Russian community in Hong Kong [????- ]

Submitted by David on Mon, 08/29/2016 - 20:47

IDJ has written about Russian food and eateries in Hong Kong.

Nona has written about the Russian families she knew in Hong Kong in the 1950s, and also includes notes from Richard Morgan about Russian members of the Police Force and the HKVDC:

If you can add any memories, photos, or other information, please let us know in the comments below.

Photos of this organisation:
(see more)

Photos of this organisation:




I lived in Hong Kong between 1966-1985 and my mother befriended an impoverished elderly White Russian lady called Susanna who escaped from Shanghai shortly after the Communists took power in 1949. I can remember very little else except she used to call me `Apple` (!),threw food out of an upper window for me and lived in a block of flats on the Western side of HK island.She must have been in her early 80s in the late 1970s.

i`ll try and find out more.


In his 2007 book Where Empires Collided: Russian and Soviet Relations with Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao Michael B. Share estimates the number of White Russians in Hong Kong as never more than just over 100 people (p. 93). He says its members ran ' several restaurants, tailor shops, and small food stores'. He also mentions the contingent in the Police and points to the central role played by Archpriest Dimitry Upsensky from 1934 onwards.

We can add to this the role played by Russians in the arts (George Pio-Ulski, George Goncharoff, Preorbazhensky and probably others).

I wonder if just over 100 is a little low? 

My incomplete list of Russians who were living outside the camps at the start of the occupation has about 60 names on it (including children).

On the one hand:

some of these people had probably taken the nationality of their spouse after marriage;

the list certainly includes a number of people who had become British citizens by naturalisation.

On the other hand:

half of those 60 people were granted assistance by the Red Cross in 1942 - most for living expenses, a few to go to Shanghai or Macao; the vast majority of these were women, and some or most of these would have had husbands in the camps.


Barbara Mackenzie remembers the community in the 1950s & 60s:

We are Jewish so my parents (Eric and Reva GABRIEL) tended to mix with Russians they knew from Shanghai at the JRC (70 Robinson Rd)... Zirinski's, Bard's, Godkins, Eda and Joe Close (he worked for the Star Ferry) - of course the Kadoories were also members but they are Iraqi originally and weren't really in the Russian Crowd. 

Occasionally we had the odd Russian refugee stay with us transiting in HK on their way to South America.

I also went to school with Alexy Gavrilov though he is a bit younger than me!

The 'Papers' collected by Colin Gimson and now in the University of Hong Kong Special Collections contains a list of Russians that I think was compiled for the 1931 ten year 'super census'. By my count it gives about 190 'stateless' males and 130 'stateless' females. Interestingly there's a separate list of USSR citizens: 11 males and 9 females. One of the males is described as an 'exporter' which would suggest some trade links between Hong Kong and the USSR. One of the females was a 'milliner' which suggests she was allowed to pursue her profession. 

There would have been a lot of chopping and changing by 1941 but this supports my hunch that there were about 200 Russians (taking the word in its widest sense) in Hong Kong during the occupation.

I've found one source that states Russians were banned from the Colony for a number of years. I've not been able to validate this, nor do I know, if true, if the ban applied to Soviet citizens, 'stateless' refugees, or both.