City workers dismantle a monument to Soviet-era Russian warlord Nikolai Vatutin in Kiev, Ukraine on February 9, 2023. The plinth reads: "To Hero of the Soviet Union General Vatutin from the Ukrainian people."
Kyiv – At today's meeting, the leadership of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv approved the renaming of another 31 streets, alleys, squares and avenues, the names of which were linked to Russia or the Soviet past. Mayor Vitalij Klitčko announced it. The past is, for example, Vítězství street and square, or Mičurinova alley.
Photogallery: Russian invasion of Ukraine
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They also removed from Kiev a monument to Soviet airman Valery Chkalov and a monument to Soviet Marshal Nikolai Vatunin, who distinguished himself in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and in the liberation of Ukraine from the German occupiers, before being shot by soldiers of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in February 1944. He later succumbed to this injury.
“We are waiting for the decision of the Ministry of Culture, which will also allow the removal of the monument to one of the military commanders of the Bolsheviks, Mykola Ščors, which the people of Kyiv have long wished for,” said Klitschko.
After last year's military invasion of the country by Russia, Ukrainian cities began to actively get rid of not only Soviet names and monuments, which they did before the Russian invasion, but also names and monuments associated with Russia. At the end of last December, a monument to the Russian Empress Catherine II was removed in Odesa, southern Ukraine. Veliké, which had the port city founded in the 18th century. Together with the statue of the former empress, the authorities dismantled the monument to the 18th-century general Alexander Suvorov.
Monument to Empress Catherine II. Veliké, by whose decree Odessa was founded in 1794, stood in the city from 1900 until it was dismantled in 1920 (after the Bolshevik Revolution). It reappeared in Odessa in 2007, when some civic organizations and then-President Viktor Yushchenko spoke out against it.
The beginning of the war accelerated Ukraine's efforts to remove the names of famous Russian and Soviet personalities from the names of metro stations, streets and landmarks. There's even an app for it. The only reason more Russian statues haven't been taken down recently, some Ukrainians say, is because they're too busy with the war.
Since February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war against their country, Ukrainians have begun to assert their own historical legacy with greater emphasis.
“It is generally an interesting feature of our time that we have begun to understand history sensitively,” said Anton Drobovych, head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. He added that the process of uncovering history from the years of Russian and Soviet domination is relatively new for Ukraine. Reminders of Russian and Soviet domination can be found almost everywhere in Ukraine.
With the war, efforts to restore Ukrainian cultural heritage gained momentum. Monuments to the Russian poet Sergei Pushkin, considered a “Russian chauvinist” in Ukraine who glorified tsarist imperialism, have been removed in a number of cities.
Concerns about street names and memorials may seem strange in times of war, but according to scientists they are part of the effort to unify Ukraine. Moreover, it was the false history and myths that contributed to the fact that Russia started the war. “Putin uses history as a weapon,” said Drobovych.