• I-Phone Missing

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Apple's Steve Jobs presents the news iPhone to Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia

    Photo: Steve Jobs and Dmitry Medvedev

    Following the death of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a monument in his memory was set up on the campus of an IT institute in St. Petersburg (Russia). Resourced by domestic company Western European Financial Union (WEFU), the Jobs monument consisted of an oversized iPhone whose touch screen the public could interact with.

    However, when Tom Cook—Apple’s successive CEO—came out as gay in a public essay, the larger-than-life electronic device was taken down. Some Russian media reported that the fixture was simply under repair. But allegedly, the monument was taken down in order to comply with Russia’s infamous anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws. Nonetheless, observers speculate that the removal could not solely be traced back to bigotry.

    Writing for Fortune magazine, Philip Elmer DeWitt reports that President of WEFU Maksim Dolgopolov also cited supposed links between Apple and the NSA as a reason behind the iPhone’s confiscation. More broadly, Adam Chandler at The Atlantic suggests that this was an act of defiance against the presence of American symbols in Russia.

    In any case, the Russian Holdings Company put the exiled monument up for sale—with US $ 95,000 as the asking price!



    Adam Chandler. “Why Russia Really Tore Down Its Jobs Memorial.” The Atlantic, November 3, 2014. Accessed November 29, 2014. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/11/steve-jobs-memorial-torn-down-after-tim-cook-comes-out/382319/.


    Philip Elmer-DeWitt. “Why Steve Jobs Memorial in St. Petersburg was Removed.” Fortune, November 3, 2014. Accessed November 29, 2014. http://fortune.com/2014/11/03/why-the-steve-jobs-memorial-in-st-petersburg-was-removed/.


    “Monument To Apple’s Jobs Removed in Russian After CEO Comes Out.” Radio Free Europe, November 3, 2014. Accessed November 29, 2014. http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-st-petersburg-monument-iphone-jobs-cook-gay/26671992.html.


    Mike Wehner. “Buy the Steve Jobs Monument that was Too Gay for Russia for $ 95,000.” Engaget, December 2, 2015. Accessed January 15, 2015. http://www.engadget.com/2014/12/02/buy-the-steve-jobs-monument-that-was-too-gay-for-russia-for-95/.

  • Lenin Lives . . .

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:44 pm
    • Lenin, Russia
    • Comments Off on Lenin Lives . . .

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    lenin is clean

    April 24, 2015 marks the 145th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union. After Lenin’s death, his body was preserved and put on display. It is open to the public to this day. In preparation for the special occasion, the Lenin Mausoleum located in Moscow’s Red Square was shut down. The hundred and forty-five year-old communist was due for a touch-up, having sustained ninety years of postmortem embalming procedures.

    His body’s journey spans from scientists’ Vladimir Vorobiev and Boris Zbarsky’s embalming methods of 1924, to a home care cholesterol test patented in 2002 that is now marketed in Canada. Want to know how much of the body is still the original Lenin? Read about the evolution of the body’s conservation—and its surrounding history—in Scientific American, as well as in University of California, Berkeley anthropologist Alexei Yurchak’s historical analysis in “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.”



    Jeremy Hsu. “Lenin’s Body Improves with Age.” Scientific American, April 22, 2015. Accessed April 25, 2015. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lenin-s-body-improves-with-age1/.


    Alexei Yurchak. “Bodies of Lenin: “The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.” Representations 129 (2015): 116-157.

  • Putin the Emperor?

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Secretary-General Poses with Statue of Putin in Moscowl

    Adorned with laurels, armor and a toga, a new Roman-emperor-style bust of Russian President Vladimir Putin has entered into the world. The initiative to erect the bronze-cast Putin was spearheaded by St. Petersburg Cossacks, with sculptor Pavel Greshnikov creating the likeness of the ruler. The idea to commemorate Putin came in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Eastern Ukraine, which Ataman of the St. Petersburg Cossacks Andrei Polyakov says is bringing the Russian empire back together again.

    This is not the first sculpture of Putin clad in curious attire. Pictured is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon posing with a grandiose monument to Putin at the Tsereteli Gallery in Moscow. Naturally, the Russian President is wearing Judo gear.

    Putin’s bust will be revealed on May 9, 2015 (‘Victory Day’) at a metro station at the edge of St. Petersburg, the emperor’s hometown.



    “Cossacks Plan Victory Day Bust of Putin As Roman Emperor.” Radio Free Europe, March 19, 2015. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/cossacks-putin-statue-as-roman-emporer/26909584.html.


    Dominic Smith. “Vladimir Putin to be Depicted as Roman Emperor in Statue Built in His Hometown.” Mirror, March 23, 2015. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/vladimir-putin-depicted-roman-emperor-5385828.


    “Russian Academy of Arts and Zurab Tsereteli Gallery. RusMania. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://rusmania.com/central/moscow-federal-city/moscow/khamovniki/?s=russian-academy-of-arts-and-zurab-tsereteli-gallery.

  • Lenin-O-Fall

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca


    Just Souvenirs...

    In his dissertation, Dr. Richard Clay—art historian at the University of Birmingham and art TV show host—wrote in defense of the iconoclasts who brought down la Barriere de la Conference. They, he said, “used the sculptures at the gate as a resource for public protest and as a means of signifying the political positions of those involved” (PDF linked below). To this day, he examines the deeds of the sans culottes in a positive light on his TV programme.

    One cannot help but draw parallels between the recent ‘Lenin-O-Fall’ in Ukraine—a surge of activist demolitions targeting statues of Lenin. During the Soviet era, it was mandated that every town erect a statue of Lenin. With Ukraine’s annexation on the backdrop, the demolition of Lenins across the country functions is an anti-Soviet—and thus anti-Russian—outlet. Yet the merit of destroying France’s royalist symbols is under debate. Undoubtedly then, the same questions surround Lenin-O-Fall.

    Justinian A. Jampol, founder and executive director of The Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War in Culver City, California questions the advantages of Lenin-O-Fall. Writing for The New York Times, he argues that erasing memories of the Soviet regime will prevent the reflection necessary for a proper healing process. Tearing down Lenins, he contends, will not piece together a divided nation. Yet to proponents, the idea of conserving monuments that commemorate a figure blamed for political repression and deaths, seems to do the opposite. Rather than providing spaces for contemplation, it incurs a reliving of past traumas.

