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Moskvitin, Ivan Yurievich


Seventeenth-century Cossack and explorer of Russia's Pacific coast.

The Cossack adventurer Ivan Yurievich Moskvitin was one of the many explorers and frontiersmen who took part in the great push eastward that transformed Siberia during the reigns of tsars Mikhail (16131645) and Alexei (16451676).

In 1639 Moskvitin left Yakutsk at the head of a squadron of twenty Cossacks, seeking to confirm the existence of what local natives called the "great sea-ocean." Proceeding east, then southward, Moskvitin encountered the mountains of the Jug-Jur Range, which forms a barrier separating the Siberian interior from the Pacific coastline. Moskvitin threaded his way through the mountains by following the Maya, Yudoma, and Ulya river basins.

Tracing the Ulya to its mouth brought Moskvitin to the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk. He and his men were therefore the first Russians to reach the Pacific Ocean by land. The party also built a fortress at the mouth of the Ulya, Russia's first Pacific outpost. Until 1641, Moskvitin charted much of the Okhotsk shoreline. Mapping an overland route to the eastern coast and establishing a presence there were key moments in Russia's expansion into Siberia and Asia.

See also: exploration; siberia


Bobrick, Benson. (1992). East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia. New York: Poseidon.

Lincoln, W. Bruce. (1993). Conquest of a Continent: Siberia and the Russians. New York: Random House.

John McCannon

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