Fire hits famed Moscow convent, threatens legendary Turkish poet’s grave
MOSCOW - The Associated Press
Russian firefighters are at work to extinguish a fire which broke out in Novodevichy Convent bell tower in central Moscow, on March 15, 2015. AFP PhotoA fire broke out on the night of March 15 in the bell tower of Moscow’s Novodevichy Convent, one of the Russian capital’s most noted visitor attractions and also home to the grave of legendary Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet.
Russian news reports said the blaze broke out in wooden scaffolding surrounding the tower as it undergoes restoration. The Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Gavrilov, the deputy head of the emergencies ministry for Moscow, as saying the tower itself did not suffer significant damage and the fire’s spread had been halted around midnight.
The octagonal tower, more than 70 meters tall, dates from the late 1600s.
The convent, which sits above an oxbow turn in the Moscow River, is noted both for its buildings and its cemetery, where many of Russia’s most celebrated figures are buried, including Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin.
But it is not only Russian figures who are buried in the Moscow cemetery. It is also home to the grave of the great Turkish poet Hikmet, who was buried there after his death in 1963.
After spending years in Turkish prisons for his political views and being stripped of his citizenship, Hikmet fled to Moscow in the 1950s and died in exile in 1963. The Turkish government restored his citizenship in 2009.
With a prolific body of work translated into more than 50 languages, Hikmet is widely considered to be among the most influential Turkish poets of the 20th century.