This 40-metre-tall sculpture is one of the more recent monuments to the Great Patriotic War, in no small part because it took over three decades from initial planning to the official unveiling of the completed monument. Approval for the monument was first granted by the Soviet authorities in 1972, but construction did not begin until 1981.
The project was led by N. Zharikov, in collaboration with sculptors E. Bialystok, G. Petroshevicha and O. Suprun and architect Konstantin Sidorov. From the start, however, the project was plagued by controversy, with some critics claiming that the statue was facing in a direction that suggested that the figures were running away from the enemy and others simply arguing that the sculpture was ugly. By 1988, funding had dried up and the statue stood unfinished for years. In 1990, the city council began moves to have the memorial designated as an “artistic failure” and dismantled, but after a campaign led by veterans, money was raised to complete the monument, which was finally officially inaugurated on May 8, 2007.
The original plans included the construction of a museum dedicated to the 1941-42 siege, but, unlike the statue, funding to complete this was never raised. The empty shell of the museum building can be seen to the right of the statue in the photo below.