People brave snow, rain and chill as they line up to visit the exhibition "My History. The Romanovs", at the Manezhnaya Square in central Moscow. Source: AFP/East News
The popularity of a recent exhibit on the House of Romanov has led some observers to believe there is a sympathy towards the monarchy in Russia and perhaps the desire to return to it. Journalists asked some of the thousands who stood in line to see the exhibit why they were so interested and if they could imagine the return of the monarchy in today’s Russia.
People want to have iconic figures to look up to, and today in Russia the choice is very limited. The two most prominent figures in popular consciousness are Stalin and Nicholas II. This exhibition plays up the glory of the monarchy and makes the institution appear attractive; it does not dwell on the monarchy as an institution of power.
Russian people are used to looking backward. The future scares people with its uncertainty. Our compatriots are especially frightened of the future, because everything is unstable. There are no social institutions that work. Everything exists due to inertia, and the inertia forces a person to seek support in the past. Therefore, there is a demand for attractive symbols of this past.
Sergey Moshchenko, 59, retired astronaut, Moscow
I stood in line for three hours. After I retired, I had a lot of free time and became interested in history. Much has been said on television and on the Internet about the dynasty; it seemed that there was no one as outstanding as Peter the Great. But after I began to study it, it turned out that there were other outstanding tsars worth talking about. The entire history of the House of Romanov was thorny and intricate. Peter chopped off heads, and sometimes this was necessary, and he performed the dirty work. He was able to understand the people. They would steal, yes, but also work. As a result, the country prospered.
A return to the monarchy? Yes, why not?
Vera Ilincheva, senior citizen, Moscow Region
I came together with my friend; we go to the same church. We came to learn about the history of the Romanovs. Moreover, we want to see the icon – Our Lady of St. Theodore – which was the patron icon of the Romanov family and the patron saint of Nicholas II. We wish to have a faith as strong as his.
It is difficult to say whether we need a monarchy. People have lost faith, and they cannot believe that the monarchy will bring a bright future to our children.
Alexey Bulygin, 28, engineer, St. Petersburg
Yesterday I came to Moscow on a business trip and learned from friends about this exhibition. I decided to visit since I have some free time. I heard that the exhibition is presented in a new, interactive format, and I am curious as to what it looks like. Generally speaking, I do not visit exhibitions.
I think that maybe someday we shall return to the monarchy. People have been given such freedom that perhaps they will ask someone to stand over them and make them do things.
Olga Trinkunas, 41, entrepreneur, Moscow
I was advised by a colleague to visit this exhibition, which had had a great impact on her. I wanted to see the icon. It is too bad that there is such a long line. When I came on Saturday, the line was so long that I did not wait. I thought that during the week the line would be smaller, but unfortunately the situation is the same. I wonder what they are showing about the Romanovs that so many people are waiting in line. I think the Romanovs have done a lot for the country.
The sad fate of the last emperor cannot make people indifferent. The monarchy has perspectives. The country needs a strong hand.
Dasha Popova, 15, student, Moscow
I have been waiting for three hours. My teacher advised us to visit this exhibition. I came here for the sake of learning something new. What this exhibition is about, to be honest, I do not know. I think we spoke about the Romanovs during history lessons. Many people have come, because the entrance is free. In Moscow these days, almost nothing is free. I do not support the monarchy.
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