The Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, which opened its doors in June to the public, is dedicated to commemorate through its mosaics, icons, and murals, Russia’s military might. However, the cathedral honors some of Russia’s much more controversial military conflicts, such as the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
It was Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, who came up with the idea of the cathedral. The construction of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ was decided in 2014 and completed this year. The opening – attended by Shoigu, President Putin, and the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow – of the 75-meter-high cathedral, was originally planned for the 75th anniversary of victory over the Nazis in World War II, in May. In the end, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremonial opening was delayed until June 22nd, the 79th anniversary of the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.
Inside is the largest amount of mosaic of any church in the world, with many of the work depicting battles from Russian history and the Second World War in particular. The cathedral mainly commemorates the Red Army’s victories in the Great Patriotic War – which is what Russians call World War II. According to The Guardian, trophy weapons and tanks seized from the Wehrmacht were melted down and used in the creation of the cathedral’s metal floors, for example.
The 75-meter-high dome refers to the anniversary, 19.45 meters of the inner diameter of the dome, to the year of victory. The smaller dome is 14.18 meters, symbolizing the 1,418 days that passed during the war — that is, from the invasion of the Soviet Union from June 22, 1941, to the German capitulation on May 9, 1945. The diameter of the main dome, for example, is 19.45 meters, which also commemorates the end of the war – and the victory.
However, some of the decorative elements commemorate and acclaim many of the more controversial military actions, including the crush of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, news site 444.hu reports. But the images also include the bloodshed of the Prague Spring of 1968, the war in Afghanistan, the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The symbols decorating the cathedral received fierce criticism even from members of the Russian Orthodox Church as it depicts many symbols of the very Soviet system that launched attacks against the church and its clergy, sending many of them to work camps.
featured photo illustration: Russian Ministry of Defence/MTI/EPA