The Russian enclave of Kaliningrad has begun three days of celebrations to mark its 750th anniversary. The city on the Baltic sea was founded by German knights in 1255 and was the capital of East Prussia until 1945. “Generally I’d say that our place is pretty international,” said one of its residents. “Here we have Europe and Russia in one place. And I hope that there will be peace here and it will stay here.”Originally called Koenigsburg, the territory, which has a population of around one million, was renamed by Stalin after a prominent Bolshevik, Mikhail Kalinin. There are political tensions over the celebrations, with only low-level officials from neighbouring Poland and Lithuania having been invited. On the sidelines of the event, French leader Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in preparation for the G8 summit. Chirac says he will be pressing Putin to take a more active role in fighting climate change by asking him to back his plan to place an international tax on air travel.
Kaliningrad celebrates 750th birthday