Comments of people working in Arts and Culture of Russia on CNN ‘list’

Here are comments addressed to our web-site on the list of the ugliest monuments posted on CNN web portal including the sculpture 'Fortitude' (the Author's version 'Soldier'), a part of Courage Memorial, Brest Hero-Fortress – 'To the Defenders of Brest Fortress', created by a composite author led by A.P. Kibalnikov.

Deputy Head of the Volga Branch of the Russian Academy of Arts

Dear Colleagues!
I consider the issue of rating of ‘the world’s ugliest monuments’ proposed by an American television broadcaster CNN, as a part of an old and unceasing ideological struggle to revise the results of the Second World Was.
The generation born in the USSR (and I am proud of belonging to them) do not have to prove who gave the Victory to the world in that war. There is not a family in Russia untouched by the war. We still feel the pain for our kith and kin lost in that war.
This theme runs through the best pieces of literature, poetry, drama and arts of the ХХ – beginning of XXI centuries. Among these, there is Courage Monument by Sculptor Alexander Kibalnikov expressing the theme of Brest Fortress defenders’ fortitude ingeniously carved in stone. It is also the tribute to the memory of all those perished on the first, the most painful and bloody days of war. This is how all sensible people who know well history and culture of our country perceive the Memorial.
It is absolutely right that the editors of the web site dedicated to Alexander Kibalnikov do not stop working with their audience. No one is allowed to discredit our History! Young people should know whose mind is struggled for, should distinguish white from black, and evil will from ignorance.


This gaffe suggested by CNN pressmen is not only politically incorrect; the very idea to add the great monument to the mentioned list doesn't look right and humane. The Memorial created by Kibalnikov is a sacred place. It is the place where the Heroes, people perished; it is the tragedy to millions expressed in the Monument. There are special things that must not be touched under any circumstances: in any dispute, confrontation, and cold war. It is mean and speaks of weakness. They have chosen one of the most powerful, heroic, manly monuments to the victors, one of the most well-known and dear symbols, meaningful for several generations in our country.

Honoured Artist of the RF

Kibalnikov is an artist of a distinct style, the Soviet one. Courage Monument in Brest Fortress is an original artistic solution. It is the mature style of the middle Soviet period.
CNN attacking Brest Fortress Monument is quite an organic follow up to the activities aimed to discredit our Soviet sacred things. It’s in line with the opinion poll on blockade of Leningrad.
Those indignant about CNN’s rating list say that it was an insult to the veterans. It’s true, no doubt, but why don’t you say anything of the monument itself? Why don’t you say the monument is wonderful, it expresses the specific epoch, it perfectly in tune with mentality of the period, of the people who perhaps had not taken part in the war but who were giving the tribute to the dead. It’s surprisingly beautiful! There is one large figure of a warrior reaching with his helmet to the water. It is a tragic monument to the first, the most difficult period of the Great Patriotic war. The Stalingrad victory is still so far away, but at the walls of Brest Fortress, the German army had realised for the first time that they had been fighting not against ordinary people, mortal ones, but against Titans, giants. The monument was conceived very large, powerful, and that is right – it is the size for giants, epic heroes. The monument to the first period of the war clearly demonstrates that such people can’t be overpowered; that the main result of the war is waiting ahead – our great Victory.
But why don’t they say almost anything about the monument? In our country, they are afraid of being reputed to have bad taste. However in the Monument to Brest Heroes, the taste is flawless. The idea is tremendously expressed here – our land would stand for us, the warriors are flesh of the native soil’s flesh. CNN say: ‘an ugly monument’. But that is all about ideology, it’s ideology pure and simple. How many pieces of evident ugliness can be found in Europe? Somehow you are not very careful in looking for examples over there, dear good taste censors!
Meanwhile let us speak about the epoch, about ideology, about the Victory, about real art!


Why should CNN journalists, pressmen of the overseas country, which thanks to God had no need yet in people's courage and warriors' heroism while fighting for their national territory, start judging on how good astatically the monument of grief dedicated to the perished defenders of Brest Fortress is? Indeed, in their judgement on the monument raised in 1971 next to the former western border-line of the USSR, we don't find any information on their aesthetic position basing the point of view from which the gorgeous 'memorial cross' seems 'ugly' – the symbol to bring to memory not quite the victories of our country in the Great Patriotic War but the victims, whatever the journalists' might have implied in their article. Let us note, that the Memorial was created by a team of authors under the leadership of People's Artist of the USSR A.P. Kibalnikov, the sculptor whose talent has been recognised both in our country and abroad. Let the readers judge how 'well turned' are the expressions used by CNN journalists: 'angry Belarusian emerging from a mountainous block of concrete looks as if he's about to thump the West into submission before hurling North America at the sun', and that is about the Monument dedicated to the tragedy of the garrison abandoned by friendly troops, fighting with no clear guidance, with no backing, even without moral support!.. and in spite of that doing their soldiers' duty heroically… Such expressions reveal the journalists' absolute ignorance of the former USSR history, of the country where practically all the families had suffered the war, and of our tragic post-was history. Surely for the Soviet people, the creation of this 'Megamemorial' for the first time physically embodied repentance of the ruling regime paying tribute to those heroes who had been defending Brest, who, covered with wounds, had been taken prisoners, survived in Hitlerite camps, and who after the victory, had found themselves in Stalin camps branded as 'traitors to Motherland'! That is why up to now, we honour the Monument to the Defenders of Brest Fortress, and it brings tears to our eyes…


