Huge fire at iconic Moscow landmark mistaken for Kremlin in flames

The Russian capital's Novodevichy (New Maiden) Convent was mistaken for the Kremlin by some on social media

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The Independent Online

A fire that raged for nearly two hours at one of Moscow's most popular visitor attractions was brought under control on Sunday night - but not before rumours online alleged that the Kremlin was in flames.

The fire, which broke out in the bell tower of the Novodevichy Convent, occurred in the wooden scaffolding surrounding the building as it undergoes restoration.

However, with images of 16th century Russian architecture in flames, with onion domes lit by burning embers, many on social media reported that either the Kremlin itself was on fire or that a church "near to the Kremlin" was in flames.

Novodevichy Convent is roughly 5km from the Kremlin, a sizeable distance from the stronghold of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The false hearsay of a fire within the red walls of his fortress came as many continue speculate about Putin's mysterious 10-day disappearance from public view. A report from the independent Dozhd TV said he had the flu. He is said to be lying low at his official Valdai residence outside Moscow.

Novodevichy Convent is a popular Moscow tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to 1524. The convent's cemetery is where leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Boris Yeltsin are buried.

Commenting on the fire, Alexander Gavrilov, the deputy director of Russian emergencies, said, "There is no smoke inside the tower. The fire took hold in several parts of the scaffolding surrounding the bell tower, which is now completely distinguished. Nothing was damaged inside and firemen managed to prevent the fire from spreading to a nearby building." The nearby building was not the Kremlin.