Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lenin's final hours

If you live in Kharkiv or follow the news, then you know that Freedom Square's Lenin has been gone for about 3 weeks. 

These photographs were taken by a good friend of mine, a Ukrainian man who's become my eyes and ears in Kharkiv. He was downtown on Sunday, September 28th, just a few hours before the 50-year-old statue was pulled down in front of the crowds.

Massive Sumskaya street pro-Ukraine rally. More photos here.

He writes: While I was in the square, someone was shouting on the megaphone: "Don't leave! We will topple Lenin!", "Now we'll find a crane!", "Is anyone familiar with cranes?" I didn't take this seriously. I've heard these phrases many times before, going all the way back to rallies in the early 90s. Each time it proved to be just talk.

Lenin has about 4 hours left in these pictures.

This time the procession was massive and in a peaceful mood (except for the people wishing unpleasant fates upon Putin). When we arrived at the square it seemed like the rally had ended. I assumed the talk about bringing down the statue was simply to delay people from leaving. As it turned out, I was wrong.

That night, around 10 PM, I saw it on the news-  Kharkiv's statue of Lenin was being demolished. I turned on the square's webcam and it was clear in the light of the street lamps that ropes had been hung around the monument. After a few more minutes, it fell. 

Here's a short video that shows both the toppling of the statue and the mood of the crowd.

No Lenin is safe. This mentality swept most of the country months earlier but was quite delayed before finally arriving in Kharkiv. Here's another recent shot of one of the city's Lenin statues-

His email ends with this: The Kharkiv region is home to 127 Lenin monuments and all those guys will have to fall or move themselves to a special preservation area. Currently any Lenin memorial has become a place where people gather with Russian and Soviet flags. It's a symbol of Russian aggression and even though some believe it's a part of history, that it's our past, I think we should remove them so that it doesn't again become our present.

Meanwhile, this list of Lenin knickknacks worldwide makes interesting reading- Antarctica, Ethiopia, Seattle (Washington), Spain... seems like he's put in an appearance in most countries at one time or another.


  1. To be honest I'm a bit surprised that he lasted this long. But it's still somehow shocking to finally see him come down. Thanks for the updates on Kharkov from afar!