Ukraine Pulls Soviet Emblem

Kyiv museum proclaims change in coat of arms as representative of a 'sovereign, independent' nation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 6, 2023 4:00 PM CDT
Ukraine Pulls Soviet Emblem
The national flag waves as workers install the Ukrainian coat of arms on the shield in the hand of the country's tallest stature after the Soviet coat of arms was removed in Kyiv on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Ukraine on Sunday replaced the Soviet emblem that once adorned one of the nation's most recognizable landmarks with the country's coat of arms. The symbolic move is part of a wider shift throughout Ukraine to reclaim the country's cultural identity from the Soviet past after Russia's ongoing invasion. Erected in 1981 as part of a larger complex housing Ukraine's national World War II museum, the AP reports, the Mother Ukraine monument stood on the right bank of the Dnipro River in Kyiv, facing east toward Moscow.

Created in the image of a fearless female warrior, the 200-foot-tall statue previously held a sword and a shield emblazoned with the Soviet coat of arms: a crossed hammer and sickle surrounded by ears of wheat. In its place, crews installed the Ukrainian tryzub, the three-pronged trident that was officially adopted as the coat of arms for independent Ukraine in 1992. Workers began removing the old coat of arms in late July, but air raids and poor weather conditions have delayed the work. The completed sculpture will be officially unveiled on Aug. 24—Ukrainian Independence Day. The Wall Street Journal posted video of the work here.

The change is part of a yearslong effort in Ukraine to erase the vestiges of Soviet and Russian influence from public spaces—often by removing monuments and renaming streets to honor Ukrainian artists, poets, and soldiers instead of Russian cultural figures. Most Soviet symbols were outlawed by Ukraine's parliament in 2015, but this did not include World War II monuments such as the Mother Ukraine statue, previously called the Motherland monument. In a statement, Ukraine's World War II museum said the Soviet coat of arms represented a totalitarian regime that "destroyed millions of people," per the AP. "Together with the coat of arms, we've disposed the markers of our belonging to the 'post-Soviet space.' We are not 'post-', but sovereign, independent and free Ukraine."

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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