Vassily Balabanov

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

Vassily Vassilievich Balabanov (January 30, 1873 in Bakhmut, Yekaterinoslav Governorate – January 27, 1947 in Vancouver, Canada) was an administrator and Provincial Governor of Imperial Russia. Vassily (also Vasile Vasilivich) Balabanov was the third of five children of Vassily Stephanovich Balabanov and Maria Muravskaya.


In 1892 he was married for the first time. In 1894 Vasile graduated from Moscow University and returned to the Family estate in Bakhmut. He was noted for being sympathetic to the peasants and helped moderize methods and improve conditions.

In 1905 he visited Asiatic Russia, impressed with the vastness and available land for the poor Russian peasants. He went to Moscow with his idea and came back with the backing of the government. After a slow start, with the loss of the Russian-Japanese War.Template:Citation needed, there were many ex-soldiers and families attracted to the prospect and a trickle turned into a flood.

Vasile received the title of 'Minister of Resettlement of Turkistan' and helped the new arrivals settle in the area.

His first wife died after 4 children (Galina, Sergei, Alexsay and Clara) and Vasile married Anastasia Kvasnicki from Odessa, a daughter of a Jewish merchant with whom he had three children, Vladimer, Basil and Taras (Tom).

In 1913 Vasile was appointed Governor General of the entire Turkestan Province. He spent time with dignitaries, and had one of the few automobiles in this remote area. Although he didn't live in a palace, the official house was large and it had many staff in attendance.

With the start of the war in 1914 everything changed. The Czar needed soldiers from the peasants and Vasile had to balance this with keeping enough farmers in the fields to produce enough food for everyone. As a result few staff were available to take care of his offices and home. His wife left and he married a third time to Vera Afanaseva who had to run the large official residence in Lepsinsk.

By 1919 the Russian Revolution reached Turkestan. For many months there was fighting between the reds and whites, with one side taking a town only to be taken back a few days later. Vasile spent a great deal of time working with Alexander Dutov and General Seminkoff in diplomacy. One time General Dutov sent Vasile to convince General Seminkoff to join him in an attack. General Seminkoff claimed Vasile was no longer the Governor because the government no longer gave support. Siminkoff though wrote out appointments to Vasile's three sons as Lieutenants.

Vasile was imprisoned several times by the reds narrowly escaping with his life, once being freed by a newly made red who remembered his helpfulness, once survived because the man next to him was the one who got shot. Another time the reds broke into the government house, took all his valuables and destroyed anything else.

He refused the French offer of sanctuary but with the help of Lieutenant General Alexander Dutov he escaped through the mountainous passes with his younger children, third wife, and trusted officers to China in 1920. One of the passes he had to pass through a red blockade by walking quietly at night.

He settled in the border area for about 6 months helping the anti-Bolsheviks until an assassination attempt (a 10,000 rouble reward was posted for him) forced him to flee with his family overland to Hankow, passing through the Gobi desert. Alexander Dutov however was assassinated when he escaped to China.

At the time China did not recognize the Communist Government of Russia, and Vasile being invited to China by the Governor of the nearest Province as an equal was supplied with a small stippend while in China to pay for expenses.

When he and his family had arrived in Hankow, after 6 months of hard travel, and he went to the best hotel in the city, he startled the hotel management by his appearance, with dirty furs and ragged clothing, they were almost kicked out of the hotel until Vasile gave proof of his identity.

Vasile and his family stayed in Hankow for 6 years before emigrating to Vancouver, British Columbia on the Empress of Russia with the help of Western Missionaries in Shanghai.

He settled with his family (Clara, Basil, Taras Balabanov), Galina Doubroff, and Olga Lapka) and lived in Richmond farming, Vancouver, and Grand Forks, British Columbia teaching Russian.

His family struggled with the change of life and depression in Canada, Vasile never wanting to talk much about his previous life.Template:Citation needed His life ended in 1947.[1]


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