People tend to project their political views on histrorical figures. What’s apparent in case of Ivan IV and his monument is that we are dealing with his image, which exists in the Russian collective consciousness. So the discussion is actually centered around the image of ‘Ivan the Terrible’ not the real Ivan IV.
It’s clear what two extreme viewpoints on the monument are: Russia’s Cargsternizers (cargo cult + Westernizer) say that he is literally
Hitler Stalin because he grabbed pussy riot established oh, preach, Nina! oprichnina, slaughtered people of Novgorod (I was not surprised this summer when citizens of Novgorod told me that they are no fans of his), sent his wives to a monastery and even allegedly murdered some of them, as well as his son, etc.
‘Borshcheviks’ (i.e. unhinged patriots or klyukvified scarecrow types needed to make our Western partners more appeasable) sing variations of the Ivan-did-nothing-wrong tune and mock (ultra)libs that he ‘killed a gazillion of innocent babies and drank their blood’. Thus, the authorities are tertius gaudens in this situation: calming down the most deranged persons on the opposite sides of the political menagerie.
Let’s take a look at the pro- and anti-monument points.
- He founded Oryol where the monument stands.
- He was an outstanding Russian statesman who did much for his country (e.g., the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan). He made Russia great
- The negative side of his rule affected Russians centuries ago. Moreover, keeping in mind the negative, we shouldn’t forget about the positive. It’s hard to separate historical myth from reality here. Nowadays it’s more of a popular culture image (‘Evil Ruskie Tsar’) that influences and/or warps our general understanding and attitude to Ivan IV as a historical figure.
- Ivan IV was a cruel leader (which – to be fair – was not an exclusive Russian thing given the context of the time when he was in power).
- He is a polarizing figure in contemporary Russia. This is even more important due to the recent phase of confrontation with our Western partners when less turmoil and more social solidarity is needed.
- The monument itself is likely to be used by our Western partners’ media in order to portray the ‘primordial totalitarian nature of the Russian character’. So the timing is also far from being perfect.
Thus, imho it’s 50/50. The truth is out there.