Acting Moscow mayor wants giant Peter statue moved: reports

5th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Moscow's new acting mayor is pushing to remove a giant statue of Peter the Great from the heart of the capital, Russian media reported Tuesday, calling it another blow to his sacked predecessor's legacy.

The statue, a work by sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, a nearly 100 meter high edifice in central Moscow, was vehemently opposed when the Moscow government, headed by Yury Luzhkov, erected it in 1997.

"A smart man learns from other people's mistakes," acting mayor of the capital Vladimir Resin said at the city government meeting, proposing to move the statue from central Moscow "somewhere else", Interfax reported.

The statue, which sits on the tip of a Moscow river island just a kilometre from the Kremlin, pictures Peter the Great on a small ship with tiny sails, holding up a scroll.

Peter the Great, who hated Moscow, moved the Russian capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1712.

"Terminator" and "Gulliver" were just a couple of nicknames for the monument, which is regularly featured in global rankings of the world's worst statues and was opposed by Russian former president Boris Yeltsin who called it "ugly" and advised Luzhkov to support other artists.

"It's a monument to the so-called Luzhkov style, both in art and in his style of city management," Konstantin Mikhailov, a coordinator in Arkhnadzor, an architecture preservation group in Moscow. Removing it would be "good for the city."

At the same time, moving the statue is an effortless way for the authorities to make a popular gesture, since the statue does not bring a profit and is not connected with any business groups, unlike real estate, he said.

Tsereteli has long been considered the court sculptor of Yury Luzhkov's Moscow government, and has authored two sculptures of the former mayor. One presents him with a broom in the role of streetcleaner, in the other a barechested Luzhkov is dynamically playing tennis.

President Dmitry Medvedev last week dramatically sacked Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor for the past 18 years, saying he had lost confidence in him.

The sacking came after a convoluted tug-of-war between the Kremlin and Luzhkov who had chosen to openly challenge Medvedev in a largely unprecedented move.

© 2010 AFP

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