Travelling from an Australian summer to the winter spectacle of Siberia was breathtaking in itself. But what was impossible to shake off on this 21st century journey was the image of a young Russian noblewoman who, in 1826, chose exile and hardship over the wealth and comfort of urban St Petersburg; who left behind a child for the sake of her husband’s politics and paid for his role in the very first Russian revolution. The Decembrist Uprising of 1825 caused barely a murmur outside Europe and certainly seemed irrelevant to an emerging antipodean nation. For Ross Johnson, visiting Siberia was an entree to the story of Maria Volkonsky and the events which would lead to a new world order.
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