22 july

60 years since the first official visit of Haile Selassie I to Moscow


In July 1959, the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I paid an official visit to Moscow for the first time. He also visited Leningrad, Yalta, Sochi and Stalingrad. Apart from taking part in the events with Soviet officials he also met with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexius I, who received the Emperor in his residence. The Patriarch decorated Haile Selassie with a clerical order of Prince Vladimir, First Class. In turn His Majesty awarded Alexius an order of the Holy Trinity and a golden cross. In the USSR this meeting was referred to as “celebration of the Cristian dialogue” that validated and strengthened “the bonds of a long-standing friendship that tie the Russian Orthodox Church with the Church of distant Ethiopia”.

Furthermore, the Emperor awarded Kliment Voroshilov, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the highest order of Ethiopia. Haile Selassie, in turn, was decorated with an Order of Suvorov, First Class, as a sign of recognition of his contribution to the fight against fascism. Following that, an Il-14 aircraft with an imperial coat of arms and a flag of Ethiopia on the fuselage was presented to the Emperor.

The visit itself has proved to be productive: a trade and economic agreement was signed between the two countries. Moreover, the USSR allotted to Ethiopia a long-term low-interest $90 million loan for industrial and agricultural development.

The visit of Haile Selassie gave a powerful momentum to the development of cooperation between the two countries. Radio Moscow started broadcasting in the Amharic language; translation of the Russian literature into Amharic was initiated. With the support of the USSR Polytechnic School was built in Bahir Dar that later became known as Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute, and nowadays – University. Ethiopian seminarians went on to receive education in theological academies in Leningrad and Zagorsk.