In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv officials announced earlier this week that they would dismantle part of a monument symbolizing the friendship with the Soviet Union, specifically Russia.
A bronze statue of two men jointly raising up a Soviet order of friendship has stood under the iconic titanium People’s Friendship Arch in the city center since 1982.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday that the statue would be dismantled. On Tuesday, workers pulled it apart — starting with the men’s heads — while a crowd of onlookers cheered.
Reuters reports that a crane lifted the statue off its base and gradually lowered it to the ground, as around 100 observers applauded and shouted slogans like “Glory to Ukraine.”
Several people in the crowd told reporters it was a fitting move, given the toll that Russia’s war has taken on Ukraine’s people and infrastructure.
“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 statue’s designers.
The Friendship Arch — on which activists had painted a large crack following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea — will remain in place.
Klitschko says it will be painted in Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow and renamed the “Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People.”