On October 22, within the framework of the international project "Rendezvous with Russia", the first international online geography lesson was held, dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by the expedition of Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev.
The event was supported by the Presidential Grants Fund, the Russian Geographical Society, Rossotrudnichestvo, the Ministry of Education; the Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation and Navy of Russia; the Immortal Regiment of Russia, the Russian Union of Veterans, the “My Planet” TV channel, BRICS TV and “Ocean TV”.
The online geography lesson could be viewed on the sites svidaniesrossiey.ru, soyuzveteranov.ru, dosaaf.ru, as well as on the sites of Rossotrudnichestvo offices abroad and on the pages of the project and its partners on social networks. More than eight million viewers from 40 countries of the world joined the lesson.
For about two and a half hours, the questions of the listeners were answered by the oceanologist, head of the Russian Antarctic expedition of 1991–2017 Valery Lukin; Hero of Russia, Lieutenant General Nikolai Gavrilov; captain of the sailing ship "Pallada" Nikolai Zorchenko; Director of the Expeditionary and Tourism Development Department of the RGS Sergey Chechulin; Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Immortal Regiment of Russia Artyom Khutorskoy; and honorary polar explorer Konstantin Zaitsev.
During the lesson, viewers learned who discovered Antarctica, received answers to questions about what is happening at Antarctic research stations today.
As a result of the lesson, its organizers decided to install a memorial plaque in the capital of the Republic of South Africa, Cape Town, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian sailors.
“The whole world knows who discovered America. Monuments, memorial signs to Christopher Columbus are installed all over the world. But the great Russian discoverers of Antarctica, Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev, are not so well known,” noted the head of the project "Rendezvous with Russia", traveler, public figure, Alexander Ilyin. “The installation of a memorial plaque in honor of the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian navigators Bellingshausen and Lazarev will be a significant reminder of this great geographical discovery of the sixth continent of the Earth”.
"Cape Town has been serving as a ‘gateway to Antarctica’ for many years,” stressed Valery Lukin. “Therefore, the installation of a memorial plaque in honor of the Russian pioneers – who for the first time recorded in the ship's logs the signs confirming the presence of the continent in Antarctica – will be an important milestone in establishing justice in the question of who discovered Antarctica."
In July 1819, two Russian military sloops – "Vostok"(eng. “East”) and "Mirny"(eng. “Peaceful”) – set off from Kronstadt for the First Russian Antarctic Expedition. The mission of the campaign was to prove or disprove the existence of Antarctica. The expedition was headed by Faddey Bellingshausen, who was also the captain of “Vostok”. "Mirny" was commanded by Mikhail Lazarev.
On January 27, 1820 (New Style), the ships crossed the Antarctic Circle, and the next day Bellingshausen wrote in his diary: "While continuing our way southwards, at noon, 69°21'28"S and 2°14'50"W we encountered ice which appeared to us through falling snow as white clouds". From Lazarev's sloop, the opening view could be seen more clearly: "We encountered hardened ice of great height…it stretches as far as one’s vision could reach". These lines of the captains became the first description of Antarctica.