Conflicts & War

Kyiv demolishes statue symbolic of Russia-Ukraine friendship

By Lourdes Velasco

Kyiv, April 29 (EFE).- A Soviet-era statue in the heart of Kyiv that was symbolic of Ukraine’s friendship with Russia was pulled down this week.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitali Klitschko, gave the order to dismantle the bronze sculpture which features two workers holding a Soviet order of friendship that stood under a giant titanium Friendship Arch which was erected in 1982 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union.


Despite Ukraine’s historical ties with Moscow, it is hard to find anyone in Kyiv who opposed the demolition.

Every day, hundreds of people come to the site where operators work, intent on documenting what residents see as the symbol of a new chapter in Ukraine’s history.

Two members of the Territorial Defense, both called Sergey, came to have their picture taken because they wanted to “be part of a historic moment”.

“It was an unnecessary monument here, it was a symbol of slavery. The Russians have always dominated us and thought that we are their servants, and that is gone forever,” said one of the soldiers.

The other Sergey added: “The Russians are preventing the people of Ukraine from exercising their freedom. And we want to be free. In Russia it would be 100% guaranteed that you could not take this photo,” he says, pointing to what remains of the monument.


The removal of the bronze statue is part of a wider initiative to change some 400 street names that point to Ukraine’s Soviet past and the demolition of many other Soviet-era sculptures.

Back in 2018, on the arch under the sculpture, a black crack, called the “friendship crack”, was painted to symbolize the deteriorating relations between Russia and Ukraine.

Mikhail, 67, has come to the square to see how the work is going. He believes the monument should have been removed much earlier.

“The friendship between peoples referred to in that document was destroyed by Russia in 2014. They are the ones who tore down the statue, not us,” he said, rather agitated.

The Maidan revolution of 2013 and 2014 and the flight of president Viktor Yanukovych was followed by the Russian invasion of Crimea, a peninsula now annexed by Vladimir Putin without the recognition of the international community, where the majority of the population spoke Russian and many supported the separatist movement.

But Dima, a 36-year-old from Shelkino in Crimea who has come to watch the monument be dismantled, was not one of them.

“I am Ukrainian, not Russian. I will never, never, never support the Russian government. I think that after this we will never be friends again,” said Dima, who doesn’t even return to the peninsula anymore because his relatives have also moved to Kyiv since the “occupation”.


Under the arch of Soviet aesthetics, another Sergey, a municipal worker, works diligently to break down the bronze of the statue. He is “proud” to do it, although until recently he was one of the Ukrainians who “really” believed in friendship with Russia.

He was one of many who did not believe in closer ties with the European Union and who advocated collaboration with Russia. Russian is his mother tongue (as is about 30 percent of the country) and he is really disillusioned by the war.

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