    Whatever the philosophy backing Lenin-O-Fall, the magnitude of the movement is so grand that an online database documenting each demolition has been created (linked below).

    For an in-depth examination of the Fall, check out Radio Free Europe’s podcast, ‘Goodbye Lenin.’



    Jastinian A. Jampol. “Smashing Lenin Won’t Save Ukraine.” The New York Times, March 3, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/opinion/smashing-lenin-wont-save-ukraine.html?_r=0.


    Patrick Mulkern. “The French Revolution: Tearing Up History.” RadioTimes. Accessed April 30, 2015. http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/cvyksb/the-french-revolution-tearing-up-history.


    “Ukraine Region Plans Mass Purge of Soviet Lenin Monuments.” The Moscow Times, October 15, 2015. Accessed November 25, 2014. http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ukraine-region-plans-mass-purge-of-soviet-lenin-monuments/509473.html.


    “Podcast: Goodbye, Lenin.” Radio Free Europe, April 24, 2015. Accessed April 30, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/podcast-goodbye-lenin/26976711.html.


    «Сколько всего памятников Ленину?» [How Many Monuments to Lenin Total?] Памятники Ленину [Monuments to Lenin]. Accessed November 2, 2014.

  • The Impermanence of Perm-36

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Пять заборов охраны.

    When hearing ‘gulag,’ many will associate the labor camps with the U.S.S.R.’s Stalinist era. Thus, some may be surprised to hear that the last camp holding political dissidents only closed in 1988. Located in the Urals, Perm-36 is the last intact camp standing in Russia. The site, since then, was converted to a museum on Soviet repression.

    But in the wake of Russia’s historical revisionism, Perm-36 is in trouble. After 20 years of operation, the historians managing the museum were supplanted by a state organization looking to change the historical narrative offered by the site. In light of the recent surge of approval ratings for Stalin, this shift comes as no surprise.

    Lately, Perm-36 has been the target of various investigations—the most recent focusing on accusations of the museum being a “foreign agent.” A recent Russian law stipulates that any domestic NGO accepting foreign funds must be documented as a “foreign agent”—a label evoking Cold War tensions and suspicion.

    Original plans to commemorate the victims of Soviet repression have been replaced by projects such as an anti-fascist World War II memorial, and an event celebrating Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn—a gulag prisoner upholding ‘appropriate’ nationalist ideals. It is noteworthy that the first exhibition under the new state leadership will be devoted to the guarding system and technical aspects of incarceration. The focus will radically change, shifting from political prisoners, repressions, and Stalin’s crimes to the camp system in general.



    “Gulag: Soviet Forced Labor Camps and the Struggle for Freedom.” Gulag Museum. Accessed April 25, 2015. http://gulaghistory.org/nps/about/history.php.


    Roland Oliphant. “The Only Russian Gulag Preserved as a Museum is Under Investigation for Accepting Foreign Donations.” The Telegraph, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 17, 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11481113/Russias-only-gulag-museum-faces-closure.html.


    Tom Balmforth. “Perm’s Big Chill.” Radio Free Europe, March 20, 2015. Accessed March 20, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-perm-liberal-bastion-no-more/26911622.html.


    “Whitewashing Russia’s Gulag History.” Radio Free Europe, March 24, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/media/video/russia-gulag-perm/26918475.html.


    «'Пермь-36' станет музеем паботников ГУЛАГА, все упоминания о репрессиях и Сталине уберут.» NewsRu.com, March 5, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015. http://www.newsru.com/russia/05mar2015/gulag.html.

  • Putting the Sleepers to Sleep

    • May 28, 2015 - 11:08 pm
    • Poland, Russia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Putting the Sleepers to Sleep

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    War on What?!

    On November 18th 1945, a statue depicting seven soldiers was raised on Wileński Square in Warsaw. On a tall, tiered base: Three Soviet soldiers stand ready for combat. Below, four Polish soldiers—the ‘Four Sleeping Soldiers’—stand guard. Celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany, the monument recognized the Soviet Red Army’s contribution to Poland’s independence. More broadly, the monument stood as a symbol for Soviet-Polish friendship. Yet the sleeping soldiers were not taken down following the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

    Only in 2011 were they taken down temporarily due to construction work being done on Warsaw’s metro system. In line with a 1994 intergovernmental agreement concerning war memorials, Warsaw officials agreed to return the monument post-construction. Its return, however, was met with public opposition. Today, the soldiers represent an outdated and unwanted Communist presence, coupled with the reminder of Poland’s involuntary friendship with Russia.

    In late February, Warsaw’s city council voted to hide the monument in a storeroom instead of returning it to Wileński Square. Amidst Polish-Russian tensions over Ukraine’s annexation, the decision to hide the monument is anything but apolitical.

    Russia has accused Poland of a disrespectful attitude to the monuments to Soviet soldiers. Warsaw asserts that the conflict draws on different understandings of memory about WWII. An expert from the Polish Council says that in Poland, people commemorate the memory of those fallen in the war (there are 630 Soviet soldiers’ cemeteries in Poland, all of them maintained by the state), while Russia honors the monuments, which he calls “the monuments of fraternal arms,” fixtures erected during the period of Soviet control.



    “Soviet Monument Banned From Returning to Warsaw Square.” The New York Times, February 27, 2015. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/02/27/world/europe/ap-eu-poland-soviet-monument.html?_r=1.


    Filip Lech. “Comradeship of the Sad and the Fighting: A History of Vanishing Monuments.” Culture.Pl, February 17, 2015. Accessed March 1, 2015. http://culture.pl/en/article/comradeship-of-the-sad-and-the-fighting-a-history-of-vanishing-monuments.


    “Soviet-Era Monument to Disappear from Warsaw Praga District.” Radio Poland, February 27, 2015. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/198554,Sovietera-monument-to-disappear-from-Warsaw%E2%80%99s-Praga-district.


    Юрій Савицький. «Шанування пам'яті померлих чи культ радянських пам'ятників?» Радіо Свобода, May 3, 2015. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/26987441.htm.

