Over the last decade former members of the KGB (Soviet era secret police), including president Vladimir Putin, have been working to impose a more authoritarian form of government in Russia. This has succeeded because most Russians want order more than anything else. Well, almost anything else. There are certain aspects of the good old (Soviet) days that most Russians want to stay in the past.
Putin and his KGB cronies got a reality check recently when they tried to restore the statue of the founder of the KGB, Polish count Felix Dzerzhinsky, to its place of honor in Moscow’s Lubyanskaya Square. There, from 1958 to 1991, the 15 ton bronze statue of “Iron Felix” stood directly in front of the former KGB headquarters.
The Moscow city government told the national government that putting the stature back in Lubyanskaya Square would be a bad idea and would probably cause a lot of trouble with the locals. There could be violence and the statue would have to be heavily and regularly guarded to prevent vandalism. This is all because many Russians (usually as KGB prisoners) entered that building and were never heard from again. The KGB was greatly feared by most and loved by few and that was how the KGB preferred it. Although a Polish aristocrat, Dzerzhinsky became an enthusiastic, ruthless and efficient communist and was key in creating the KGB and turning it into one of the most feared and hated secret police organizations in history.
But in 1991, after a failed coup by communist hard liners to reverse the introduction of democracy into Russia, a large crowd descended on Lubyanskaya Square and pulled down Iron Felix. The statue was hauled off to a storage site outside the city where hundreds of other communist era statues and such (mostly honoring Lenin) were dumped. There the statue still lies and one place Russians don’t want to see it returned to is Lubyanskaya Square or, preferably, any place where a Russian who remembers the old, communist era Russia, can see it.