Kyiv dismantles huge Soviet-era monument to Russia-Ukraine ties: ‘We now see what Russian friendship means’

Crowd cheers as crane removes monument from centre of Kyiv

Namita Singh
Wednesday 27 April 2022 14:27 BST
Kyiv dismantles Soviet monument 'Friendship of Peoples'

Ukraine dismantled a huge 27ft Soviet-era monument located at the centre of Kyiv on Tuesday in response to Russia’s invasion of the country.

The bronze monument, under a giant titanium “People’s Friendship Arch”, was meant to portray friendship between the two now-warring neighbours.

Installed in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union, it depicted a Ukrainian and Russian worker on a plinth holding together a Soviet order of friendship.

“This monument... symbolised friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations,” said Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko.

“We now see what this ‘friendship’ is – destruction of Ukrainian cities, ruining the lives of Ukrainians, killing tens of thousands of peaceful people. I am convinced such a monument has an entirely different meaning now.”

The work for its felling began with the removal of one of the two bronze heads that fell to the ground with a hollow clang, Reuters reported.

A crowd of about 100 people cheered the move as a crane lifted the monument off its moorings and lowered it to the ground.

The arch, however, will remain in place, said the mayor, adding that it would be renamed the “Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People”.

“Russia invaded Ukraine... Can we be friends with Russia? What do you think? This is our worst enemy, that is why the monument to Russian-Ukrainian friendship doesn’t make sense any more,” said Serhiy Myrhorodsky, one of the designers.

The crisis unleashed following Russia’s invasion launched on 24 February has forced up to 5 million Ukrainians to flee abroad, while up to 7.7 million have been internally displaced as many cities were turned to rubble.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), which planned for some 4 million refugees in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has said it now expects some 8.3 million people to flee Ukraine this year, revising its previous projection.

According to the latest update from the UNHCR, more than half the total – around 2.8 million – fled to Poland, where they are eligible for national ID numbers that entitle them to work, free healthcare, schooling and bonuses for families with children.

More than 2,700 Ukrainians have been killed and over 3,100 injured since the invasion began two months ago, according to a very conservative estimate by UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

Additional reporting by agencies

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