  • Last Address

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca


    Last year, Russian human rights organization ‘Memorial’ set out to produce and hang commemorative plaques to individual victims of the Soviet regime. Named ‘Last Address,’ the initiative will manufacture inscriptions that can be installed on the former homes of those who were executed or taken to the gulags. The small memorials will provide information on the life of the victim. It will read “Here Lived,” prefacing the name, occupation, dates of birth, arrest and death, as well as that of rehabilitation.

    Those who wish to have a plaque made and mounted in memory of someone can pay around 3,500 to 4,000 rubles. The project website provides an interactive map indicating where plaques have been requested or already installed. Starting in Moscow, Memorial aspires to spread its plaques throughout the country.

    The project draws on the idea of a well-known European initiative, Stolpersteine (Stumbling Block), started by a German artist Gunter Demnig, over 20 years ago. Since that time the memorial project spread to hundreds of cities and towns in 18 European countries. Within its framework, as of August 2014, over 48,000 stolpersteine commemorating the victims of Nazi regime—predominantly those of Holocaust—have been installed.



    Tom Balmforth. “’Last Address’ Project Aims To Honor Victims of Soviet Repression.” Radio Free Europe, November 26, 2014. Accessed December 1, 2014. http://www.rferl.org/content/last-address-project-aims-to-honor-/26711340.html.


    Mahsa Lipman. “Humble Memorials For Stalin’s Victims in Moscow.” The New Yorker, December 13, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2014. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/humble-memorials-stalins-victims-moscow.


    «Проект 'Последний адрес.'» Мемориал. Accessed October 25, 2014. http://www.memo.ru/d/180566.html.


    “Stolpersteine: Here Lived 1933-1945. An Art Project for Europe by Gunter Deming.” Stolpersteine. Accessed October 25, 2014. http://www.stolpersteine.eu/en/.

  • Desecration Dance

    • May 28, 2015 - 10:28 pm
    • Russia, WWII
    • Comments Off on Desecration Dance

    By Maryna Polataiko for postcommunistmonuments.ca

    Four young Russian women from Novorossiysk, Russia have been jailed for making a dance video. The video—now “Эротические танцы на мемориале ВОВ в Новороссийске” (“Erotic Dancing at the Novorossiysk WWII Memorial”) on Youtube—was meant to advertise dancehall classes at Art Dance, a local school in the city. Regrettably, the girls made the decision to film their dance in front of a World War II monument commemorating a 1943 battle against Nazi Germany.

    The ‘erotic and sexual twerk dance’ performed to ‘Touch You Tonight’ by Jamaican musician Aidonia is said to have disrespected to soldiers who fought in the war. Prosecutors are deliberating as to whether this video was a breach of a Russian criminal statute prohibiting ‘desecrating dead bodies and their places of internment.’

    Russian journalist Dmitriy Okrest provides an overview of various opinions, ranging from accusing the girls in 'koshchunstvo'/’sacrilege’ (similar to that of activist group ‘Pussy Riot’) and sentencing them to a prison term, to saying that they simply didn't think about the background.



    RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 'Three Russian Women Jailed For Twerking Near WWII Memorial,' April 27, 2015. Accessed April 27, 2015. http://www.rferl.org/content/russian-women-jailed-for-twerking-at-war-memorial/26980368.html.


    Luhn, Alec. 'Three Jailed In Russia For Dance Video Filmed At Novorossiysk War Memorial,' The Guardian. April 26, 2015. April 27, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/26/three-jailed-in-russia-dance-video-novorossiysk.


    Дмитрий Окрест. "Тверкинг-2 на 'Малой земле.'" Как девушки получили 15 суток за танец на мемориале." Medialeaks, May 4, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2015. http://medialeaks.ru/features/2704_okr_tverk.



  • Iron Felix in the News Again

    Two articles discussing the latest interest in - and failure to - return Dzerzhinskii's statue to Lubianka Square in Moscow, courtesy of Johnson's Russia List:

    Awesome Soviet era symbol keeps Russian society split in two
    By Lyudmila Alexandrova

    MOSCOW, February 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Lenin called that man, son of an impoverished Polish noble, "a proletarian Jacobean", and put him in charge of fighting counter-revolution. Felix Dzerzhinsky was appointed first head of the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission to Combat Counter-revolution and Sabotage, reorganized into the State Political Directorate - a section of the NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs - the then Soviet equivalent of the Interior Ministry) in 1922. Described by his Bolshevist comrades as the "Iron Felix", he initiated massive terror and repressions, hostage-taking and other methods to "defend the Revolution".

    After an abortive coup against the USSR's first and last president, Mikhail Gorbachev, in August 1991, the first thing jubilant Muscovites did was to remove the monument to Dzerzhinsky off the plinth. This work of famous sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich, had been in the centre of the square, called after the first KGB chief, in front of the secret service headquarters for decades. A year earlier, months before the breakup of the Soviet Union, a huge stone from the Solovki islands, used in the first Soviet years as a prison for political opponents, had been placed near the Polytechnic Museum. The square itself was renamed to Lubyanka Square.

    This gesture, commemorating all victims of political repression, was then perceived as the final farewell to the darkest pages of the Soviet past. Yet now some are eager to bring the monument back to the square again. The issue lists among the twelve questions the Communist Party's Moscow branch referred to the Moscow election commission requesting a citywide referendum. The commission will rule on the feasibility of resolving such issues via a referendum on February 20.

    There has also been a personal initiative of a group of individuals, lodged with the Moscow Duma's commission on monumental art, for renovating the monument and returning it to its original place from Muzeon Park, where Dzershinsky's statue can be seen alongside other Soviet era monuments. Interestingly, this is an eighth appeal for the Iron Felix statue's return since 2001. This is rather unlikely to happen, though, since it also requires the government's approval. The statue is a monument of federal importance. But the issue has already provoked heated discussions in the society.

    In the meantime, a large-scale program is now on across the country for erecting monuments to some heroes of World War I. The upcoming ones are monuments to Admiral Alexander Kolchak, generals Nikolai Denisov and Anton Denikin, later leaders of the White Guard movement, the Bolshevik's arch foes.

