A statue of Marshal Georgi Zhukov stands in front of the State Historical Museum in Manezhnaya Ploschad in Moscow, Russia. Zhukov was Marshal of the Soviet Union and one of the most famous and successful military leaders of the Second World War.

During WWII, Zhukov organized the defense of Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Moscow, and planned decisive offensives, such as the Battle of Kursk and the offensive to capture Berlin. On June 24, 1945, mere meters from the location of this sculpture, Zhukov hosted the WWII victory parade in Red Square. After the death of Joseph Stalin, who was wary of his fame, Zhukov was appointed minister of defense of the Soviet Union. He died in 1974.

This statue was erected in 1995 by order of president Boris Yeltsin to mark the 50th anniversary of victory in WWII. It is the work of the well-known sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov (1939- 2006). The statue depicts Zhukov trampling over Nazi banners on a horse that some say is a poor equine representation. The sculpture can be interpreted as an allegory of the legend of St George’s victory over the dragon.

Initially the monument was to be installed on Red Square, but UNESCO objected. It was then decided to place the statue nearby in its current position in front of the Historical Museum.

Klykov was a successful sculptor, but he was also an anti-Semite who held sharply contradictory political views during his lifetime. In the 1990s, Klykov associated himself with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, a Marxist-Leninist party that succeeded the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Doing a complete 180º, in 2005 he was elected chairman of the re-founded Union of the Russian People, a far-right, neo-fascist organization that was above all anti-Semitic.

Last year prior to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, the statue was removed without notice and replaced by a more imposing alternative. That version showed the marshal saluting while riding a more muscular steed.

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The public was alarmed until it was announced that the original sculpture was being restored. It was reinstalled by Victory Day, May 9, 2020.

I hope you enjoyed the brief history of the Monument to Marshall Zhukov by the sculptor, Vyacheslav Klykov, who is a controversial artist to say the least.

Sculpture Saturday is a challenge hosted by Susan Kelly at No Fixed Plans.

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