Russia – Africa: the History of Relations

Russia – Africa: the History of Relations

The collection is dedicated to the relations between Russia and African countries, which are based on long-term fruitful political, economic and cultural ties. It contains research studies, archival documents, visual and cartographic materials reflecting various stages of relations between Russia and African countries from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century.

In the 19th century, the active exploration of Africa by Russian travelers, who made a great contribution to the study of the history, ethnography, geography of the African continent, began. The central regions were studied by Yegor Petrovich Kovalevsky (1809-1868), who visited Cairo, the Nubian Desert, Berber and Khartoum, studied the Tumat basin and reached its headwaters, becoming the first European to advance so far. His work was continued by the botanist and biologist Lev Semyonovich Tsenkovsky (1822-1887) – he spent two years in Northeast Africa, making many valuable natural science observations, and brought an amazing ethnographic collection to Russia. Vasily Vasilyevich Junker (1840-1892), who lived among wild tribes for several years, also made a great contribution to ethnography. A large number of Russian travelers and researchers visited Ethiopia (Abyssinia), where the traditions of statehood were formed by Eastern Christians. In the period from the late 1880s to the beginning of World War I, not only individual travelers, for example, priest Alexander Ksaverievich Bulatovich (1870-1919), or poet Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev (1886-1921), sought to visit this country, but official missions, including military ones, were sent as well. Since 1898, an official Russian mission has been located in Addis Ababa.

During this period, Russia and various regions of Africa began to conduct trade and economic relations, cooperate in the field of science and culture. After the Great Russian Revolution and the Civil War, some Russian emigrants settled in Africa.

A new stage in relations began with the establishment of Soviet power on the territory of Russia. Throughout its existence, the Soviet Union defended the right of African peoples to acquire political sovereignty; all anti-colonial movements acted with its material and advisory assistance. During the period of increasing international tension in the 1930s, the USSR consistently opposed the aggression of Italy and Germany against African states. After the war, the USSR supported the process of decolonization in Africa. At various times, Soviet specialists and military worked and served in Angola, Ethiopia, Egypt, Mozambique and other African countries.

The collection features digital copies of documents from the holdings of the Russian State Historical Archive, the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Federal Archival Agency, the Russian State Library, the Presidential Library, the National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine, the State Public Historical Library, the Central Naval Library, the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Scientific Library of the Russian Academy of Arts, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Geographical Society, the Main Directorate of Navigation and Oceanography of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, the Herzen Russian State Pedagogical University, the Pushkin Leningrad State University, the Krupskaya Moscow Regional State Research Library, the Gorky Vladimir Regional Universal Research Library, the Krasnogvardeysky District Central Library (St. Petersburg), JSC “Krasnaya Zvezda”, the Yulian Semyonov Cultural Foundation, and private collections.