The recent story of CNN’s list of “the World’s Top 100 Ugliest Monuments” is a striking example of lack of culture and responsibility of people who endeavour to estimate historical monuments and works of art and culture belonging to Humanity. The Memorial ‘To the Defenders of Brest Fortress’ (Courage Monument, Brest Hero-Fortress) was also on the list; the central composition of the Memorial – ‘Fortitude’ (the Author’s version: ‘Soldier) – was subjected to verbal desecration by CNN journalists. The public responded immediately: veterans of the Great Patriotic War, keepers of the Memorial in Brest Fortress, deputies of the State Duma of Russia, Russian diplomats made CNN remove one of the greatest monuments of the world from their list. All the people were unanimous in their judgement on the breach of ethical, moral, common to all mankind standards by CNN journalists. But practically not a single word has been said about breach or even desecration of aesthetic laws of Humanity.
‘Every man to his taste’ – a Representative of Russia declared in Helsinki… I forgot what she has been representing, out there…
You are wrong, dear ladies and gentlemen of the new pseudo-culture.
Taste in general, including aesthetic feelings and feeling of arts, can be formed, developed, nurtured. Or the other way round, it can get dissolved, perverted, degraded. It is the degradation of taste, which is offered to us by heralds of pseudo-culture.
Having included onto their lists a piece of high artistic workmanship and style, of powerful and expressive form, they attacked all the profound arts in the world. No, it was not just about the ‘Sovit’ art, not solely about Russian of Belorussian art. Tomorrow they would like to laugh at Andrey Rublyov’s ‘The Old Testament Trinity’, then at Raphael’s ‘Sistine Madonna’; every new day they would play jokes on things respected and carefully preserved by Mankind throughout centuries. For some reason, they feel it funny to burn the Koran or to support wild wenches, jumping and hopping in front of the iconostasis in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour…
Perhaps, they are to their own taste, about which one can’t argue…
But in my opinion, it is just bad taste. Bad taste and no culture.
Making such lists is a springboard for promoting pseudo-aesthetics and low-grade cheap pseudo-art, with poor contents, unskilful and unprofessional. …Devoid of any notion of Beauty.

Read Margarita Siourina's article "Dirty Head on Top of Cheap Beer"

Art Director of the ASTI Gallery

The Monument by A.P. Kibalnikov was included onto the black list of the monster-monuments.
Indeed, the news was shocking for I haven’t been following any annual ratings of the Planet’s worst monuments… I suppose I can express my opinion with good reason, since I have been to Brest Fortress, I can be guided by my own feelings and – I’m not afraid of the word – my emotional experience…
First, one shouldn’t take seriously filing of this stately monument of the epoch and to the epoch to some ‘bad’ list. It looks like (from the published photo), the judgement has been clearly made on a part of the Memorial Complex… it’s hard to believe these opinions and attitudes on and to the whole Ensemble on the grounds on a single component could have been based on the well-known maxim about Ancient Greek Architecture which says, that even one headpiece of a column makes it possible to judge on scale and grandness of an antique temple.
Second, those making judgements could well have been unaware of Brest Fortress defence as a symbol of ‘foolhardy’ (true, there exists such an opinion!) courage and fortitude of the defenders; or knowing about events of 1941, could well have been unable to rise to emotional heights to feel deeply through the heroic feat of Brest Fortress defenders. All that not on account of their callousness but due to the lack of such warfare experience (thank God!), of such mental experience.
Hence, they are not able to understand the great effort expressed on the face of a Brest Fortress defender; it’s true, the strain distorts his features to a certain extent.
Besides, I would like to note another issue of extreme importance, the issue of more linguistic character. The author of the publication is a native speaker of English. For him, the word monument has no such strong links with the word memory, as it has for native speakers of Russian (in contrast to similar connotations between memorial in Russian and memory in English).
In the Memorial Complex, the monument to Brest Fortress heroes, for both the Byelorussians and the Russians, there came together a monument to whole era (the USSR), a monument – tribute to its heroic defenders, and genetic memory of the post-war generations, powerfully and convincingly expressed by the outstanding Soviet Sculptor A.P. Kibalnikov in ‘crude rough tongue’ of concrete…
I assume, the analysis of the article would help to avoid similar tactlessness while preparing their Top-2015 rating of the monuments. Humour, referred to by CNN, fails to ‘work’ when it comes to the memory of people who had perished for freedom and Motherland wherever it is. No one disputes the right to have and express any opinions or aesthetic preferences… you see, there exists aesthetics, but there is also ethics…

