Kyiv on Tuesday began demolishing a monument symbolizing historic ties between ex-Soviet Ukraine and Russia, AFP correspondents reported, more than two months after Moscow’s troops invaded their pro-democratic neighbor.
“We are removing the bronze sculpture of two workers installed in the center of the capital in 1982 ‘to commemorate the reunification of Ukraine with Russia’,” Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement on social media.
“The dismantling has started today and we plan to finish it this evening,” he added.
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“And what is symbolic is that when they tried to lift the sculpture with a crane, the head of a Russian worker fell off,” Klitschko wrote.
He explained the decision citing what he called Moscow’s “barbaric desire to destroy our state and peaceful Ukrainians,” with the full-scale invasion launched on February 24.
Klitschko said a second component of the sculpture would be removed later and the giant arch above the workers would be renamed and illuminated with the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
He said city authorities were working on plans to demolish around 60 monuments in the capital related to Russia and the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Klitschko added, some 460 streets and other objects in the city are slated for renaming.
Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Moscow threw its political clout behind separatists in the east of the country, Kyiv has worked to remove Soviet symbols from the country in a program of “de-communization.”