Workers removed a hammer and sickle from a huge statue in Kiev, Ukraine on Tuesday as part of a campaign to remove all Soviet symbols. This campaign has been intensified since Moscow invaded the country last year.
The 62 meter high steel statue (102 meters with the pedestal) of a woman with a shield on which the hammer, sickle and sword appear, was erected in 1981 as a memorial to Soviet victory in the Second World War. The statue stands at a war museum building and is known as the Batkivshchyna Maty, literally “Fatherland Mother”.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture has funded a plan to erect a new shield for the figure with the country’s three-pointed emblem.
Workers had already started to systematically chisel away the elements last month. The entire shield will be replaced with a new one containing the three-pointed emblem.
The statue is part of the National Museum of History of Ukraine in World War II. The museum director, Yuriy Savchuk, requested that the statue’s name be changed to “Ukrainian Mother”.
The project, to replace the shield, is expected to cost around 28 million hryvnia (about R13.7 million). However, officials stress that it is paid for by private donations, not with government money.
The arts minister who supported the project resigned last month amid criticism over the cost of wartime art projects.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Culture last year found that 85% of Ukrainian citizens support the project to remove the hammer and sickle.
Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has accelerated the process of removing references to Soviet history and Russian culture from geographical names and a law on decolonization recently came into effect.
There are similar statues at Soviet-era war memorials in other cities including Volgograd in Russia and Brest in Belarus.