Ukraine erases communist reminders as it tries to ditch past

[From Daily Sabah]

Ukraine, which has been dragged into a partial deadly civil war after Russian-backed separatist rebels started battling for independence in the east and Crimea was annexed by Moscow is erasing traces of the communist era

FILE - In this Friday, May 8, 2015, file photo, a worker installs a wreath of poppies as a red peak, and red ribbon on top of the 102-meter Motherland Monument in Kiev, Ukraine, to mark the anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. The Motherland Monumentís shield bears the Communist hammer-and-sickle _ but maybe not for much longer. Ukraineís leaders are eager to be seen as reinventing the nation and erasing all visible reminders of the communist past, they say, is an important step toward that goal. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

A hulking steel statue of a victorious female warrior bearing aloft sword and shield looms in dour majesty over the Ukrainian capital. The Motherland Monument’s shield bears the Communist hammer-and-sickle, but maybe not for much longer. Ukraine’s leaders are eager to be seen as reinventing the nation. And erasing all visible reminders of the communist past, they say, is an important step toward that goal. “Elimination of communism has to happen in people’s heads and consciousness,” said Kiev deputy mayor Oleksiy Reznikov. “Symbolism irritates some people and creates a certain aura that we need to get rid of.” Parliament opened the way last month by backing a package of laws that included a loosely formulated ban on communist, as well as Nazi, imagery and ideology. The provisions, which still require approval from President Petro Poroshenko, will make it illegal to show symbols from the Soviet era, such as the logo of Communist Party, or play Soviet-era anthems. It will also become an offense to deny the criminal nature of the Soviet regime. Taking down all the communist symbols will take time, money and a fair dose of acrobatics, especially in the case of objects like the 100-meter (330-foot) tall Motherland Monument. “We will find alpinist patriots, like the famous ones who painted a star at the top of a Moscow hotel the blue-and-yellow (of the Ukrainian flag),” Reznikov said. “We will ask for help from brave guys like that to get this work done.” Eager Ukrainian nationalists have for the past year been racing ahead of the authorities by pulling down dozens of statues of Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union. The sight has typically been greeted with a mixture of glee, indifference or, among mostly older people, dismay. The thrust of what has been dubbed de-communization has sharply divided views. Supporters argue it has been long in the waiting and will set the stage for Ukraine to leave its history behind. “I would have got rid of it all years ago. It simply doesn’t reflect the mood of the Ukrainian people,” said Kiev resident Vasiliy Babkov. “We have to build up that which is truly in the blood of Ukrainians.”

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