Vladimir Putin wants the Russian people to think of him as the new Vladimir on the throne, the “red sun” of Moscow, the worthy successor of Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv.
Students and teachers at Moscow State University decided to appeal to Russia’s president not to build a colossal monument to the Kyiv Prince Volodymyr on Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory), not far from the main campus of Moscow State University.
The monument, which is to be executed in the best traditions of neo-Stalinist architecture, will ruin the panorama of Sparrow Hills — one of the few places in Moscow that offers beautiful views of the Russian capital. Furthermore, Sparrow Hills is a historical site associated with the lives of many prominent figures in Russian culture and literature. It was here that the writers-democrats (Aleksandr) Herzen and (Nikolay) Ogarev swore to each other to fight for the new Russia. Now, almost 200 years after they had taken that oath, we can state that the writers have not succeeded. The sinister goon on Sparrow Hills will become the symbol of their defeat.
Putin is unlikely to respond to the request of several dozen worthy students and instructors at Moscow State University. The Russian president is literally obsessed with the myth of Prince Volodymyr because he bears his name and because he sees himself as the successor of one of the founders of the neighboring state. It is not by chance that in his Crimean quests Putin has always insisted on the “sacredness” of the Crimean baptism of the Kyiv leader. The fact that Kyiv itself is Volodymyr’s capital and that his descendants have remained outside the new empire in the country that happens to have a real historical tie to the prince literally drives Putin mad. The monument to Volodymyr in Moscow is needed to help reduce the bitterness of the loss of Kyiv.
Sources in Russia’s political leadership were already telling me about the construction plans several years ago when the Crimean annexation and the occupation of eastern Ukraine were still in the planning stages. At that time, the myth about the prince began to be actively implemented in the minds of the population with the help of official Russian propaganda. Books, films, even cartoons — everything had to emphasize the supposed connection that had been invented by Russian historians of the Romanov era between the Moscow state and Kyivan Rus. Putin in this regard is both a consumer and distributor of pseudo-history. But not only this. Part of the plan is the desire to steal Prince Volodymyr from Ukraine and make him the main monument in the capital of a country to which he — the man who baptized Ukraine — has absolutely no connection. The other part is to create an association in the minds of the Russian public with the new Vladimir on the throne, Moscow’s “red sun.”
Therefore the idol that will appear soon on Sparrow Hills is not Prince Volodymyr. It is tsar Vladimir.