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Author Topic: Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin  (Read 45249 times)

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Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #275 on: April 26, 2010, 12:03:45 AM »
Before leaving the Senate building we'll pause for a moment before walking over to the Arsenal as it's our opportunity to say hello to Mrs Svetlana Medvedeva, wife of President Medvedev as she is entertaining her guest, Mrs Michelle Obama, the wife of USA President Obama.



(6 July 2009, Presidential Press service)


L-R: Mrs Obama, Mrs Medvedeva, center, and the lady to the right is Yelena Gagarina, director of the Kremlin Museums. Perhaps you remember her father, Yuri Gagarin, the famous Russian cosmonaut.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #276 on: April 26, 2010, 12:56:48 AM »
The Arsenal

The Arsenal is an odd, trapezoid shaped, two-story building in the northwest corner of the Moscow Kremlin. It is part museum, part Kremlin administrative offices and home to the Kremlin Regiment responsible for on-site protection of the Russian President and policing of the Kremlin.

It is in the form of an elongated trapezium, surrounding a large courtyard. The solid brick walls of the two-story facades are sliced through by two rows of double arches.


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The Arsenal's building has a long history and occupies the Northeast corner of the Kremlin, was originally commissioned by Peter the Great in 1701. He wanted a building in which he could display the spoils from his victory over the Swedes in the North War.

Construction began in 1702 on the initiative of Peter I according to a plan of his own. The Arsenal was to be used not only like an armoury and ammunition storehouse but also like a museum-depository of captures and ancient weapons. The largest Moscow building of Peter the Great’s epoch was placed in the northern corner of the Kremlin's territory, between the Troitskaya (Trinity) and Nikolskaya Towers.

Up until the Middle Ages, the spot was occupied by granaries. After they burnt down in the great fire of 1701, Peter the Great engaged a team of Russian and German architects to construct the Arsenal building on the spot. Construction started in 1702 and lasted until 1736, when it was completed under supervision of Field-Marshal Munnich.

The construction of this enormous building took many years, and was interrupted by the Russo-Swedish War. Eventually completed in 1736, it was badly damaged by fire only one year later. The Arsenal seen today was built in 1817 after Napoleon's troops destroyed the previous building. Surprisingly, despite all the upheavals, the existing building follows the plans of the original blueprints almost exactly.





During Napoleon's invasion of Russia, the retreating French soldiers had the central part of the building blown up. It was restored between 1816 and 1828 to a Neoclassical design in order to house a museum dedicated to the Russian victory over Napoleon. Accordingly, some 875 cannon captured from the retreating Grand Army were put on display along the walls of the Arsenal.





The list of captured cannon:
- 365 are French
- 189 are Austrian
- 123 are Prussian
- 70 are Italian
- 40 are Neapolitan
- 34 are Bavarian
- 22 are Dutch.





Of these bronze cannons, the ones bearing Napoleon's insignia were cast in Paris between 1790 and 1810. Since 1960, Russian cannons of the 16th and 17th centuries were added to the display along the south wall of the building.


The Arsenal Towers
We explored the towers very early in the RUA Moscow Tour and perhaps you recall the two Arsenal towers: The Middle Arsenalnaya Tower (Средняя Арсенальная башня) was built in 1495. It is located on the northwestern side of the Kremlin wall and overlooks the Alexander Garden. It was given its present name, the Middle Arsenal Tower, after the Arsenal was completed in the mid-18th century. Originally, it was called the Faceted Tower because of the shape of its facade. In 1680, an open lookout with a small pyramid-shaped top was added to the tower.


The Corner Arsenalnaya Tower (Арсенальная Угловая башня) was built in 1492 and completed the Kremlin's line of defence from the side of the Red Square. It was called the Sobakin Tower until the early 18th century (named so after a boyar Sobakin, whose house had been adjacent to the tower from the Kremlin side). The Corner Arsenalnaya Tower received its current name after the construction of the Arsenal. The tower still has a secret well. In 1707, due to a threat of Swedish invasion, the gun slots of the Corner Arsenalnaya Tower were enlarged to fit heavy cannons.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #277 on: April 26, 2010, 11:39:02 PM »
The Arsenal is off limits to visitors as it serves to serve certain Kremlin administrative functions and as HQ for the Kremlin Regiment. The regiment is part of the Federal Protection Service and has the status of a special service. While officially a branch of the FSB, it is directly under the command of the President -- the Commander in Chief.