Senior Lecturer, Moscow Humanitarian and Technical Academy, Sculptor


Alexander Pavlovich Kibalnikov is a great Russian sculptor. He created monumental sculptures that reflect the pages of Russian history.
The outstanding monuments to N. Chernyshevskiy in Saratov, to V.V. Mayakovskiy in Moscow have forever blended with the character and appearance of the cities; the soul and the monument of S. Yesenin is inalienable from Ryazan, the great Memorial to Defenders of Brest Fortress who steadfastly faced fascists hordes that traitorously invaded our Motherland is the memory of our dead and our victory.
Defenders of Brest Fortress are the soldiers and their families of many nationalities who lived in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Kiev was surrendered, the fascists were near Moscow, but Brest Fortress had been still fighting and holding the field; they had been fighting to the last soldier, to the last cartridge.
Sculptor A.P. Kibalnikov has used the language of plastic arts to create the monumental image of Fortitude.
They are the heroes who fell undefeated.
Composition "Thirst" is seamlessly built in the Memorial; the helmet in the Soldier’s hand is always filled with water and flowers.
Standing at the walls of Brest Memorial, you feel those legendary times, and bend in a deep bow to the heroes.
Everyone who has honour, conscience, and Motherland, can see it clearly.
May their Memory live forever, and Glory to the Heroes!
Mockery and criticism targeted at the great monument come from the people of little education, from the people who write by request of scoundrels.

Member of Volgograd Branch of Creative Union of Russian Artists

CNN TV company is the ugliest television broadcaster, since on behalf of the world they have permitted themselves to compile the list of the ugliest monuments (perhaps for the birds), moreover, to include onto the list the immortal creation of Sculptor A.P. Kibalnikov – Courage Monument, a part of Brest Fortress Memorial Ensemble – 'Fortitude'. This gaffe is an outrage for the warriors and civilian residents perished while defending Brest Fortress. The pressmen had better rated the ugliest face expressions of the US Presidents and Government members. Official apologies have been presented, but it is not sufficient. Moral damage has been caused, which can't be compensated by any brief phrases in the Media.

Guide at the State Cultural Centre-Museum of Vladymyr Vysotsky "House of Vysotsky, Taganka "

Unfortunately, there are many illiterate journalists. Their lack of education is horrifying. I have been to Brest when a girl. The Memorial stunned me. The sculptures are very organically incorporated into the landscape. They impress in daylight, but in the dark of the night, you feel firing would crash out and the battle would be swirling all around you. It's impossible for the Americans to understand our tragedy. One should be able to remember and share others' pain.

Head of Arts Chair, North-Ossetian State University named after K.L. Khetagurov (NOSU)

Great, serious and remarkable Russian sculptor. Bowing down before him!

Painter, Teacher

Might of Russia is stated in A. Kibalnikov's images.

From Article by SOPHIA ZAGRYAZHSKAYA on the Album 'Alexander Kibalnikov. Chronicles of Life and Creativity':

"... the author of the monument is Alexander Pavlovich Kibalnikov who created the images by which Russia is recognised in the world. The monuments in front of the Tretyakov gallery and in Mayakovsky Square are not just business cards of the Capital. All of them – the portrait of the great Maecenas who had donated his unique collection of paintings to the world; and that of the great poet whose word sounds avant-guard up to now; and Brest Hero-Fortress Monument immortalising people's feat; – these are the sculptural embodiment of all the best we can be proud of, of all giving strength to us and out progeny not to lose our national pride and our national property...."

For the full text of Sophia Zagryazhskaya's article ALEXANDER KIBALNIKOV. SCULPTOR OF THE VICTORS'GENERATION, please refer to web site арт-релиз.рф


The sculpture in Brest is powerful; it is worth reverence for its expressiveness. Pity it is not in marble. Wouldn't it be too much, to charge CNN with dragging to Brest a block of marble of comparable size to compensate for moral damage?

