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St. Petersburg governor unveils memorial to medical workers who died during the coronavirus pandemic in secret ceremony

St. Petersburg has unveiled a memorial to the medical workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic on the embankment of the Karpovka River in the city’s Petrogradsky District.

The bronze sculpture, called “The Sad Angel,” is the work of a local artist named Roman Shustrov, who himself died of the coronavirus on May 14, 2020. The unveiling ceremony for the monument was attended by the sculptor’s widow, Maria Kasyanenko, the head of the Petrogradsky District, Ivan Gromov, and St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov. Notably, the activists who initiated the establishment of the memorial weren’t present at the opening ceremony. 

St. Petersburg Administration

A grassroots memorial to medical workers who died amid the pandemic was created in St. Petersburg in April 2020. Local activist Irina Maslova used a fence opposite the city health committee building on Malaya Sadovaya Street as a “Memory Wall,” where she hung portraits of healthcare workers who had died from COVID-19. This memorial was dismantled in November 2020, but the authorities promised to replace it with a permanent monument. 

Initially, it was reported that the “Sad Angel” monument would be unveiled on Thursday, March 4. According to municipal deputy Boris Vishnevsky, the ceremony on Wednesday, March 3, was actually held in secret so that the governor could unveil the sculpture alone, without the activists who initiated the memorial. The sculptor’s widow was tricked into attending the ceremony a day earlier, Vishnevsky claimed.

Activist Irina Maslova called the sudden change of date for the unveiling a “not very manly act.” “I can’t comment on the inappropriateness of the behavior of the official in charge of the city. But I will draw up an appeal to the president about this governor not being worthy of our city and us asking for him to be removed from office for losing the citizens’ trust,” she told the local news outlet Fontanka. 

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