This talk considers the situation that is rarely addressed in studies of political and historical memory. Rather than focusing on the process of the “invention of tradition” (Eric Hobsbawm, Terrance Ranger) and the designation of “sites of memory” (Pierre Nora) in post-Soviet Russia it explores what happens afterwards, when politicians and general public begin inhabiting the newly created spaces of important historical symbolism and fall under the influence of their recently created narratives. More specifically the talk’s focus is on ceremonial spaces related to tsars and emperors in Moscow and St. Petersburg: the Faceted Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin, St. Andrew Hall in the Great Kremlin Palace (Moscow), St. George Hall of the Winter Palace (The Hermitage in St. Petersburg), etc. Russian presidents Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev felt it necessary to fashion their own ceremonial quarters in former imperial palaces by using and adapting the symbolism of space representation of past authority – even though those historical precedents themselves were the products of very recent architectural restorations. Once reconstructed, Russia’s historical memory of political grandeur has appealed in different ways to the main centers of power. While the government (president) feels more comfortable with symbolism of imperial period, the Russian Orthodox Church (the Moscow Patriarchate) has claimed the representations of pre-Petrine Moscow Tsardom. Thus, the “invented traditions” acquire agency of their own.
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