I am pleased to have an opportunity to contribute to the development of the economy and influence in a modest way the cosmopolitan character of Vladivostok, Russia’s window on Asia.
I follow in the wake of a long list of Scots whose names resound in Russia from the early 16th Century. From Bruce and Mackenzie, to Leslie and Hamilton who all fought their way to glory in the Tsar’s armies.
My personal connection is from the small Scottish border village of Earlston where I grew up. The oldest landmark in Earlston is the Rhymer’s Tower, the home of the 13th Century laird Sir Thomas Learmont of Ercildoune one of whose descendants, George Lermonth died in defence of Smolensk in 1633. Sir Thomas was also known as Thomas the Rhymer, a poet and prophet.
Fast forward to Mikhail Lermontov, the second greatest Russian poet after Pushkin. He died in a duel in the Caucasian town of Pyatigorsk in a duel. Mikhail’s family has traced his ancestry to Thomas the Rhymer and in 2015 a bust was erected on my old village green, a short walk from the house where I grew up in the shadow of Rhymer’s Tower.
Interestingly, 2016 research in Harvard University, has used genetic data in the UK Biobank, to show that the Scots of today are descended from a pastoral, nomadic people living in the Russian Steppe, who were among the first humans to make use of the wheel.
South of the border, the English genetic strain shows much more Celtic and Anglo-Saxon trends than the nomadic Steppe influence.