After being granted entrance into the courtyard we are invited to step inside an entry where we are greeted by none other than the man who stole the Russian Revolution.

The Arsenal is home to the Kremlin Regiment, which had it's beginnings in September 1918 when the Latvian riflemen were sent to the front and were replaced by students from the machine gunners’ courses at Lefortovo. In January 1919, these machine gunners’ courses were reorganized into courses to train commanding officers for the Red Army. The military students were dubbed “Kremlin students” and were responsible for guarding the Kremlin, acting as bodyguards for state and government officials, organizing security at state and government meetings with foreign representatives, controlling entry to the Kremlin and keeping order on its territory.





Today they perform the functions of acting as honour guards in parade and diplomatic functions, sentry duty at "Guard Post Number One" (Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers), policing the Kremlin territory, and protecting the President and high ranking officials.





The Arsenal is their residence, command center, and training facitiliy as the Regiment coordinates various guard duties in conjunction with FSB commanders.





Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #278 on: April 27, 2010, 12:12:51 AM »



The members of the Regiment train and perform hard. One of the first duties learned is guard duty, including honour guard at diplomatic function. This is harder than it looks and these members are dedicated to spending years perfecting their tradecraft and progressing in the ranks to more important assignments.





Some guards master and complete certification as mounted troops and will likely serve for several years in policing and general security duties around the Kremlin.






Some of these men may look young, but don't allow looks to be misleading. With continual career-long training and practice as they progress through the ranks, these individuals are being shaped into some of the most effective and versatile protectors in the world.





Looks like some Kremlin Guards get an early start, very early. This little one certainly has an eye out for anything that would bring danger to Russia's future leaders.





Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #279 on: April 27, 2010, 12:16:16 AM »
The uniform of the last photo above is a reminder that there is yet another important function coordinated in the Arsenal. It also involves the Kremlin Regiment. We'll explore it soon.

But first, time for some birdwatching, Kremlin style.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #280 on: April 27, 2010, 08:51:22 AM »
For most visitors to the Kremlin unless you are fortunate to have an invitation to a parade event or a diplomatic arrival, the only glimpse of the Kremlin Regiment is in their role as guards and policing the Kremlin.


Kremlin open today.


On days when foreign leaders are present or the President is strolling around, the Kremlin is closed to the public as is adjacent Red Square sometimes closed down when important occasions are going on inside the Kremlin territory.

Before we move to the important subject of music and it's role in the diplomatic and national life of the Kremlin, there is one other important element to the Kremlin Regiment's role in security of the President and the Kremlin territory -- patrolling the skies above the Kremlin.

In particular, through the use of specially trained Falcons.  





For generations, the symbol of the Kremlin Regiment's care in protecting the Kremlin's treasures is the Kremlin falcons. These strong and noble birds help protect the gold domes of the Kremlin's cathedrals from flocks of crows that would otherwise cause serious damage to these architectural monuments.

Crows are fascinated by bright colours and as one can imagine, the dazzling gold domes of the Kremlin are a magnet and if allowed, there would be no end to the number of crows landing atop the domes and sliding down the sides, scratching the precious metal with their claws.

Popular legend has it that the number of crows in the Kremlin increased dramatically when it was occupied by the Poles during the Time of Troubles and then by Napoleon's army in 1812. Those tales may be true or might be "for the birds" but no matter, the Kremlin Regiment Falcons are on patrol and in their eyes, crows are "public enemy number one."





Now to be candid, the Kremlin Regiment members enjoy being photographed with a falcon sitting on an arm or shoulder, but in reality the handlers and keepers of the falcons are bird specialists, not part of the security detail. But their administration is part of the Kremlin Regiment and the birds are an honoured part of the Regiment's parade tradition.

The Kremlin has four falcons on duty daily. The falcon's handlers say the birds are expertly trained and are also very patriotic.  :) We have no grounds on which to disagree.





The birds have a special place in their hearts for Saint Basil's Cathedral also. Any crows thinking of the domes next door on Basil's Cathedral to be an easy target had better think twice because just when an errant bird might think no one is paying attention, a Kremlin Regiment Falcon may rush to the scene.





Bright colours, a crow magnet. Those of you who've traveled in the past will notice the Hotel Rossiya, no longer there today.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #281 on: May 01, 2010, 12:57:49 AM »
"Battles are better with music…"
Alexander Suvorov (one of the 3 major commanders in world history who never lost a battle).


