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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Naval Monuments to Grace the Neva

ST. PETERSBURG -- City officials Thursday announced plans for monuments devoted to the 300th anniversary of the Russian navy, now just six months away.


In honor of the celebrations, the city will raise a 10-meter bronze statue of the goddess Nike at the point where the Bolshaya Nevka branches out from the Neva River. Decked in sea symbols, the goddess will hold aloft a naval banner in the shadow of the cruiser Aurora.


In addition, two statues of Peter the Great, destroyed after the Bolshevik revolution, will be restored to their former position by the Admiralty.


A copy of one of the statues, depicting the tsar as a common carpenter during his travels to the Netherlands, stands in the center square of the Dutch city of Zaandam. It was a gift from Tsar Nicholas II, and Dutch government officials have offered to provide St. Petersburg with a second copy.


Jan Hennenman, Consul General of the Netherlands, said that the gift was in honor of both the Russian Navy and the Great Embassy to Europe led by the tsar himself in 1697.


"We would like to give this as a present to reaffirm our long-term relations," Hennenman said.


Funds for the Nike monument, estimated at 4 billion to 6 billion rubles ($851,000 to $1.2 million), will be drawn in part from the Naval Monument Fund. Estimates for the other project were not available.


Although the city government backs the idea of creating a monument in honor of the Russian navy, it does not seem anxious to put forward an adequate amount of financing toward the project, say those involved.


"The city doesn't plan to spend a lot of money putting up new monuments," said chief architect Oleg Kharchenko. "We were counting on some federal funds, but we haven't heard anything yet."


Kharchenko said that representatives from local military colleges offered materials, as well as the services of cadets, for some of the work.


Many in the naval and commercial fleets worry that the festivities are meaningless with the problems facing the military and struggling commercial shipping lines not being addressed.


?President Boris Yeltsin has appointed a new commander for the Black Sea Fleet, the president's office said Thursday. Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchenko, formerly first deputy commander of Russia's Baltic Fleet was appointed to take over the fleet, which has been a bone of contention between Russia and Ukraine.


The Black Sea Fleet's previous commander, Admiral Eduard Baltin, was fired by Yeltsin three weeks ago. His opposition to dividing the fleet between Russia and Ukraine was viewed in Moscow as an obstacle to improved relations between the two countries.