Dean O'Brien's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Lenin

Mariupol – Soviet Monuments & Decommunisation

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The Decommunisation process in Ukraine is a tough one.  I personally love Soviet history and all it left behind.  So do many others.  For them it takes them back to a time before the oligarchs and greed that came with independence.  Not to mention the poverty, corruption, alcoholism, sex tourism and everything else.

Whilst wandering around taking some images I chat to a babushka sitting on a bench who asks what I’m doing.  We exchange small talk and I ask her how she feels about the decommunisation process.  She says ‘They took Lenin.  They are trying to get rid of our history.  Our past.  We fought against the nazi’s in the war and now they are coming again from Kiev’.  It showed me that some people in people in Mariupol see the Ukrainian army coming there as an invasion and make a comparison between that and World War II.

I recall seeing memorials to Soviet soldiers in villages that still look spotless and have fresh flowers laid at their feet.  This isn’t about politics.  It’s about remembering those who fought and died.  Showing some respect to those who gave their lives.  They left their villages, cities and towns never to return.

A tank sits high on a plinth on a typical Soviet apartment block estate in Mariupol.  People pass the time smoking, chatting and drinking.  A typical summer evening and you’d never guess that the conflict was so close.



Out of all the monuments, I’d say that the ‘MiG on a stick’ is a personal favourite of mine.  Always has been.  These fantastic machines mounted up high create such a powerful presence.  These aren’t only found in parks.  You’ll find them in the remotest of places, like just at the roadside in the middle of nowhere.


As is the norm, Lenin was torn down in the middle of the night by ‘persons unknown’ and has been ‘replaced’.  The remaining area around the monument is neglected and overgrown.


Soviet mosaics still remain on the side of buildings.  They crumble away with little or no chance of ever being restored.  Each tells a unique story.  They portray sport, leisure, science, space, history and so much more… These are beautiful works of art and it’s a shame to see them in this state.


IMG_5859Only time will tell how far the decommunisation process will actually go.  The tanks on plinths, MiG’s on sticks and similar monuments seem safe for now at least.  But only time will tell if these start to disappear also.


Written by Dean O'Brien

July 25, 2017 at 11:14 am

Goodbye Lenin

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It came as no surprise yesterday when I heard that the Lenin statue in Kyiv had been torn down by protestors.  It had been a long standing tourist attraction for many who visited the capital.  The 24 hour guard always gave a hint that all was not well with some citizens though. Having survived numerous attacks, yesterday saw protestors pull the statue down and decapitate it.

It reminded me of my visit to Tallinn, Estonia back in 2007 when protests were taking place against ‘The Bronze Soldier’ monument.  It consisted of a soldier in a Red Army uniform which people felt, after gaining their independence from Russia should be removed.  Similar to the Lenin statue it had been on the receiving end of numerous attacks and a 24 hour guard had to be placed around this also.

There were numerous attempts to relocate ‘The Bronze Soldier’ but these were met with opposition from those in favour of keeping the monument where it was.  Eventually when it was moved to a secret location, it resulted in 2 nights of rioting by ethnic Russians living in Tallinn which ended with 1 death, 153 people injured and over 800 arrests.

Does seem like deja vu doesn’t it?  I’ll be honest though.  I’ve got mixed feeling about this.  Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Lenin kept somewhere as a reminder of past times.  Many former Soviet countries do have a ‘museum of occupation’ which does just that.  To remind people of a certain time in history never to be forgotten.

Latest reports are that fragments of the Lenin monument are now available to purchase online.  Failing that, get yourself down to Andrivsky next time you’re in town.  I’m sure someone will have some knocking about!


Written by Dean O'Brien

December 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm