“For happiness, a person needs to know himself,” he told The Moscow Times. “Get to know yourself. Who are you? In one place, we are one person. At home, we’re another person. In another place, we are a third type of person. Where is the real you? Who’s the real you?”

Persona non-grata

But Mayakovsky is not Dudarev’s only literary interest. He has also designed a statue, now standing in the town, of author Leo Tolstoy, who was highly critical of the Orthodox Church and excommunicated nine years before his dea


His other public works include arranging for a World War II tank to be installed in a newly landscaped site in the center of Pushkino to “help people understand the facts” of the conflict. He is hoping to add a fighter plane later this year.

Dudarev says his projects are embarrassing for the cash-strapped local government and the Orthodox Church. “When people see activity in their backyard they are, of course, unhappy because this activity makes their passivity look bad.”

In October, he was dismissed as the head of Pushkino parish after 18 years for allowing church buildings to be constructed too close to nearby gas pipelines. “That was the formal reason,” he says. “But I fear that there was an informal reason: I am a difficult person to have around.”

In 2012, Dudarev was filmed angrily responding to activists in Moscow who glued a large sticker to the windscreen of a Mercedes he had parked illegally. He says the Mercedes was hired and the footage of the incident was misleadingly edited.

On Dudarev’s request, the Mayakovsky museum and the monuments he installed in Pushkino were transferred to state ownership. But he says officials remain “wary” of him and his friends who donated around 50 million rubles ($877,000) to fund the projects.