    One can only wonder at how Russians are still concerned about the events of almost one hundred years ago - the Revolution and the Civil War. The war between the Reds and the Whites seems to be going on - in many people's minds. Although eliminating monuments of any epoch, however cruel it may have been, is by no means the best possible way to assert justice, some symbolical personalities in Soviet history invariably split the people in two implacable camps. The personalities on top of that list are Lenin, Stalin and Dzerzhinsky.

    Each time someone says Lenin's embalmed body now lying inside the Mausoleum in Red Square should be buried, the Communists and their allies stand up in Lenin's defense, whereas the authorities evade the issue for fear of a flare-up of social tensions. Any event, which the liberal community sees as exoneration of Stalin and his policy of repression, causes uproars in the media. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that attempts to bring the monument back have caused such a tumult again. Should we be ashamed of our history, should we demolish or restore monuments?

    "If the monument to the Iron Felix comes back, this place will become the scene of an open-ended rally against it, and I am determined to partake," said Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

    "Dzerzhinsky was simply a butcher of his own people. He executed the Red Terror policy. He has no other achievements in the eyes of our people - if it is to be considered an achievement, of course" believes the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

    "The issue of bringing Felix Dzerzhinsky's monument back to Lubyanka square cannot be viewed from the purely artistic perspective, in terms of the city's appearance, of restoring the square's historical face and so on," a member of the human rights organization Memorial, Oleg Orlov, is quoted by the Novyie Izvestia daily as saying. "One could then indulge in similar speculations about restoring the way some Germany cities looked in the 1930s. Some may say Hitler's monument stood here once, so why not bringing it back irrespective of what we think about this personality? Such reasoning is possible, but it would be absolutely blasphemous and unacceptable."

    Yet, some voice other views. The leader of A Just Russia party, former speaker of the upper house of parliament, Sergey Mironov, has spoken in favour of the monument's comeback.

    "I think such issues are to be voted on by the people of Moscow in a city referendum, and if I took part in such a voting, I would vote for bringing the monument back," Mironov said. "I am concerned about the fact we have such an easy attitude towards our monuments, we should not be ashamed of our history.


    Moscow commission rules not to reinstall monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanskaya Square

    MOSCOW. Feb 11 (Interfax) - The Moscow City Duma's monumental art commission unanimously decided on Tuesday not to return a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, a prominent Soviet statesman and founder of the Soviet security services, to Lubyanskaya Square in central Moscow.

    "Taking into account the current circumstances in society, I propose refraining from returning the monument. This is more of a political issue," Lev Lavrenov, the commission's chairman, said at the Tuesday session.

    The commission has considered the return of the monument to Dzerzhinsky to Lubyanskaya Square for the sixth time since 2000.

    "We are firmly convinced that it is inappropriate to erect a monument to Dzerzhinsky on Lubyanskaya Square, as it could produce undesirable tensions in society," Lavrenov said.

    A number of commission members noted that the monument to Dzerzhinsky, which used to be located on Lubyanskaya Square in Soviet times, is good artwork, and the place where it is located now, the Muzeon park, is best.

    Some commission members suggested during the discussions that the monument could be returned in the future, while others objected to this in principle.

    "When those who don't remember this man come several generations later, they might reinstall [the monument]. Vladimir Ilyich [Lenin] and Dzerzhinsky started the repression," commission member Valery Perfilyev said at the session.

    Officials from the Moscow city culture department and Moscow City Architecture Committee also noted that it would be inappropriate to reinstall the monument now.

    The monument to Dzerzhinsky was transferred from federal to municipal ownership in 2008 and is officially considered a cultural heritage object. Its condition has been found to be unsatisfactory, and its restoration is planned in 2014.

    Two individuals known as Zilinsky and Terekhov had earlier filed petitions on reinstalling the monument on Lubyanskaya Square. The commission is supposed to consider any incoming proposals on installing monuments.

  • Muscovite Builds Jesus Statue in Syria

    How did I miss this one back in October? Note the involvement of both the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church - - -

    Muscovite Builds Record-Breaking Jesus Statue in Syria

    Moscow Times, 23 October 2013 | Issue 5240


    The statue is even taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.


    The statue is even taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.

    A bronze statue of Jesus Christ, taller than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, has appeared in war-torn Syria.

    The statue, titled "I Have Come to Save the World" was apparently the brainchild of Yury Gavrilov, a 49-year-old Muscovite who runs an organization in London called the St. Paul and St. George Foundation.

    The project was backed by both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government, which takes an active interest in Syria, as seen in recent events. Russia also has a navy base on Syria's Mediterranean sea coast.

    Despite the statue's Russian connection, it was cast in Armenia and made by an Armenian sculptor, Artush Papoian. Syria's ethnic Armenians have been fleeing the country in droves since the conflict began, to the extent that Armenia has built a new settlement called New Aleppo to house them,  the news website Eurasianet.org reported. The settlement is named after the war-torn northern Syrian city where most of Syria's ethnic Armenian population live. Some 7,000 of Syria's ethnic Armenians are now seeking refuge in neighboring Armenia, Armenian news agencies reported.

    The Armenian statue was installed Oct. 14, which coincided with two religious holidays — both Orthodox Christian and Muslim. Orthodox Christians celebrate the feast day of the Protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Muslims celebrate Kurban Bayram.

    Though all military activity was suspended in the region while the statue was being installed, the project has been in the works since 2005 and is not related to the current military crisis in the country, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

    The statue is located on a mountaintop near the city of Saidnaya. The statue is near the Monastery of the Cherubim, perched above the historic pilgrimage route from Constantinople to Jerusalem and is 2,100 meters above sea level.

    The statue stands at 39 meters tall together with the plinth, which is taller than Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue, which stands at 38 meters. The enormous statue can be seen from neighboring countries Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.

    The director of Gavrilov's St. Paul and St. George Foundation, Samir el-Gadban, commented on the importance of the statue in the war-torn country and expressed his hopes for the future.

