In Brief

Good Bye, Lenin! Ukraine Dismantles Its Largest Monument to the Communist Leader

Ukraine's largest statue of Lenin comes down (photo via @mellory_zp/Instagram)
Ukraine’s largest statue of Lenin comes down (photo via @mellory_zp/Instagram)

Erected in 1964, Ukraine’s largest monument to Vladimir Lenin is finally coming down, and until workers fully dismantle the 65-foot-tall bronze sculpture of the Bolshevik revolutionary on a massive plinth, you can join local spectators in watching the whole ordeal live. The removal of the monument — which stands in the southeastern city of Zaporizhia at the end of Lenin Avenue — is in accordance with the country’s nearly year-old decommunization law, which President Petro Poroshenko signed in order to erase symbols of Ukraine’s Soviet past from the landscape.

The livestream comes from one of a number of on-site cameras set up by anonymous locals. Judging from today’s progress, the process is likely to take a while, with workers continuing even as night falls. Yesterday, according to Ukrainian publication Korrespondent, they removed an inscription of Lenin’s words: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country.” Today, a large crane attached a huge band around the scaffolded statue, likely to keep it secure as people began working at its base. The event has maintained a large audience throughout the day, with some onlookers apparently drinking — although it wasn’t clear whether they were celebrating or pouring one out.

Those who support the toppling of Soviet statues like Lenin’s and those who oppose it — either for political reasons or because they see the removals as a rewriting of history — have clashed since the law’s controversial passage. The dismantling of this particular statue has been met with protest: as the Telegraph reported, over 70% of locals oppose the move, and activists congregated around Lenin multiple times to call attention to the matter. In October 2014, they dressed the figure in an enormous vyshyvank — the embroidered Ukrainian national costume — as a nonviolent and patriotic gesture to prevent its uprooting. Lenin may, in the end, be resurrected, but not in Ukraine: according to Ukraine Today, a German buyer may already have purchased the historic statue.

Last year, Zaporizhia’s mayor, Oleksandr Sin, said that a monument honoring a 17th-century Cossack leader may replace the more controversial Lenin. For the sake of locals as well as tourists eager to Instagram some selfies, we hope that whatever comes will provide everyone with free wifi.

Lenin wearing a traditional Ukranian shirt
Lenin wearing a traditional Ukranian shirt (photo via @just_alinuska/Instagram)
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