Key Facts

Euromaidan-related graffiti ruined in Kyiv, vandals face backlash from society

courtesy of Anri Mos

On 2 September 2017, so-called “Icons of Revolution”, a cultural object of Euromaidan times, has been destroyed by a local furniture shop. This has been first reported by Tetyana Vysotska The act of vandalism has provoked a retaliation from Ukrainian far-right.

While protesters and police have been clashing on Hrushevskyy street during the winter of 2014, there has also been place for culture. On 10 February 2014, Ukrainian artist under the nickname “Sociopath” has drawn the so-called “Icons of Revolution” on the façade of a building near the frontline of the clashes. This set of graffiti represented renowned Ukrainian writers—Taras Shevchenko, Lesia Ukrayinka and Ivan Franko—reimagined as protesters.

When Euromaidan has won, these graffiti have become a symbol of Ukraine’s fight for dignity and European values. Cultural value of “Icons of Revolution” has been officially recognized. Ukraine’s culture ministry’s has issued the respective decree No 869 on 15 October 2014. According to this document, the site of violence and mass killings of Ukrainians in Kyiv’s Hrushevskyy Street “is considered an object of cultural heritage; its damage or destruction carries criminal punishment.”

Igor Dotsenko, a director of the store, clearly did not know about the ministry’s decree, as he called the art object “common graffiti like the ones which are frequently destroyed by community services.” Later, when confronted in Facebook, he tried to deny his involvement.

However, the reaction of the public is way more important. Protesters who came by the store on 3 September broke the glass of the entrance door and set tires on fire nearby. Members of Ukrainian far-right movement C14 have participated in the action.

Volodymyr Viatrovych, the director of Ukrainian Institute for National Memory, announced that his institution was preparing an address to the national police and Prosecutor General’s office to investigate this act of vandalism. Ukrainian authorities responded quickly. Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, informed that the business of “the vandals” is undergoing thorough inspections by all government controlling agencies, and a criminal case over the ruined graffiti has been opened.

This story is also among the most discussed topics in Ukrainian segments of Facebook and Twitter. While many users supported the action against the shop, some of them questioned the methods. Serhiy Leshchenko, Ukrainian MP, pointed out that Lutsenko’s statement concerning inspections goes against Ukraine’s Constitution. He hinted that controlling agencies still may be used to destroy someone’s business. Serhiy Fursa, financial expert at Dragon Capital, noted that Ukraine cannot attract much investments if businesses can be destroyed at will of the government.

The reaction of Ukrainian society to the destruction of “Icons of Revolution” clearly indicates that Euromaidan remains a “place of memory” for many Ukrainians. It remains a key event of the Ukrainian recent history, and to some extent an open wound that many feel necessary to protect. But an open question remains as well whether Ukrainians always choose the right methods to defend values they want so much to defend.

Prepared by Vitalii Rybak for UkraineWorld group (ukraineworld.org)

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