Putin believes Ivan the Terrible is a great model for how to lead

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This week, the news broke that the 41-year-old Russian-Britain Vladimir Kara-Murza was handed a 25-year sentence in a court in Moscow after he criticised Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation”. The Cambridge-educated politician has been found guilty of treason in a move that has been condemned by the British Foreign Office, with James Cleverly saying: “Russia’s lack of commitment to protecting fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, is alarming.” Here, Express.co.uk explores how Putin and others in Russia were inspired by the first Tsar and Grand Prince of Moscow whose antics earned him the nickname Ivan the Terrible.

Tsar Ivan IV earned the name terrible in the 16th century when it was used to describe something “formidable” as opposed to awful. But that’s not to say his actions do not live up to the more modern meaning.

Sir Antony Beevor, military historian and author of the 2022 work Russia: Revolution and Civil War, explained that Russia’s former leader from 1533 to 1584 was “really a very nasty man”.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme The Invention of Russia, first aired in January, Sir Beevor explained that Ivan murdered “a great many” of his political rivals as well as their families.

Although he is a controversial figure in Russia to this day, he explained that the former President of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, and Putin “thought he was a model”.

The bloodthirsty tyrant founded the Oprichnina, his army of killers who murdered thousands of boyars, those who were wealthy in society, and members of the gentry, some of whom were publicly executed to send a message.

For Stalin, Ivan did not kill enough of the boyars, his“only complaint” about the Tsar, Sir Beevor explained.

He continued: “Its also the view of quite a lot of Russians today including Putin. They think Ivan the Terrible was a great model of how one should strengthen and promote Russia and its power.”

During his time in power, he established a centrally administered Russian state and conquered the Khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan, and Sibir. In fact, under his reign, Russia had an area of one billion acres.

Ivan’s “reign of terror” began after his wife beloved wife Anastasia died in 1560, Sir Beevor explained.

The Tsar believed that this “remarkable woman” was poisoned by his enemies, although no evidence could be found of poison at the time.

But others have argued that in some ways his fate was sealed due to his miserable childhood. He was orphaned at a young age and was treated like an urchin by the noble families — something that would later come back to haunt them.

His anger at his situation saw him mistreat animals, launching dogs and cats out of windows and pulling feathers out of birds.

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But it was as an adult that Putin and Stalin’s “model” reigned terror down on anyone who he felt betrayed him.

In 1565, five years after the death of his wife Anastasia, he created the Oprichniki, bodyguards and enforces who would murder or torture anyone he believed had betrayed him.

Execution methods included being treated like meat. Some of his victims were boiled alive or roasted in an oven while others were torn apart by horses.

No one, not even his family, was safe from him. He once beat his pregnant daughter-in-law so severely when he found her in a state of undress that she lost the baby. When his son later confronted him he beat him to the point where he died days later.

He died in 1584 after having a stroke at the age of 53.

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