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4 Nov, 2023 21:58

Kiev dismantles symbol of Nazi defeat

The city authorities have removed a Soviet golden star from a monument commemorating the Ukrainian capital’s role in the Soviet fight against the Third Reich
Kiev dismantles symbol of Nazi defeat

The Ukrainian authorities in Kiev have partially dismantled a monument commemorating the Soviet victory over the Nazi Germany and the role the city played in that struggle.

Photos and videos that surfaced on social media and published by some Ukrainian news outlets on Saturday showed city workers disassembling and removing a golden star crowning the 40-meter-tall monument.

The golden star on the monument resembled the Hero of the Soviet Union order – the highest military award in the USSR. The monument dedicated “to the hero city of Kiev” was designed to commemorate the honorary title the city received for the outstanding heroism of its defenders and residents in the fight against the Nazis during World War II. A total of twelve Soviet cities received such titles.

The monument itself was erected in 1982 and was located on Victory Square, a name that was given in 1952 to honor the war. Earlier this year, the Ukrainian authorities renamed it Galitskaya Square.

The monument’s partial dismantling has become the latest episode of a long-running campaign by the Ukrainian authorities to remove all traces of the Soviet Union, and by extension, erase ties with Russia.

The campaign was launched as early as in 2015, when Ukraine adopted its so-called ‘decommunization law’, which banned Soviet-related symbols and led to the mass removal of monuments and the renaming of hundreds of places across the country. The legislation did make an exception for WWII landmarks.

However, after the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the Ukrainian authorities redoubled their ‘decommunization’ efforts and this time did not spare WWII-related monuments.

In August, the Soviet coat of arms was removed from the iconic Motherland Monument. The 102-meter-tall landmark towering over the Dnieper River, held a 16-meter-long sword in its right hand and a shield emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, the Soviet coat of arms, in its left. Inaugurated in 1981 by Ukrainian-born Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, it is the fifth-tallest statue in the world and the tallest monument in the country.

The overhaul involved replacing the Soviet coat of arms with Ukraine’s golden trident. The Ukrainian Culture Ministry released a video showing part of the work being carried out. The monument itself was then renamed as ‘Ukraine-Mother’.

A public poll conducted in Ukraine in late August suggested, however, that some two thirds of Ukrainians considered the move ill-timed and said that the money allocated for the job could have been better spent elsewhere. Ukrainian Minister of Culture Alexandr Tkachenko estimated in mid-July that the overhaul would cost 28 million hryvnia ($755,000), adding that it was financed through private donations.