Yes, rivals had to be eliminated.
When you would save your people, that comes first.
The class of boyars then was subjugated.
Death was of course inflicted on the worst.
A long, dark past, devoted yet accursed,
Yielded to half-sincere renunciation.
A new faith was embraced – not in a burst
Of song, but through considered calculation.
Did hostile empires rise in detestation
Of what you had accomplished for the Rus?
An ally in the midst of complication
Appeared – and neutral nations just hung loose.
Loud enemies cried out: “Your armies stall!”
No, NATO never understood at all.
(In November 2016, in Moscow, Putin unveiled a statue of Vladimir the Great.)