The monument to Catherine II, the most famed Russian monarch after Peter the Great, is back in Moscow after years of exile. It has been brought by a special flight from the Armenian capital Yerevan, where the work of well-known Russian 19th-century sculptor Alexander Opekushin had been kept since 1952.
The monument was made on the decision of the Moscow Duma for the 100th death anniversary of Catherine II, Russia's ruler from 1762 to 1796 when she died. In the presence of members of the Russian imperial family, the sculpture was officially erected in November 1896 inside the Moscow Duma building near the Kremlin walls. The imperial monument was taken to Yerevan in the times of Stalin. Well-known Soviet sculptor Sergei Merkurov sent it to his friend Mark Grigoryan, chief architect of Yerevan, to save it from possible destruction.
In recent years, the monument was found in the Armenian State Picture Gallery. Agreement on returning it to Moscow was reached last year, when Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov visited Armenia.
In the Russian capital the monument will first be taken for restoration and then the city authorities will find a place for it. In today's building of the Moscow city Duma the monument cannot be placed due to its size - 3 meters high and over 4 tonnes in weight.