No One's Pantheon

No One's Pantheon

The subject of charity is very popular in Russia. Yes, it really exists, but for some reason not very evidently especially in the sector of children's healthcare, support for orphans and disabled children and assistance to orphanages and hospitals. This conclusion can be made after watching Russian TV news programs where requests for help are voiced very often.

Probably, there is no coincidence that Russia which is known as one of the richest countries, takes only 124th place in the world out of 145 in terms of investing of capital in charity. However, there are isolated cases of private charity. For example, what happened at the end of the first decade of this century in the village of Klokovo in the Tula region the locals call nothing other than a miracle.

...Very recently, this person was well known and respected, perhaps, by the entire aviation industry. Moreover, some people even were afraid of him. For many years, Vyacheslav Mavrin worked for the labor union of aviation workers. He started his career as an ordinary technical inspector and retired with a sense of a job well done as the chairman of the Territorial Committee of the Union of Aviation Workers of the Central Regions of Russia.

His job was really challenging job, to put it mildly. The range of his daily duties covered one and a half dozen Russian regions from the Moscow region to his native Tula region. Tough spirit, fidelity to principles, intolerance for careless economic management and violation of lawful rights of ordinary members of the union headed by him distinguished Mavrin even when the islands of real protection of workers’ rights in the labor unions -- the “school of communism” as they were called during the Soviet era -- started shrinking after 1991. Mavrin's good reputation in the aviation industry and the efforts of his comrades-in-arms in the union's Territorial Committee under his leadership continued to bolster people's faith in justice for some time.

One of these memorable cases happened in Ivanovo. After scrutinizing the results of performance of management of the regional aviation detachment in Ivanovo, he succeeded in removing their commander from the post. By the way, the commander was an excellent pilot, but a very poor leader. He did not notice that the exhaust ventilation system did not work in the “harmful” battery shop of the aircraft repair and maintenance depot.

On another occasion, he had to defend the rights of a helicopter pilot for a long time. The pilot sought recognition of his professional deafness. After exhausted all opportunities to achieve justice he appealed to Mavrin for help. The pilot, who had given up almost all hope, was driven to despair so that he wrote a complaint to U.S. President Ronald Reagan himself. Mavrin decided not to wait for a response from the White House, but went to court and found convincing arguments for a positive solution to that lingering problem. And there were a lot of examples like that.

Mavrin was well known in the aviation industry. So, when the time came to elect a new president of the entire industry’s labor union, there were no doubts that Mavrin should take the post. However, as he was always honest about his responsibilities at that post, he resolutely left it in the early 1990's. He realized that the new rules of life made it nothing but a sham. Perhaps, the fact that he had to quit his usual challenging work so unpredictably undermined the strength of a person with good health. When he was young, Mavrin went in for different sports. But this time he started having heart problems, which eventually led to a heart attack. Long and difficult treatment did not prevent him from pursuing an active lifestyle, but made him think about the future. He was not used to sitting idly so he continued looking for some job not only to keep himself busy, but also to help people.

At that moment, an idea to build a monument came. The plan was to devote it to the villagers who heroically fought during World War II.

“I lived in the village of Klokovo for 30 years,” said Mavrin. “I decided to invest in the establishment of the Apiary on a Russian Estate museum of folk crafts that would exhibit utensils common to the culture and traditions of the Russians and the history of beekeeping (he spent all his free time with bees – author's note.) And the museum will include a chapel in honor of Zosimus and Sabbatius of Solovki who are venerated as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church.”

However, Mavrin said that at first, after a complicated heart surgery he decided that he might pass away soon. So, he began to collect money for the funeral. However, his thoughts were dispelled by his spiritual advisor Anatoly, who persuaded him to forget about his imminent death and to spend the money on a noble cause. According to Mavrin, the chapel was meant for the villagers, in the first place, but he expected guests from Tula and the Tula region to come there. And his expectations turned out to be true.

People in Klokovo recall how on May 9, 2008 in the Northern City District which is a part of the city now, Archpriest Vyacheslav Kovalevsky and a cleric of the Epiphany church of the Khrushchevo village consecrated the dome and the cross. After that, to the great delight of fellow countrymen, the builders hoisted the dome and the cross to the rooftop. At the same time, Igor Tambovtsev, the chairman of the public committee of the association created in memory of the villagers of Klokovo who had not returned from the frontline, read out a list of 70 names. The priests chanted a memorial service for those who had fallen in battles, died of starvation, and were tortured during World War II. The residents were very grateful to Mavrin for the chapel, especially since the Pantheon of the dead was built there. For example, local resident Galina Maksimova shared her memories that her father-in-law, who served for half a century in the army, lost his three brothers, 18, 20 and 27 years old, in the war.

Guests from other villages came there to participate in this solemn event. Valentina Yakovleva came from Banino which is close to Klokovo. She decided to find the names of four family members on the commemorative plaque in the Pantheon. “I remember the war very clearly, because in 1941, I was already six years old,” she said. “There was a trench on this hill behind the museum, and our artillery was positioned there. And here, where the Pantheon stands now, we, children, hid from the German bombs in the basement.”

...As a reporter, I had the opportunity to pay last respects together with my colleagues to Vyacheslav Mavrin. He passed away in December 2016. I was surprised that not only the whole village, but also numerous fellow countrymen from other townships and former colleagues who came from Moscow, as well as from Tula, accompanied Mavrin who was not even 70, on his last journey on Earth. The goodness always invites a heartfelt response from people, especially in the Russian province. I remember how the mournful flow of those who accompanied Mavrin to the burial site made the planned stop at the chapel. I can never forget the farewell words of the local resident Nadezhda: “A great deed was done by our countryman. Today, I can't even believe that there was no miracle of this kind in our village a few years ago. May the memory of Mavrin live forever. We will be alsways heartily grateful to Vyacheslav Mavrin.”

Alas, it is not possible to finish this story with an optimistic tone. Mavrin’s departure from the life brought the fate of the chapel to more than a vague perspective. Its expenses fell on his widow, who worked in the capital's Maryino district as a medical worker and managed to find funds until recently.

However, the optimization that began in our healthcare system has intervened in this project, too. Valentina Mavrina became redundant recently. The local diocese also has no funds. According to Valentina, she shared these “her own” problems with the media. The journalists did not agree that the issues were only her own, and they contacted the governor of Tula region. The main idea was that, to put it mildly, abandoning the chapel and the pantheon to the whims of fate was not a good plan, especially in the year of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory, a holiday that commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. Nor would the residents of Klokovo understand it.

Today, 112 surnames of those killed and injured in the war are inscribed on the memorial plaque. The answer signed by T.V. Rybkina, the Minister of Culture of the Tula region, unfortunately, is very disappointing: “...The Chapel in honor of St. Zosimus and Sabbatius of Solovki, as well as the Memorial with the names of the residents of the Klokovo village, who died during the war, located at 15a, Tsentralnaya Street, Plekhanovo worker's settlement, is private property now. Taking into account this fact, it is not possible to finance the Memorial from the budget of Tula region.”

It seems that now there is all hope for someone who is ready to follow in the footsteps of Vyacheslav Mavrin’s goodness and charity, who will help honor the memory of the fallen and maintain the memorial in Klokovo?

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