The war of statues: Lenin returns to Melitopol. And Odessa wants to bring down Catherine the Great

A war is also fought with the use of symbols. And what is more symbolic than statues, which have always been entrusted with the task of celebrating power? Thus it happens that Odessa is preparing to tear down the monument to the hated Tsarina Catherine II, a symbol of Russian domination in the country while the pro-Russian administration of Melitopol intends to restore the one dedicated to Lenin. Let’s start from Odessa, a city on the Black Sea famous for its large port for the steps of the Battleship Potëmkin, which most Italians actually know above all for the mocking Fanozzian parody. Here in Kateryninska square a grandiose monument to Empress Catherine II, the Great of Russia, has stood since 1900, on whose base there are also smaller statues portraying José de Ribas, François Sainte de Wollant, Platon Zubov and Grigory Potemkin, all considered the founders Odessa, a city officially born in 1794 in the territory recently torn by the Russian Empire from the Ottoman one in the final years of the reign of Catherine the Great. The statue, dismantled in 1920 after the October Revolution, was put back in its place at the expense of local businessman Ruslan Tarpan in 2007, to please the city’s sizeable Russian-speaking minority, accounting for about 29 percent of the total. what justifies the Russian aims on the city. Of course, since the outbreak of the war last February, the Ukrainian majority, which tolerated that symbol of Russianness, began to look at it sideways. And a debate arose on whether to keep that monument standing. In September, the statue was smeared with red paint, while some time later it was covered with an executioner’s hat. A vote on the fate of the monument was carried out on the Publicly Active Citizen platform, and the majority of the citizens of Odessa chose for the removal of the statue from Kateryninska Square. The Odesa city council will now have to vote on the issue. “I believe that the results of the vote on the Publicly Active Citizen platform will be taken into consideration by the representatives of the city council, who will make the final decision,” explained the mayor of the city, Hennadiy Trukhahov, quoted by the Euromaidan news agency. The story that comes from Melitopol, about 150 kilometers east of Odessa, has an opposite sign. Here the Russian authorities who have the city in their hands claim to have restored a statue of Lenin demolished in 2014. According to reports from France Presse, the Russian-settled leader of the Zaporizhzhia region, Vladimir Rogov, has published a photograph of the workers who they restore the monument to the Russian revolutionary, writing: “After seven years the statue of Vladimir Lenin has returned to its place in Melitopol.” Ukraine dismantled Lenin statues across the country after the 2014 revolution overthrew the Moscow-backed government. Almost all cities in Russia have a statue of Lenin in their central squares.

The war of statues: Lenin returns to Melitopol. And Odessa wants to bring down Catherine the Great