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Cockroach Races in Istanbul

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Script error: No such module "AfC submission catcheck". November 7, 1917 After the Bolshevik Revolution the story of the Russian refugees who took refuge in the Ottoman Empire[1]


(1917–1921) After the Bolshevik Revolution,[2] which took place on November 7, 1917, approximately 150 thousand White Russians, including princes, princesses, generals and senior officers, flocked to Istanbul. Istanbul, which had a population of around 900 thousand at that time, opened its doors to approximately 150 thousand White Russians. The parties to the war migration in 1917 were neither Crimean Turks nor Caucasian Muslims. This time, those who took refuge in Istanbul were the 'nobles' and soldiers of Tsarist Russia, who had fought the Ottomans for centuries. The immigration, which started with small groups at the end of 1917, grew with the loss of Crimea to the Bolsheviks in 1920.[3] Tens of thousands of people who left their titles, money and palaces in Russia and came to Istanbul tried to hold on to life by dispersing all over the city. Some sold books, some handcrafted souvenirs and some flowers. The place, formerly known as Hristaki Passage, became known as Çiçek Pasajı after the Russian flower girls took up residence. Russian refugees. Those who arrived in 1919 were better off economically. The first arrivals found some jobs in the French and British representations, commissions, or alongside them in civil service, translator, or even military or security units in Istanbul.[4]

Cockroach Races[edit]

Those who came in April 1920, and especially in November 1920,[5] were much more colorful socially, because there were not only aristocrats but also people from other strata of Russian society; more importantly, because they outnumbered first-comers, their work also showed greater diversity. In fact, even those of aristocratic origin and relatively wealthy spent a significant part of their money either during their journey from the Black Sea to Istanbul or in the first months after arriving in Istanbul. Since there is no Russian ruble, those who still have money have opened restaurants, cafes, vodka factories, and laundry facilities in Istanbul. Those who had no money sold flowers, newspapers and chocolates; they have worked as a cloakroom attendant, janitor in restaurants, waitresses, cooks or hotels and entertainment venues. Those with a more 'entrepreneurial' spirit organized horse races and cockroach competitions. At the beginning of the business areas were the clubs that played bingo. In a short time, bingo surrounded the people of Istanbul. More than 400 bingo clubs were opened.[6] An average of 12 thousand people were playing bingo every day. The total daily income of all club owners was 17 thousand liras. Among the White Russians, there were those who made a lot of money in this sector. But getting along with the police was also difficult. As a result, the police of the occupation forces banned bingo in Istanbul on May 1, 1921, where thousands of White Russians ate bread. Thus, there is a big gap in terms of luck and betting games in Istanbul. The two White Russians will fill that gap with zero-cost cockroach races that don't have to worry about feeding. This invention, realized by two friends at the beginning of May 1921, quickly spread to Istanbul. The inventor of the races told Chebyshev that they collected insects from the baths. Others bring the bugs in the box themselves. The selected insects are large. The cockroaches, which are tied in front of the wire carts, are frightened by electric lights and run around on special tables. According to Chebyshev, a specially prepared table is placed in the middle of the great halls. There are channels on the surface of the table where insects compete. The "insect racecourse" around the table is like the place of the apocalypse. The eyes of ambitious bettors are filled with fire. Bets go up to 100 lira (1000 francs). Among the White Russians, there is no one in Istanbul who does not know about the cockroach races. Another name who mentions the races in his memoirs is G. Federov, who came to Istanbul after serving as a private in the White Armies.[7] Federov went to Czechoslovakia in 1921 and returned to the USSR in the mid-1920s to publish his diaries. (G. Federov, Putesestvie Bez Sentimentov, Kniga, Leningrad-Moskva, 1926) [8]

Cockroach Races are banned After the 'Men-i Muskirat Law' of 1924, many Russian refugees, who run cafes and bars in Beyoğlu, leave the country because their jobs have been disrupted or because they thought they would spoil due to the prohibition of alcohol.[9]

The Flight (Movie)[edit]

The Flight Film director Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Alov In a part of the film, there is a part of the Cockroach Races in the film, which tells about the life of the refugee Russians in Istanbul.[10][11]



  1. "İşgal günlerinin davetsiz misafirleri: 150 bin Beyaz Rus'un İstanbul sürgünü". Independent Türkçe (in Türkçe). 2020-04-23. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  2. "Russian Revolution | Definition, Causes, Summary, History, & Facts | Britannica". Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  3. "Istanbul's Russian history is fast fading into distant memory". Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  4. Ozbirinci, Yesim (2019-02-12). "White Russians in Istanbul, Smirnoff and a Black Russian". Motley Turkey. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  5. "We Refugees Archive". We Refugees Archive. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  6. Ayas, Deniz. "Kan ve gözyaşı ile yoğrulan toprakların 'çiçekçi' prensesleri… İstanbul'daki Beyaz Ruslar…". (in Türkçe). Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  7. "Fedorov 25 Articles Film Studies". Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  8. Davis, Peter (2019-06-01). Flora of Turkey, Volume 6. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-1-4744-6611-0. Search this book on
  9. karyelist (2020-12-31). "Men'i Müskirat Kanunu - İçki Yasağı / Hukuk Ansiklopedisi". Hukuk Ansiklopedisi (in Türkçe). Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  10. "BEG - Festival de Cannes". Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  11. Mehmet Perinçek - Beyaz Rusların İstanbul'da icat ettiği böcek yarışları | Facebook | By Mehmet Perinçek | Ekim Devrimi'nden kaçıp gelen Beyaz Rusların İstanbul'da icat ettiği, işgal yıllarında oynanan bahislerle kenti kasıp kavuran böcek yarışları, 1970 SSCB..., retrieved 2022-07-08

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