2021-02-16 09:44:00

World Union of Old Believers backs idea to place Ivan III monument on Moscow's Lubyanka Square

Moscow, February 16, Interfax - The World Union of Old Believers has announced its support for an initiative to erect a monument to Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan III (1440-1505) on Lubyanka Square in the center of Moscow, where a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police, used to stand in Soviet times.

"Ivan III is the first ruler of our state who combined Russian, Byzantine, and Western identities in himself. Thus, he acted as a bridge between Russian culture and Western culture," head of the World Union of Old Believers Leonid Sevastyanov told Interfax.

Old believers consider themselves the spiritual descendants of Ivan III because they "represent the legacy of Rus prior to the church schism, before the Romanov dynasty came to power, that part of our history that is not sufficiently represented in contemporary Russia," Savastyanov said.

"Unfortunately, present-day politicians' idea of Russian history is often the period from the times of Vladimir Lenin and Felix Dzerzhinsky or from the epoch of Peter the Great at best, while old believers think that we must trace our history from its very beginning, and Ivan III, as is known, was one of the founders of modern Russian statehood," he said.

Special services were established in Rus long before Dzerzhinsky, and they first appeared during the rule of Ivan III, whom his contemporaries called Ivan the Great, Sevastyanov said.

"I think that Lubyanka Square is the best place not only to pay our respects to this great ruler, but also to take our inspiration from the depths of the richest Russian history," he said.

In conclusion, Sevastyanov expressed confidence that a monument to Ivan III would be a "symbol of the Russian people's unity."

Earlier in the day, around 30 historians, publicists, and public figures called on Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to put up a monument to Ivan III, whom they called "the founder of united, independent Russia," on Lubyanka Square.

In Soviet times, a monument to Dzerzhinsky was situated on Lubyanka Square, facing the Soviet KGB headquarters. The monument was dismantled in 1991, immediately after the August coup. Afterward, the Dzerzhinsky monument, designed by sculptor Yevgeny Vutetich and architect Grigory Zakharov, was transferred to the Muzeon park in front of the Tretyakov Gallery building on Krymsky Val Street. In 1990, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Solovetsky Stone, a huge granite boulder, was placed on Lubyanka Square, in the Polytechnic Museum's park, to commemorate political prisoners and victims of political repression.

Since then, some political forces have spoken from time to time in favor of returning the monument to Dzerzhinsky to Lubyanka Square, a step human rights campaigners strongly oppose. There was also an idea to build a fountain in the center of Lubyanka Square, but it turned out to be technically impossible.

Ivan III reigned as the grand prince of Moscow and all Rus from 1462 until 1505. He unified Russian lands, and his reign marked the beginning of Muscovite Russia. Ivan III made the black double-headed eagle the official coat of arms of the Russian state. His rule was also marked by the final defeat of the Great Horde, the adoption of the Sudebnik, a code of laws introduced by Ivan III, and the construction of the Moscow Kremlin and the main cathedral of the Russian state - the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin.