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Acron Opens Exhibition of Sokol Club’s Wartime Findings in Veliky Novgorod

On 18 April 2024, Acron Cultural Centre opened the Bringing Names Back open-air exhibition to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the first mission of the Sokol volunteer search club. The event was initiated by Vladimir Gavrikov, an experienced searcher and advisor to Acron’s CEO.

The exhibition features a full-size mock-up of a P-Z aircraft with original elements, along with documents and personal belongings of its pilots, a squad Willys Jeep, a cannon and many other items unearthed by the Sokol’s searchers.

Students of the Novgorod Chemical and Industrial College, members of the Captain Varukhin Youth Sailing Club, the rector of the Pokrovsky Cathedral Archpriest Igor Beloventsev, and Acron’s management and veterans visited this exhibition first.

Elena Kirilova, Deputy Chair of the Novgorod Regional Government, welcomed visitors of this unique event on behalf of the Government: ‘For more than 50 years, the Sokol club has been helping bring our common history back from oblivion. During these years, the searchers have discovered the remains of over 8,000 fallen soldiers and identified more than 1,000 of them. The importance of their efforts can hardly be overvalued. In the year of the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Novgorod region from Nazi occupation, we are witnessing the history revive. The pilots’ fate might have remained unknown, had it not been for the volunteers’ work. I would like to thank all the people involved and congratulate the Sokol club with its anniversary. You are a strong family that keeps traditions and fosters the high principles of courage, honour and morality. I am certain that this exhibition will become a part of our collective memory’.

Archpriest Igor Beloventsev, on behalf of His Eminence Metropolitan Leo of Novgorod and Staraya Russa, thanked the activists of the search movement for their valuable contribution to reviving the memory of fallen soldiers. Vladimir Gavrikov expressed his gratitude to Acron’s management for its commitment and support for Sokol’s activities and promised that the club would continue to reveal and preserve our historical memory.

The Sokol volunteer search club was founded in 1968 on the initiative of Acron’s methanol shop worker Nikolay Orlov, a living legend among Soviet volunteer searchers. The search party, led by chemists from Veliky Novgorod, gave rise to an organised volunteer search movement in the Soviet Union. It also led to the creation of the Dolina (Valley) regional search expedition, named after Orlov. In 2019, the Sokol members unearthed the Р-Z N1981 biplane with remains of its pilots from the 673rd Night Bomber Air Regiment. The volunteers recovered their names from the swamp: Lieutenant Mikhail Zaichenko and Sub-lieutenant Mikhail Kovalev. They both were just 23 years old. In the presence of family members, the pilots’ remains were solemnly buried at the Myasny Bor memorial.