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20 Aug, 2014 15:31

Star Wars: Ukraine, Russia flags top Moscow’s iconic Stalin skyscrapers

Banners flew high in Moscow, as an attempt to put a Ukrainian flag on a landmark skyscraper and paint its spire in yellow-blue colors, faced a counter move by a group of daredevils, who decorated another high-rise building with a Russian flag.

A Ukrainian flag appeared on the 176-meter-tall building on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in the heart of the capital early on Wednesday morning.

The perpetrators also managed to paint the upper part of the massive golden-colored star on top of the spire blue, so that it would also resemble the yellow-blue Ukrainian national flag.

After several hours, a maintenance crew removed the flag from the skyscraper and restored the initial golden color to the star.

Селфи дня pic.twitter.com/csfZ8oA4DV

— Ilya Varlamov (@varlamov) August 20, 2014

In connection with the incident, Moscow police have detained four people carrying mountaineering gear.

The police maintain that the two men and two women, (Russian citizens between 25 and 33 years), had been arrested before for similar offenses.

A criminal investigation into vandalism has been launched against the perpetrators, who are accused of “desecration of a skyscraper at Kotelnicheskaya Embankment - namely the application of paint on the spire of the building,” they added.

If found guilty, the four may face a fine of 40,000 rubles around $1,100), correctional labor of up to a year or up to 3 months’ detention, lawyer Sergey Semeshkin told Rusnovosti.ru.

The daredevils deny their guilt, saying “they only jumped from the high-rise building with parachutes,” a police source told the Itar-Tass news agency.

“They claim that they didn’t attach any flag and didn’t paint the star,” he added.

The star on the spire of the Stalinist building at Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in Moscow has been painted blue by unidentified people (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

The events in Moscow have inspired Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to declare a global action called ‘Our colors,’ devoted to the country’s national flag.

“It’s symbolic that today, perhaps, the tallest skyscraper in Moscow was painted in our colors,”
Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page.

“I invite Ukrainians around the world to put out Ukrainian flags on the eve of our Independence Day as part of Our Colors Initiative. Glory to Ukraine!”
he added.

A worker paints the star on the spire of the Stalinist building at Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in Moscow that was painted blue by unidentified people (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Relations between Moscow and Kiev have seriously deteriorated since the military coup led to a power shift in Ukraine this February.

In March, the Ukrainian republic of Crimea refused to accept the new authorities and reunited with Russia.

Kiev now accuses Moscow of masterminding the unrest in the south-east of the country and arming the anti-Kiev rebels in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, but Russia denies the claims.

Meanwhile, a group of adrenalin junkies climbed another Moscow landmark skyscraper on Wednesday and attached a Russian flag to its spire as a reply to the pro-Ukrainian action earlier in the day.

The seven high-rise buildings, which represent a combination of Russian Baroque and Gothic styles, were built in Moscow from 1947 to 1953, under Joseph Stalin’s rule.

Since then, the so-called Stalin Skyscrapers have become an essential feature of the Russian capital’s landscape and an important symbol of the city, just like the Kremlin and Saint Basil's Cathedral.