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Statues

What to do with Confederate Statues?

The Russians have done more than just tolerate these leftovers. All the propaganda that the Soviets used to produce and disseminate – and there was a lot of it – is now kitsch. Kiosks sell Soviet T-shirts next to matryoshka dolls and amber jewelry as genuine Russian souvenirs. As one Russian gentleman said to me, “It’s our past and we embrace it. We lived it. We can’t just wish it away.”

It would not be very practical to knock down the buildings Stalin helped to build or hammer out all those hammers and sickles.

Statues, however, have no practical purpose and can be taken care of rather easily. Moscow has removed many of them from public space. It was one of the first impulses the Russian people had after the fall of the Soviet Union.

What is instructive is what the Muscovites have done with their statues, collecting them in a sculpture garden and giving them historical context.

The statues and monuments now reside together in a section of MUSEON Arts Park, a lovely green space next to Gorky Park. MUSEON is also known as the Fallen Monument Park, though “felled monuments” would be the more appropriate name. The park contains more than just felled Soviets. There are hundreds of other pieces sprinkled through the park. But walking through the grove of Lenin statues, sitting in the shade of a monumental Soviet coat of arms, or posing next to a large bust of Leonid Brezhnev or Mikhail Kalinin is the thrill for people like me.
     — James Glaser

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