A monument to the famous Russian 19th-century poet, Alexander Pushkin, was attacked by a group of alleged Ukrainian neo-Nazis this week. The bust decorating one of the metro stations in Kiev was doused in red paint.
A video that has since surfaced on social media showed two masked men wearing military-style cloth pouring red dye on the bust. One of them can be heard saying, “Glory to Ukraine!” and calling their act a “creative” performance. One of the men also appears to be wearing an insignia that resembles an emblem of the neo-Nazi ‘Right Sector’ group. Russia has previously put the group on its terrorism list.
The metro station appeared to be empty at the time of the act. The Kiev authorities have so far not reacted to the vandalism.
The stunt comes as Ukraine increasingly seeks to rid itself of any references to Russia, ranging from street names to monuments.
In June, the Kiev authorities decided to give new names to several stations of the city subway. Leo Tolstoy Square has been renamed in honor of Vasyl Stus, a local poet. There was also a petition to change all Pushkin Streets across Ukraine to bear the name of the American writer Stephen King, but it failed to gather enough signatures.
The Kiev Conservatory, which is officially named the Pyotr Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine (UNTAM) after a prominent Russian composer, has so far resisted the trend that has engulfed Ukraine since the start of the Russian military campaign in February. In June, its board refused to rebrand and remove the composer’s name.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian education ministry shared its plans to flush Russian literature out of Ukraine’s education programs. Deputy Education and Science Minister Andrey Vitrenko said in June that “everything that somehow connects us with the Russian Empire should be thrown out.”
The ministry has not yet officially announced any changes to the education programs, but local media earlier reported that Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Bulgakov and other iconic Russian authors are among those that will get banned.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.
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