    ''We hope that this sculptural composition brings peace and love to the hearts of people and that our work will help restore peace and calm in this long-suffering region,'' he told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

    Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/arts_n_ideas/article/muscovite-builds-record-breaking-jesus-statue-in-syria/488312.html#ixzz2qfJmd5UC
    The Moscow Times


  • Russia's Missing Memorial

    Ben and I have written a few times on Russia's "missing memorial" - that is, a proper national memorial to the victims of the gulag and Soviet terror. Although the initial intent was for Memorial's Solovetskii stone on Lubyanka square to be an initial marker for a larger, government-sponsored memorial-to-come - perhaps in the square's center, where secret police founder Dzerzhinsky used to stand - government interest in the project waned after the Soviet collapse. Below is the latest Western newspaper article noticing this long-time omission.

    The Spectator (UK)
    January 4, 2014
    Why doesn't Russia have a Yad Vashem for the gulag?
    One of the 20th century's great crimes is still awaiting a fitting memorial
    By Mary Dejevsky

    Yad Vashem, Israel's vast Holocaust memorial complex, dominates a hillside above Jerusalem, surrounded by bare rock and pines. Vast though it is, it manages to be both harrowing and restrained; both rooted in the times it commemorates and thoroughly modern ­ not just in style, but in the way it harnesses the most advanced technology to its cause.

    As an enterprise, let alone a monument, it is impressive: a testament to the commitment of Israel and the survivors of Europe's Jewry to ensure that what happened is never forgotten. But it aspires to more: to convey a sense of the communities that were destroyed and to memorialise, so far as possible, every last individual. The idea is to humanise those who had been stripped of their humanity: to establish each victim's identity, to name every name.

    To date, the archive at Yad Vashem has four and a half million names, many with dates of birth and death, even photographs. Two thirds of its holdings have been digitised and are available worldwide. No one accepts that the task is anything like complete.

    The new museum at the centre of the complex is a model of what a modern museum can be. By the age of 25, practically every Israeli will have taken part in several group visits ­ as a pupil and as a military conscript. Such exposure to the catastrophe of the last century helps form the outlook of every citizen of Israel.

    Contrast this with the Museum of the Gulag I chanced upon in Moscow a couple of years ago, its presence indicated only by a handwritten sign. Sparsely staffed by elderly volunteers and comprising just a few rooms, it was heroic proof of personal dedication. There was a faithful reconstruction of camp accommodation; fragments of letters and diaries, official documents authorising banishment or rehabilitation; the wooden spoons and food tins that have become, in their simplicity, icons of life in the Gulag.

    It would be wrong to accuse post-Soviet Russia of doing nothing to remember the victims of communism. The works of Solzhenitsyn, including The Gulag Archipelago, are now prescribed reading in Russian schools. As President, Vladimir Putin ­ yes, even Putin ­ has spoken at gatherings to commemorate victims of Stalin's purges. The 30th of October is designated the day of remembrance of political repressions. Local newspapers, and now websites, have regular features publishing appeals from people trying to trace missing friends and relatives.

    And the admirable organisation, Memorial, works to identify burial sites and establish the fate of the missing. In 1990, it placed a monument ­ a huge boulder from the prison complex in the Solovetsky Islands ­ in front of the notorious Lubyanka in Moscow. But Memorial is a non-governmental organisation, and commemoration depends, all too often, on individual initiative.

    It could justly be argued that integrating such a painful past takes time. Although the law establishing Yad Vashem was passed just five years after the foundation of the state of Israel, the project advanced only by stages and not without controversy into the extensive complex that exists today. There is a crucial difference, too, between the situation of Russia and Israel. As has been said epigrammatically: half of Russia did time in the camps; the other half sent them there. There is as yet no agreement on a common past.

    But more than 20 years have elapsed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the number of those who passed through the country's prison camp system is estimated at between 15 and 50 million. Is it not time for today's Russians, and the Russian state in their name, to start incorporating that past trauma into their present? Regrettably, there is little evidence that this is happening.

    Take Memorial. The bulk of its funding comes from Germany. It is not only the state that has denied funding; Russia's oligarchs, it seems, would rather spend their wealth on foreign football teams, Fabergé eggs or English public school fees for their offspring. Contrast this with the long list of eminent Jews who helped fund Yad Vashem.

    It is not just Russia, of course, that could usefully take the Holocaust memorial as a blueprint for commemorating a tragic past in a credible and modern way. Rwanda is one of the latest countries to ask Yad Vashem for advice on compiling an archive to remember its ugly recent history. But the scale of Israel's project as it was conceived, the spirit in which the 700 or so staff work there, and their determination to continue until each and every victim has a name, all offer Russia a model of how it might proceed. For it is only when the state and its citizens restore the memory of their past, that Russia will become a fully normal country.

  • Commemorating Victims of Communism in Russia

    Business New Europe

    November 7, 2013

    A memorial day few Russians want to remember

    Julia Reed in Moscow

    "Who was killed in your family?" A man in a beret in his early 60s asked me as he joined the long queue of people. We were both attending the annual recital of the names of the victims of political repressions in Russia by the Solovetsky Stone in Moscow's Lubyanka square, right next to what was the KGB headquarters. This stone was brought from the Solovki Islands in the icy seas off the far northern coast of Russia, where the first Gulag prison camp was opened in 1919. (Bizarrely, the RUB500 bank note pictures the island's monastery.)

    I wasn't ready for this question since I somehow assumed that repressions should concern all members of the society and not just the families of the victims. Yet a large number of people in the queue held photographs of their loved ones. The man next to me had a small self-published booklet that contained photocopies of the verdicts and even names of the people who gave evidence or signed the papers that led to his father being executed and his older sister sent to Mordovia, one of the locations of the Gulag prisoner camps (and where until last week Pussy Riot leader Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was being held).

    "Last year I waited for three hours," said Arkady Grymov, 62. "It's because many people do not just read out the names they are given (by the members of Memorial, a history preservation society that researches and archives information on repressions in the Soviet Union and about the Gulag system), but they also recite poems, make speeches and add the names of the victims they knew personally."

    Indeed, it seemed as if every third person that came to the microphone would call out the names of their family members. Along with each name came the age, occupation and date of the execution. The occupations were strikingly ordinary: worker, shopkeeper, janitor, guard, usher, vet, priest, secretary, low-level government employee. Some of them were junior NKVD (the Soviet secret police in the 1930s and 40s) officers. No famous names or important jobs.

