Ivan Gets a Makeover

By | October 30, 2016

Ivan the Terrible Statute

The official replacement of historical facts by patriotic myths continues unabated. On October 14, 2016, on the order of the local governor and against the will of the locals, an equestrian statue of Czar Ivan the Terrible was erected in the city of Orel in Central Russia. The governor noted that Orel was founded on Ivan the Terrible’s order in 1566 and therefore the statute was appropriate.

This is the first statute of Ivan to be erected in Russian history, since even before the Revolution the Czar’s never celebrated Ivan due to his infamous cruelty and military blunders. However, Vladimir Medinsky, Russian Minister of Culture appears to be a fan of the rehabilitation of Ivan. Although he did not attend the unveiling, he sent his greetings:

Ivan IV the Terrible was one of the most controversial and, at the same time, outstanding figures of national history. During the years of his reign, he managed to take several bold steps aimed at strengthening the unity of the Russian state. Under him, administrative reform was performed, new government bodies were created, a professional army formed, and the first Russian book was printed. He paid special attention to strengthening the state borders . . .

The erection of the monument to Ivan the Terrible in the city of Orel today is not only a tribute to the Czar and a warrior, but also a recognition of the continuity of all phases of our history.

Medinsky did not mention the terrifying organizations that Ivan the Terrible established, the oprichniki. Consisting of from 1,000 to 6,000 young men, the oprichniki was a kind of NKVD/MGB/KGB of the time, carrying out the Czar’s repressive policies.

The Rector of Moscow State University, Viktor Sadovnichy, a mathematician, followed Medinsky’s example and also sent his greeting to the event: “In Russian state history Ivan IV is one of the symbols of the Russian state, and the time of his reign is written down in the history of our country on golden pages.” Apparently, Sadovnichy, an experienced politician, pursued his own goals while glorifying the bloodiest Czar in Russian history, who somehow now has become a “symbol of the Russian state”.

On the morning of October 30, it appeared that there was a bag put on the head of the monument, and the horse had a cord in its mouth, to which a plate with an inscription “It’s so stuffy and dark here” was attached. Police fined the perpetrator, who arrived from the city of Yaroslavl, for 500 rubles ($ 8) for disorderly conduct.


Author: Vadim Birstein

Dr. Vadim J. Birstein is a historian and geneticist. He is the author of over 300 scientific papers and books and has written two scholarly historical works, "The Perversion of Knowledge: The True Story of Soviet Science" and "SMERSH, Stalin's Secret Weapon: Soviet Military Counterintelligence in WWII". He received the inaugural "St. Ermin's Intelligence Book Award" in 2012 for SMERSH.

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