This is how Ukraine's dealt with its unsavory past

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tags: Ukraine, Confederate flag

People, and countries, put up monuments to display what they think of history and of themselves. They tear down monuments for the same reason. A torn-down monument is, therefore, itself a monument.

At the corner of Taras Shevchenko Boulevard and Khreshchatyk, Kiev’s central avenue, stands Lenin, or at least what remains of him. The statue was toppled in December, 2013, the first of about a hundred Lenin monuments removed by Ukrainians all over the country in the past year and a half. Remarkably, Moscow, which is very sensitive to the removal or alteration of Soviet-era monuments in parts of its former empire, took the topplings exactly as they were intended to be taken: as insults, and as a sign that it had lost Ukraine. The day that Russia annexed Crimea, authorities in the Crimean town of Zuya resolved to restore the local Lenin monument, which had been deposed the night before.

All that’s left of Lenin in central Kiev is a giant pedestal of gray granite with a few rusty pieces of metal sticking out the top. The steps at the base of the pedestal have been painted yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The round column of the pedestal itself has been repeatedly covered with graffiti, much of which has been removed, so only faint traces remain: “Ukraine without [illegible],” “AC/DC,” “Bon-Scott.” On either side of the column, engraved quotations of Lenin remain. The one to what used to be the Bolshevik’s right hand, says, “A free Ukraine is possible if the Russian and Ukrainian proletariats unite; without such unity, there can be no free Ukraine.” This saying alone would have been reason enough for the Ukrainian revolutionaries to dismantle Lenin. On the other hand (formerly Lenin’s left), though, there is a longer quotation, which says that no one can defeat a people determined to obtain self-rule—an idea far better suited to the current Ukrainian moment.

Read entire article at New Yorker

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