The battle for the idea at the door of the Lubyanka: what Muscovites actually choose

The battle for the idea at the door of the Lubyanka: what Muscovites actually choose
26 February , 09:40Photo:
Voting began in Moscow on which monument will be erected on Lubyanskaya Square: "Iron Felix", who already was situated there until 1991, or knyaz Alexander Nevsky, who suddenly appeared during a discussion of how to prevent the restoration of Dzerzhinsky. Novye Izvestia listened to all sides of the new confrontation.

Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil

Political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky laughs and wonders at the same time:

"Why do we have to choose between Felix Dzerzhinsky and Alexander Nevsky? This is some kind of nonsense. With such a survey, the question should be open.

People should be able to offer both the restoration of the fountain that used to be in this place, and the preservation of the status quo, and so on, if they really choose. And so the choice between two bearded men. I think this is stupid".

FSB Major General Alexander Mikhailov says that his organization "Officers of Russia" was not going to arrange a debate about Dzerzhinsky's return to the square. The "officers" asked the prosecutor's office to assess the demolition of the monument, which they consider to be vandalism. The liberal community started talking about restoring the monument, the general said. The prosecutor's office has not yet given an answer. When he is, everything will become more or less clear:

"I have to communicate with the opponents of this monument, and I understand what they say in prepared phrases: bloody regime, terror, fifth or tenth. I do not even humiliate myself and do not tell anything".

The general likes the monument itself, but it is not Felix who is important to him, but his role and place in the movement and creation of the state. And both supporters and opponents of Dzerzhinsky know little about this:

“We all live among primates who do not know their roots”, - Mikhailov complains.

"Primates", of course, have heard about "clean hands, a warm heart and a cold head". But that the monument, once overthrown, suddenly returned to its place in front of the FSB building due to random public polemics, is hardly believed. The battles have been going on for thirty years, whether or not Felix at the Lubyanka. And in our state they do not believe in chance, notes the historian Nikolay Svanidze:

"I think that the idea from the very beginning was to return Dzerzhinsky. Dzerzhinsky would mean such an exclamation mark in the head of a historical KGB revenge, revenge of the Cheka, NKVD, KGB, FSB. They are now in power in the country, and they wanted to put a bold exclamation mark that would mark a huge historical success, albeit temporary, as we understand, but now it is exactly so. And the conclusion is terrible".

Despite the doubts of Alexander Mikhailov, the inhabitants of the country know enough about Felix Dzerzhinsky. Yes, and by historical standards, it took very little time for all traces of him to be erased in the people's memory. The monument, erected in the midst of the Khrushchev thaw in 1958, symbolized the return from Stalin to Lenin, but then the idea changed, and Felix became associated with the KGB terror.

- Now we understand that he was a bloody executioner. He was a symbol of a bloody split. Now it is a monument to the civil war in Russia, which does not climb into any gate. This is a Polish nobleman who killed the Russian people, defending the Bolsheviks, says Nikolai Svanidze.

"I think this is a vivid expression of the times. The myth of Stalin has returned, and the supporters of this myth, who are trying to replace the complex and tragic history of our country with a flat history of victories, feel that their time has come. Taking advantage of this, they try to consolidate the success symbolically. For them, a symbol is a monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanka Square. They are trying to bring it back with renewed intensity”, - says Yelena Zhemkova, executive director of the International Memorial Society, labeled as a“ foreign agent ”at the request of the Ministry of Justice.

Journalist Maksim Shevchenko knows why Felix and Nevsky were included in the vote at the same time. The goal is as clear as day: the government has decided to embroil the left-wing patriotic coalition. It unites "a horse and a quivering doe": the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the NPSR (National Patriotic Union of Russia). "Horse" and "Doe" united against the background of dislike for the current government, but their symbols are different. Communists love Lenin, Stalin and Dzerzhinsky, right-wing monarchist patriots will definitely be for the knyaz:

"This is all done within the framework of agreed budgetary measures. This is just primitive political technology, the purpose of which is to sow distrust and destroy the coalition's unity. And at the same time they decided to promote Prilepin's stillborn Frankenstein. And as if Prilepin intercepts the initiative of the Communist Party, which is not given the floor in this matter. And Prilepin speaks everywhere, and he is for Dzerzhinsky. Like, he is a real left opposition, and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation cannot decide".