Music takes place inside the Kremlin in primarily 4 forms:

- Diplomatic occasions with the Presidential Kremlin Orchestra

- Ceremonial occasions with the Kremlin Regiment Music Corp

- The annual Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival

- Public concerts, primarily in the Palace of the Soviets



Offline mendeleyev

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« Reply #282 on: May 01, 2010, 01:47:29 AM »
We'll stay with the Kremlin Regiment for the sake of continuity and as they are involved in two of the four listed musical functions we listed above. Members of the Kremlin Regiment Music Corp provide music and march & drill functions for Kremlin events, diplomatic events, and presidential inaugurations. Although members of the various Regiment music groups will change depending on type of events and instruments needed, the organization is commonly called "the President's Band."





Evgeny Yurievich Nikitin, lieutenant colonel, has been the Senior military bandmaster of the President's Band since 2004. He graduated with honours from the Moscow Military Music College in 1992 and the Military Bandmaster department of the Moscow State Conservatory of P.I.Tchaikovsky in 1997.






The Band's repertory includes all genres of music, from the ancient Russian music and the folklore of African countries, to the classic symphonies of the world. The Band combines playing at the official state events and playing symphonic, opera and ballet music. The President's Band has successfully performed at some of the best venues in the world.








The International Military Music Festival:
The Kremlin Regiment is also involved in the annual International Military Music Festival known as “Spasskaya Tower" named after the famous Saviour wall tower. Each year the "Spasskaya Tower" marching music festival takes place during the popular "Moscow Days" celebrations in September.





This year's “Spasskaya Tower” will take place in Red Square from 4 to 9 September 2010. The traditional participants of the Festival are the units of the State Honour Guards and the leading Russian and foreign military music bands.





Daily Festival audience numbers in the thousands and for 2010 the festival audience is expected to be over 35 000 people (then well over 100 million people as Internet and TV viewers are taken into account). The combination of military, classical, folk and popular music, military band parades and dance shows, laser and pyrotechnical effects makes the Festival one of the brightest and most memorable events of the year.





Bands from every branch of the Russian military, the military bands of most of the former Soviet Republics, from India, China and Japan traditionally participate in the annual "Spasskaya Tower" military music festival. Spasskaya Tower is staged on the background of the walls of the Kremlin, with bands from different countries fighting for the love and admiration of the audience.





"Spasskaya Tower" is not only a stunning show, it is symbolic that military musicians, representing the diversity of the national, artistic and military traditions of the world, become the ambassadors of peace and understanding between the nations during the Festival.





Sponsors for the "Spasskaya Tower" festival include the Kremlin Preservation Guild, a civic organization actively participating in the life and longevity of the Kremlin grounds and buildings, especially the ancient palaces and the Grand Palace.

This year's directors for the Spasskaya Tower festival include a committee of government ministers and representatives, led by:

- Alexander Avdeev - Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation
- Oleg Dobrodeev – Director General of the All-Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK)
- Elena Gagarina - Director General of Moscow Kremlin Museums

One more photo, given that Mendeleyev (and Bill Clinton) have been known how to whip a tenor saxaphone around for a spin, features the Kremlin Palace Regiment sax ensemble with the boys from the brass section.




Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #283 on: May 01, 2010, 02:31:53 AM »
You recall that blight, the Soviet eyesore, the edifice that is commonly called the "Palace of Congresses," right? Most public concerts and events given on the Kremlin grounds take place in the newly renovated facility; the State Kremlin Palace (Государственный Кремлёвский Дворец).













A variety of events use the State Palace, from children's groups to ballet and rock concert events. The facility became home to the Bolshoi Theatre events while the Bolshoi was undergoing extensive and long renovations.








Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #284 on: May 01, 2010, 03:09:17 AM »
Finally, in the music of the Kremlin segment of the RUA tour we have the opportunity to meet the Kremlin Orchestra. As you can imagine the Kremlin State Orchestra is a collection of some of the finest musicians from all across Russia. It was founded on September 11, 1938, as the Orchestra of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant’s Directorate.

Photo below: Pavel Ovsyannikov, artistic director and chief conductor of the Presidential Orchestra.  




The Presidential Orchestra has toured many countries, performing at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, Madison Square Garden in New York, Olympia in Paris, the Rome Opera and the Friedrichstadt Palace in Berlin.





The orchestra’s schedule has included command perforances for Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, U.S. presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, the King and Queen of Spain, the presidents of France, Italy, Canada, and China.





