Hobbit fans drop Tolkien evil eye plan for Moscow after Church protest

MOSCOW (AFP) - A group of Russian designers on Wednesday scrapped a planned light installation modelled on the all-seeing evil eye in JRR Tolkien's fantasy novels after the Russian Orthodox Church protested.

The group had planned to raise what resembles a giant glowing eye on the 21st floor of a skyscraper to celebrate the local release of the final part of Peter Jackson's movie adaptation of The Hobbit on Thursday.

In Tolkien's The Hobbit and also in the subsequent Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the Eye of Sauron is a giant flaming eye controlled by the "dark lord" Sauron which allows him to watch anyone who puts on the fateful, power-giving ring.

But the Russian Orthodox Church's head of public affairs, Vsevolod Chaplin, objected to what he called a "demonic symbol" in an interview with Govorit Moskva radio station.

"Such a symbol of the triumph of evil is rising up over the city, becoming practically the highest object in the city. Is that good or bad? I'm afraid it's more likely bad. Just don't be surprised later if something goes wrong with the city," Chaplin warned.

The city authorities then also reacted, saying that the Eye of Sauron could require planning permission.

"Unfortunately we are forced to stop the 'Eye of Sauron' project," the group of designers called Svecheniye, or Radiance, wrote on Facebook, saying they did not expect "such a public reaction."

"The project doesn't have a religious or political subtext. And not wanting any kind of negativity, we are stopping our preparations for the project," it said, posting a picture of Ian McKellen playing wise wizard Gandalf in Jackson's films.

The installation was planned as a 10m sphere with a light show projecting from behind to create a 3-D effect on a 21-storey tower in Moscow's business district.

The property company that owns the tower had backed the stunt, which the designers said was a fans' tribute to Jackson's latest film, not part of its promotional campaign.

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