Tag Archives: Restoring

A Vote on Restoring a Secret Police Chief’s Statue Opens Old Wounds in Russia

A Vote on Restoring a Secret Police Chief’s Statue Opens Old Wounds in Russia

On the night of Aug. 23 1991, as a coup attempt by communist hardliners bent on preserving the dissolving Soviet Union collapsed, Sergei Stankevich rushed to the KGB headquarters on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square.

With victorious anti-coup Muscovites preparing to pull down the statue of Soviet secret police founder Felix Dzherzinsky outside the building, Stankevich — then a lawmaker in the Moscow City Soviet — had been appointed by his colleagues to ensure that the eleven ton statue was toppled without damaging the Metro station below.

“I told people that we shouldn’t leave ourselves open to accusations of lawlessness or vandalism,” Stankevich told The Moscow Times. “It was history and it had to be done strictly according to the law.”

Almost thirty years after the statue fell — for many symbolising the end of the U.S.S.R. — Russian opinion is deeply split on remembrance of the country’s Soviet past and a government-backed vote on whether to restore “Iron Felix” to his former place has become a flashpoint in Russia’s controversial memory politics.

When, on Feb. 19, Moscow’s Civic Chamber government advisory body announced a week-long online vote of Muscovites on whether Lubyanka Square — which has lain empty since 1991 bar a small monument to Gulag victims — should host the restored Dzerzhinsky or a new statue to 13th century Russian prince Alexander Nevsky, public reaction was immediate and intense.

Zakhar Prilepin, a nationalist writer and politician who lobbied for the initial proposal to restore the secret policeman’s statue, wrote on Facebook that Dzerzhinsky’s return would be “a symbolic act of colossal significance,” showing that Russia is “ready to overcome the chaos and decay of 1991.”

Stankevich — who in the years after 1991 forged a career in liberal politics — is categorically opposed to the return of the statue whose demolition he supervised. 

“In fact, it is depressing that we are even discussing this topic,” he said.

The restoration of Dzerzhinsky — a Polish-born Bolshevik revolutionary who founded the Cheka secret police and played a major role in the post-revolution Red Terror before dying in 1926 — had been regularly proposed by leftist and nationalist politicians, including the Communist Party and former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. 

However, the Kremlin itself had traditionally avoided the fraught question of the fallen monument, preferring to avoid a divisive row by leaving it in Muzeon, a central Moscow park that hosts a range of toppled Soviet-era statues, and where Dzerzhinsky has stood since 1991.

“It’s a strange time to raise this issue,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, head of the Russian domestic politics and political institutions program at the Carnegie Moscow Center. 

“Russian society is already divided. And the Dzerzhinsky discussion is aggravating the divide.”

It is an approach that chimed with the Kremlin’s wider relationship with the Soviet past. Throughout his two decades in office, President Vladimir Putin has presided over a limited reevaluation of the Soviet past, with new monuments erected and Josef Stalin’s record of war leadership and rapid industrialization stressed. 

At the same time, he has steered clear of the full-scale rehabilitation that might alienate liberals, anti-communists and the influential Orthodox Church, which suffered under Bolshevik repression and has publicly opposed the statue’s return.

Mixed feelings

The controversy over Dzerzhinsky’s Moscow statue stands in stark contrast to public perception of the Cheka’s founding leader.

Though Russians’ feelings towards the Soviet past have warmed in recent years, with a record 70% of respondents assessing Stalin positively in a 2019 poll, opinions on Dzerzhinsky have been more mixed.

In 2013, data from the state-funded pollster VTsIOM found that 46% of Russians see Dzerzhinsky positively, results echoed in a 2015 poll by the independent Levada Center, which showed respondents evenly split on the question of his statue’s return to Lubyanka Square.

Likewise, Dzerzhinsky — though his name is borne throughout Russia by dozens of monuments, around 1300 streets and a city of 240,000 — is a far less prominent figure than Lenin or Stalin, being almost exclusively identified with founding the Cheka and repressing the anti-Bolshevik opposition in the early 1920s.

