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29 Mar, 2024 20:18

Legendary Kiev-born writer cancelled by Ukraine

Mikhail Bulgakov’s legacy should be examined over links to “Russian imperial policy,” according to an official statement
Legendary Kiev-born writer cancelled by Ukraine

The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory has ordered the legacy of renowned novelist and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov to be examined for compliance with the law on “Russian imperial policy.” The ruling represents another step in Kiev’s campaign to erase Russian culture.

Bulgakov, who was born in Kiev in 1891 when it was part of the Russian Empire, wrote in Russian and spent the last two decades of his life in Soviet Moscow, writing novels, plays, and newspaper columns.

According to a statement on the Ukrainian institute’s website, the writer was an “imperialist” in his views despite the years he spent in Kiev and that he “despised Ukrainians and their culture, hated the Ukrainian desire for independence, spoke negatively about the formation of the Ukrainian state and its leaders.”

In 2022, Ukrainian activists succeeded in their attempt to remove a memorial plaque to Bulgakov from the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev. The latest decision by the Institute of National Memory could result in more Bulgakov-related monuments being dismantled.

While he is best known for ‘The Master and Margarita’ – published long after his death and also banned in Ukraine – Bulgakov’s novel ‘White Guard’ was set in Kiev during the tumult of 1918. Though the work was banned by the Soviet government, the stage play based on it – ‘The Days of the Turbins’ – was reportedly one of Joseph Stalin’s favorites.

Since the start of Moscow’s military operation in 2022, the campaign to remove all links to Russia and its culture has intensified in Ukraine. As part of this movement, Kiev has passed a law on “decolonization” of street signs, monuments, memorials and inscriptions.

In December 2022, a statue of Catherine the Great was torn down in Odessa, even though the city was founded on her orders in 1794. Several cities, including Dnepr and Chernovtsy, have removed statues and memorial plaques dedicated to classical Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

Moscow has denounced such policies, saying that attempts to cancel Russian culture and the “forced Ukrainization” of the country violate international norms and infringe upon the rights of around a quarter of Ukraine’s population, who are Russian-speaking.