New statue of WWII hero Marshal Zhukov near Red Square stuns Muscovites, but officials say it's temporary
Erected in 1995 by order of then-president Boris Yeltsin to mark the 50th anniversary of the victory, it was initially planned to place the statue in Red Square, but this idea fell through as the entire area is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The statue has been repeatedly criticized for being poorly proportioned and featuring an inaccurate representation of a horse. Those familiar with equine physiology have slammed the legs for being completely unrealistic.
Overnight on Thursday, it disappeared, replaced by a more imposing alternative. The new version has the marshal in a different pose, performing a military greeting while riding a more muscular steed.
The switch caught Muscovites by surprise, especially during the present pandemic; and many wondering why the operation had been carried out so speedily, under cover of darkness.
Later, Interfax reported that the old sculpture of Zhukov would return, and the new statue is a temporary replacement while the original monument undergoes restoration. The head of Moscow City Heritage, Alexei Emelyanov, told reporters that "there can be no talk of any replacement of the monument to Marshal Zhukov," and that soon they will "return the historical monument to its historical place."
According to Emelyanov, the original statue is due to be restored and returned by Victory Day, May 9.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Soviet Russia's defeat of Nazi Germany, with huge celebrations planned, assuming the Covid-19 breakout is under control by then.
Georgy Zhukov is the Soviet Union's most famous war hero, and perhaps the most celebrated in Russia's entire history. During the Second World War, he oversaw some of the Red Army's most notable victories, organizing the defense of Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Moscow, as well as planning decisive offensives, such as the Battle of Kursk. On June 24, 1945, just a stone's throw away from the location of his statue, he was the host of the Red Square victory parade. After the death of Joseph Stalin, who was jealous of his fame, Zhukov was appointed minister of defense of the Soviet Union. He died in 1974.
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