New East Digital Archive

Plans for controversial Bulgakov monument in Moscow resurrected after 17 years

4 November 2015

Plans for a monument to the novelist Mikhail Bulgakov which were shelved in 1998 following public outcry have been reassessed and approved by Moscow authorities.

Sculptor Aleksandr Rukavishnikov won a city-wide competition to design a monument to the hugely popular Soviet-era author in 1998. His plans envisaged an ensemble of characters from Bulgakov’s classic The Master and Margarita arranged around a fountain in the shape of a primus stove. However, concerned citizens protested that this stove was intended to symbolise the devil — who appears as a character in the book — and the plans were abandoned.

Now the Bulgakov House Museum in Moscow has dusted off and resubmitted the plans to the Monument Preservation Department of the Moscow mayoralty ahead of the 125-year anniversary of Bulgakov’s birth in May next year. Seemingly unconcerned about any demonic connotations, the mayor’s office has approved the monument in a modified format, which will now see the ensemble of figures spread out along the public paths of central Moscow’s Patriarch’s Ponds. The figures will bear the inscription, “Never talk to strangers”, the title of the novel’s opening chapter. The notorious primus stove will not feature.

Mr Rukavishnikov told Izvestia newspaper that he was not in favour of the modifications, but was glad that his sculptures, which have been lying in storage for more than 15 years would finally see the light of day. “I designed an interesting, unusual architectural monument, of which nothing is really left. But I suppose this is better than nothing,” he said, adding that for a period in the early 2000s he had made a living by responding to “constant requests” for models of stoves.

Source: Izvestia