Attending the event were Chairman of the Patriarchal Council on Culture Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) of Pskov and Porkhov, Presidential Aide and Chairman of the Russian Military Historical Society Vladimir Medinsky, and Governor of the Pskov Region Mikhail Vedernikov. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia blessed the monument.
After the ceremony the President viewed the chapel in the name of the saint prince and briefly talked to members of the Russian Student Construction Brigades and Culture Volunteers, who were participants in beautification projects in villages adjacent to the historical and cultural complex.
The unveiling of the memorial on the shore of Lake Chudskoye is a centrepiece of the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Nevsky, which, in accordance with presidential executive order, was marked in 2021. The bulk of the structure is a 50-tonne sculptural composition comprising the figures of the prince and knights and, directly above them – a bannerol and two banners featuring faces of the saints. The back of the memorial consists of a mosaic frieze.
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Speech at the unveiling ceremony
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,
Today we are unveiling a majestic memorial in honour of the defenders of Russian lands. Here, on Lake Chudskoye, Prince Alexander Nevsky and his retinue defeated foreign invaders and defended Novgorod and Pskov, which actually means the entire Old Rus. That victory came to be symbolic of Russia’s military glory.
This year we are marking the 800th anniversary of Alexander Nevsky’s birth. Our people’s sincere and deep love for him transcends from generation to generation. He is revered as a ruler who cared for the Fatherland with all his heart; as a talented commander and diplomat; and, without question, as a custodian of the faith and traditions of his native land, his fellow-countrymen and their spiritual and moral might.
He lived during the most challenging times in Russia’s history when disappearance and loss of our statehood were close to becoming a tragic reality. Almost all principalities in Ancient Rus endured the devastating Horde invasion, while neighbours from the west were striving to conquer Novgorod and Pskov. Alexander Nevsky and his soldiers stood up mightily and impregnably to fight for what was the last frontier of the Fatherland.
They dealt a devastating blow to the Swedes on the Neva River, drove the invaders out of Koporye and achieved victory at Lake Chudskoye. It was a decisive victory, which stopped the offensive in its tracks and showed everyone, both in the West and in the East, that Rus was standing strong and there were people in the Russian land who were willing and ready to fight for it while showing no mercy for their own lives.
Alexander Nevsky, a brilliant commander and a staunch defender of Rus, was a little over 20 years old at the time, and members of his retinue were, just like him, very young men. The monument shows the images of those courageous young warriors standing on the armour of their defeated enemies. We have no way of knowing what the princely soldiers looked like, but, as far as we understand, the sculptor came up with collective images.
Here, we can also see the images of the legendary 6th paratrooper company soldiers who have shown heroism en masse in our times. Symbolically, their regiment is named after Alexander Nevsky, and the servicemen from this regiment are standing guard here today. Nothing can break the sacred continuity of times and generations.
Alexander Nevsky's personality was truly grandiose, and his life journey was hard and arduous. It was a life of making choices, and he always made his in the interest of preserving the identity and spiritual foundations of the Russian people, in the name of his native Rus, and in the name of the future of our state. For the sake of our country, Alexander Nevsky accomplished feats not just as a warrior in battles, but also as a skilful diplomat and a wise statesman.
He took a heavy burden upon himself, showed unparalleled vision and willpower and did everything possible to make Rus stronger so that it could preserve and carry on the traditions of ancient Russian statehood.
His exploits are reflected in Mikhail Lomonosov’s words engraved on Alexander Nevsky’s tomb: “… to the one who tamed barbarism in the East and brought down envy in the West.” His legacy became the strong and centralised Russian state that his descendants created, where the people identified themselves as one and preserved the memory of Alexander Nevsky for centuries. For us, his exploits remain a moral and spiritual buttress and an example of all-conquering patriotism.
The unveiling of the Prince Alexander Nevsky and His Retinue memorial is yet another confirmation of our people’s profound respect for the defenders of our Motherland. I sincerely thank Chairman of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov who initiated the creation of this memorial, and everyone who took part in designing and creating it, namely, the Russian Military Historical Society, the Defence Ministry, the authorities of the Pskov Region and the Gdovsky District.
Special thanks and words of gratitude go to the sculptor, Vitaly Shanov, for his talented embodiment of the heroic images of these warriors and defenders.
I know that the grounds next to the monument here in Samolva will be granted the status of a military glory battlefield. Volunteers from 30 regions of our country, including, of course, people from Pskov, are making their contribution to efforts aimed at the beautification of these grounds and nearby villages. This work will continue.
Of course, the state will also strengthen and step up its efforts to ensure that the grounds are kept in a decent condition. I just told the Governor [Mikhail Vedernikov] that we will make additional decisions to this end soon.
I wish success to every participant in this project, members of student brigades and the Volunteers of Culture movement.
Despite the centuries that divide us, the image of Alexander Nevsky is trusted and relatable to everyone. It has always been with Russia, safeguarding it. It supports and inspires our people in fateful periods of trial and in times of peace and, I am sure, will remain a great example of service to the Fatherland forever, for centuries to come.