Russia: Plans for Moscow 'Eye of Sauron' scrapped

The Eye of Sauron in Lord of the Rings Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption The Eye of Sauron won't be keeping watch over Muscovites after all

A Moscow creative art group has ditched plans to erect a giant glowing "Eye of Sauron" atop a city skyscraper, after complaints from church and city leaders.

The Svecheniye (Glow) group intended to install the Eye - familiar to Lord of the Rings fans - on a building in the Moscow-City business district. The metre-tall (3ft 3in) globe would have burned overnight in tribute to JRR Tolkien's fantasy works, but the plans have now been scrapped. "Sadly we are obliged to halt the Eye of Sauron," Svecheniye says in a press statement reported by RIA Novosti news agency, adding that it apologised for having "elicited such a public reaction". Although the "fan project" was meant to mark the Moscow premiere of the latest Hobbit film, it was not an advertising event, "nor did it have a religious or political subtext", the group says.

The denial of any religious intent follows criticism from the Russian Orthodox Church's public relations chief, Vsevolod Chaplin, who denounced the Eye of Sauron as a "demonic symbol of the triumph of evil" that might "bring misfortune upon the city". The Moscow mayor's office said they would almost certainly remove the Eye, as they had not granted their permission. But some social media users think the church's objections will actually prove to be counter-productive. "Now magic, sorcery and witchcraft will gain even more public attention," writes one reader of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, while another complains: "The Church thinks that it alone can put on such a mass show." One person suggests an alternative location for the Eye: "The roof of the US Embassy's the best place for it."

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