Pavel Nakhimov was born on July 5 /June 23 by the old calendar/ 1802 in the village of Gorodok, Smolensk gubernia /200 kilometres west of Moscow/ into an officer's family.
In 1818, he graduated from the Marine Academy and served on the Baltic fleet. In 1822-1825, he made a round-the-world voyage on the frigate Kreiser, and took part in the Battle of Navarino in 1827 while commanding a battery on the battleship Azov.
During the 1828-1829 Russian-Turkish war, he commanded a corvette during the Dardanelles blockade and from 1829, upon returning to Kronshtadt, the frigate Pallada.
In 1845, Nakhimov was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral and appointed commander of a brigade of vessels, and in 1852 to that of vice-admiral.
During the 1853-1856 Crimean war, while commanding a squadron of the Black Sea fleet, Nakhimov discovered and blocked the main forces of the Turkish navy at Sinop, and on November 18 /30/ destroyed them in the Battle of Sinop of 1853.
During the 1854-1855 defence of Sevastopol (Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea) attacked by overwhelming forces of France, Britain and Turkey, Nakhimov correctly assessed Sevastopol's strategic significance and used all forces and means at his disposal to strengthen city defences. At the same time he was the commander of the squadron, and from February 1855, the commander of Sevastopol Port and the military governor. In fact from the very start of the defence of Sevastopol he headed the heroic garrison of fortress defenders, showing outstanding capabilities in organising the defence of the fleet's base from the sea and the ground.
During one of his visits to frontline fortifications on June 28 /July 10/ 1855, Nakhimov was wounded in the head by a bullet on Malakhov Hill. He is buried in the Vladimir Cathedral in Sevastopol In Sevastopol stands a monument to Admiral Nakhimov. In 1944, during the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, the Orders of Nakhimov 1st and 2nd Class were instituted, as well as the Nakhimov Medal.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969