Gally Monastyreva: "My great-grandfather first man to fly from Moscow to Baku"

Moscow State University hosted the international scientific conference titled 'The Centennial of the Russian Revolution of 1917'. Gally Monastyreva, president of the "Russian Hearth" Foundation, president of the regional public organization "Moscow and Muscovites", chairman of the Commission on Development of Interethnic Relations, Interregional Relations and Ethnotourism of the Council for Nationalities Affairs under the Moscow government, spoke about her great-grandfather, lawyer, military pilot Socrates Monastyrev, the second holder of the Order of the Red Banner of Azerbaijan and the first man to fly from Moscow to Baku.

- Why is your great-grandfather famous in Azerbaijan?

- My great-grandfather, Socrates Alexandrovich Monastyrev, committed one of the most heroic deeds, which left a mark in the history of the formation of Azerbaijan. I had seven great-grandfathers, they had names like Nestor, Diy, Ualent, and the youngest - Socrates. Their father was a dean of the Law Faculty of Moscow State University, and he said that all of his children must graduate from this faculty, and then they can do what they want. Socrates wanted to fly. In 1912-1914 he successfully graduated from one of the best flight schools - in Odessa - and became a pilot. By 1917 Odessa became "red". At that time, his brother Nestor graduated from the first school of submarine officers in St. Petersburg, and in 1917 he was transferred to the Black Sea Fleet. Fleet has always been a separate elite unit in the Russian Empire forces, and it's natural that fleet and Nestor Alexandrovich were on the White Army's side.

- Which side did Socrates Alexandrovich support?

- He sided with the Red Army. Great-grandfather served in the 11th Moscow Air Fleet as an air scout. One of his tasks was to fly to Caucasus and see what's happening there from above. There were no maps back then, he flew using compass, so Socrates was basically a pioneer. Just like people discovered North Pole, he discovered Caucasus from above. And he was the first to fly from Moscow to Baku via Astrakhan. These reconnaissance battles were very important for the Red Army, because ground troops went on the offensive only after my great-grandfather returned with needed maps. In 1922, Azerbaijanis awarded him with the second Order of the Red Banner of Azerbaijan, which is now kept in the Azerbaijan History Museum in Baku. According to legend, there was even a monument dedicated to him. However, Socrates Alexandrovich was a friend of Sergey Kirov, and in 1934, right after his death, my great-grandfather disappeared without a trace. Our family didn't talk about this during the Soviet era. But later, in the 1990s, all of the fact began to come out, people, including military historians, started to talk about it. Of course, this information is very interesting and we cherish this truth.

- When will Socrates Alexandrovich's and Nestor Alexandrovich's diaries be published?

- We want to publish them by the City Day, in other words, in the beginning of September, and present them by October. We believe it will be very interesting to read the diaries of two siblings - "red" pilot and "white" naval officer, who wrote them druing the same period. It's interesting to learn about what they felt and how they lived. My great-grandfather, in particular, described his flights to Caucasus, and this is really entertaining, because still flew over difficult areas. It's curious how he how local residents received him. There's not too much information, but he describes his flights with a good sense of humor.

- Have you ever been to Baku?

- It's a shame but I've never been there. I hope I will visit this wonderful city and this wonderful country.

- What about the life of your great-grandfather Ualent?

- Ualent Alexandrovich was an architect, he lived in Moscow and had a calm life. We had a big house on Potelekh, he lived there with nine children and 26 nursing grandmothers. There were a lot of them, but I never heard any complaints.

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