A marble statue of Catherine the Great by the famous sculptor Alexander Opekushin is coming back to the Russian capital after more than 50 years of absence, reported the press service of Moscow's Architecture, Construction, Development and Reconstruction Complex.
Until 1917, the statue stood in the building of the Moscow City Duma, the one that was known until recently as the Lenin Museum. It was unveiled in a grand ceremony staged in the Grand Hall on November 6, 1896, on the day of the 100th anniversary of the empress's death. After the October revolution, it was removed and placed first in the store-room of the Museum of Fine Arts, then in the workshop belonging to a well-known sculptor, Sergei Merkurov, and, finally, in the store-room of the State Picture Gallery in Yerevan. To send the statue to Yerevan was Merkurov's idea-the sculptor had connections in this city and felt the statue would be safe there. This was done circa 1952. The statue still stands in the gallery's yard to this day.
Answering an inquiry from Moscow, a source in the Yerevan Mayor's Office said Armenia was ready to give the statue back to Russia. The sides are currently coordinating the organizational and technical issues dealing with the statue's delivery.
The Moscow City Duma is planning to place the figure of Catherine the Great in its old place, "opposite the middle niche" in the reconstructed building of the former Lenin Museum. There will be a celebration to mark the return of the statue.