey residential building for two apartments;
- a laundry room on two floors with a drying room on the second floor. Nearby is a cold cellar;
- building for firewood, one-story stone building;
- one-storey stone garage. Equipped at the expense of the Embassy;
- the house of the janitor - a stone one-story building.
On August 11, 1920, the Republic of Latvia and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic concluded a peace treaty. Its 19th article provided for the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations between the parties immediately after its entry into force. For the first time, the address of the Embassy on Mashkov Lane No. 3 was officially mentioned in May 1921 in the lists of the diplomatic and consular service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. The house was nationalized and transferred to the Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, and the Latvian government rented the building. In all, without exception, the State Address Calendars issued by the State Statistical Office from 1922 to 1940, the above address was indicated as the address of the Embassy. The first diplomatic representative of the Republic of Latvia in Soviet Russia was Ambassador Janis Vesmanis, who submitted an accreditation letter to the Russian side on November 2, 1920. The Latvian Embassy in Moscow was located there until 1940.
Already from the beginning of the XX century the working conditions of the Latvian Embassy in the USSR were complicated. The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs prohibited Embassy employees from looking for their possible relatives or friends, as the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the USSR (NKVD) was monitoring foreign embassies in Moscow. In the 1930s, the accredited Latvian ambassadors in Moscow repeatedly issued strict orders on the internal work of the Embassy, which set restrictions on when it was possible to leave the territory of the Embassy. Any contact with individuals outside the Embassy was prohibited. Any exit from the territory of the Embassy required the permission of the ambassador. The Latvian Embassy in Moscow was receiving its provisions only from Riga. At the beginning of 1940, the Ambassador of Latvia to the USSR Fricis Kocins forbade the employees of the Embassy to send letters by mail.
A detailed description of the building of the Embassy, other buildings and a description of the territory can be found in an archival letter written on March 18, 1940 by the Ambassador of the USSR F. Kocins and addressed to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilhelm Munter.
The letter says that the real estate is located on the site of a former pond, which was covered with construction waste 2-3 meters thick even before the start of the First World War. The property also includes a relatively large garden with 40 deciduous and 15 fruit trees. The main building is a two-storey stone house with cellars and a tin roof. There is also a residential building with two renovated apartments. In addition, there were other buildings on the site: a laundry, a building for storing firewood, a garage and a janitor's house.
High-ranking guests were received in the premises of the Embassy. For example, on June 15, 1938, the first visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia took place in Moscow. After the official meeting of W. Munter and the delegation at the Belarusian-Baltic railway station, the Ambassador of Latvia F. Kocins with his wife and employees of the Embassy took the Latvian guests to the Embassy of Latvia on Mashkov Lane. The Minister and the delegation at the Embassy were met by the rest of the staff. In the afternoon, after a short rest at the Embassy, Minister of Foreign Affairs W. Munters went on his first official visit.
Work of the Embassy from 1940 to 1990
After the occupation of the Republic of Latvia on July 21, 1940, the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed. Already on August 12 of the same year, the Embassy lost its diplomatic immunity. After returning to Latvia, the workers began to "disappear" one by one, and already in September it became known about the first arrests. The embassy’s closing process lasted until February 25, 1941.
On August 26, 1940, the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR approved the creation of the Council of People's Commissars of the Latvian SSR (SNK LSSR), which on March 7, 1941 decided to create a Permanent Representation of the Council of People's Commissars of the Latvian SSR under the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR (hereinafter - Permanent Mission). In its work, the Permanent Mission was guided by the directives of the government of the Latvian SSR and was subordinate to it. The Permanent Representation was headed by the Permanent Representative of the Latvian SSR, who was appointed by the Council of People's Commissars of the LSSR and was approved at the suggestion of the Council of People's Commissars of the LSSR.
During the war, in one of the first air raids, a bomb hit the building. Shortly after the war the building was rebuilt, retaining its original appearance. Former chairman of the Moscow Council of Deputies V. Pronin writes in his memoirs: “An enemy bomb destroyed a building in Mashkov Lane No. 3. There were many casualties under the rubble of the building. Women from a neighboring house rescued about 20 people from the ruins, providing them with emergency medical assistance.
In the post-war period, the Permanent Mission was involved in organizing re-evacuation and repatriation. In 1946, the name of the Permanent Mission was changed to a new - Permanent Representation of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR under the Council of Ministers of the USSR. But with the change in the name, the functions and tasks of this institution did not change.
After the adoption of the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence on May 4, 1990, the Permanent Mission changed not only the name, but also the functions that were now established by the independent government of the Republic of Latvia.
Inside a Latvian Embassy
In the pre-war years, the premises of the Embassy could rightfully be proud of the luxurious and refined interior.
In the main building, on the ground floor, there was a reception hall, a salon, an Ambassador's office, a guest room, a ladies' room, a gambling room, a dining room, a library, an office, an office of the Embassy employees, four rooms of employees and other premises.
