what does decommunization mean in ukraine? • IR.lv

Decommunization and de-Russification in Ukraine also means getting rid of the monuments imposed by the Soviet occupation.

For more than 70 years, the Soviet regime sought to destroy all manifestations of Ukraine’s historical, cultural, spiritual and linguistic diversity. This became abundantly clear after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now there is no doubt about it. For a long time, the streets of Ukrainian towns and villages were named after people who had nothing to do with Ukraine. It was also the case in many European countries that suffered from the communist regime: the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the first to get rid of the names that symbolized the communist regime, Russia and its imperial aspirations.

A Soviet-era monument slated for demolition.

The second wave of renaming streets, squares and squares and demolishing several monuments began during Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The countries realized that it was necessary to actualize this process, and Ukraine, albeit belatedly, urgently followed this example, which was called decommunization.

This is a process that started after the law was passed in 2015 On the transformation of communist and other totalitarian regimes in Ukraine. This law prohibits the use of symbols of the Communist and Nazi parties, and also provides for the renaming of settlements whose names are associated with Communist symbols. Monuments to Lenin, as well as other symbols of the Soviet era, have been dismantled. As part of the decommunization process, streets and settlements with names associated with communism have been renamed, as well as squares, stadiums, trains, ships and parks.

Streets in Ukraine got Ukrainian names.

While in most cities street renaming was handled by local authorities and residents were not given this opportunity to avoid provocations, Kyiv allowed residents to choose street names themselves. Thanks to the site Kiev Digital (mobile app with city services), it was possible to choose almost 300 new streets at the same time.

“It is true that if there are so many options in the ballot, it can cause problems for voters. In this case, with 300 streets on the ballot, people may not be able to properly evaluate each option and make an informed choice. To avoid such a situation, it is important to develop more effective voting methods that would allow participants to correctly evaluate each option and make an informed choice,” says Dmytro Kharlamov, a resident of Kyiv, who took part in this vote.

The plaque of the former Moscow Street.

Currently, a rating of seven cities that have done well in decommunization has been created in Ukraine. About 2,200 objects in 33 cities have been renamed since the start of the full-scale war. Namely, the names of streets, boulevards, squares, districts and even lakes and ships have been changed. It is significant that every fifth street in the city of Pavlograd had to be renamed, however, the Ukrainian capital is still the leader in the ranking – 288 objects. It is followed by Vinnytsia (232), Kryvyi Rih (183), Kamyansk (182), Sumy (179), Kremenchuk (142) and Cherkasy (105).

Significantly fewer names were renamed in the cities of Western Ukraine, as the processes of decommunization and de-Russification took place in Western Ukraine well before 2022.

As a result of these processes, a large number of cities and towns have received new names that have nothing to do with the communist past or the Russian language. For example, in Lviv, more than 50 places were renamed, including streets, squares and parks, some of which were named after communist leaders and revolutionaries. The new names were chosen based on historical, cultural and linguistic considerations. Similar processes took place in other cities of Western Ukraine. In Mukachevo, 79 places were renamed – streets, squares and squares, and in Kolomyia and Ternopil – more than 20 and 15 places, respectively. In general, the processes of decommunization and derussification in Western Ukraine continued for a long time, and not only the big cities, but also many smaller settlements got new names. As a result of these processes, new names have appeared on the map of the region that better reflect the historical and cultural heritage of this region of Ukraine.

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“I am very happy that the street where I live in Lviv will get the most appropriate name after decommunization. Until now, it was written in the documents – Leva Tolstoy street, but in Lviv something close to it is best suited for it, right? Why do we need something foreign?! Here, for example, is the version approved by the city council – the street named after the outstanding Ukrainian actor and director Bohdan Stupka of this region. Isn’t that happiness? Only 14 streets remain to be renamed and the mission can be considered accomplished. I would say that now, after the renaming of the street, my street has started to look different, it has certainly become more lively,” says Lviv resident Olia Vojovica.

Looking at the statistics of the works done, most of the streets in Kyiv have been renamed in honor of military personnel and rescuers, as well as politicians, public figures and artists. Streets in Dnipro and Lviv are also most often renamed after military personnel, rescuers and artists. But in Odessa and Kharkiv there are only a few cases of renaming. In Kharkiv, two streets were renamed in honor of military personnel, in Odessa – five streets were renamed in honor of artists.

One of the monuments to the poet Alexander Pushkin.

However, decommunization is not only the renaming of streets, which significantly changed Ukraine, but also the dismantling of monuments and monuments directly related to the Russian and Soviet occupation. The poet Alexander Pushkin suffered the most – about 30 monuments to the writer were dismantled. He is a symbol not only of Russian literature, but also of the entire Russian culture. These monuments were located in various Ukrainian cities such as Mukachevo, Ternopil, Uzhgorod, Konotop, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Bilazerkva, Kropivnitsa, Zaporizhia, Chernivtsi, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Kremenchuk, Dnipro, Kramatorsk, and Kyiv. In addition, monuments to other Russian writers and poets such as Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Fyodor Tyutchev and others have also been dismantled. All of these monuments in Ukraine were erected during the Soviet era and were also associated with communist ideology and the Russian Empire.

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According to Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, the most monuments were demolished in 14 regions. Nine monuments to the writer Maxim Gorky were also demolished, including in Vinnytsia and Dnipro. Four more monuments fell – to the warlord Alexander Suvorov, which were located in Odessa and Izmaili, while in Ternopil a monument to Russian war pilots was dismantled, in Mukachevo, Vinnytsia, Rivne, Borispil, Kropivnitsa, Uzhhorod and the city of Chernivtsi – monuments to Soviet soldiers.

Monument to Empress Catherine II.

In Odessa, together with the monument to Suvorov, the monument to Empress Catherine II installed in 2007 was also dismantled. A monument to Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov was dismantled in Kharkiv. But the list does not end there.

Monument to Mykol Shchor in Kyiv.

The dismantling of the monument to Mykola Shchor in Kyiv has been discussed publicly for a long time as part of decommunization, however, the statue of the Soviet warlord on a horse, whose installation was once initiated by Stalin, still “adorns” the center of the Ukrainian capital. The monument to the Bolshevik warlord during the Soviet-Ukrainian war, whose image was actively used by Soviet propagandists, is located at the intersection of Simon Petlyura Street and Taras Shevchenko Boulevard. It is interesting that before Shchor there was a monument to Alexei Bobrinsky, a famous patron of art, the founder of the sugar industry in Ukraine and the builder of the railway in Kyiv. He played a major role in the development of our country. However, on April 30, 1954, a monument to Šchor was installed instead, which will likely be removed this April. Only the horse will remain.

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The author is a Ukrainian journalist

The article was written with the support of VKKF

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