Russian Orthodox church head backs Ivan the Terrible sculpture
The head of the Russian Orthodox church has backed what is planned to
be Russia’s first monument to Ivan the Terrible, the controversial
ruler who killed his own son.
The governor of Oryol, a city of 320,000 south of Moscow, had planned to unveil the monument this week during the 450th anniversary of Ivan the Terrible’s decree that a fortress be built there. But the monument has been delayed after a protest in July by local people holding signs such as: “We don’t need a monument to a tyrant.”
Ivan the Terrible, who ruled from 1547 to 1584 and founded and expanded the Russian tsardom, is best known for his long campaign of terror against the nobility and populace, as well as for killing his son during an argument.
Patriarch Kirill supported the monument last week at a meeting with the Oryol governor, Vadim Potomsky, a statement on the Orlov region website said. Kirill spoke out against the canonisation of Ivan the Terrible “because of his methods of governing” but said “as the founder of the city of Oryol he deserves a monument here”, according to the statement.
In a survey asking local people whether the monument should be erected and where it should be put , the majority have supported the statue, the statement cites the governor as saying. “The monument will stand in the place that wins,” Potomsky said.
But many residents remain opposed, said an employee at the Free Space theatre, where the sculpture of Ivan on horseback was supposed to stand. “Those who know history look at him extremely negatively,” the employee said, declining to give his name. “Just read history.”
Potomsky previously attempted to erect a monument to Joseph Stalin in Oryol and has claimed that Stalin, Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible’s reputations had been “slandered”.
At a press conference last month, Potomsky claimed that Ivan the Terrible said he was guilty of the death of his son because he did not get him medical treatment quickly enough after he fell ill while “they were travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg”. He later had to admit he had misspoken, since St Petersburg was not founded until more than a century after Ivan the Terrible’s death.
Independent television channel Dozhd has questioned the church’s support for the monument, since Ivan the Terrible’s right-hand man, Malyuta Skuratov, strangled Philipp II, Metropolitan of Moscow, in 1569 after the metropolitan clashed with the tsar.
Several Russian cities have erected monuments to Stalin in recent months as surveys have shown the Soviet leader’s popularity increasing. In May, the town of Ozrek in the Kabardino-Balkaria region put up a golden bust of him.