The orchestra records for television and radio and at recording studios. The orchestra has been particularly noted for its work on the television program “Stars in the Kremlin.” It also takes part in the “Song of the Year” program and in many concerts given by songwriters and composers.

Over the years the orchestra was variously known as the Orchestra of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant’s Office, the Model Orchestra of the Moscow Kremlin Commandant’s Office and the Kremlin Orchestra. The orchestra became the Presidential Orchestra on September 11, 1993.





The above concerts were in the elegant Saint George Hall of the Kremlin Grand Palace and below is a concert in the palace's Vladimir Hall.





In addition to concerts at the Kremlin and around the world the Orchestra also performs in Moscow at places like the Moscow House of Music, a delightful place we'll visit soon on the RUA Tour of Moscow.




Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #285 on: May 01, 2010, 03:39:58 AM »



The Presidential Orchestra’s “home” is in the Moscow Kremlin’s Troitskaya (Trinity) Tower. It may not look that large from a distance, but this, the tallest of the Kremlin towers, houses rehearsal rooms, modern digital recording studios and the Orchestra’s offices.



Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #286 on: May 01, 2010, 03:47:55 AM »
You thought that we were finished with music, now didn't you?   :)

I don't know about you, but something just isn't right about Russian guys wearing skirts! Please, I know they're "kilts" but seriously, let the Scottish guys wear skirts. I don't mind that, but dude, this is Russia! Sunglasses aside, they don't even look Russian! :chuckle:





Guess where these guys practice, have offices and record? Like the other musicians, the Kremlin Palace Regiment's Pipe band makes their home in the Trinity tower, too.   :chuckle:

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #287 on: May 01, 2010, 03:57:21 AM »
Approximately two-thirds of the Kremlin is off-limits to visitors, including the Arsenal, the Presidium, the Terem, Faceted and Great Kremlin Palaces and most of the buildings in the northern half of the fortress. All of that territory is occupied by various President's offices, his residence and the Kremlin Guards.

Tourists have access to most of the cathedrals, the Armory, the Patriarch's Palace and the State Kremlin Palace, which hosts regular concerts and gala performances. The Kremlin section of the RUA Moscow tour has taken you to those places where tourists and even many ordinary Russians may never enjoy.

With that in mind, we'd like to acknowledge the courtesy of the Presidential Protocol Office and the Presidential Press Service for making this part of Russia more open and enjoyable for everyone.

First off, kudos to a very good photographer, President Dmitry Medvedev, for lifting the decades old ban on professional photography on Red Square! Thank you, sir. You understand modern media and social networking better than perhaps any other modern leader and your understanding and cooperation with those in the professional/media photography services is noted and appreciated.

Next, how about opening up the Kremlin as well? We understand the need for tighter security inside the Kremlin territory, and thank you for access to the Presidential Press Services, but today's technology is well capable to ascertain camera integrity and detect planted threats. If a professional can be cleared to work with photos inside, and tourists are allowed consumer grade cameras outside with a ticket, why not open up the opportunity for professional equipment everywhere on the grounds, too? Just a thought.  :biggrin:

Press Attache for the President: Natalya Aleksandrovna Timakova
Chief of the Presidential Press and Information Office: Andrei Mikhailovich Tsybulin
Chief of Presidential Protocol-Kremlin: Marina Valentinovna Entaltseva (Miss Manners!...and fluent in English)
Chief of Presidential Protocol-Abroad: Sergei Alexandrovich Sobolev


Tour the Kremlin tips:
- You'll need rubles for tickets to the Kremlin so make a currency exchange before you arrive.
- Purchase an additional ticket if you intend to use a camera to take pictures. Video cameras are strictly forbidden and the cutoff for what security considers a consumer or professional still camera is 70 mm lens.
- If you need to check items for retrieval later, go down the stairs from the kiosk in Alexander Gardens. There is a cloak room at the entrance.
- While at the Alexander Gardens, pick up a map of the Kremlin. It's a bigger place than you may have realized.
- Buy tickets for everything you plan to visit while at the kiosk. Don't make yourself walk all the way back because you forgot tickets for the Cathedrals.
- Plan ahead: Some days the Kremlin is closed because of visiting foreign dignitaries or special presidential events.
- Don't even think about buying tickets from someone just standing around offering them.

