DISHONORING A HERO: Ukrainian Nazis knock down Soviet statue in Kharkov

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KHARKOV – Members of Ukrainian nationalist organizations overturned a monument on Sunday to honor the iconic Marshal Georgy Zhukov, the most decorated officer in the history of the Soviet Union.

The incident happened during the day in the city of Kharkov. According to local media, members of the extreme right-wing organizations Corpus National and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) would have used a rope to pull down the statue and instead put a flag of Ukraine.

Shortly after the incident, the mayor of Kharkov, Hennadiy Kernes, said the monument would be restored.

In 2015, the Ukrainian parliament approved a set of laws as part of the country’s policy of de-communization, banning the use of Soviet symbols, demolishing monuments in honor of communist figures and renaming streets and inhabited areas.

So-called nationalists tore down a statue of Lenin in the centre of Kharkov in a move supported by officials back in September 2014. People cheered and leapt for joy as the statue came crashing down.

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Pro-Russian demonstrators in the largely Russian-speaking city defended the statue in February, when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted.

When nationalist protesters had already gathered around the statue for a “Kharkov is Ukraine” rally, the governor of Kharkov region, Ihor Baluta, signed an order to dismantle the statue.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook (in Russian) that he had given orders for police to ensure only the safety of people, “not the idol”.

“Lenin? Let him fall…” he wrote. “As long as people don’t get hurt. As long as this bloody communist idol does not take more victims with it when it goes.”

However, Ukrainian media reported that police had begun an investigation into “vandalism”.

One protester was reportedly injured in the head as the statue was dismantled.

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