A controversial mosaic featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be displayed inside a new cathedral dedicated to the nation’s armed forces after the Kremlin leader reportedly expressed opposition to the idea.
Recently leaked photos of work on the massive Resurrection of Christ Cathedral -- which is scheduled to open outside Moscow ahead of the May 9 holiday that celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II -- showed a partially completed mosaic featuring Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, General Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, and several other Russian officials.
Russian media reported on May 1 that the image of Putin was taken down, citing officials of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Russian leader’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on April 26 that Putin was aware of the mosaic but felt it was early to evaluate his work with such a depiction.
“In the workshop where it was being made, they are now redoing it,” Russian Orthodox Bishop Stefan of Klin told TASS.
The mosaic featuring Putin is not the only controversial aspect of the cathedral, which is located in Patriot Park some 60 kilometers outside Moscow.
A World War II mosaic depicts a banner of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin, who is responsible for the deaths of millions of citizens as well as the closure or demolition of hundreds of churches across the country.
Another mosaic depicts scenes of Russia’s 2014 forcible annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which triggered Western condemnation and sanctions.
The church was supposed to be paid for entirely through donations, but according to Russian reports almost 3 billion rubles (about $40 million) came from the Kremlin's budget for the project.
The cathedral was set to open on May 6 as part of a grand celebration to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.