With international outcry on the rise over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, institutions large and small are looking for ways to express their dismay at the dictator’s bellicose politics. In what is surely the most withering reprisal of all, the Grévin Museum of wax figures in Paris has removed Putin from display. The decision is at once a rebuke of the belligerent leader and a matter of security, as visitors have vandalized his figure last weekend.
“Today is it no longer possible to present a character like [Putin],” the museum’s director, Yves Delhommeau, told France Bleu radio, as quoted in Reuters. “For the first time in the museum’s history we are withdrawing a statue because of historical events currently under way.”
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Delhommeau also said he felt it would be inappropriate to ask staff to groom and maintain the Putin statue, which was created in 2000, in order to restore it from the damage done by vandals.
“Given what has happened, we and our staff do not want to have to fix his hair and appearance every day,” Delhommeau said in the radio interview.
The statue was relocated to storage until further notice, leaving an opening in the lineup between American President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to Delhommeau, the museum is considering replacing it with a statue of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Maybe president Zelensky will take his place,” said Delhommeau. “He has become a hero for having resisted and for not fleeing his country. He could perfectly well take [Putin’s] place among the great men of history and today,” he said.
With the removal of his wax figure — not to mention outspoken international disdain for his actions — one has to wonder if Putin will recognize that his attempts to burnish his own legacy as a mighty ruler will ultimately lead to the meltdown of his global image, not just his wax figure.