“As a historical personality Dzerzhinsky is a relatively niche figure,” said Olga Malinova, a professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics who researches historical memory.

“But he does have some appeal to those who prioritise a strong state and national security.”

Above all, however, Dzerzhinsky is admired by Russia’s powerful security apparatus, especially the FSB – the KGB’s successor organization which operates out of the same Lubyanka Square headquarters and is directly descended from Dzerzhinsky’s original Bolshevik Cheka. 

Russia’s secret services see Dzerzhinsky as their founding father, and took his toppling from Lubyanka Square personally.

“The footage of the statue being toppled in 1991 was symbolic of a revolution against the Soviet state,” said Kolesnikov.

“In restoring the statue, they are nullifying that revolution.”

Competitor Nevsky

For some observers, the choice of Alexander Nevsky as a competitor to Dzerzhinsky is as significant as the secret police chief’s potential return.

Nevsky, a 13th century prince of the historic city of Novgorod, then a major trading port located between Moscow and present-day Saint Petersburg, is chiefly known for defeating an invasion of German Teutonic Knights in 1242. 

Nevsky’s victory saw him made a saint by the Orthodox Church and later glorified as a hero of anti-Western Russian patriotic resistance in the Stalin era, most prominently in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1938 historical epic film. 

For the Carnegie Center’s Kolesnikov, presenting Muscovites with the choice of Nevsky or Dzerzhinsky represents the consolidation of Putin’s conservative, nationalist brand of politics. 

“Both Nevsky and Dzerzhinsky are perceived as essentially patriotic, anti-Western figures that chime well with the Kremlin’s present ideology. Dzerzhinsky symbolizes the return of the secret police’s power, and Nevsky victory over Western invaders.” said Kolesnikov. 

According to Kolesnikov, with the constitutional amendments of July 2020 enshrining many conservative priorities — from giving special status to ethnic Russians to placing national law over international law — into Russia’s constitution, installing a statue to an ideologically suitable figure on one of Moscow’s largest public squares would mark the public triumph of Putin’s conservatism.

“Placing either in such a prominent position would symbolize the dominance of the new conservative order in Russia,” said Kolesnikov.

Not Stalinists

With the BBC’s Russian Service reporting that the Presidential Administration — the Kremlin department that manages domestic politics — would prefer Nevsky to beat Dzerzhinsky in the online vote, some observers suspect their true aim is to close the issue of the Cheka founder’s return for good, while enshrining the 13th century prince on Lubyanka.

“Putin and his inner circle are not Stalinists,” said Malinova. 

“They may admire aspects of Dzerzhinsky’s legacy, but they do not excuse the Terror or the purges. I suspect they would rather forget him than commemorate him in such a prominent spot.”

Even so, for those who imagined that Dzerzhinsky’s removal from Lubyanka represented a decisive break with Russia’s authoritarian past, even the possibility of his return is a bitter pill to swallow.

“Restoring Dzerzhinsky is a declaration that the age of the Terror has returned,” said Stankevich. 

“Returning the statue to Lubyanka would represent nothing less than the restoration of the Bolshevik regime.”

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Moscow to Vote on Restoring Soviet Secret Police Founder’s Statue

Moscow to Vote on Restoring Soviet Secret Police Founder’s Statue

The Moscow Civic Chamber plans to launch a citywide vote next week on whether to restore the statue of the Soviet secret police’s notorious founder 30 years after it was toppled, its senior member announced Friday.

The monument to “Iron” Felix Dzerzhinsky, who headed the Cheka secret police following the 1917 revolution, was removed from the KGB headquarters with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It currently stands in the open-air Fallen Monument Park an hour’s walk south of the building that now houses the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Nationalist figures including writer and party leader Zakhar Prilepin asked municipal authorities earlier this month to restore the “Iron Felix” monument, arguing in an open letter that its teardown was illegal.

