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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Leave Those Monuments Be Already

The face of Moscow is changing. In the name of the new democratic thinking, the city has daubed over communist wall slogans and toppled hundreds of statues of Lenin and his lesser Politburo acolytes.


This move to undo the architectural excesses of the Soviet period is understandable. In Soviet times, the city was disfigured by a lot of ideologically offensive kitsch.


But the backlash against the emblems of communism should not be taken too far. There are great examples of Soviet architecture, sculpture and murals that should be preserved for their inherent artistic and historical value.


It is hard to know whether the "We Are Building Communism" bas-relief on Serpukhovskaya Ploshchad which is currently annoying the Yeltsin campaign team should be considered such a monument.


But there are several other examples of the public art works of the Stalinist and stagnation period that deserve to be protected despite their unpleasant ideological undertones. We all have our favorites.


Though replete with billowing communist banners and stern party leaders, the murals of the Moscow metro are a national treasure. The red stars on top of the Kremlin walls may have political connotations but they are just good design.


The seven Stalin high-rise buildings are magnificent despite their ghastly Stalinist statuary and emblems. No one should think of toppling the classic statue of the collective farm girl and the muscular factory hand from their plinth at the front of VDNKh.


Even the Lenin who stands in the middle of Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad has a place in Moscow as the last representative of a whole tribe of Lenin statues that once loomed over every public space.


Of course, a lot of Soviet architecture is just plain ugly and repetitive. Hopefully, this will just be replaced, gradually.


But this generation of democrats would do well to remember the damage done to the face of Moscow by over-zealous commissars in the '20s and '30s who destroyed churches and demolished tsarist buildings all in the name of wiping out an evil ideology of the past. Moscow is poorer architecturally as a result.


More important, ordinary Muscovites will benefit spiritually from preserving the great monuments of the Soviet legacy.


In some citizens, they may inspire nostalgia but many more will be reminded of the monotonous, state-imposed culture that prevailed in this country. Perhaps the statues that have been torn down should get their own permanent resting place, together, in a park. Nothing could speak better to the absurdities of the cult of the personality.