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23 Aug, 2023 07:47

Ukrainians question timing of Soviet landmark overhaul – poll

More than two-thirds of respondents say Kiev could have better invested in the military or supported victims of the conflict with Russia
Ukrainians question timing of Soviet landmark overhaul – poll

Most Ukrainians believe the decision to remove the Soviet coat of arms from the landmark Motherland Monument in Kiev was ill-timed, arguing that the money would have been better spent elsewhere, according to a poll released on Tuesday. The statue celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

A survey by the Ilka Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) found that 69% of Ukrainians agree that the authorities could have replaced the Soviet hammer and sickle on the statue with Ukraine’s coat of arms – the golden trident – after the end of hostilities. They shared the view that “at the moment it would be more appropriate to direct this money to help the army, and people who have suffered from the war.”

Most of those who hold that opinion are from either the southern (76%) or eastern (60%) parts of Ukraine, DIF said.

Overall, 70% of Ukrainian respondents described the replacement of the Soviet coat of arms as “an important event” and a symbol of Kiev’s efforts to break with its Soviet past. However, that stance is less popular in the southern (56%) and eastern (59%) parts of the country, which have historically had closer ties to Russia, and among older segments of the population, who spent much of their lives in the Soviet Union.

The Soviet emblem was removed from the statue on August 1, and last week was replaced by the Ukrainian trident. As part of a long-running campaign to remove traces of the Soviet Union, and by extension, erase ties with Russia, Ukrainian authorities also plan to rename the Motherland Monument as ‘Mother Ukraine’ before Independence Day on August 24.

In mid-July, Ukrainian Minister of Culture Alexandr Tkachenko said the overhaul would cost 28 million hryvnia ($755,000), but noted that all the work would be funded by private donations, including from several Ukrainian oligarch-owned companies.

Inaugurated in 1981 by Ukrainian-born Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, the 102-meter Motherland Monument is the fifth-tallest statue in the world and the tallest monument in the country. The figure, which overlooks the Dnieper River, holds a 16-meter-long-sword in its right hand and a shield in its left, which used to be emblazoned with the Soviet hammer and sickle.