A memorial plaque to novelist and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov, put up in 2017, has been taken down from the Taras Shevchenko National University in Kiev. Ukrainian activists who campaigned against the Kiev-born author celebrated Monday’s move as a triumph over Russian “occupation.”
“Bulgakov is a symbol of Russian culture, and had nothing to do with the Ukrainian one – quite the contrary, in his works he denigrated everything Ukrainian,” said Tatiana Shvydchenko, an activist from the Expert Corps NGO, which petitioned for the plaque’s removal.
On her Facebook page, Shvydchenko called Bulgakov a “Ukrainophobe and praiser of the Russian world,” adding that the memorial to him was one of the “atavisms of the occupation period, which we urgently need to get rid of.”
Bulgakov (1891-1940) was born in Kiev and attended high school in the building currently housing the Shevchenko University – which is why the local authorities honored him with a plaque in 2017.
While he is best known for ‘The Master and Margarita’ – published long after his death – Bulgakov’s novel ‘White Guard’ was set in Kiev during the tumult of 1918. Though the novel 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.
Shvydchenko has also demanded the removal of a memorial plaque dedicated to students and teachers who died for the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), calling it a “marker of Russian occupation.”
Announcing the long-heralded purge of Russian language and literature courses from the state curricula on Tuesday, the Ukrainian government specifically said Bulgakov – along with ‘Taras Bulba’ author Nikolay Gogol – will not be touched because their “life and work were closely connected with Ukraine.”