Biggest Lenin Monument In Ukraine Toppled
Date: September 29, 2014
Location: Kharkiv, Ukraine
390 Lenins have been taken down across Ukraine in the last 10 months.
In 1956, on the 300th anniversary of the City of Kharkiv, the cornerstone was laid in the center of the round part of what was then called Dzerzhinsky Square, today Ploshcha Svobody at a celebratory rally. The monument itself was only unveiled on November 5, 1963 on the 46th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. On this memorable soviet date, an official wreath-laying ceremony was held at the feet of the Great Leader.
When Ukraine became independent, calls to remove the monument to Lenin, a symbol of totalitarianism, from the city’s center began to circulate. But for a long time the idea had little support among Kharkiv residents.
But on September 28, 2014, Ukraine’s largest monument to the “leader of the proletariat,” standing more than 20 meters high, came down.
It all started with a march down vulytsia Sumska. At around 19:00 that evening, the march arrived at Ploshcha Svobody, near the Lenin monument. Some demonstrators climbed onto the pedestal and used a grinder to carve out the words “Slava Ukrayini,” meaning “Glory to Ukraine,” into the granite. Then somebody decided to use the tool to carve up Lenin’s legs. The police did not get in the way of the activists who obviously intended to take the statue down.
To speed up the demolition, the monument was wrapped in cables. The crowd began to pull on the 20-meter statue. But nothing happened. The activists tried a few more times to pull Lenin down off his pedestal.
But it was 22:25 before the massive monument began to give way. The crowd then threw itself on the fallen Lenin and began to cut the sculpture to pieces.
Today, there is no trace of the monument on Ploshcha Svobody. Freedom Square contains only the pedestal on which Lenin’s shoes can still be seen. The people of Kharkiv have gathered on their main square to say what they think of this event.
Long shot of the Lenin monument surrounded by people with Ukrainian flags, as well as flags from the famous Azov Battalion and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).
On the monument’s pedestal, men in balaclavas and someone has used a grinder to carve out “Slava Ukrayini” on it.
Medium shot of men in balaclavas cutting off the statue’s legs with a grinder.
Long shot of the Lenin monument. Men in masks continue to cut off the statue’s legs.
People grow impatient near the monument, waiting for it to be toppled.
At Lenin’s feet, people are standing with the national flag and the flag of the Azov Battalion.
An ordinary Kharkivite approaches the monument, looking upset at what’s going on. He’s against toppling Lenin. The men in the balaclavas respond aggressively and push him roughly away from the monument.
A man in a balaclava holds a rope tied to the monument.
The men around the monument continue to dismantle it.
A man points at a fragment of Lenin’s leg noting that it’s bronze.
Men in masks continue to saw off the legs with the grinder while the crowd chants, “Ukraina ponad use.” Ukraine above all.”
Ploshcha Svobody, filled with people.
Medium shot. A man on the monument unwinds a rope.
Long shot. A man on the monument unwinds a rope.
At Lenin’s feet are people with Ukrainian and Azov Battalion flags.
Long shot. The monument is being dismantled.
Close-up. Men in balaclavas cut Lenin’s legs with grinder.
A man in the crowd threatens a woman who says she is against taking down the monument.
A fisticuffs near the monument.
People pull on the Lenin monument with cables.
Men wrap the face up in gauze. As the cables break the monument, Lenin’s eyes pop out.
The statue falls to the ground and people rush towards it, rejoicing.
The crowd chants “Ukraine Ukraine!!”
“Our opinion is that this was banditry. How can you go and knock down the best monument in Europe/ Whom was he bothering? The beauty of Kharkiv? This was banditry and it was taken down by the bandits who came to power. We’re absolutely against this. If we were young, we would defend our Ukraine, but not the bandits. We’re against bandits.”
Journalist: Tell me, what’s going on there now?
“They’re washing it, but you can see for yourself that they scratched ‘Slava Ukrayini’ on it, it’s all scratched up, but the tryzub [trident] is being washed off.”
Journalist: You don’t know who’s washing it down?
“Some young people. Two young guys with foreign faces, they’re dark. We’re standing pretty far away and it’s hard to see. We’re crying, we’re in mourning.”
“For these pensioners, these communists, Lenin is their leader, their idol. But I have to live in this country. Of course it’s a shame for them,, but when they die, I don’t plan to live my life under these symbols or under this idol who killed the Ukrainian people. I have different ideals. The flag of Ukraine is in my heart, while their hearts have the flag of Russia. We’re from different countries. They’re from the Soviet Union and I’m from Ukraine.”
“Well, I think evolution led to this situation. The situation brought about an evolutionary process. It had to happen sooner or later.”
Journalist: How about you, are you for or against knocking down the monument?
“Well, if this monument represented the solidarity of the Ukrainian nation, I’d have been against demolishing it, but because it actually represents discord in our country... well, you can draw your own conclusions.”
“I think this is the real face of the government today—barbaric.
Journalist: Tell me, what’s the square like today, without Lenin?
“Ah, not to worry, it’ll be replaced. This is barbaric. When somebody takes something down, those in power are at fault. It’s a real shame.”
Journalist: Tell me, why is all this happening anyway?
“I don’t get you. It’s barbaric, do you understand? They want to piss people off, so that we start attacking each other.”