Patriotic Ukrainians Tear Down Lenin Statue

Ukraine makes its anti-Russia feelings known.

The statue of Vladimir Lenin being torn down in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Photo: Igor Chekachkov, courtesy AP Photo.

After half a century, a statue of Vladimir Lenin no longer stands watch over the main square of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators tore down the statue late Sunday.

This was the latest in a series of “Fall of Lenin” actions in Ukraine that have seen the destruction of other statues of the Soviet leader, reports Forbes.

The movement began this past December, in Kiev, and quickly felled 150 Lenin monuments, sending a clear message to Russia and the world that Ukraine is through with symbols of its Soviet past and looking ahead to a democratic European future. The critical moment was widely captured on social media (see the Huffington Post report).

Kharkiv’s Lenin had survived this long in part due to its massive size, and also because of pro-Russian supporters who formed a blockade to protect it. (According to the Washington Post, the statue was 28 feet tall, and on its pedestal of red granite stood 66 feet tall when it was unveiled in 1963.)

The city has been slow to join the protest movement, and its mayor, Hennadiy Kernes, has known links to pro-Russian organizations. With this latest action, however, the city has firmly declared its opposition to Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions and its desire to retain its independence from Russia.

As Ripe to Follow Crimea

Russian propaganda has been portraying Kharkiv, a Russian-speaking city only 25 miles from the Ukrainian-Russian border, as ripe to follow Crimea in rejoining Russia. It has been included on Putin’s map of an imagined “Novorossiya” of a “New Russia” that includes southern Ukraine (the czarist-era term dates to the period when the Russian empire controlled much of modern-day Ukraine). However, with Russia troops attacking Donbass, only a 100 miles away, Kharkiv’s Ukrainian patriotism quickly swelled.

An official decree from city authorities called for the monument’s removal, but the impatient people of Kharkiv took matters into their own hands, bringing the statue down in one fell swoop, in a scene like something out of a viral ad campaign (see “Game of Thrones Fans’ Tweets Bring Down King Joffrey Statue“).

Presumably, the city will skip taking a page from the Polish playbook and will not replace the monument with a neon-green statue of the former Soviet leader peeing (see “New Polish Fountain Portrays a Peeing Vladimir Lenin“).

Check out this video footage of crowds cheering as the statue is toppled:

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