2021-02-26 00:00:00

Moscow Mayor proposes to leave Lubyanskaya Square as it is for now

Moscow, February 26, Interfax - No monument will be installed on Moscow's Lubyanskaya Square as public opinion has been split roughly 50/50, and it requires more approval from people to make such a decision, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said.

"I believe it is the right move to stop this process [of voting for the choice of monument on the Active Citizen project's website] and leave Lubyanskaya Square as it is for now," Sobyanin wrote on his blog on Friday.

Lubyanskaya Square "needs an architectural dominant," and "a monument to a person or event that made a conspicuous footprint in the history of the Fatherland" will be fit for the role, he said.

The vote in choosing the right candidacy for the monument between Alexander Nevsky and Felix Dzerzhinsky has shown that public opinion has divided roughly 50/50, and a decision like this requires the consent of more people, he said.

Monuments in the streets "should unite, not divide society," he said.

Sobyanin also thanked those who took part in the debate about what monument to install. "I'd like to thank all the concerned citizens, who actively participated in this discussion and I kindly ask them to agree with this decision. Frankly, we have much more relevant topics today. And we're most likely going to come back to this subject and make a right and reasonable decision together [someday]," he said.

The vote to choose the best monument to install on Lubyanskaya Square started on the Active Citizen website on Thursday. Muscovites were to choose between two figures - Felix Dzerzhinsky and Alexander Nevsky - to be commemorated in the monument.

It was the Moscow Public Chamber's initiative to hold a vote on the matter. The relevant decision was adopted at a meeting of the chamber's council on February 19.

The issue of using the area in the center of Lubyanka Square has been discussed for many years. In particular, the Communists have repeatedly called for the return of the monument to Dzerzhinsky to the square. Recently, leader of the For Truth party Zakhar Prilepin, writer Alexander Prokhanov, and a number of other public figures signed a similar petition sent to the mayor's office.

Later, about 30 historians, publicists, and public figures turned to Moscow Mayor with a request to erect a monument to Prince Ivan III on Lubyanka Square. There were also initiatives to install monuments to Nevsky and Yury Andropov, as well as to build a chapel there for holy Christian martyr Felix.

Rights activists have strongly opposed the return of the monument to Dzerzhinsky to Lubyanka.

Moscow City Duma members representing the Yabloko party sent a letter to the commission on monumental arts proposing to return the fountain by Giovanni Vitali onto Lubyanskaya Square, which remained there in 1835 - 1935, Sergey Mitrokhin, Moscow Duma member (Yabloko) and ex-chairman of the party, said on Friday. The Vitaly fountain is a politically neutral piece of architecture, which will not stir controversy in society, he said.

Boruch Gorin, spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, also proposed earlier installing a fountain in the center of Lubyanskaya Square.

The monument to Dzerzhinsky was dismantled in 1991, immediately after the August coup. Afterward, the monument, designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich and architect Grigory Zakharov, was transferred to Muzeon Park in front of the Tretyakov Gallery building on Krymsky Val Street.