The second floor housed the office, the secretary's office, six offices of the Embassy employees, offices of the military representative, three rooms for employees, two kitchens (for the Embassy and for employees) and other premises. In the basement there were: the main archive, four storage rooms, a carpentry workshop, an ironing room and a kitchen.
During the work of Ambassador Alfred Bilmanis, the then editor of the “Jaunakas Zinas” (Latest News) newspapers and the “Atputa” (Rest) magazine Janis Karklins visited Moscow. After visiting the Embassy building, J. Karklins described what he saw there: “A. Bilmanis turned the Embassy building into a real museum. He had bought expensive vases and carpets, ancient weapons, paintings by Hun and Purvitis, taken out or stolen from Russian museums, but found in thrift stores and sold for a penny. Among them was also Purvitis's painting "The Last Rays", for which the artist received a gold medal from the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. "
Unfortunately, in the war and post-war years, almost all the decoration of the premises and the interior were lost, and as a result of recent changes, only one ceiling painting remained, which testifies to the former luxurious wall paintings and ceiling moldings.
Embassy building after 1991
August 1991 marked a turning point in the history of Latvia. All democratic forces united in the struggle against the organizers of the coup, because of that the empire had fallen. Latvia became an independent country.
At the end of July 1990, a new Permanent Representative was appointed in Moscow - Latvian poet and publicist Janis Peters. He recalls that time in the following words: “In 1989, we, the newly elected People's Deputies of the USSR, went to Moscow. Already in 1990, Ivars Godmanis, who was then Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, came to us - he wanted to know about our successes in explaining the ideas of the 4th of May Declaration of Independence, as well as its implementation. At that time, there was misinformation about Latvia - you see, we want to oppress part of the republic’s inhabitants, forcibly disconnect from the USSR, and so on. Godmanis drew attention to the fact that the Permanent Representative of the Latvian SSR (Moscow then did not recognize anything else, except the Latvian SSR) under the Council of Ministers of the USSR, there was a man named Lisak, who did not know a single word in Latvian. And then one day Godmanis tells me: "Janis, you need to become the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia in Moscow." And he gave me three hours to think. “Okay, go get some sleep, and then give me an answer,” he still took pity. I simply had no other choice, and I became an Ambassador. And Ivars, it seems, knew that I was familiar with many representatives of the intelligentsia of the Soviet Union, and this was my advantage”.
The very first thing when starting to work in the Latvian representative office, J. Peters changed the inscription at the entrance to the building. “I installed a sign that would not say “Permanent Mission of the Republic of Latvia to the Council of Ministers of the USSR”, but would say “Permanent Mission of the Republic of Latvia”, the Ambassador recalls. “They hung out a red-white-red flag, which was stolen the same night. A month later, a new flag was raised, which was consecrated by priest Juris Rubenis at a large and beautiful event dedicated to this event”, says J. Peters.
On September 22, 1990, Ambassador Janis Peters organizes the first diplomatic reception with the participation of representatives of foreign countries. The reception was attended by officials of the USSR, including Adviser to the President of the USSR Chingiz Aitmatov, Academician Alexander Nikonov, representatives of the USSR Ministry of Culture and the Moscow City Council. Also invited were members of the Society of Latvian Culture in Moscow, radio and television workers, as well as representatives from Latvia: Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council Dainis Ivans and priest Juris Rubenis, who consecrated the flag of the Latvian Mission on that day.
On the basis of an agreement reached between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia issued Decree No. 375 of December 27, 1991, which provided for the closure of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Latvia in Moscow, at Chaplygina Street 3, from January 15, 1992, and the establishment of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Russian Federation on the basis of the closed representative office. The embassy continued to work at Chaplygin, 3.
The last reconstruction of the Embassy building
The Embassy building was built in 1895 and rebuilt in 1914. Reconstructions were carried out in 1968 and 1998. The last reconstruction was completed at the end of 2008, the building of the Latvian Embassy in Moscow was operational on October 24, 2008. The reconstruction works of the building began in January 2006. The reconstructed area was about 3.2 thousand square meters. The renovation brought the building the long-awaited changes. The complex of buildings, both outside and inside, has been renovated in accordance with security and representational requirements - to rebuild communication systems, build a fence that meets NATO requirements, and install a security system. The facade of the building was restored, the roof was replaced, a complete reconstruction of all communication systems was carried out, including the replacement of the ventilation system and lines communication. Additional technical and office premises were built in the building.
A new consular section of the building was added, but consequently the side entrance to the Embassy was demolished.
From the very beginning of the work, additional damage was found in the building, so the renovation plan had to be adjusted based on the actual state of the building. For example, one of the significant additional works was the replacement of basement granite slabs with new slabs of similar material. In addition, when assessing the real situation, it was found that the external brick fence must be immediately replaced.
During the reconstruction of the building, work was also carried out to improve the territory. On the land plot of the Embassy, which occupies about 9,000 square meters, there are three buildings, including a small wooden church, which had to be relocated during the reconstruction. The third building is “Talava” residential building, which during construction served as the Embassy.