    "Perhaps you know somebody?" insisted the same man behind me in the queue. I realized that I could not think of anyone who I was certain was repressed, and this was telling of the environment of secrecy and avoidance that surrounded my Soviet upbringing.

    Unwanted history

    If you have never heard that October 30 is a memorial day to commemorate the victims of political repressions in Russia, you are not alone. In fact, only a fraction of Russians know. This is not surprising: not only does this date not come up in the top news of the state television channels, it hardly even makes it into the liberal internet news as a newsworthy discussion topic.

    Yet just in Moscow there are archived records of 30,000 people killed between 1937-1938. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's landmark speech denouncing Stalin in March 1956 made the fact of repression in the USSR public and gave rise to the process of rehabilitation and release for the victims. The topic became widely publicized and debated again in the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when even the ban on the Communist Party was being discussed but rejected by the Constitutional Court.

    However, Russia's mass media pay little attention to the subject. It is safe to say that today's Russians have chosen to ignore the darkest days of their history. "My mother told me when I was 15 that my great grandfather was repressed during the war for wanting to build a church in his village, but I never gave it much thought because I was told that it was a regular event for such times," says Natalia Belova, 35.

    There are reasons for that. The current political climate does not favour any other view of the Soviet past other than as a period of heroism and dedication by the people. This year on the annual day when members of the public can come to the Solovetsky Stone to remember the victims, the state channels dedicated airtime to Putin giving out awards to distinguished members of society in the Kremlin Palace and to the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the Komsomol (the youth division of the Communist Party of the USSR).

    Soviet history is being rewritten in soft and warm tones, portraying life in the Soviet Union with its normal ups and downs, great enthusiasm and romanticism of large national construction projects involving the youth, with a strong emphasis on the real achievements of the "socialist paradise": the rapid industrialization of the economy, the victory in World War II, and Yuri Gagarin's first flight into space.

    Unlike in Germany where there was an official denunciation of Nazism, Stalinism has never been officially denounced. Stalin is still largely perceived as an effective hardliner who won the war and built the nation and is, if not exactly a source of pride, at least not a source of shame either.

    Even the families of the repressed continued to join the NKVD and write letters to "Great Comrade Stalin" in those days. The generation who are now in their 60s ­ the sons and daughters of those who lived under Stalin ­ still don't see him as evil; the truth of his crimes and the revelations of this macabre period in the Russian history have not transformed their psyche. "Those who worked for NKVD had no choice, they were just recruited there. If they protested, they would be killed themselves. Such were the times ­ they were also the victims of the regime", says Lyudmila Kozlova, 66.

    Today's older generations perceive Stalin as akin to Peter the Great or Napoleon: probably lacking some humane qualities, but a strong-willed patriot who did good things for the country.

    Memorial holds tours of the sites in the centre of Moscow that are associated with Soviet terror. None of these places are known to the Russian public and only a few are on tourist maps, like the KGB building (which houses the successor FSB) or the Solovki Islands.

    Tours that give an insight into the history of repressions are not routinely conducted in schools, institutions of higher learning or Moscow-awareness tours. What's more, some of these buildings that should have become memorial museums, such as the Military Council of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union, (where 31,456 people were executed in 1936-1938), have been privatized and turned into offices and commercial property.

    Political repressions of today

    This year's memorial service at the Solovetsky Stone sparked a little more interest than usual from that small segment of the public concerned with the plight of the more recent political prisoners such as jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, his partner Platon Lebedev, the jailed members of punk rock band Pussy Riot, and the protestors arrested and imprisoned following the clashes with the police during the protests in May last year.

    Stalin-style policies of sacrificing individuals for the sake of grand ideas or persecuting those who are seen as different have not only not been denounced, but have taken strong root in the Russian mentality and are silently accepted by the majority. This is seen in the adoption of new laws restricting the freedom of gays, NGOs and in daily treatment of migrants.

    Human life continues to have little value in today's Russia, much the same as it was under Stalin, and the judicial and prison systems have experienced little reform since the Gulag times. Prisons are still characterized by harsh, un-dignifying conditions and almost slave labour, as described in a recent letter from a prison in Mordovia by Pussy Riot's Tolokonnikova. Her observations are echoed by many other former inmates of Russia's prisons.

    Putin is expected to endorse a new unified version of a Russian history textbook soon. One can only wonder if it is going to be history described from different points of view or continue the trend of emphasizing Russia as a "Great Country" and ignoring the suffering of its people.

    "There is no family in Russia who have not been affected by the repressions," says Irina Ostrovskaya of Memorial. Indeed, as I started writing this piece thinking that no one was affected by repressions in my family, I discovered that my great grandfather spent 10 years in jail, was released severely ill and was only rehabilitated in 1991, years after his death.

  • With Lenin's Changes Removed, Tsarist Obelisk Unveiled Near Kremlin

    • December 22, 2013 - 7:33 pm
    • Lenin, Russia
    • Comments Off on With Lenin's Changes Removed, Tsarist Obelisk Unveiled Near Kremlin

    MOSCOW, November 4, 2013 (RIA Novosti) ­ The head of the Russian Orthodox Church and senior Russian officials attended the opening of a resurrected Tsarist-era obelisk outside the Kremlin walls Monday.

    The monument was originally unveiled 99 years ago to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Russia's Romanov dynasty, but its Tsarist iconography was removed in 1918 on the orders of Vladimir Lenin and the names of Romanov emperors replaced by famous international revolutionaries.

    In the renovated version unveiled Monday, criticized by some architectural preservation groups for poor quality work, the communist-era changes have been reversed.

    "Today, an unjust historical action has been set right," said Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia during the opening ceremony, which was also attended by Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and Sergei Ivanov, the head of the Presidential Administration, Russian media reported.

    "It was done so that we could be conscious of ourselves as a people united temporally and geographically. We cannot live in separation from our history," Patriarch Kirill said.

    The monument was taken down and sent for restoration in July after officials said that its condition had deteriorated and that it was in danger of collapsing.

