Administrative center: Pestretsy
Area: 1361 sq.km
Now primarily known for its poultry breeding, in Soviet times the rayon was famous for the small village of Lenino-Kokushkino, which was a staple on most Volga tours for schoolchildren. It was here, to his maternal ancestors’ family estate, that the future leader of the world proletariat was exiled.
Pestrechinsky rayon, located in the Kama area, was founded on August 10, 1930. Its administrative center is the village of Pestretsy, which stands on the picturesque right bank of the river Myosha, 45 km east of Kazan. The history of Pestretsy goes more than 450 years back, to the reign of Ivan the Terrible when the Trinity and St. Sergius monastery was set up in the recently built Sviyazhsk. The monastery soon became one of the largest landowners in the area, with many of its estates lying east of Kazan. The earliest such settlement was known as Troitskaya Pustosh (Trinity Heath). The village featured an exquisite wooden church of St. Nicholas and thus was renamed St. Nicholas’ Heath. The monastery originally only allowed skillful craftsmen to settle on its lands: wood carvers, fullers, potters, carpenters, tailors. This mix is said to have given its name to the village: Pestretsy, from “pyostry”, "a motley crew." Through the ages, residents of the area have not given up their passion for agriculture, livestock breeding and various crafts. The rayon’s coat of arms as approved in 2007 shows "gules a bottom vert, a pitcher or full of grain, on top of it a rooster or, supported by two minks confronted argent, tail by paw”.
These heraldic metaphors reveal the hidden historical, cultural and economic characteristics of the rayon.
The main element of the arms — the pitcher — can have several meanings. Pestrechinsky rayon has long been known for its well-developed crafts, especially jewelry, leatherwork, wood- and metalworks. It was especially famous for its pottery, already widespread in the 16th century. Later it grew into a highly technical production of artistic pottery under the guidance of St. Petersburg ceramists Aleksandr Ivanovich and Yelena Vladimirovna Ilyinsky, who had graduated from Baron Alexander von Stieglitz’s School of Technical Drawing. The Pestretsy pottery made an international name when Tatar ornaments were first reproduced on clay. Later, this practice was copied by other pottery manufacturers. The Pestretsy pottery won wide acclaim at the fairs in Kazan, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan and other cities. In 1915, it got an international award at an exhibition in Paris.
Some items have made their way into the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, as well as private collections in Germany and France.
A lot has been done recently to revive and preserve the traditions of pottery-making. The Koschakovsky brickyard has been reopened (at the total capacity of 90 million bricks per year) and became the largest manufacturer of ceramic ashlar bricks in Tatarstan. The factory has sponsored a permanent workshop at the Pestretsy Children School of Art, where students can work with cutting-edge equipment. Under the guidance of the famous master potters of the Yusupov family, students are producing souvenirs which have already become popular with tourists and visitors from Tatarstan, all Russia and foreign countries.
The grain that fills the pitcher to the top stands for the rayon’s agricultural traditions and agriculture’s modern role as the economic backbone of the area. The rooster symbolizes poultry breeding known around the region and beyond thanks to the rayon’s economic frontrunner, Ak Bars LLC. The two minks stand for another thriving industry of the rayon, production of fur, led by OAO Koshchakovsky SKhPK.
Pestrechinsky rayon is worth a visit not only for lovers of traditional ceramics and dietary poultry meat, but for also those whose souls yearn for the romantics of a revolution.
The village of Lenino-Kokushkino is one of the 72 located in the vicinity of Pestretsy. It is known as the destination of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin)’s first exile. The Blanks’ Estate in Lenino-Kokushkino is Tatarstan’s only surviving manor house. The river Ushnya still flows past the village, unaffected by regime changes. It is as full of fish as it used to be a hundred and fifty years ago. The village has been around since the days of the Khanate. In the mid-19th century, Lenin’s grandfather, doctor A.D. Blank purchased the estate. Lenin’s mother, Maria Aleksandrovna, spent a large part of her younger years in Kokushkino. Vladimir Ulyanov came to Kokushkino every summer since the age of seven, accompanied by his family, all of whom loved this village. Incidentally, Kokushkino used to have no church, and Lenin’s parents’ wedding had to take place in the nearby village of Cheremyshevo in 1863.
The Cheremyshevo church building has survived to our days, but services are not held there at the moment.
Since then, a new church has been built in Lenino-Kokushkino. The cemetery by the church is the final resting place of Aleksandr Blank and other Lenin’s relatives on the maternal side.
Pestrechinsky rayon is part of the “Pearl Necklace of Tatarstan" tourist route. Besides the Blank-Ulyanov historical estate, tourists can pay a visit to the Rayon Museum at Pestretsy, the Museum of Kryashen Ethnography in the village of Kryash Serda, with its wooden church built by rural architects and the local spring. The local landmarks of history and culture also include the Church of the Smolensk icon of the Theotokos in Arkatovo and the Shali mosque, as well as the Museum of the legendary defender of the Brest Fortress, Hero of the Soviet Union P.M. Gavrilov. The museum was built in the hero’s native village of Alvidino to commemorate the 110th anniversary of his birth. Tourists may take an interest in a rare sight for the Volga region — an ostrich farm located nearby.
Pestrechinsky rayon is picturesque and very diverse for its size, with many amazingly beautiful villages. One of the largest villages in Tatarstan bears the poetic name of Shali. Its mosque, built in late 19th century, is a regional-level monument of architecture. Shali is the birthplace of the current Chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, Ravil Gainutdin.
Pestretsy, like any other rayon, is famous for its natives who have glorified their homeland with their deeds... Most amazing is the life of Major Pyotr Mikhailovich Gavrilov, born in the village of Alvidino. This brave commander of the Red Army won his first distinctions during the Civil War, and on the very first days of World War II joined the fight as a commander of the 1st Battalion in the Brest Fortress. Badly wounded, he was captured and kept imprisoned as a POW. He was rehabilitated and awarded the Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union after the release of the fictionalized documentary of the Brest Fortress defense, published by Sergei Smirnov in 1957. When the book was made into a film, Major Gavrilov was played by Alexander Korshunov. The hero's name is immortalized in the names of several streets: in Kazan, Krasnodar (where he spent his later years), in the hero city of Brest and in Pestretsy. Other military figures born in the rayon are Vasily Ivanovich Osipov and Galimzyan Kamaleyevich Kamaleyev, the heroes of the crossing of the Dnieper.
Residents of the rayon love their native land and are proud of their renowned fellow countrymen whose list includes a Hero of Socialist Labor, 15 Companions of the Order of Lenin and 50, of the Orders of Red Banner, Friendship of Peoples, the Order of Honor (Znak Pochyota), 6 honorary citizens of the rayon, university professors, scientists, artists, writers, singers, meritorious workers of art and culture.
Pestrechinsky rayon is rich in history and culture. It has seen glorious past and is looking forward to a bright future, where Tatars, Russian, Kryashens and people of other nationalities live side by side in peace and harmony, carefully preserving and passing their best traditions, customs and culture on to the next generations.
NB Vladimir Ulyanov came to the village Kokushkino every summer since the age of seven, accompanied by all the family.