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Fifth anniversary of Tsereteli's monument to Peter the Great in Moscow - 5 September, 2002

On Thursday, Zurab Tsereteli's monument to Peter the Great in Moscow will turn five years old.

A RIA Novosti correspondent reports that exactly five years ago on September 5th, 1997 the giant monument to Russia's first emperor was erected on the Yakimanskaya Embankment in Moscow. The monument by prominent sculptor Tsereteli was unveiled during the celebrations of Moscow's 850th anniversary and was dedicated to the 300th anniversary of the Russian navy.

The monument standing on a spit in the Moskva River stands 94m high. It has the form of a pillar standing on a granite basis foundation that is crowned by a bronze boat, with the figure of Peter the Great growing out of it. The tsar holds a large scroll in his hand.

According to official information alone, the monument cost 100 million roubles, but according to a number of estimates it could cost even 180 million roubles (1 rouble = $31).

The monument was conceived as the centre of an ensemble that was to include a wooden bridge from an island built under the huge monument, a Museum to Peter the Great, a yacht club, a recreation zone with waterfalls and fountains, a cafe and restaurants serving Russian dishes of tsar Peter's days. However, the bronze statue aroused mixed reactions in society, and many people demanded that the bronze colossus be removed, while terrorists even tried to blow it up.

But as years passed by, people got gradually used to the monument. True, last spring, prominent politician Ramazan Abdulatipov, a Federation Council member, came out with an original idea - he proposed that the monument be moved to Makhachkala, arguing that in Moscow the monument is squeezed between buildings. Abdulatipov stressed that "Daghestan is Russia's southern outpost, and Peter I would be welcome there." The senator's initiative was not supported, and the giant figure of Tsar Peter continues to tower over the Moskva River.