The authorities in Kiev, Ukraine have dismantled a monument commemorating the country’s role in the Soviet fight against Nazi Germany. Photos and videos of the dismantling process were shared on social media and published by Ukrainian news outlets. The monument, which was erected in 1982, featured a golden star resembling the Hero of the Soviet Union order, the highest military award in the USSR. It was designed to honor the heroism of the defenders and residents of Kiev during World War II. The monument was located on Victory Square, which was renamed Galitskaya Square earlier this year.
This dismantling is part of a broader campaign by the Ukrainian authorities to remove all traces of the Soviet Union and distance themselves from Russia. The campaign began in 2015 with the adoption of the ‘decommunization law’, which banned Soviet-related symbols and led to the removal of numerous monuments and the renaming of many places across the country. However, the legislation did make exceptions for landmarks related to World War II.
This latest episode of dismantling Soviet monuments comes after the conflict between Moscow and Kiev escalated. In August, the Soviet coat of arms was removed from the Motherland Monument, an iconic statue overlooking the Dnieper River. The coat of arms was replaced with Ukraine’s golden trident, and the monument itself was renamed ‘Ukraine-Mother’. A public poll conducted in Ukraine revealed that around two thirds of Ukrainians believed the timing of the overhaul was ill-timed and that the allocated funds could have been better used elsewhere.
The dismantling of these monuments has sparked controversy and debate within Ukraine. While some support the removal of Soviet symbols as a way to assert Ukrainian independence and identity, others argue that it erases historical memory and ignores the sacrifices made during World War II. The debate highlights the complexities of Ukraine’s history and the ongoing tensions between those who seek closer ties with Europe and those who feel a stronger connection to Russia.
The decision to dismantle the monument in Kiev reflects the broader political dynamics in Ukraine and the ongoing struggle to define the country’s identity and relationship with its neighbors. As Ukraine continues to navigate its path forward, it is likely that debates over historical memory and symbolism will remain contentious issues.