    Architectural preservation group Arkhnadzor criticized the restoration work in a statement last week, noting that the restored monument was adorned with "false imitations of Romanov decoration."

    The opening Monday coincided with Russia's National Unity Day, a holiday introduced by the Kremlin in 2005 to replace the communist holiday of November 7 celebrating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

  • Brezhnev is Back in Plaque

    • December 22, 2013 - 7:27 pm
    • Brezhnev, Russia
    • Comments Off on Brezhnev is Back in Plaque

    From the Moscow Times and Reuters - - -

    Plaque Honoring Brezhnev Restored in Moscow

    22 December 2013 | Issue 5282

    A plaque commemorating late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was restored to the facade of his former apartment building, a sign of nostalgia in line with President Vladimir Putin's calls to respect all aspects of Russian history.

    Critics say Brezhnev presided over a period of political repression and economic stagnation and have likened Putin's nearly 14 years in power to his 1964-82 rule — longer than any Soviet leader but dictator Josef Stalin.

    The plaque was removed in 1991, but a survey last April by independent pollster Levada found Brezhnev evoked positive emotions in more than half of Russians — more than any other Soviet-era leader or the last tsar, Nicholas II.

    Moscow authorities restored the plaque Thursday following a proposal whose backers included a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party.

  • The Dzerzhinskii Question, Again

    • October 22, 2013 - 2:05 pm
    • Russia
    • Comments Off on The Dzerzhinskii Question, Again

    In August 1991. after the failure of the coup attempt in Moscow, the statue of Soviet secret police founder Feliks Dzerzhinskii was removed from its plinth in front of the KGB (now FSB) headquarters on Lubianka Square and relocated to a park beside the New Tretiakov Gallery. Since that time, there have been several legislative attempts to restore the statue to its original site. Recently, the government allocated funds to refurbish the statue, and a Duma member in the ruling United Russia party is once again calling for the statue to be returned to the square. What do Russians think about this? Here's an article below . . .


    Dzerzhinskii Dzerzhinskii plque

    Dzerzhinskii at the Park of Arts by the New Tretiakov in 2010 (Photo: Megan Dietrich)


    BBC Monitoring
    Russians want Dzerzhinskiy statue to be returned to Lubyanka Square
    Rossiya 1 TV
    October 17, 2013

    Should the statue of Feliks Dzerzhinskiy (Felix Dzerzhinsky) be returned to its plinth on Lubyanka Square in Moscow? It was the topic debated on the Poyedinok (Duel) political show on official state Russian television channel Rossiya 1 on 17 October.

    Dzerzhinskiy was the founder and chief of the Soviet secret police, Cheka, which was the precursor of the KGB, which is now the FSB (Federal Security Service).

    The monument to Dzerzhinskiy once dominated Lubyanka Square, near the KGB (now FSB) headquarters. A Moscow landmark and symbol of the Soviet Union, the statue was removed from the square in August 1991, after the abortive coup attempt by hard-line Communists.

    In 2002, the then Moscow mayor, Yuriy Luzhkov, proposed returning the statue to its original place but the idea was never materialized owing to strong opposition from liberals as well as the government.

    The figure of Dzerzhinskiy continues to divide Russian society, moderator Vladimir Solovyev said in his introduction. Some regard Dzerzhinskiy as an "effective manager" who successfully dealt with many problems facing Russia after the 1917 October Bolshevik Revolution, such as a very high level of crime and millions of homeless children.

    Others, on the other hand, see Dzerzhinskiy as the "architect of the Red Terror" whose "hands are stained in blood".

    In line with the format of the show, two opponents confronted each other in a "duel".

    According to Aleksandr Khinshteyn, a member of the ruling United Russia party, the monument should be returned to its original place because it is wrong to demolish monuments and because Russian society is mature enough "to objectively assess Russian history in which there is a place for everyone", including Dzerzhinskiy.

    According to his opponent, president of the Union of Right Forces opposition movement Leonid Gozman, Dzerzhinskiy is a "symbol of appalling brutality" who is responsible for the "murder of the best people in our country".

    Khinshteyn disagreed. Dzerzhinskiy, he said, "in the conditions of unimaginable devastation and civil war", created one of the "most effective" and "most powerful" security services in the world.

    "Had people like Feliks Dzerzhinskiy stood at the helm of the special services and law-enforcement authorities today, we would not have had Biryulevo," Khinshteyn added, referring to mass riots in the Moscow suburb of Biryulevo in the wake of the murder of a 25-year-old ethnic Russian man allegedly by an Azeri migrant.

    "Irrespective of whether it is good or bad, it is our history", and Dzerzhinskiy is part of it, Khinshteyn said.

    Dzerzhinskiy symbolizes "summary executions" of tens of thousands of political opponents, as well as the "omnipotence of the building (the KGB headquarters) outside which he stood", Gozman retorted. He said these were the wrong symbols to revive.

    According to Gozman, bringing up this topic now was a "provocation" aimed at "distracting people from real problems" such as "economic stagnation, ethnic conflicts, the country's growing isolation, unprecedented corruption and 'humanism' in the form of suspended sentences being given to innocent people".

    Summing up the debate, the moderator said that in 1991 the monument was regarded as a symbol of the "horrible Soviet system" and removing it was seen as "turning over a new leaf" in Russian history.

    But liberals and democrats who came to power in 1991 in actual fact failed to "turn over a new leaf" and create new role models and new ideas. And suddenly it turns out that the "horrible Soviet system", with all its failings, "did create some positive images". For many people Dzerzhinskiy remains a "symbol of order and a symbol of serving one's country", and many people do feel nostalgic for the Soviet past, Solovyev said.

    It appears that an interactive poll conducted during the show proved him right. The "duel" was won by Aleksandr Khinshteyn: three times as many viewers supported his position, compared with the number of those who voted for Leonid Gozman.

  • Special Issue of Nationalities Papers on Post-Socialist Cities

    The September 2013 issue of Nationalities Papers features articles on national identity and the post-socialist city. Link (gated) is here.

