Key Ukrainian city begins removal of monument to founder – media
Workers in the Ukrainian city of Odessa have started dismantling the monument to its founder, Russian Empress Catherine II, commonly known as Catherine the Great, local media has reported.
The site where the statue is located was cordoned off on Wednesday. Images from the scene shared online showed workers removing fiberboard shields, which have kept the monument out of public sight since the city council voted to get rid of the monument at the end of November.
During the same session, council members also decided to scrap the monument to one of Russia’s greatest generals, Aleksandr Suvorov, who served under Catherine II for most of his military career.
The monument to the 18th century Russian empress, which also honors some of her top statesmen, was first erected in Odessa in 1900. The Bolshevik government removed it in 1920, but in 2007 the city brought it back – using the original figures of Catherine’s associates and recasting the empress’ effigy – as a reminder of the role that the ruler played in its history. She is credited with founding Odessa, though some in Ukraine have called that a “myth” because an older settlement predated the city.
Nationalist forces in Ukraine have long called for the statue’s removal, denouncing it as a symbol of Russian oppression. President Vladimir Zelensky formally urged getting rid of it in July, after an online petition to replace it with a statute to American porn actor Billy Herrington passed a legal threshold for consideration. The monument was targeted by vandals on several occasions this year.
Odessa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov expressed support for the plan and claimed it was backed by the public. Only about 8,000 people out of nearly a million residents participated in the opinion poll he cited.