In case you needed a reminder that history is just fossilized life, look no further than Ukraine, where the past has been quite literally and rudely revived. The city of Donetsk has been caught up in a pro-Russian separatist uprising for months, occupied by insurgents who have declared the area the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). After taking over an arts nonprofit last month, members of the DPR militia have now turned to the city’s war museum — but rather than squat there, they’ve stolen from it.
Armed men who appeared at Donetsk’s local war museum with heavy lifting gear winched a World War Two tank onto a flat-bed truck and drove it off. Squatting on top of the tank, one of them told a local online journalist: “We have got an engine to go in it. We have got some experts. We have to add the engine, ease the turret and it will be a working battle tank.”
Bewildered bystanders included a guard who claimed the rebels has “written authorisation” to take the machinery and a father and son visiting the museum. “Can you believe it?” the father asked. “They’re even stealing museum exhibits now.”
This doesn’t appear to be the first time Donetsk separatists have cribbed old military gear for their cause. A video surfaced on YouTube last month showing them attempting to restart a Soviet tank from 1943 that stood on a platform as part of a WWII memorial in the town of Kostiantynivka. Although the the video is all screeching noise and billowing smoke, the press agency of the DPR reportedly claimed that their “craftsmen” had managed to start the tank’s engine. Soviet-era military monuments have never been more practical.