The Albazinians (Russian: албазинцы, Traditional Chinese: 阿爾巴津人, Simplified Chinese: 阿尔巴津人) are approximately 250 modern descendants of about fifty Russian Cossacks from Albazin on the Amur River that were resettled by the Kangxi Emperor in the northeastern periphery of Beijing in 1685. Albazin was a Russian fort on the Amur River, founded by Yerofey Khabarov in 1651. It was stormed by Qing troops in 1685. The majority of its inhabitants agreed to evacuate their families and property to Nerchinsk, whereas several young Cossacks resolved to join the Manchu army and to relocate to Beijing.

Much uncertainty surrounds their migration to China. It is believed that, upon their arrival to the imperial capital, the Albazinians met the descendants of 33 Cossacks that had been captured by the Chinese in 1667 and several Cossacks that had settled in Beijing as early as 1649 and had become the parishioners of the South Roman Catholic Cathedral in the downtown. The veracity of this oral tradition about the pre-Albazinian Russian diaspora in China is open to question.

The Albazinians formed a separate contingent of the imperial guard, known as the "unit of the yellow-stripe standard". Their first leader was Ananiy Uruslanov, or Ulangeri, a Tatar in the employ of the Manchu. The Russian surnames Yakovlev, Dubinin and Romanov were rendered in Chinese as Yao (姚), Du (杜), and Lo (Traditional Chinese: 羅, Simplified Chinese: 罗). The Cossacks were permitted to marry the widows of the beheaded Chinese criminals. Their priest, Maxim Leontiev, was allowed to hold divine service in a deserted Lamaist shrine. An old icon of St. Nicholas, evacuated by the Cossacks from Albazin, was placed in this unusual church, dedicated to the Holy Wisdom.

Although the descendants of the Cossacks intermarried with the Chinese and gradually lost their command of the Russian language, the Russian Orthodox Church regularly sent missions to Beijing, starting in 1713. As a result, the Abazinians came to form the core of the Chinese Orthodox Church. In 1831, Ioakinf Bichurin reported that there were 94 Albazinians in the capital of China. Other Russian travellers noted that, apart from their faith, the Albazinians were thoroughly Sinicized and bore little physical resemblance to the Russians. By the end of the 19th century, their number was estimated at 1,000.

The Boxer Rebellion entailed the persecution of all Christians and Europeans in China. The Russian Orthodox Church claims that 222 Orthodox Chinese were martyred on 11 June 1900, including Father Mitrofan, who was later declared a holy martyr. An Orthodox chapel used to mark the burial place of the Chinese Orthodox martyrs in Beijing. It was destroyed in 1956 at the urging of the Soviet ambassador in China. Although several Albazinian families found it reasonable to move to the Soviet Union during the Cultural Revolution, the bulk of them still reside in Beijing and Tianjin.

See also

*Ethnic Russians in China
*Harbin Russians
*Russians in Hong Kong


* [ Encyclopaedia of Cossackdom (USA, 1966-70)]
* D. Pozdnyayev. "Orthodoxy in China (1900-1997)". [Православие в Китае (1900-1997 гг.)] . Moscow, 1998.
* Zizevskaya E.S. " [ The Albazinians in China] ". Vladivostok, 2005.

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