The monument with the head of the father of Finnish independence will be demolished in Turku. “Fontanka” learned how the stone and metal Ilyichs live in the city of his revolution, who hardly touch the authorities, but love vandals.
The authorities of the Finnish Turku decided to dismantle the monument to Vladimir Lenin from the city center. NATO nothing. The decision was justified by the fact that the monument to the leader of the revolution “causes strong negative reactions among the townspeople” after start Russian special operation in Ukraine. This happens despite the fact that it was under Lenin, as the head of the Russian state, that Finland gained independence from its southern neighbor. The bust of Lenin in Turku was a gift from Leningrad in the late 70s. The author is Mikhail Anikushin, a classic of Leningrad sculpture. Now boarded up with plywood, Ilyich is still waiting for dismantling, despite the plans of the authorities to remove him in early May, reported local press. “So far, just packed. They don’t do anything quickly in Turku,” local residents explain to Fontanka.
Fontanka decided to remember how many Lenins there were in Leningrad, what kind of Lenin Anikushin sculpted for Turku, and at the same time find out what the city guardians of the Ilyichs think about the incident in the city, which suspended twinning. We talked about this with the head of the Department of Monuments and Memorial Plaques of the State Museum of Urban Sculpture Ekaterina Shishkina.
– Ekaterina Alexandrovna, how many monuments to Lenin were there at the time of the end of Soviet power?
– The first monuments began to be erected immediately after the death of Lenin. This is a monument at the Finland Station, a small monument at the Obukhov Plant. By the 100th anniversary of the birth of the leader, in 1970, there were more than 150 monuments in Leningrad. After that, another 1-2 per year were installed. The peak of Leninism in monumental art in our city was the installation of a monument on Moscow Square, authored by Mikhail Anikushin. Since 1939, part of the monuments was transferred to the collection of the Museum of Urban Sculpture. Now we have 18 monuments registered. These are the works of major masters – Pinchuk, Anikushin, Kharlamov, Ingal, Kozlov. These are all author’s large forms. The image of the Smolny authorship of Kozlov was then replicated throughout the country. We also have sculptures in storerooms.
— Were they removed from the public space after 1991?
– Yes. But we have all the monuments intact. For example, there was a bust of Lenin in front of the building of the Museum of the City History on Bolotnaya, but since the entire space was reconstructed, the whole concept changed, it was transferred to the museum and is stored in the funds.
– In St. Petersburg, not a single monument to Lenin was removed for political reasons?
– Not a single one of our museum monuments was dismantled for political reasons. On the contrary, we keep them.
— But there were not only museum monuments. Who in the city cleaned up Lenin because he didn’t like Lenin himself?
— For example, departmental territories. Where the Okhta Center was originally planned was Petrozavod. On its territory there was a monument to Vladimir Ilyich. It has been dismantled. But there is no political overtones there. Then we had a monument to Lenin the Teacher at 9 Stachek Avenue, it was installed in 1931. In 1941, he was moved to the territory of “factory 379”. You see, Lenin still has some place! Then he moved to the museum fund, now he is temporarily transferred to the museum in Razliv. There is another one, Kharlamovsky.
– If you set a goal and look for a place on the map of the city where Lenin appeared after the 1991 goal, then Razliv is the only place?
– It turns out, yes.
– Do you know when and where the last monument was opened?
– No, no one will give you such information.
– Pushkin is our everything, no matter what time it is. This is our Russian hero. Lenin is also in this line. After the peak, there were no government orders for the creation of these monuments. And earlier, for example, on Moscow Square, the state competition was held in three stages. Everything was serious and responsible.
“Our monuments periodically become victims of vandalism. For example, the same monument at the Finland Station was damaged several years ago. There was a big story. Can we say that the monuments to Lenin are one of the main objects for such unpleasant incidents that excite the creation of hooligans? Lenin – “champion”?
– You’re right. Our restorers most often eliminate acts of vandalism on monuments, busts, sculptures of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. I immediately went to the monument at the Finland Station, it was April 1, there was a terrible incomprehensible gaping hole. There was an investigation that has not yet been completed. The culprits have not been identified. Even during construction in Pushkin, there was a monument on Cathedral Square. Vandalism was when the monument was thrown off the pedestal, it split into three parts. And then the cathedral was built. Three parts of the monument are kept in our fund, it is very difficult to restore it. This is done because of a negative attitude. This year, the Lenin monuments are also in the lead, we have already visited two acts of vandalism. On Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, all sorts of nasty words were written on a pedestal in yellow paint. And on the corner of Lenin Street, people painted a pedestal. Last year, a vandal was detained, who wrote large “terrorist” on the monument to Lenin near the administration of the Vasileostrovsky district. Expressed his opinion to the leader. Judging by the acts of vandalism, Lenin is still interesting.
– Most often this inscription?
— Doused with paint, write inscriptions, graffiti on the pedestals.
