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a catastrophe that occurred on May 18 (30), 1896, on Khodynka Field in northwestern Moscow (at the place where present-day Leningrad Prospect originates), during the popular outdoor fete held to celebrate the coronation of Nicholas II.
On an open field with an area of 1 sq verst (1 verst = 1.07 km), temporary booths and theaters had been set up, along with 20 drink stalls and 150 buffet tables at which gifts of food were to be distributed. Next to the field were a ravine, gullies, and pits. Attracted by rumors of lavish gifts, large crowds began gathering on the field on the evening of May 17. The gift bags that had been prepared, however, contained only a roll, a piece of sausage, a spice cookie, and a mug. At 5 A.M. several hundred thousand people were milling about the pavilions, and the police force of 1,800 was unable to maintain order. According to official data, 1,389 people were killed in the crush, and 1,300 were seriously injured.
The criminal negligence of the tsarist authorities aroused public indignation throughout Russia. The government conducted an investigation that resulted in the dismissal of Moscow’s chief of police and several lesser officials. The man most responsible for the Khodynka catastrophe—Grand Duke Sergei Aleksandrovich, the governor-general of Moscow—was appointed commander of the troops of the Moscow Military District that very year; his role in the incident earned him the nickname “Prince Khodynskii.”