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Ukraine: Motherland statue set to lose insignia

Anti-communist government outlaws anthems and signs from the Soviet era

by Our Foreign Desk

UKRAINE’s iconic Motherland monument war memorial is to have its hammer and sickle insignia erased in a graphic display of Kiev’s anti-communist fervour.

The 330-foot statue personifies the former Soviet Union as a woman bearing a sword and shield emblazoned with the communist symbol.

Since the fascist-backed coup last year, Ukraine’s parliament has legislated to equate communism with nazism and ban the symbols of both.

The new legislation, which still awaits ratification by billionaire President Petro Poroshenko, will outlaw anthems and symbols from the Soviet era, including the logo of the Communist Party.

It will even become an offence to say that the Soviet Union was anything other than “criminal” in nature.

The Ukrainian parliament has no members from the eastern Donbass region where anti-fascist, separatist forces have battled far-right militias which openly celebrate, and display the emblems of, Ukraine’s World War II nazi collaborators.

In fact, one clause in the new anti-communist laws makes it illegal to justify the “repression” of 20th-century Ukrainian nationalist movements such as Stepan Bandera’s Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, which massacred Jews, ethnic Poles and other Ukrainian national minorities during the war.

“They have ended up with a law that seriously endangers freedom of speech,” said Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group journalist Halyna Coynash.

“Saying that people cannot themselves wear a red star or even have a hammer and sickle on their clothing is really quite absurd.”

Last year’s coup was marked by the vandalisation of public statues of Vladimir Lenin and of memorials to the Soviet fighters and victims of WWII, while monuments to Mr Bandera have been erected in some towns.

A recent open letter to Mr Poroshenko signed by dozens of international and Ukrainian historians argues: “The wholesale condemnation of the entire Soviet period as one of occupation of Ukraine will have unjust and incongruous consequences.

“Anyone calling attention to the development of Ukrainian culture and language in the 1920s could find himself or herself condemned.”

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