A cross-platform online vote will offer a choice of bringing back Dzerzhinsky or erecting a statue of Alexander Nevsky, the 13th-century Novgorod prince who defeated German invaders, said Alexei Venediktov, the Civic Chamber’s deputy chairman.

Residents of the Russian capital will be able to cast their votes in the blockchain e-voting platform called “Active Citizen” or via media outlets’ websites starting next Thursday, according to the Podyom news channel. Moscow city councillors will also reportedly get to vote on whether to bring back the “Iron Felix” monument.

The vote will run for one week until March 5 and will only include two choices because the others — to build a fountain or leave Lubyanka Square as is — were not received as proposals, Civic Chamber chairman Konstantin Remchukov told Interfax. 

Venediktov, who is also chief editor of the liberal Ekho Moskvy radio broadcaster, wrote on social media that he “abstained” from the Civic Chamber vote on launching the Feb. 25 online poll.

A number of public figures came out in opposition to restoring the “Iron Felix” monument, including Russian Orthodox Church leaders who called the move “a show of historical amnesia.”

“It’s a symbol of the creation of a repressive system, a service that has crushed the fate of millions of innocent people,” said Boruch Gorin, spokesman for Russia’s Federation of Jewish Communities.

“Restoring the monument means rehabilitating the era and the people who created it,” Gorin told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

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TrichoLab – A Holistic Approach to Restoring Your Hair to Its Former Glory

TrichoLab – A Holistic Approach to Restoring Your Hair to Its Former Glory

Many of us have a tendency to neglect the care of our hair and scalp, compared to our face and body. However, these days our crowning glory is taking centre stage, given the fact that we are all masked up and our faces can’t be seen now.

A simple daily shampoo simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to hair and scalp care. If we can spend time going for facials and putting on skincare products, why can’t we do the same for our hair and scalp?

Being middle-aged, I am beginning to pay more attention to my long-neglected scalp these days. While I am blessed with thick, luscious locks (I thank my parents for that), I do have problems with an oily scalp and am in need of some professional care beyond my daily shampoo.

I paid a visit to TrichoLab, a homegrown hair growth and scalp specialist located at Plaza Singapura. TrichoLab is a sister brand of SkinLab The Medical Spa and SL Aesthetic Clinic, helmed by aesthetic doctors Dr Kelvin Chua and Dr Gabriel Wong. Now, what sets TrichoLab apart from other hair and scalp care specialists is the very fact that it is spearheaded by these doctors who have 15 years of experience in beauty enhancement.

TrichoLab is a homegrown hair and scalp specialist that uses a holistic approach in dealing with hair and scalp health.

TrichoLab uses plant-based products formulated in-house together with an overseas pharmaceutical factory. The products are made in Korea, USA, Germany and France with ingredients medically proven to benefit hair and scalp health.

Despite the relationship with an aesthetic clinic, the environment at TrichoLab is anything but clinical. The space is cosy and decked with greenery to put customers at ease. I settled myself down comfortably and my trichology-trained therapist set forth to conduct a thorough scalp analysis for me. The analysis was done using a machine that allows the condition of my scalp to be magnified up to 200 times. Oh yes, whatever oily nasties and dandruff I have could be seen up close on the screen and they sure didn’t look pretty.

My friendly and knowledgeable therapist pointed out to me my problem areas on the snapshots. My hair follicles were clogged due to sebum build-up. While hair loss is not a problem for me, I learn that it helps to have a healthy scalp so that I could maintain my thick, full hair. More often than not, scalp disorders such as dandruff and a greasy scalp are among the symptoms of scalp disorders and may lead to hair loss if not treated.

The therapist starts off with an analysis of my hair scalp.

My therapist decided to do a Scalp Exfoliation treatment ($212) for me. This treatment helps achieve good follicular health by exfoliating the scalp using medical grade salicylic acid. The treatment process encompassed application of a mask on my scalp and exfoliation. Using a special device called an ioniser, my therapist ran through my hair to remove any dirt, dust and product buildup on my scalp. This process would also help my scalp better absorb the products applied on my hair.

An ioniser is used to exfoliate my scalp.

Given my greasy scalp condition, the therapist prescribed me an Oil Control ampoule ($129) and an Anti-Dandruff ampoule ($129). The former contains salicylic acid and peppermint extract while the latter has oat protein extract and salicylic acid. Peppermint can help increase circulation on the scalp and promote hair growth. Oat proteins are known to repair and protect hair from damage. Salicylic acid works much like how it would in skincare and in this case, it helps to remove build-up by gently exfoliating the scalp.

At the end of the treatment, my scalp felt refreshingly clean, as if given a new life. A quick hair analysis revealed a scalp free of sebum build-up and grease. My hair felt truly like my crowning glory.

A comparison of my scalp before and after the treatment.

If you are interested in getting to the root of your hair or scalp problem, take a trip down to TrichoLab to find out more on their holistic approach for hair restoration.

68 Orchard Rd
#04-08B Plaza Singapura
Singapore 238839

Opening hours: 10am to 9.30pm (Monday to Friday) | 10am to 8.30pm (Saturday) | 10am to 7.30pm (Sunday)

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Venice – Where Building and Restoring Gondolas Can Be an Uplifting Experience!

Venice – Where Building and Restoring Gondolas Can Be an Uplifting Experience!

Venice – Where Building and Restoring Gondolas Can Be an Uplifting Experience!
Building Construction & Maintenance
Image by antonychammond
There are some 450 authorized gondoliers distributed over the five hundred gondolas in the city, just a few if compared to the 10,000 boatmen who plied the waters of Venice at the time of Goldoni, but a good number considering that there are around 2500 taxis are in Milan. These facts show that in the end, the traffic along the Venetian canals has not changed substantially since the Renaissance, as has happened in other cities instead.

This is why Gondolas and Squeri are so important to Venice’s economy. The squeri are the famous workshops where gondolas are manufactured and undergo maintenance. Originally, these workshops were all located on the Grand Canal, just to make their overriding importance and centrality to the city’s needs, but nowadays only two of them still exist in the center of Venice: San Trovaso and Tramontin.

San Trovaso Squero is even legendary, as its existence is documented since Goldoni’s times, but the oldest is surely the Tramontin Squero, as the Tramontin family has been handing down the art since 1884 and has been the pioneer of the modernization of construction techniques, renewing methodologies used since the 1500s and 1600s.

The construction technique of gondolas is virtually unchanged since the days of Giovanni Tramontin, great- great-grandfather to Roberto, who said he was so skilled in his work that he made ​​a bet with his student Alberto Mingaroni and fashioned a gondola in a single night.

Who knows if it was a legend or a real story, but certainly nowadays his grandchildren need to work for hundreds of hours to build a gondola in a workmanlike manner, as each one is a unique piece. Indeed, each gondolier has his own gondola and each boat is customized to its gondolier, to his weight and height – indeed, it is no coincidence that the weight of the iron bow varies according to the size of the gondolier and serves as a mass balancer. Also the steering position, the oar and the forcola where it rests are designed and manufactured considering the height and the arms of the gondolier. This need to customize gondolas is not an artistic habit, but rather responds to its peculiar navigation technique based on arm strength. This technique is very complex and relies on experience and direct knowledge of the routes, channels and pitfalls, however, quite different from any other traditional navigation mode.

For further information please visit www.thatsvenice.com/travel-guides/squeri/

Venice (Italian: Venezia [veˈnɛttsja] ( listen), Venetian: Venexia [veˈnɛsja]) is a city in northeast Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice’s comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) (population 1,600,000).

The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century B.C. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini described it in The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe’s most romantic cities.

The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers.

The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.

Please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venice for further information…