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Ukraine Steps up Its War on Monuments

Duped Ukrainians target statues instead of fixing their ruined country

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Ukraine’s coup-regime and its extremist Banderite ideologues need enemies. And they have found them in the ghost of Vladimir Lenin and the Ukrainian Communist Party.

Ukraine’s communists have come down from a high point in 1998, when they received nearly 25% of the vote, to barely registering in polls today. Yet, they are still supported by a significant minority in Ukraine, especially in the south and east. (Their performance in the 2014 parliamentary election, marred by widespread violence and intimidation of opposition, cannot be taken as a true measure of their support.)

<figcaption>Some Ukrainians are more worried about statues than the state of their ruined country</figcaption>
Some Ukrainians are more worried about statues than the state of their ruined country

When the coup-regime seized power last year, it specifically targeted the communist party faction in parliament, beating, intimidating and expelling its members, seizing the party’s offices and forcibly disbanding their parliamentary faction. Similar tactics were used against the Party of Regions. 

The crime of Ukraine’s communists was that they loudly condemned the violent and unconstitutional seizure of power by the putschists and called out the United States for supporting the take over. Such truth-telling opposition is not permitted in the new “European” Ukraine. 

Not only have the coup forces and their ignorant chauvinist supporters targeted parties, but they have also targeted symbols. They launched a wave of destruction of statues of Vladimir Lenin, culminating last September with the toppling of the grandiose Lenin statue crowning the main square of Kharkov. 

Citizens of Kharkov opposed to the Maidan takeover had rallied around the statue for months, until backed by coup-appointed interior minster Arsen Avakov, a wanna-be Nazi gang decided upon the statue’s demolition, apparently including Maidan hoodlums bused in from the west of Ukraine.

Vladimir Lenin was not the super-human god-like figure that Soviet historiography and propaganda portrayed him as. But neither was he purely a bloodthirsty butcher as claimed by his detractors. History, and people, are rarely so black and white. 

That he was a revolutionary who espoused violent means is beyond question. Yet he is also the father of Ukrainian statehood, being responsible for the creation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (albeit as a sub-unit of the USSR) — the first ever permanent Ukrainian state.

That education and health care were free in Soviet Ukraine and were for the most part of high quality, is generally known. This is also attributable to Lenin’s legacy.

Through his policies of encouraging cultural and national self-determination he is to a great extent, responsible for the genesis of modern Ukrainian national identity, for as late as the early 20th century, the majority of Ukrainians still referred to themselves by the ancient name of Rus. The ethnonym of “Ukrainian” was largely unknown except to a nationalist cultural elite. 

On his initiative, the campaign to achieve universal literacy and education in national languages resulted in raising the literacy rate in the USSR from about 20% when Lenin came to power to 100% by the 1950s. The fact that Ukrainians today are even able to read their national poet Shevchenko, they owe to Lenin. 

Lenin is also the one chiefly responsible for crafting the borders of the modern Ukrainian state, attaching to Ukraine a huge swath of territory formerly known in the Russian Empire as “Novorossiya” — a territory conquered by Russia from Turkey and the Crimean Khanate and settled by Russian (and Ukrainian) colonists. The territory added by Lenin to what in the Russian Empire was considered “Ukraine” comprises at least two fifths of modern Ukrainian territory.

In short, if Lenin was a Russian imperialist, he really sucked at the job. 

The large scale political repressions and murders carried out by the Bolshevik regime are not to be denied, but nor are the very real achievements that they managed to carry out, in a country which until 1917 had scarcely left the middle ages. 

Yet the current Ukrainian regime forces and their remaining core of duped chauvinist supporters rely on a cocktail of hate, lies, terror and violence to maintain their grip on power. And the target of all this is and remains Russia and all things Russian, for clinical Russophobia lies at the center of their historical revisionist mythology. If they cannot fight fictional invading Russian armies, they will fight the symbols of fictional Russian imperialists. (And it should be noted Lenin was only ¼ ethnic Russian anyway.)

There are literally hundreds of thousands of Soviet-era monuments, inscriptions, plaques, statues, slogans, murals, and mosaics left throughout Ukraine. Not only in public squares and parks, but on the sides of buildings, and even integrated in the architecture of thousands of apartment blocks.  

If the legislation banning Soviet symbols is signed by Poroshenko, as seems likely, carrying out its provisions will be a monumental task that will take years and millions of dollars. It will require the destruction of or at least vandalization of virtually every public building and monument in Ukraine. 

Bankrupt Ukraine can little afford the time, money and effort required, but like Yatsenyuk’s ludicrous Great Wall of Ukraine boondoggle and the war on the people of Donbass, it would serve to distract from the wholesale fleecing of Ukraine, the robbery of public lands and property, the annihilation of pensions, destruction of the currency, and enslavement of the country to Western banks and corporations mandated by the coup-leaders’ neo-colonial government. 

But rather than recognizing Ukraine’s true enemies, your typical brainwashed Maidan dupe, who still thinks this has anything at all to do with Ukraine “joining Europe” and “escaping” Russia, will happily take a chisel to a sculpture, or haul down “enemies” of stone or bronze, simultaneously erecting monuments to their own stupidity. 

This article originally appeared at France 24:

Activists toppled three statues of Communist leaders overnight Friday in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, days after parliament passed a controversial bill designed to purge the country of Soviet-era symbols.

A video posted on YouTube by an anti-Russian militant group called "We've had enough" shows the masked men smashing three large monuments glorifying Bolshevik leaders in Ukraine's second largest city.

The men can be seen using a ladder to hook the statues with a cable tied to a white van that pulls away, bringing the statues down. In one instance, police officers look on without attempting to intervene.

Previous attempts to remove Soviet-era symbols have stoked tension in the mostly-Russian speaking city of 1.4 million, located some 200 kilometres from the conflict zone in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where pro-Russian insurgents are fighting the Kiev government in a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people.

In February 2014, as protesters tore down dozens of statues of Lenin across Ukraine, scores of Kharkiv citizens formed a protective cordon around a statue of the former Soviet leader. It was eventually pulled down in September, in a move supported by local officials.

‘Totalitarian methods’

The latest incident comes less than 48 hours after Ukrainian lawmakers adopted controversial legislation designed to shed Ukraine's Soviet past.

The bills – which were adopted by a large majority but still need to be signed by President Petro Poroshenko – have heightened tensions in the war-divided country, and Friday prompted an angry reaction from Russia.

"Kiev used truly totalitarian methods of liquidating unwanted parties, civic organisations and movements," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, also accusing Ukraine of "rewriting history".

The legislation bans Communist-era and Nazi symbols in what supporters said was a bid to break with the country's tragic World War II past and Moscow's domination through most of the 20th century.

It is likely to further alienate pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine’s east, who have made a point of their attachment to the Soviet era.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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