    The editors, Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, provide an excellent introductory essay to the special issue. Here's the abstract:

    From socialist to post-socialist cities:
    narrating the nation through urban space

    The development of post-socialist cities has emerged as a major field of study among critical theorists from across the social sciences. Originally constructed under the dictates of central planners and designed to serve the demands of command economies, post-socialist urban centers currently develop at the nexus of varied and often competing economic, cultural, and political forces. Among these, nationalist aspirations, previously simmering beneath the official rhetoric of communist fraternity and veneer of architectural conformity, have emerged as dominant factors shaping the urban landscape. This article examines patterns, processes, and practices concerning the cultural politics of architecture, urban planning, and identity in the post-socialist city. In addition to assessing the main contours of this burgeoning field of research, this article highlights how this special issue of Nationalities Papers contributes to a broader understanding of contemporary cultural and political change in post-socialist urban settings.

  • Brezhnev Plaque Returns

    • May 29, 2013 - 12:49 am
    • Russia
    • Comments Off on Brezhnev Plaque Returns


    May 28, 2013

    In Russia, Commemorative Plaque To Be Restored Amid Brezhnev Nostalgia
    By Claire Bigg

    Authorities have backed a plan to return a commemorative plaque to the Moscow apartment building where Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev spent the last 30 years of his life.

    A Moscow City Hall committee has approved the initiative, submitted by a group of State Duma deputies.

    Supporters had hoped to have the plaque installed this month, but Aleksandr Khinshtein, a lawmaker with the ruling United Russia party and the driving force behind the project, said on Twitter that it will more likely be ready in December -- in time for Brezhnev's 107th birthday.

    Khinshtein said on May 27 that the work had been commissioned to sculptor Aleksandr Rukavishnikov, the grandson of the artist who had produced the original plaque that once was affixed to the stately building at 26 Kutuzovsky Prospekt.

    Brezhnev lived at this address from 1952 until his death in November 1982 at the age of 76.

    The plaque was removed after the Soviet Union collapsed nine years later.

    But critics say Brezhnev, whose 18-year rule was marked by political repression and economic stagnation, does not deserve the honor.

    Memorial and other Russian rights group have been particularly vocal against the initiative.

    "Our authorities are nostalgic about Soviet times, so they respond to the requests of citizens who feel the same nostalgia," Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the veteran rights activist and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, tells RFE/RL. "In my opinion, looking back at the past is the last thing leaders and people should be doing. I don't miss those times, even though I'm an old person and I spent my youth during this period. I'm happy that we got rid of this unsuccessful Soviet experiment."

    Although Brezhnev continues to be the butt of countless jokes, many Russians praise him for providing stability and presiding over Moscow's detente with the United States in the 1970s ­ a thaw in relations that famously led to the first sales of Pepsi in the Soviet Union.

    A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, has called the Brezhnev era a "huge plus" for the country.

    Last month, an opinion poll by the independent Levada Center found that 56 percent of Russians see Brezhnev as the greatest leader of the 20th century, followed by Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.

  • Eternal Leaders

    From the Washington Post, embalmed leaders of the world. The story is below; go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/03/08/a-photographic-guide-of-the-worlds-embalmed-leaders/?wprss=rss_world for a fascinating set of photos/videos as well.

    A photographic guide to the world’s embalmed leaders

    By Caitlin Dewey , Updated: March 8, 2013

    When Hugo Chavez’s embalmed body is laid in a glass casket sometime next week, he will join at least eight other world leaders whose remains are on display for all eternity … or at least for as long as their keepers can preserve them.

    Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that Chavez’s body would be on permanent display at the Museum of the Revolution so that “his people will always have them.” While that idea may sound grotesque, it’s also not particularly novel.

    The Russians, arguably the ones who perfected the practice, have put both Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin on long-term display. Lenin’s body has been embalmed in a large tomb near the Kremlin since shortly after his death in 1924, preserved by a steady 61 degree temperature and a strict regimen of mild bleachings and soaks in glycerol and potassium acetate.

    According to Time, Stalin’s embalmed body also laid near Lenin’s for about 10 years, but was hastily reburied under cover of darkness when the government tried to squash his cult of personality in the early ’60s.

    The Russians seem to have inspired the North Koreans to similar displays. In 1994, a Russian team helped preserve the body of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding president, the New York Times reports.

    When Kim Jong Il died in late 2011, Russian scientists again went to Pyongyang to assist in the embalming; the late leader lies in a glass sarcophagus with filtered lights to keep his face looking rosy.

    But Kim Jong Il and his father were by no means the first Asian leaders to get the Chavez treatment. The Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, who died in 1969, is displayed in a mausoleum in Hanoi modeled after Lenin’s. Since “Uncle Ho” died in the midst of the Vietnam War, his embalmers had to work in a cave in the North Vietnamese jungle, the New York Times reports.

    One of the scientists who worked on him told the Times: “Not every expert is allowed to restore such treasured historical objects, like a Raphael or a Rembrandt. Those who do it, we tremble. I feel a great responsibility in my hands.” This video shows the changing of the guard outside Ho Chi Minh’s tomb.

    Socialist leader Mao Zedong has lain in state in a mausoleum on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square since May 1977. According to Time, Soviet-Chinese tensions forced Mao’s embalmers to ask the Vietnamese, not the Russians, for advice — a plan that misfired slightly when the Vietnamese could not explain how to build an air-tight coffin.

    The exiled Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who died in 1989, has lain embalmed in a public mausoleum in the northwest Philippines since the government allowed his body back into the country in 1993. His widow, Imelda Marcos, has battled the government for permission to bury him in the country’s presidential cemetery, the New York Times reports. She posted for photos kissing the crypt in 2010.

    Chavez will be only the second Latin American leader to be preserved for all eternity. Embalmers emptied water from the cells of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentinian president Juan Peron, and replaced them with wax — an unusual technique that basically “turned her into a candle,” Egyptologist Bob Brier told the Post’s Monica Hesse in 2012. She’s now also missing a finger — when the junta overthrew Peron’s husband and took over their house, they cut one off to see if the body was fake.

    Chavez’s body will, presumably, get better protection than that. AFP reports that Marcos’s embalmer has already offered up his services and is urging the Venezuelans to start the process before it gets “more difficult.”

    “I will process anyone, anywhere,” he said, helpfully.