Sri Lanka commemorates its Chekhov connection

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Memorials to one of Russia's greatest writers, Anton Chekhov, have been unveiled this year in Sri Lanka, marking the 120th anniversary of his brief visit to the island and the 150th anniversary of his birth.

On the initiative of the Russian ambassador, the Galle Face - one of the two famous colonial-era hotels in the capital, Colombo - inaugurated a plaque commemorating the writer. A sculpture of Chekhov was installed in the other hotel, the Grand Oriental.

Documentation on his visit in November 1890 is sketchy but it is known that he sailed into Colombo on a long voyage back from the prison island of Sakhalin in the Russian Far East, having travelled out there overland.

He had been there to study and write about the prisoners' living conditions. Already starting to suffer from the tuberculosis which would later kill him, he called Sakhalin "hell".

He was glad to leave and to make the journey via Hong Kong and Singapore to Sri Lanka, then known by its earlier name Ceylon....

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