In 1992, Ambassador Janis Peter's plan to build a small church for the Lutheran parish was implemented. Architected by Janis Dripe (architect and ex-minister of Culture), in less than four months, under the leadership of J. Meyer, the church was built by a team of masters from the Saldus region in Latvia.
The wooden church was consecrated on November 4, 1992 by Mag. theol. Juris Rubenis and Dr. theol. Juris Calitis from the USA. The Latvian from Germany Robert Sivins presented the parish with an electric organ. From that day on, priest Juris Simakins began to conduct divine services in the church on the territory of the Embassy.
In 1983, on the site of the Embassy, a few older wooden buildings were demolished to start a construction of a six-storey residential building. The project was named “Talava” (a Latgalian country in the northern Vidzeme and northern Latgale region of today's Latvia) and created by a well-known Russian architect Sergei Tkachenko. The building was originally used as a hotel.
The names of three architects are associated with the compound of the Latvian Embassy in Moscow - the designers of the building of the Embassy Nikolai Ivanovich Yakunin and Dmitry Sergeevich Markov, as well as the architect of the residential building "Talava" Sergey Borisovich Tkachenko.
Nikolai Ivanovich Yakunin was born in 1844 in Moscow. Russian architect, one of the prominent masters of Moscow Art Nouveau. Studied at the Moscow Palace of Architecture School. In 1866 he entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, which he graduated in 1874. He was associated with railway construction, working in the technical departments of the Moscow-Kursk, Orlov-Vitebsk and Kursk-Kiev railways, conducted field surveys on the Baltic railway between Narva and Vesenberg. From 1893 to 1915, Yakunin worked in the Northern Insurance Company, was the architect of the St. Petersburg-Tula Bank, for some time served as director of the Saratov-Simbirsk Bank. The fate of N.I. Yakunin after the October Revolution is unknown.
Dmitry Sergeevich Markov was born on June 30, 1877. He graduated from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1904 with the title of class artist of architecture. In the same year he was admitted to the Moscow Architectural Society (MAO). In 1907 he was appointed supernumerary technician of the Construction Department of the Moscow Provincial Government. In 1912 he was appointed secretary of the MAO. He won the competition announced by the MAO and built the Society's house in Ermolaevsky lane. In 1928 he completed a competition project for the building of the Lenin Library (1st prize, together with D.F.Fridman).
Sergei Borisovich Tkachenko was born in Moscow in 1953. Studied at the Moscow Architectural Institute. In 1983, Tkachenko built the second (in time and largest) atrium in Moscow - a six-storey residential building "Talava" on the territory of the Latvian Embassy. At that time, a building of this kind was something new and unprecedented, which caused a sensation - it was believed that this was bourgeois intrigues and inefficient use of heating. The architect was fired from his job. S. B. Tkachenko is known for many more scandalous projects, including such famous Moscow houses as "House-Egg" and "Patriarch". Since 2004 S. B. Tkachenko heads the "Research and Design Institute of the General Plan of the City of Moscow".
1803 - the earliest evidence of the land on which the building of the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia in the Russian Federation is currently located. The site on which the wooden buildings were located belongs to the civil servant Marion Petrovna Bolgovskaya. There is a wide courtyard in the northwestern part of the territory. There are two ponds on the territory - one, relatively large, and the second, almost half the size;
1812 - wooden buildings burned down during a fire;
1833 - all newly rebuilt buildings are made of wood. The site belongs to the Moscow merchant Gufen. All buildings are small and located on the northwest side of the territory. The main one-and-a-half-story building is still in the back of the site;
1888 - the territory was owned by the wife of the collegiate secretary Maria Vasilievna Gippius. The house has a terrace and wooden outbuildings. There are stone cellars under the house. The northwest corner consists of two floors - the first floor is made of stone, the second is made of wood. There is also a relatively large pond;
1895 - the merchant Lev Vladimirovich Gautier-Dufayer becomes the owner of the mansion. The new owner of the land demolishes the existing buildings, in their place he builds new buildings according to the design of the architect Nikolai Ivanovich Yakunin;
1914 - the second floor was built and the house acquired a new facade (architect D.S.Markov);
1921 - in May, for the first time, this territory was mentioned in the lists of the diplomatic and consular service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia as the address of the Embassy (at that time it was still Mashkov lane No. 3); During the war, during an air raid, a bomb hits the building, but later it was restored to its original form; During the reign of Soviet power, the building housed the Representation of Latvian SSR;
1968 - the building was reconstructed;
1998 - the building was reconstructed;
1990 - September 22, Ambassador Janis Peters organizes the first diplomatic reception with the participation of representatives of foreign states;
1992 - a small Lutheran church was built, designed by the architect Janis Dripe, and on November 4, the church was consecrated;
2008 - at the end of 2008, the last reconstruction of the building of the Embassy had been completed.
2019 - an 8 m long flagpole was erected in the embassy park, and the flag of Latvia was hung.
Information was prepared by Maija Bišofa, with assistance of the Latvian State Historical Archive and the Archive of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.