News Politics, 05/06/2019

Troubled Weekend: Mayors’ Party Congress and Statue Zhukov’s Toppling

On June 2, a unifying congress of Doviriay Spravam (English: Trust the Deeds) party, headed by both mayors of Kharkiv and Odesa, Hennadiy Kernes and Hennadiy Trukhanov, took place in Kharkiv Palace of Sports building.

Before the congress, patriotic Kharkivites claimed that “the party would be considered as separatist.” Also, they talked about the revenge of the Party of Regions [Kh.O.: The Party of Regions is a pro-Russian political party which had been the biggest party of Ukraine between 2006 and 2014. Since the Revolution of Dignity took place in 2014, the party has now broken up.] Among the activists were representatives of Democratychna Sokyra, Fraykor, Praviy Sector, Svitanok, Anticorruption Council and Euro Kharkiv information center who gathered to remind Kharkivites that the leaders of Doviriay Spravam party had a pro-Russian orientation in 2013-2014 and were members of the Party of Regions. That is why, before the start of the congress, Ukrainian patriots created the so-called human corridor of shame in front of the Palace of Sport and paraded its participants through it. At the end of the corridor, the activists depicted the outline of Ukraine, defaced with red paint which symbolized the blood of Ukrainians, and portraits of Kernes and Trukhanov. Congress’ participants had to step on some of these symbols while walking inside the building.

In front of the building, activists met congress’ delegates with portraits of the Heaven Hundred, Ukrainian patriots killed during the Revolution of Dignity. They also carried portraits of those who became victims of the terrorist act near the Palace of Sport in 2015 and Ukrainians that perished in the east of Ukraine.

While the congress was taking part, participants in a protest rally toppled the statue of Soviet-era Marshal Georgy Zhukov. After demolishing the monument, activists installed the Ukrainian flag on the pedestal in place of Zhukov’s monument.

According to the National Police Department press-service, the statue to Marshal Zhukov was damaged at 1.40 p.m. and a group of unidentified persons used tear gas. As a result, three policemen suffered chemical burns to their eyes and were taken to the hospital.

Police opened criminal proceedings related to hooliganism and threat or violence against an employee of a law enforcement agency. The maximum sentence for such crimes is up to five years in prison.

Kharkiv mayor announced at the congress that the monument will be rebuilt by the fund of MP Vitaliy Khomutynnik.

Yulia Mendel, press-secretary of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy commented on Zhukov’s statue’s destruction. According to Ms. Mendel, excesses like the demolition of the Zhukov’s statue are considered a legacy of substandard of humanitarian policies that have been conducted during recent years.

She highlighted that it is almost impossible to determine if toppling of monuments to Zhukov and renaming of the streets named after him is subjected to the law on decommunization.

“Volodymyr Zelenskiy calls on the Kharkiv authorities to clarify this legal conflict, as public debates should be held and the most acceptable decision to all parties should be made,” Yulia Mendel commented on Kernes’ initiative to return to the former name of Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the currently named Petro Grigorenko Avenue.

Otherwise, the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance recalls that according to the Law of Ukraine on Decommunization, the monument to Zhukov should be dismantled. In addition, according to the Law of Ukraine on the Assignment of Names Including Toponyms, there has not been any legal grounds to name after Georgiy Zhukov any toponym.

Text: Natalia Ivanova

Photo: mykharkov.info, chronicles.pro, mediaport.ua, Serhii Shaparenko