Cherkasy (Ukraine)

I’ve never expected that our allies in the Second World War after so many years could describe our Soviet soldier as ‘angry’; and the monument dedicated to bravery, unparalleled fortitude and heroism of that very Soviet soldier who had saved the world from Hitler’s fascism as ‘the ugliest’! And me, I see in the Monument, in that soldier’s face not malice, not even rage, but the deep sorrow for his comrades, who had fought for Brest Fortress to the bitter end, who had perished there and stayed young forever. It’s evident, those who have assessed the Monument like that, know nothing of Brest Fortress and the heroic defence, of its steadfast defenders; they hardly know the history of the Second World War, although their farther and grandfathers had been also fighting against Hitler’s nazism, which had strived to conquer the world, which had destroyed millions of people and among these, millions of civil citizens of different countries including over 2 million children!
On the land of America, there were no such horrors of war that the people of the USSR and other European countries had experienced, for they had survived nazis’ invasion and occupation. What is Brest Fortress? For those who called the monument ‘ugly’, Brest Fortress is just an obscure episode of a bygone war. For us, Brest Fortress is an example of fabulous heroism, courage and fortitude of our forefathers; and the Monument has been raised to their memory. I wonder if the authors of the description ‘ugly’ know that a small multinational garrison of Brest Fortress was the first to encounter the enemy at the dawn of June 22, 1941 (the day when Hitlerite Germany started actions against the USSR). The enemy was much stronger than the garrison, the power ratio made 4 enemy soldiers to 1 soviet soldier defending the Fortress.
Brest Fortress garrison practically had no tanks and airplanes, they had no contact with higher commanders, but they knew well that there was Motherland behind them, their mothers, children, peaceful cities and countryside. In compliance with their blitzkrieg doctrine, the Hitlerites planned to capture the Fortress within two hours. However they had to ‘stay’ there for more than a month. For the whole month, a German division, excellently armed and backed up by tanks, aviation, mortars and high-power artillery had been assaulting the Fortress. Among the soldiers defending the Citadel, there were children as well – foster children of the garrison. One of them was Pietya Klypa. Carrying out his commander’s order, he managed to escape from the Fortress under gunfire and to take along the colours of his regiment on his body under the uniform. The Fortress had fought to the last. The defenders who were taken prisoners were covered with wounds and unconscious. It was in that way, Major Gavrilov, one of those who organised defence of the Fortress, fell into the hands of the enemy. He did not surrender, but was taken unconscious, badly wounded. During the whole war, he was kept in Hitler’s concentration camp, however he did not give up, he held out. After the war, he as well as those few who survived after defence of the Fortress, had to pass through the ordeal of being a prisoner of Stalin Gulag camps, for it was Stalin to declare at the beginning of the war that ‘we’ve got no prisoners, but we’ve got traitors’. Cruel and unfair, the accusation also struck the heroes of Brest Fortress defence.
In the 1960s, a documentary book by the Soviet writer S.S. Smirnov ‘Brestskaya Krepost’ (‘Brest Fortress’) was published; for his stunning book the author had collected material on defenders of the fortress supported with documents. Only then the Soviet people and the world learned the truth about defence of the Fortress. Unjust sentences to Brest Fortress defenders were vacated, and those who lived up to this bright day were rehabilitated. Major Gavrilov was appointed the highest award in the USSR – Hero of the Soviet Union.
The monument by Sculptor A.P. Kibalnikov is a memorial to an ordinary Soviet soldier’s feast, who protected our land and the world from Hitler’s nazism at the cost of his life. It’s a pity, the good men from СNN have such short memory and such crooked views on a Soviet soldier’s feat.
You know, I was so stung with this statement of the Americans; indeed, it grated upon me, it hit me to the bottom of my heart! At our museum, there is a photo of our soldier, a Ukrainian, who had been wounded eleven times and had had seven blast injuries at war (it’s true, on his uniform there are eleven wound chevrons!). Well, this particular soldier, first sergeant N.I. Zhuzhoma, in command of a self-propelled artillery vehicle SAU-122, the only one of his armoured group broke through German encirclement in 1945 at the very end of the war, in Germany, and with that saved the allies from certain death. In the action, N.I. Zhuzhoma was seriously wounded; the Americans pulled him out of the vehicle with their hands and sent him to hospital. Amazed at his courage, the army command and the United States Congress awarded him the high order of the USA – Silver Star! Three years ago, journalists were making a documentary for the USA in our museum, where I told about N.I. Zhuzhoma’s feat. They took the film to the USA. From there, I was bought a present, a souvenir cup on war-time brotherhood of Soviet and American soldiers in the Second World War. I think, in your reply you must briefly tell what Brest Fortress and its defence were. Do not rely on their knowledge and awareness. If they knew, they would have never called the Monument ‘ugly’!
Sorry for repetitions and tautologis, I’ve decided not to change anything; it’s just a cry of my soul. I hope you’ll get me right. Good luck!