Culture News Politics Society, 06/02/2017

Bad Taste and Backroom Contest. Scandal with Maidan Svobody Monument

Activists whistle-blew the decision of installing the infamous tawdry monument on the central square.

This afternoon Kharkivites have protested near the court of Shevchenko district where the activists have filed the lawsuit to revoke the municipal behind-the-scenes contest for the monument on Maidan Svobody (Freedom Square).

Since December 2016 judges have refused to consider the initiative group’s claim, says one of the organizers and Kharkiv regional council deputy Dmytro Bulakh. Therefore about hundred activists gathered to urge the judges to assume their claim and to consider it. The chairman of the district court came out to talk to the protesters.

Meanwhile, the results of the contest in question were announced on 3 February, but the winner — the huge 86-meter column crowned with an angel and a cross — was known since September 2016 as the civic activists warned the public that the decision about constructing the column on Maidan Svobody had already been taken. Famous Ukrainian artist Olexandr Roitburd also commented on the architectural project, selected now as a winner for Maidan Svobody. Was it an irony or public warning, it should be one’s decision.

There are two main points the contest organizers are charged with. First is that the designed sculpture is tasteless and the historical spot of Kharkiv needs thorough designing with attracting foreign and domestic experts and artists. Secondly, the contest was not agreed with the city residents and it was obviously held behind-the-scenes, as the results announced on 3 February 2017 had been already known in autumn 2016, long before the contest itself.

Thus many indignant Kharkivites perceived the contest as a demonstration of the corruption schema when the municipal servants and architects as their accomplices misappropriate the budget money.

After the monument design has been officially approved on 3 February the scandal has spread in social networks. Nine petitions demanding to cancel the decision on installing the “tawdry” column were registered. One of them by Dmytro Bulakh has been already voted by about 3 thousand people for 24 hours.

Due to today’s rally, the case hearing to cancel the scandalous contest is finally scheduled for 13 February.

Responding to the allegations, the chief architect of Kharkiv Serhiy Chechelnitsky has said today that the contest winner project design is connected with Kharkiv history. According to him, Kharkiv architects of different times were eager to design a kind of a spire or a column in the center of the circular part of the central square. However, he did not comment the charges of corruption and the fact that the winning project author is his brother Pavlo Chechelnitsky.

Reported: Olena Sokolynska

Pictures: courtesy of Volodymyr Ogloblin, Olena Dolzhenko