This week Yekaterinburg is celebrating the 80th anniversary of Boris Yeltsin’s birth. A big man from the Urals started his political career in Sverdlovsk, then was promoted to Moscow in 1985 and became the first president of Russia. Now his statue is the first monument since the Soviet era erected to a political leader.
The monument is made of 15 ton marble pieces. It’s 10 metres tall - Boris’s height was 1.87m., much taller than his followers Putin and Medvedev (1.70 and 1.62 respectively). No wonder, the monument was erected on the Street named after Yeltsin. In the Soviet times the central street used to be a neglected area with shabby barracks. It was thanks to Yeltsin that the ugly barracks were demolished and people were moved to the new apartment buildings. Yeltsin also ordered to build a Drama theatre on this street. In the future there will be a presidential centre on Yeltsin Street too with a library and a museum. The museum will have an exact replica of Yeltsin’s office in the Kremlin.
2011 is also the 20th anniversary of the failed coup arranged by the Communists in August 1991 when Yeltsin climbed up onto a tank outside the Russian parliament and called for a general strike. On 23 August Yeltsin banned the Communist party in Russia. The photo exhibition of those events is now held in the Museum of History in Yekaterinburg. The exhibition is called ‘Yeltsin – Yes!’
There are very different opinions in Russia of Yeltsin’s presidency. The 90s are remembered as years when few men became billionaires while pensioners lived in poverty. Gangsters and mafia controlled the cities, it was especially characteristic for Yeltsin’s home city Yekaterinburg. The president was famous for his drunken speeches. I heard a lady from Moscow saying on the radio about Yekaterinburg: “Everything is wrong in your city – you killed the Tsar and failed to raise a president.”
By the way, it was Yeltsin who ordered to demolish Ipatyev House – the place of the Tsar’s murder in 1978. Though later he would say the order arrived from the Kremlin and he couldn’t disobey. However, Boris always had a huge support in Yekaterinburg. 95% of the Yekaterinburgers supported him in 1991 and the recent celebration events show that most of the Ural citizens don’t have a grudge against him.
Another interesting exhibition took place on Lenin Avenue. Local contemporary artists erected a carton monument to letter E. It is the most important letter for the city as both Yekaterinburg and Yeltsin start with ‘E’ in Russian. The citizens could bring the photos of the prominent people whose names start with E. The photos were then glued to the monument.
January 7 is a Christmas Day in Orthodox Russia. The main celebrations in Yekaterinburg are held in and around Church on Blood in Honor of Tsar Martyr Saints' murder. Every year the best Russian ice sculptors come to create breathtaking symbols of Christmas and Mother Russia's saints all made of ice.
This year the most prominent sculpture is no doubt the ice icon of the Romanovs family with young Tsarevich Alexey in front. Wish you all Merry Christmas!
Here are some more pictures, Iv'e taken today:
This morning I received a message that three tourists from South Korea would like to see Ganina Yama monastery on the burial place of the Romanovs family. At the same time I learnt from the news that the monastery was on fire!
Luckily, only one out of seven churches burned down. The monastery was opened in 2001 and had 7 wooden churches to commemorate seven members of the Tsar's family: Nicolas II, his wife Alexandra, Grand Duchess Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and young tsarevitch Alexey. Their bodies were thrown down by the Bolsheviks to a derelict mine called Ganina Yama, hence the name of the monastery.
The church that burned to ashes this morning had been under construction. I haven't heard any plausible explanation of what happened there yet. Main thing is that nobody was hurt and there were no valuable icons and other relics inside the church. A local charity organization is already gathering money to restore it. So far I can only show the photo of the church to the guests from South Korea and to you...
Have a look at other churches of Ganina Yama monastery.