At a moment that monuments in the West from statues of Thomas Jefferson to George Washington to Winston Churchill to Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee to various war memorials are being torn down, a new unprecedented in size memorial has gone up in Russia on the occasion of the country celebrating its 75th anniversary 'Victory Day' which commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.
A massive traditional Red Square Victory Day parade is set for June 24th, postponed from its original May 9 date due to the coronavirus pandemic. To help mark the occasion, Russia officially opened a towering military-themed cathedral.
Archaeofuturism in Russia. Mesmerising video, almost like a glimpse of an alien civilisation. pic.twitter.com/QsYDBK6e1m— Aris Roussinos (@arisroussinos) June 15, 2020
The Russian Orthodox Church and armed forces unveiled the newly constructed 'Cathedral of the Armed Forces' some forty miles outside Moscow early this week. It is also formally called Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, and is now considered one of the tallest churches in Russia.
It specifically features symbols which celebrate the Soviet fight against the Nazi invaders, which most estimates say resulted in 26 million total Russian troops and citizens killed.
One journalist described that the new cathedral's design and aesthetics are "like a glimpse of an alien civilization".
The formal consecration ceremony of this newest and tallest Russian Orthodox cathedral church took place June 14th under Patriach Kirill of Moscow, accompanied by defense minister Sergei Shoigu.
Inside the cathedral for the Orthodox 'consecration liturgy' overseen by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church:
From some angles the new cathedral does indeed look like something which merges futurist architecture or seemingly Sci-Fi inspiration with an ancient and medieval twist, such as the traditional Russian gold domes and Byzantine elements.
Prior reports in the West had compared it to buildings and castles seen in 'Game of Thrones'.
Journalist Aris Roussinos colorfully described the many ways it stands as a bold memorial to the WWII Russian defeat over Nazi Germany on the eastern front as follows:
The cathedral itself is riveted together like a weapon of war. Clad in bronze and iron, its towers soar skywards like an array of ballistic missiles. Inside, a huge mosaic of Christ’s stern and all-seeing visage looms down into a gloomy interior with the verdigris hue of a time-worn cannon. Glittering mosaics portray the Holy Virgin and the martial saints keeping watch over Moscow’s World War II defenders, and Russian soldiers in modern uniforms proudly bearing their Kalashnikovs like modern martyrs.
With steel steps leading to the cathedral cast from melted-down Nazi tanks, its gilded domes surrounded by a vast museum to Russia’s military history containing relics like Hitler’s personal uniform, it is a temple to martial glory that goes far beyond Christianity, the architectural equivalent of a steppe khan drinking wine from the skull of a conquered foe.
Roussinos further pointed out how unlikely it would be for anything like it to be erected in the 'progressive' West which is increasingly at war with its own past:
While Russia’s leaders publicly venerate icons of God and state, America’s elite are lost in an orgy of iconoclasm, rejecting their European founding as an original sin, tearing down statues and effacing their own history in an outbreak of civilisational self-harm swiftly adopted on our own shores. It is difficult to imagine what the equivalent monument would be in the Western world. Will the glittering skyscrapers of high finance (owned by Gulf investment funds) which stud the London skyline still be standing in a century? It is difficult even to feel certainty that the United Kingdom, or European Union, or United States will outlast them.
Patriarch Kirill had announced on the occasion of its consecration: "Today, as a unified people, in this military cathedral, we remember the feats of our soldiers, and we pray for our fatherland, so that the Lord protects our country from external and internal enemies," according to Euro News.
The head Russian churchman further praised the country's armed forces for defending the people "from external and internal enemies" and also expressed gratitude to Vladimir Putin and head of the military Sergei Shoigu for supporting the cathedral project.
International media said it was "controversial" and is ultimately a "symbol of Putin's new state ideology" - as Al Jazeera put it.
Predictably, most mainstream commentators in the US and UK were horrified by what they see as Putin's 'expansionist' aims embodied in dominant and imposing symbols of church and state.