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3 Mar, 2019 17:48

Ukrainian city topples Soviet WWII monument ‘in critical condition’… after 3rd attempt (VIDEO)

Ukrainian city topples Soviet WWII monument ‘in critical condition’… after 3rd attempt (VIDEO)

A 30-meter-high stele of the WWII Glory monument was demolished in Ukraine’s Lvov on Saturday. Despite claims it was nearly falling apart, bringing the structure down became a massive headache for the authorities.

Drone footage posted on the web shows a massive concrete pillar crashing down on the ground and sending thick plumes of dust into the air.

Ironically, this was already the third wrecking attempt since local authorities ruled to knock down the monument back in February 2018, citing its critical condition.

Apparently, the authorities could find no other justification for the move as World War II memorials are exempt from the so-called “decommunization” law, passed in Ukraine in 2015. It banned all Soviet symbols in the country and effectively legalized the bringing down of Soviet-era monuments already all the rage in the country.

The Lvov authorities first tried to bring the stele down late on Wednesday, using a pulling hoist. But it turned out that its power and the length of the wire rope were insufficient for the job. In the second attempt on Thursday, the construction workers were smashing the concrete with sledgehammers for six hours and then tried to cut through the monument’s metal core with angle grinders, but their efforts were in vain once again.

They then took a break on Friday seemingly in an attempt to rethink their strategy – before finally dealing with the pillar by sawing it down.

The stele was erected in 1970 as part of the Monument to the War Glory of the Soviet Army which also comprises a headstone and a statue of Motherland holding a sword. Bronze sculptures of an infantryman, a marine, a tank driver, a gunner, and a pilot were also taken to the local museum prior to the demolition.

The memorial marking the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany has long been an eyesore for local nationalists who depict the USSR as an invader of Western Ukraine. In mid-February, vandals damaged the memorial stone and sprayed the words “A memorial to the occupant,” according to local police.

In 2016, a group of local lawmakers claimed the monument bears controversial symbols such as a Soviet coat of arms and a star, which in their opinion are similar to the Nazi swastika.

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The fervent anti-Soviet sentiment has become part of the official policy in Kiev since a Western-backed coup in 2014 brought the current government into power. The 2015 “de-communization” law mandated to dismantle all monuments bearing Soviet heritage and to rename places named after communist-related figures and events. Some 1320 Lenin statues were toppled and 51,493 streets renamed by January 2017 alone, according to the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance.

At the same time, Kiev has been glorifying figures of the Ukrainian nationalism, some of whom directly collaborated with the Nazi regime during WWII, with Stepan Bandera being a prime example. In late February, authorities in Lvov unveiled a plaque honoring Volodymyr Kubiyovich, who was key in the creation of the Waffen-SS Galizien division in Ukraine.

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