On December 8, about 6 pm, a group of unidentified masked men, holding flags of the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda", used ropes to pull down a statue of Lenin on the Shevchenko boulevard in the capital.

"Later on, a group of protesters singing the national hymn of Ukraine then hoisted the national flag on the vacant pedestal. The activists shouted "Yanukovych, you’ll be next!” while lighting flares and throwing smoke bombs next to the monument," police report says. In this regard, the police opened criminal proceedings under Article 294 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine - mass disorders.

People were smashing the granite figure with sledgehammers. A huge crowd queued to get a piece of the statue for a souvenir. Even local clerics came to the scene “to smash Lenin", while law enforcements, which arrived a bit later, decided not to interfere.

The same night, a monument to Lenin was smashed in Kotovsk city, Odessa region.

ForUm has asked experts to comment on the actions of Ukrainians:

Mykhailo Kyrsebko, doctor of history science, professor:

- Of course the monument should have been removed from the boulevard. I just feel sorry for the monument itself, as it was a piece of art by prominent sculptor Merkulov. However, the event was rather symbolic and logical. Though theoretically there was no need to smash it, practically people did not have any more patience. When the authorities do not understand or do not want to understand that such monuments should be taken somewhere in museums to be preserved for next generations, people's anger results into such actions. 

In all countries of the former USSR, monuments to Lenin have been either destroyed or moved to museums of totalitarianism and totalitarian art.

Volodymyr Kornilov, political scientist, director of the Center for Eurasian study:

- Of course it was a pure act of vandalism. Any desecration of monuments is considered an act of vandalism. Moreover, those vandals-Banderovites were not satisfied. They also went to Mariinski park to desecrate the monument to victims of January revolt of 1918. But this monument is a bed of honor, which means they desecrated the grave of people, of Kievans buried there.

These people think they have come here for long. Look what they do on buildings they seize. They no longer hang out EU flags, but black and red Bandera's flags. Even on the vacant pedestal of Lenin they first erected Bandera's flag. These people openly wear Nazi symbols, patrol Kyiv streets and think that are making history. Well, Kyiv already experienced such events in the past, in 1941 to be precise.

Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Center for applied political research "Penta":

- I stand for removal of monuments through legal decisions of local or state authorities. Doing it by the initiative of some political parties is not the best option. The monument to Lenin in the center of Kyiv is clearly an archaism, but this problem should have been solved at different time and under different circumstances. 

As far as I know, opinions on this act differ among leaders of the opposition and protesters themselves. Some criticizes the act, others distance themselves from it, but I think protesters have other things to do than to fight monuments.

I strongly criticize such actions. Moreover, I also do not approve when protesters start hanging out flags of specific political parties. National flags are fine, but party flags do not do any good, either for unity of the society or unity of EuroMaidan itself.

Mykhailo Pohrebynski, director of the Kyiv center for political research and conflict management:

- This was an act of pure vandalism, committed by people who have no idea what culture is. What can we expect from people, whose leader dares to joke that Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) committed a strange suicide? It is a very dangerous situation, which leads to the very split everybody speaks about.

Lada Lusina, writer:

- Well, hello the year of 1917, hello stupid vandalism. Yes, the monument to Lenin should not be standing in the center, but it was up to Kyiv residents to decide what museum to move it to, not up to those... I cannot even find a normal word to define those... who think they have the right to smash my city.

And those who might object and say that Lenin was a butcher should go first to Rome or Paris and smash a couple of monuments to Caligula or Napoleon to learn whether such argument is valid. I think those who toppled the monument do not even realize that they themselves have become a monument to Lenin.

Oleksandr Palin, historian, political scientist, journalist:

- I don't think this act can be describe as vandalism. Soviet soldiers were removing fascist symbols from streets, and it was not considered an act of vandalism. Moreover, this monument has been removed from the list of monuments protected by the state, thus it was just a piece of stone. There were three presidential decrees to clear the territory of Ukraine from such monuments. There is a decree on Holodomor, ordering to clear the territory from these monuments. It is rather strange that police has instituted proceedings after such serious article. At bottom, it was a petty crime. Of course, it would have been better to dismount the monument by decree of the Kyiv council, but people waited for this decree way too long.


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