Something terrible just happened! Russia revealed their first-ever monument for historical bad guy Ivan the Terrible. At today’s ceremony, officials unveiled a statue of this 16th-century czar as an exalted figure; sitting horseback, with a shield in hand and sword wielded high up in the air. The sculpture of Ivan is located in the city of Oryol and was officially uncovered October 14, marking the 450 year anniversary of Oryol, where the terrible czar built his fortress and founded this southwestern city of Russia.
A crowd of 1,000 attended the event, some as protesters and others as supporters. Natalya Golenkova, head of a protest group disgusted by any presence of an Ivan statue, wrote on the social network VKontakte.”In almost 500 years NO ONE has erected a statue to Ivan the Terrible: no tsar, no emperor, no general secretary, no president,”
Ivan reigned with an iron fist from 1547 to 1584. Here is a man who met resistance to his rule with swift and brutal action; a savage dictator who gladly ripped through the nobility and populace. He is responsible for initiating the Novgorod Massacre and is known to have killed his very own son. So, after reading all of this: why would anyone want to commemorate this man?
One reason as to why this country would want to honor such a savage tyrant is because of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly encourages a great reevaluation of his country’s history. This newly-enforced narrative won’t gloss over the violence and brutality of former regimes and dictators, but instead, will accept it as necessary actions in the nation’s past, whose intent was to improve the Russian state even if you have to get your hands dirty or soaked in blood. Even seemingly-inexcusable crimes ordered by Joseph Stalin will be excused as a means to an end for a greater Russia.
Activists in Oryol had tried to block the creation of this Terrible statue, but their protests and any court attempts have all failed to stop this bloody czar of Russia’s past from appearing in the city of Oryol, just 225 miles south of the nation’s capital, Moscow. But people who were for the statue also showed up for the unveiling; Alexander Zaldostanov, the macho leader of the pro-Putin biker group Night Wolves, came to the event to show his support.
You may ask yourself: how could anyone respect someone with the moniker of “Terrible” in their name? Well, that’s because in Russia this word doesn’t only have a negative connotation, but it also has a meaning, which is quite positive. Terrible can mean “terrible,” but it can also mean “formidable.”
Vadim Potomsky, the regional governor of the Oryol Oblast, compared the Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to the infamous czar Ivan. “We have a great, powerful president who has forced the whole world to respect and defer to Russia — just like Ivan the Terrible did in his time.”
But protesters of this statue have nothing but disdain for Ivan and for the officials who chose to honor him. Natalia Golenkova informed the Associated Press that one night she had been assaulted while walking home, where she was warned to immediately stop opposing the statue.
“Who was a fan of Ivan the Terrible? Stalin,” she said. “Tyrants love tyrants.”
Well, speaking of Stalin… His statues have been popping up in Russian cities as well. Publicly celebrating brutal dictators seems to be a reoccurring trend here (sound familiar anywhere else?). In early May of this year, 400 people showed up to the town of Ozrek in the Kabardino-Balkaria region to witness an unveiling of the great golden bust for this former Soviet dictator. A man known for mass death has been immortalized in gold.
But now, Russia has dipped its ink further back into their past, some hailing Russia’s former rulers as heroes of the state, atrocities and all, while others speak out and tell government officials to look into the mirror as “Tyrants love tyrants.”