Vanity Fair: Moscow topples shady statues

A mere $35,000 – and a statue of you could have been gracing the banks of the Moscow river. The Russian capital has seen dozens of illegal monuments spring up in the last few years, with Moscow’s Culture Department blaming “corruption and vanity.”

­Under Russian law, no monument can be put up in the capital without approval from the city authorities. But some choose to bypass the law.

On Wednesday, several illegal structures were dismantled in the central Museon Park. An investigation revealed that large sums of money had passed hands to erect the nine busts of businessmen, a decorative construction named Ball, and a huge pedestal for the statue Kind Angel of Peace.

The dubious erections were traced to Patrons of the Century – an organization professing to be an international charity foundation.

“The exhibits were created on a commercial basis by Patrons of the Century foundation and perpetuate living men, whose role in history is very much exaggerated,” Moscow’s Culture Department says.

It seems the organization erected over 40 structures in Museon Park illegally, having received some monumental money. “Among the Museon exhibits were busts of the local gardening shop director, the director of a construction firm and other businessmen, who according to media reports paid over one million roubles [around $35,000] to get their own monument.”

“We’ve been consulting with lawyers to find out as to how legitimate these statues are,” Elena Tyunyaeva, new director of Muzeon arts park, told RT. “Turned out, there were no necessary documents. I’m afraid the previous management allowed this to happen. We don’t hold anything against the people whose monuments have been taken down.”

Sergey Kapkov, head of the capital’s Culture Department says the department is ready to take Patrons of the Century to court. The fate of the offending objects will be decided by a special committee.

Known as Fallen Monument Park, Museon was set up back in 1991 to house Soviet monuments that were pulled down when the USSR collapsed. Many of them were created by the country’s star artists, so the authorities did not want to lose them completely. Now Museon boasts more than 700 sculptures in stone, wood and bronze.

Museon is not alone in its fight with illegal sculptures. According to the city hall, over 668 illegal monuments are now adorning Moscow streets; 513 of them appeared within the last decades.

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