International

Soviet-era monument symbolizing unity dismantled in Kyiv

A Soviet era monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition in central Kyiv, Ukraine
Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press
A Soviet era monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition in central Kyiv, Ukraine

The city of Kyiv on Tuesday dismantled a Soviet-era monument that symbolized unity between Ukraine and Russia for 40 years.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko shared a video on his Telegram page of Ukrainian crew workers beginning to take down part of the People’s Friendship Arch. The monument includes a 54-yard arch stretching over a bronze statue of a Ukrainian and Russian together holding up the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples, an order awarded to divisions of the Soviet Union for strengthening ties and cooperation.

The monument also includes a granite stele relief showing Ukrainian leader Bogdan Khmelnytsky and Russian ambassador Vasyl Buturlin at the Pereyaslav Council of 1654, according to the organization Museum Studies Abroad.

The video shows only the bronze statue coming down.

Klitschko said the bronze sculpture of the Ukrainian and Russian workers was taken down Tuesday evening, saying “symbolism was also needed” as Ukraine fights off an ongoing Russian invasion.

“Literally, eradicated and removed the sculpture!” Klitschko wrote on Telegram. “So we must snatch and expel the enemy and the Russian occupier from our land!”

The People’s Friendship Arch was unveiled in 1982, when the Soviet Union still controlled Ukraine.

The Pereyaslav Council relief represents a military and security pact between Ukraine and Russia in 1654. Some Ukrainians refer to the event as the day they lost their independence to Russia, according to Museum Studies Abroad.

After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and following a Russian-backed separatist revolt in the country’s east, Ukrainians began protesting the monument and even painted a crack on the arch symbolizing a fracture in relations between the two nations, according to the organization.

Russia has been accused of war crimes amid its brutal assault on Ukraine. Russian forces have launched a renewed offensive in the country’s east after failing to capture the Ukrainian capital in the opening weeks of the invasion.

When he announced the monument would come down, Klitschko on Tuesday said Russia had “marked its attitude to Ukraine with a barbaric desire to destroy our state and peaceful Ukrainians” and said 60 more monuments, reliefs and signs related to Russia or the Soviet Union would come down, while more than 460 streets and objects could be renamed.

The mayor said the city should rename the People’s Friendship Arch to “take on a new meaning” and announced he had signed a draft decision the Kyiv City Council will consider at its next meeting to rename the People’s Friendship Arch to the “Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People.”

Tags Kyiv Monument People's Friendship Arch Russia-Ukraine conflict Soviet Union Ukraine Ukraine Vitali Klitschko Vitali Klitschko

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