I have not posted for almost two weeks, since I have just recently returned to the UK from Russia. This post is therefore a relatively short one in which I provide some context for 10 statues/monuments in Moscow. I could have chosen more, I could have chosen fewer, but in the end decided to stick with 10, most of which are located in prominent locations around the city of Moscow.
Tsar Alexander I. The statute was erected in 2014 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Allied victory over Napoleon in 1814. It is installed in the Alexander Gardens near the Kremlin, named after Alexander I. The garden was laid out in 1823 as part of the redesign of Moscow after the fire which destroyed two thirds of the city during the Napoleonic occupation in 1812.
Cyril and Methodius. This monument was installed in 1992 in honour of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek missionaries who brought Christianity to the Slavic peoples. Cyril is also known for his invention of the Glagolithic alphabet, which later became Cyrillic – the alphabet used in Russian and other Eastern European and Central Asian languages. Rather ironically, the inscription to this monument in Slavyanskaya Square contains five spelling errors.
Yury Dolgoruky. This monument, located opposite the City Duma on Tverskaya street – Moscow’s main thoroughfare – depicts the founder of Moscow, Prince Yury Dolgoruky. The statue was installed in 1954, soon after Moscow celebrated it’s 800th anniversary in 1947.
Fyodor Dostoevsky. This statue of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky can be found outside the Russian State Library, known as the Lenin State Library during the Soviet era.
Mikhail Kutuzov. This equestrian statue of Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov is situated outside the Battle of Borodino Panorama museum on Kutuzovsky Avenue in the west of Moscow. The commander of the Russian army in 1812 is depicted alongside subordinate commanders and partisan leaders, who surround the pedestal of the monument. The statue is not far from the place where Kutuzov held the famous Council of Fili, during which he announced his decision to abandon Moscow to Napoleon.
Vladimir Lenin. During the Soviet era, statues of Vladimir Lenin could be found almost everywhere in Moscow. Even after the collapse of communism, there are still almost forty statues of Lenin around the city. One of the most prominent can be found at VDNKh, the large exhibition complex created to display the economic products created in the Soviet Union.
Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky. This famous monument in Red Square honours the exploits of the merchant Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. The two men were instrumental in liberating Moscow – and Russia – from Polish occupation in 1612. The success of Minin and Pozharsky’s Second Volunteer Army paved the way for Mikhail Romanov’s installation as Tsar in 1613. The statue was erected in 1818, soon after Russia emerged victorious from another life-or-death struggle with a foreign enemy – Emperor Napoleon.
Alexander Pushkin. This statue honours Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin. Although Pushkin was born in Moscow, he spent much of his life in St Petersburg. This statue of Pushkin was made by the famous sculptor Alexander Opekushin and unveiled in 1881. Soon before his death, Fyodor Dostoevsky gave a moving elergy in Pushkin’s honour at the ceremony unveiling the monument, located on Pushkin Square on Tverskaya Street.
Saint Vladimir. This controversial statue depicts Saint Vladimir the Great of Kyiv (Kiev), ruler of Rus’ between 980 and 1015, and the man who was responsible for converting Rus’ to Christianity. The statue was unveiled in late 2016 by President Vladimir Putin. The 18 metre statue is located to the south of Alexander Gardens, close to the Kremlin’s Borovitskaya Tower. Critics have not failed to point out how the monument is dedicated to President Putin’s namesake, as well as a figure who has traditionally been associated with Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
Georgy Zhukov. Marshal Georgy Zhukov was the leading commander of the Soviet army during the Second World War, responsible for the defeat of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. This statue in front of the State Historical Museum was unveiled in 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of Allied victory in the Second World War.