Kyiv cultural official opposes demolition of historic Soviet-era arch

The KMDA opposed the dismantling of the former People's Friendship Arch
The KMDA opposed the dismantling of the former People's Friendship Arch

Maryna Solovyova, director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Department within the Kyiv City State Administration (KMDA), voiced her opposition to the demolition of the former People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv, in a comment to the Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne on April 22.

Ukraine's Culture Ministry withdrew the monument status of the former People's Friendship Arch, which was renamed to the Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People by the Kyiv City Council in May 2022, and advocates for its dismantling.

Solovyova opposes the demolition, citing safety concerns as parts of the monument serve as a retaining wall preventing soil erosion. She stressed the challenging, expensive, and hazardous nature of dismantling the arch.

Solovyova also referenced the swift acceptance of renaming Artem Street [a Russian Bolshevik revolutionary, Soviet politician] in Kyiv to Sichovykh Striltsiv [Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen within the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War] street as an example.

"Everyone has forgotten what the original name was, and calls it Sichovykh Striltsiv Street," she said.

Read also: Kyiv starts removing Soviet general's statue as decommunization continues

Solovyova believes that dismantling the arch contradicts the European values that Ukraine aims to uphold, particularly tolerance.

"The Ukrainian people have been very tolerant towards all nations, religions, and communities," she said.

"Today, such a vision exists in society. People have come to my department saying that the arch is located near European Square, so it should represent European values, particularly tolerance."

Solovyova calls for public discussions regarding reconsidering or dismantling the monument. She also mentioned rumors of replacing the arch with a Memorial to Fallen Heroes, although no documentation exists regarding such plans.

The People's Friendship Arch in Kyiv was erected in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the USSR. Part of the composition included a Soviet monument featuring two workers — a Ukrainian and a Russian — which was dismantled in April 2022. The remaining parts of the composition were covered up for later dismantling.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine