Advertisement

Hated Lenin Monument Standing Up to Ukrainian Demolition Plans : Statuary: Its supports run deep, symbolizing the bureaucracy the Communist Party has left behind.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A four-story monument to Soviet founder V. I. Lenin is so hated in this Ukrainian capital that local authorities have barricaded the red granite statue to protect it from graffiti and posted signs reading: “We Apologize for the Inconvenience.”

City officials ordered the monolithic tribute to Lenin destroyed almost two weeks ago. They even submitted their daring decision for review by legal experts to confirm that what they planned to demolish has no cultural value.

But much like the Communist system Lenin bequeathed to the Soviet Union, ridding Kiev’s Independence Square of his towering likeness will have to be accomplished “brick by brick.”

“It turns out that the supports for the monument run deep below the surface, near a shaft” of the subway, acting mayor Alexander Mosiyuk told a press conference Thursday. “Any use of explosives would endanger the subway shaft.”

Advertisement

Municipal workers had been preparing to blow up the monument. But it is so massive that no crane is equal to lifting it from its imposing perch in central Kiev. Lenin’s head alone weighs 15 tons, and the figure is backed by a thick wall of granite that stands on a base twice the height of a man.

“We are working on removing the statue within the next two or three days, no later than Monday,” Mosiyuk said.

But he conceded that the demolition could take as long as a couple of months to complete.

“It is not as easy as just deciding to do it,” said the mayor of this city of 1 million, which appears to be the first republic capital to erase Lenin from his once-hallowed place in Soviet history. “The monument will have to be taken down step by step, brick by brick.”

Advertisement

The formidable Lenin statue is a fitting symbol for the immovable bureaucracy that the Communist Party has left behind. While the party has been outlawed in the Ukraine and its vast wealth stripped by governments throughout the Soviet Union, the institution’s sloth and indifference, fostered by 74 years of socialism, is expected to take decades to overcome.

The party’s ruinous impact on the lives of common workers has angered many of the Ukraine’s 52 million residents and helped galvanize popular support for an independent republic. A Dec. 1 referendum on secession appears to have majority support.

Unlike their overburdened brothers in Russia who appear largely to have turned a deaf ear on the latest Soviet upheaval, Ukrainians seem more politically active and have become vociferous in their demands for independence since the failure of the Kremlin coup last month.

Office workers unable to take part in varied demonstrations for secession bustle along sidewalks and corridors pressing radios to their ears to follow the parliamentary doings. A tan Niva jeep, washed in national colors, scurried through central Kiev announcing marches and protests, blaring national songs through loudspeakers. Crepe paper headbands and flags bearing the Ukraine’s blue and yellow national colors testify to a spreading brush fire of support for secession.

Advertisement

A near riot by anti-Communist demonstrators outside the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet on Wednesday forced the republic’s leadership to remove the red and blue flags of the Soviet Ukraine, in favor of nationalist blue and yellow banners.

“We have great people, fertile land, the best resources. We would be rich if we didn’t have to support those Russians,” declared Milia Pipskaya, a laborer at a Kiev pharmaceutical factory.

Taxi driver Sergei Mironov, 26, lamenting the dearth of goods to keep his two young sons fed and clothed, referred to the Ukraine’s reputation as the Soviet breadbasket as evidence that it would succeed as an independent country.

“We produce something like 60% of the whole union’s sugar, and you cannot find sugar in any of our stores. The system is a disaster,” he complained.

Advertisement

Hundreds demanding the ouster of Communist Party holdovers have demonstrated outside the republic’s Parliament every day this week as deputies, trying to cloak themselves as reformers, have jumped on the secession bandwagon.

The Ukrainian Supreme Soviet declared independence Aug. 24, three days after a hard-line Communist junta failed in its bid to overthrow Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev. The leadership banned the Communist Party a week later and has since begun a systematic dismantling of the party’s long legacy.

Property seized from the Communists will help in resolving Kiev’s housing shortage as well as the problems of having no living or work space for foreign businesses and embassies that want to locate in the Ukraine, said Mosiyuk, the mayor.

“We have also signed an order for the removal of all Communist agitation from the streets,” Mosiyuk said, referring to a plethora of red banners attesting to the glory of the proletariat and adorning every street and square with red stars, hammers and sickles. A cavernous, white marble museum dedicated to Lenin will be transformed into “a real museum or an auction house,” the mayor said.

Advertisement

A 10-foot statue of Lenin that towered over Supreme Soviet deputies from a shrine-like recess was removed from the hall for the parliamentary session opened Monday. But other symbols of the Communist era will prove more resilient. All along the decorative molding on the powder-blue walls of the republic’s Parliament are hammer-and-sickle party insignia. They are carved into the woodwork--and cannot be changed, unless the entire building is destroyed.


Advertisement
Advertisement