By decision of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus, the year 2013 was declared “a Memorial Year in honor of the centenary for the birth of the first President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios III. The Russian-speaking community of Cyprus responded to the government’s decision with a series of events entitled “Remembering the first President.”
The campaign was organized by two associations: the Russian Orthodox Educational Centre (Director Zykova Natalia) and the Cyprus-Russian Association of Pafos (President Olga Sozou).
The first event took place in Pafos on the 3rd of March 2013. Pupils and teachers of the International School and the Russian School of Pafos along with members of the Parents’ Association and the Cyprus-Russian Association of Pafos as well as the general public gathered in the hall of the Evagoras Pallikaridis Cultural Centre.
The event was inaugurated by Olga Sozou. She shared with the audience the plan of events for the anniversary and then gave the floor to the historian Natalia Zykova, who presented a lecture called “Archbishop Makarios III Lessons”. She dwelled on the history of Cyprus in the first half of 20th century and talked in particular about the childhood and youth of the first president of the country. Then the floor was given to Elpida Kukharchuk Mala, a close relative of Archbishop Makarios. She expressed gratitude to the organizers of the memorial campaign. “We, the family of the first president, are deeply touched by the fact that the Russian community along with all the people of Cyprus celebrates this memorable date in the history of our country. President Makarios was a true patriot, a courageous fighter, and at the same time, he was a devoted pastor, a true son of our Church. He will forever stay in our people’s heart “. She shared her memories of the Archbishop and presented a collection of pictures, some of which are quite unique.
Then all the participants traveled to President Makarios’s birthplace, the village of Panayia. At the village’s Historical and Cultural Centre the visitors were welcomed by its director Mr. Efthimios Anastasiou, the Head of Panayia Council Mr. Michalis Georgiou, the local folk ensemble artists and the residents. The Russians visited the first President’s house, now a museum, and laid flowers at his monument. Then the hall of the Cultural Centre hosted a concert, where the young singers of the Cyprus-Russian Association’s children’s choir “Camerton” (conducted by Anna Izmailova) performed pieces by Mikis Theodorakis in Greek. Their performance was received by the audience with great warmth. Then the village folk group presented traditional Cypriot dances tempting the audience to join in. The lovely concert was followed by a nice meal and all the participants received small souvenirs from the administration of the Historical and Cultural Centre.
On the way back we visited the ancient monastery of Panagia Chrysorogiatissa which was frequently visited by Archbishop Makarios during his childhood and adolescent years, so this pilgrimage was a well-fitting end to the first-anniversary event. We would like to thank the residents of Panagia, the village council administration as well as the employees of the Archbishop Makarios III Historical and Cultural Centre for their hospitality and their warm reception.
The souls of adults and children alike were touched by the memories of the great son of the Cypriot land. We hope that the series of events will continue with the same success and will entice our fellow countrymen to embrace them with fervor.