Offline mendeleyev

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Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #288 on: May 01, 2010, 05:12:36 AM »



The next segment of the RUA Tour of Moscow will continue soon, but on a new thread as 25 pages is way too much for most to navigate in one setting. We most certainly do want this tour to be a resource that members will use for reference in future trips to Moscow and beyond.

The new thread will begin geographically as we leave the Kremlin/Red Square and begin to visit the many fascinating places within walking distance of where we are now.

Offline mendeleyev

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Re: Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #289 on: July 31, 2010, 11:40:47 PM »
As of May, the "Touring Moscow" series had grown to 25 pages with thousands of readers. So to make things more managable as a travel and touring resource to RUA readers we've split the topic into more "bite size" segments:

Touring Moscow, part 1: Metro & Transportation
http://ruadventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=9049.0


Touring Moscow, part 2: Arbat to Red Square
http://ruadventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=12015.0


Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
http://ruadventures.com/forum/index.php?topic=12016.0



Touring Moscow, part 4 is in development stages and coming soon. It will focus on leaving Red Square and touring more of some of the central parts of this magnificant city.

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Re: Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #290 on: August 28, 2010, 10:51:48 PM »
Update to the segments on the Kremlin towers:

In April of this year (2010) archaeological studies were conducted in the niches of the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya towers. Two important Russian Orthodox icons, previously feared lost to the Soviets, were found under layers of plaster.

The icon found in the Spasskaya Tower depicts Jesus Christ and two saints, St Sergius of Radonezh and St Varlaam of Khutyn, below him. The exact date the fresco was painted is not known, but it was not before the middle or second half of the 17th century. Historians have affirmed that it was this sacred icon that gave the tower its previous name, which at one time was known as Frolovskaya Tower.

The last mention of the icon is from the 1930s, when a decision to cover the icon with plaster was made by the Soviets. The icon had been damaged during fighting in October 1917 when the revolution spread to Moscow.





Today's unveiling (28 August 2010) of the restored icon above the Spasskaya Tower's gate was timed to coincide with the celebration of the Assumption of the Virgin. Despite a damp rain shower, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia, accompanied by President Dmitry Medvedev, conducted a prayer service for the consecration of the icon, sprinkling the tower with holy water.





A second icon, of St Nicholas (on Nikolskaya Tower), was also uncovered at the same time.
The icon of St Nicholas dates from the late 15th or early 16th century.

Restoration work on Nikolskaya Tower will last a few months longer and a seperate consecration service will be held upon completion. The Fund of St Andrew the Apostle took on funding to restore the Kremlin gate icons. This initiative was supported by the President with the blessing of the Patriarch.


RUA feature on the Spasskaya Tower is here.


RUA feature on the Nikolskaya Tower is here.

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Re: Touring Moscow, part 3: Red Square & Kremlin
« Reply #291 on: September 28, 2011, 01:41:45 AM »
This August I was allowed to begin photography for a book project on the Kremlin towers, the story inside this thread. Hopefully in 18 to 24 months you can obtain the book!  :)

Some of you know that in the past few years I've longed to write and broadcast more on the culture and people of Russia and less of politics. Reality however has somehow intruded and politics seems to take centre stage as that is what news outlets demand.

If you've read this thread you already know that there are 20 towers; 18 have names and 2 are called the "first unnamed tower" and the "second unnamed tower." The youngest two are the Tsarskaya Tower (built in 1680) and the Petrovskaya Tower (built in 1612). Most of the others were built in the 1400s.

You know that the most recognizable tower is the Spasskaya (Saviour Tower), named for an icon inside the tower and the Spasskaya is the tower you see in photos and on TV on New Year's Eve with the famous clocks. It is close to Saint Basil's Cathedral (which isn't the correct name of the Cathedral--but you already know that too from this thread.

This summer as I began the new series of photographs it was to my dismay to observe the decay and falling brick. I plan to take a second/winter set of photographs this January of each tower. This August I was accompanied by a young lady from the Kremlin Regiment (palace guards) while taking photos and she was amazed at not only what I could explain to her about each tower, but like myself was dismayed to see the decay.

The original Kremlin wall was white stone and part of it is still there--the red brick wall was built on top of the original foundation.

We should always remember fallen heros, including those journalists in Russia who have paid a price for speaking the truth. I plan to dedicate this book to the memories of these fallen heros and list their names on the inside covers much like the names of the fallen war heros from 1812 are memorialized on the walls of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

They represent that white foundation on which the future bricks of Russian democracy will be laid.

They are truly the "21st" tower.