The main battles unfolded around Dzerzhinsky, but Alexander Nevsky, who seemed to be walking, first got into discourse, and then into the second round, seems to be a very strange alternative to the “knight of the revolution”. Without a doubt, people think about the knyaz, first of all, judging by the film by Sergey Eisenstein, who brilliantly showed the Battle of the Ice and his campaign against the Teutons. But the historical Alexander Nevsky was the governor of the Mongol Horde in Russia. Acting on the orders of Batu Khan and his successor Berke Khan, Alexander consolidated the power of the Horde and killed many more Russians in Novgorod and Vladimir than Germans in the Battle of the Ice, says historian Svanidze.

Political scientist Georgy Satarov also recalls who Felix's rival really was:

"Nevsky is a classic symbol of collaborationism, not only he, the Horde has agreed quite well with most of the knyazs (princes). There was also Alexander of Tverskoy, and there was also an uprising, in which the knyaz himself participated. Nevsky took part in its suppression in Tver. Historians know everything about him, and his holiness and Russian valor is a typical historical fake".

Monuments not only tell about the past, glorious, inglorious or fictitious. They also talk about the present, otherwise why put them on? For Nikolai Svanidze, it is obvious that the second participant of the Moscow competition is not an accidental figure either:

- Nevsky is a symbol of anti-Westernism. Between West and East, he chose the East, chose the Mongol Horde. And in a historical sense, it symbolizes Russia's choice in favor of the East, in favor of Asia, and not geographic, but political. And since our country also makes a systematic choice, this is the figure that the current government likes.

Here is such a symbolic choice facing citizens: terror against anti-Westernism. The era of symbols begins, political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin believes. This is a symptom of the fact that state people are seriously concerned about a return to the regime of government, which Alexander Dugin called ideocracy:

"Why such a fuss around the felix? Because our elites want to return to super-meaningful symbolism. The era of ideocracy is always associated with symbols. Apparently, the Kremlin decided that we were missing. This is one of the clearly expressed steps in the rejection of a de-ideologized state. They are trying to sew, come up with, sweep away a nationwide idea, which contradicts the letter and spirit of the Constitution as it was before last summer".

Not because Nevsky or Dzerzhinsky is bad, but because the authorities decided to erect a monument to the idea, Oreshkin believes. Talking about braces is clearly not enough, and an attempt is made to create a dominant.

Political analyst Grigory Kazankov does not understand where this alternative came from. He says that many worthy people have worked in Moscow at different times. Whether Dzerzhinsky, Nevsky, a fountain or something completely different - this problem is very far from what worries people. They are worried about what is happening against the backdrop of the pandemic - economic difficulties:

"It is very difficult to divert attention from your own pocket if this pocket is empty. The issue of installing a monument is not so important and relevant. If an attempt was made to distract from pressing problems by this, it was not very successful. If people have to choose between buying food or something for children, then they are not worried about the monuments to Dzerzhinsky or Nevsky".

Georgy Satarov also does not believe that the topic arose on its own - there are too many other problems in the country:

"Maybe this is necessary so that you and I talk about this particular topic, and not some other, more burning one. The very fact of our conversation confirms this hypothesis. If we talk about these two characters, it is clear that here the appearance of a popular discussion is created".

This is a switching of the agenda both on protests and on the agenda about Putin, about our immediate prospects, Satarov said.

Meanwhile, Internet voting is taking its course. Dmitry Oreshkin assumes that Alexander Nevsky will win.

General Mikhailov calls the vote a screening, which will determine how many people are for and how many are against Dzerzhinsky. He fears that those who vote in favor are more sluggish than those who vote against. But the result is open:

"We say that there must be something uniting. When they accepted the anthem of the Russian Federation to the words of Mikhalkov, our stench was also not measured, and liberal leaders said: we will not stand up to this anthem. Stand up! The general said in a commanding voice".

Gleb Pavlovsky sees how the FSB lobbies its idol, and understands how deeply insensitive the corporation is to the real political situation:

- Regardless of whether Dzerzhinsky should be there or not, it is just that the deposed Dzerzhinsky should not stand there, because this monument was humiliated, and its erection will not restore his dignity. The once overthrown monument will stand on the square and wait for it to be overthrown a second time. It is a bad idea.

Yuri Pivovarov, scientific director of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, professor of Moscow State University, has a practical proposal: this year marks the centenary of Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov. It would be honest and symbolic to erect a monument to him. “We don’t want executioners! Let's remember the peacemakers and the righteous!"

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