— When you remove monuments, is it a complicated procedure for approval? Or can you just remove the paint with chemicals?
– We have the authority to travel, we have both an algorithm and methods for removing paint. But there are cases, for example, when the pedestal is made of granite. The restorer, of course, will remove the consequences, but modern spray paints are absorbed into the material and have to be removed later.
— The activity of vandals depends on some external reasons?
– By April 22, activity increases. This year, the aggravation began on April 19 (Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) was born on April 22, 1879. – Approx. ed.).
— In the Soviet past, the city often donated monuments to sister cities. How many Lenins were donated in this way?
— Most of the monuments were cast at our Monumentsculpture factory, which then went to the cities. These are dozens of dozens of copies.
– Kozlov’s work was the most replicated. But whose Lenin was most similar to himself? Anikushin?
– The very first monuments – at the Finland Station and at the Obukhov Plant. For example, in the workshop of Evseev, who was making a monument at the Finland Station, workers came who themselves saw Ilyich, his performance on an armored car. And they told me what he was like, that he had a very expensive German coat and worn boots. All this was added to the image. Then lifetime portraits of Lenin were made, there was a photo chronicle. He was still an earthly man. And then the image began to be canonized: a large forehead, kind eyes. For Anikushin, this is already a man raised to a height, Lenin the leader.
– In Turku, Lenin is just one of the canonized, apparently. It’s just a head on a stone, but he has a very stern, chiseled look.
– These are well-considered gestures, already canonical Lenin: for red corners, meetings, squares. Apparently, this is a copy of the head of the sculpture installed on Moskovsky Prospekt, which completes Anikushin’s Leniniana.
“Obviously not the same Lenin that the Finns used to hide. Then he was different. Maybe that’s why they remove it?
– Of course, here are already exaggerated features, we are not portraying Lenin, who is hiding in a hut. But he’s still young! This Lenin cannot be shown to an elderly, adult person.
A Finnish historian, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fontanka that the very location of the Leningrad gift in the 70s turned out to be symbolic. “The funny thing is that it was installed opposite the restaurant, where the headquarters of the whites was during the civil war,” the expert said.
– Do they discuss in the museum when the monuments to Lenin are demolished in certain countries? What do colleagues think about this?
— I can’t speak for everyone, but as an employee of the sculpture museum, I feel very sorry when art is trampled on, no matter what it is. There are more civilized and humane ways, if the monument is not destroyed, but found a new place for it. At one time, the monuments of Stalin were dismantled in our country, but they found a place for them, it was an order.
– Is there anything left of Stalin in the storerooms today? Or was everything destroyed?
— There are small models of one bust, but these are not monuments. It was a political directive, and in one night all the monuments were removed. Whether they survived or not is unknown.
– The Turku authorities say about their monument that it “provoked people into negative emotions, repeatedly became the topic of public discussions.” Would the museum be ready to take this monument to itself? He is already in the box there, as in a coffin.
“It should be an order, we keep what the city has given us. The museum in Razliv had the idea of creating a park of monuments to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, it would be more appropriate to propose this to them.
– In the former Soviet republics, monuments were often removed from the center and placed somewhere in the park. In Tallinn, all Soviet monuments are placed in one park, nicely built into the infrastructure.
“And we have a Muzeon in Moscow, where a wide variety of monuments are collected under the open sky. And, again, the museum in Razliv.
– Well, that is, in theory, we could tell the Finns: look at Lenin’s hut in Razliv. A good way: we hide Lenin in the forest. Indeed, for Finland, Lenin is an important person, to put it mildly. He gave them independence.
– Well, the Finns wanted it, this is their monument. Maybe they thought that was enough. They probably have other heroes too. Good thing they haven’t destroyed it yet. History is reviewed periodically. I don’t want to talk about Lenin’s personality. She left her mark on history. But art must not perish: a monument has something to do with it. And in Ukraine, Lenin’s monuments are being destroyed, let’s be frank. And everything related to Soviet symbols and ideals. This is not the first case in Turku.
Leonid Lobanov, especially for Fontanka.ru
PS: Monuments to Lenin in Ukraine are not only demolished, but also restored. In April, in the city of Genichesk in the Kherson region, one of the first decisions after Russian troops took control of the city was to restore a sculpture of Vladimir Lenin sawn into several pieces. This is happening despite Vladimir Putin’s well-known criticism of the decisions of Soviet Russia during the time of Vladimir Lenin on the same Ukraine. Against this background, a bill was submitted to the State Duma on the return of the red flag of the USSR as the state flag of the Russian Federation, about which Fontanka previously told the author of the initiative, State Duma deputy Anzhelika Glazkova.
Read on Fontanka interview with neurologist Valery Novoselov, who managed to work with the secret diary of doctors of the leader of the world revolution and draw conclusions about the causes of death of the leader of the world revolution.