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European project on Russian soil: History of Russian Red Cross

Scientific organization
Ural Federal University
Academic degree
candidate of sciences
Senior Researcher
Scientific discipline
Humanities & Social sciences
European project on Russian soil: History of Russian Red Cross
The paper analyses the history of Russian Red Cross from its origin up to 1918. It shows how initiative of Henry Dunnant receipted by Russian imperial elite had been implemented and how activity of Red Cross had influenced on social and political development in Russia.
History of Russia, European influence, Russian Red Cross

Based on the vast materials presentation focuses on the history of founding Russian Red Cross (RCC) and reconstructing its evolution at the second half of the XIXth century. It also aimed on identifying major ideas and practices adopted from the Western experience. Another purpose of the study is to define how did Russian Red Cross changed charity practices and the mode of interactions between army, state and society.  In conclusion the research outlines major mechanism of penetrating and adopting new practices from imperial center to the provincial level.

Ideas of Henry Dunant of establishing International organization aimed on providing assistance for wounded can be labeled as unique ones. Russia had both had experience of nursing (at the Crimean War) and involvement of civil society in charity issues. Dunants’ initiative was innovative because it contributed to lessening States monopolistic control over all aspects of waging and conducting the war. Thus founding the Russian Red Cross can be regarded as the attempt to broaden civil society involvement at the war issues. The process is very much obvious at the era of mass-conscripted armies and industrial warfare.

Experience of European countries, especially Prussia and France was extremely important on development of the structure and practice of Russian Red Cross. Although it was founded by representatives of upper class, soon regional elites and fractions of Russian bureaucracy and intelligentsia started to take part.

What did the Russian Red Cross change? How  did its activity influence the social and political life of Russian Empire? Definitely the RRC’s activity had multiple effects and manifestations. The most important are summarized below:

The RRC contributed to introduction of new approaches to health care of wounded as well as more systematic, organized approach, adoption of technical and scientific innovations in military medicine.

Involvement in the RCC activities provided new opportunities for the education of women and expanding the scope of women's participation in public life and the scope of their employment.

The Russian Red Cross as an organization gave to its members the feeling of participation in large political processes. Working and supporting the RRC activity can be regarded as s special way to demonstrate patriotism, applicable to all social strata and classes.

Inevitably activity of Russian Red Cross had become one of the themes for the official propaganda, the new means of constructing the image of Russia as progressive and westernized state.