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Kyiv Tears Down Soviet Friendship Statue

Kyiv Tears Down Soviet Friendship Statue

The statue was gifted to Ukraine in the early 1980s

A Soviet-era statue commemorating the friendship between Russians and Ukrainians is being torn down in Kyiv amid the ongoing war between the two countries.

Built in 1982, the statue features two figures - one Ukrainian and one Russian - with their arms raised in solidarity, positioned under a large, rainbow-shaped titanium arch.

It was gifted to Ukraine by the Russian government and has remained since on an elevated plaza in the country's capital, but on Monday (25 April) Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced workers would be dismantling the figures.

Hear more about the decision below:

In a statement addressing the statue, Klitschko said: "This week we will dismantle a bronze sculpture of two workers, erected in 1982 to commemorate the reunification of Ukraine with Russia. The eight meters of metal of the so-called 'friendship of two peoples' will be removed from the centre of Kyiv."

The decision comes amid the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which on 24 April entered into its third month. Today (26 April), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced it had tallied 5,840 civilian casualties in the country: 2,729 killed and 3,111 injured, including men, women and children.

In the wake of the war Klitschko said the statue could no longer stand, though the arch over the two figures is set to remain.

Originally named the People's Friendship Arch, activities added a crack to the top of the arch after Russia invaded Crimea and eastern regions. Plans to keep the rainbow-like structure will see it be renamed and highlighted with the colours of the Ukrainian flag, Klitschko explained.

Residents of the country shared their thoughts on the statue in an interview with NPR earlier this month, with one local expressing belief that the structure should be kept 'for the sake of remembering' while another had a suggestion which was 'not radio appropriate', adding: "There can be no friendship at all. I'm pretty sure about it. The only thing I have left in me - it's pretty much hatred only. We're never going to be brothers again. At this stage, it's not possible that we're going to be even good neighbours."

Klitschko shared an update on Facebook after workers began to dismantle the statue, describing how the head of the Russian figure fell off when workers began to move it. He also said the arch may tentatively be renamed 'Ark of freedom of the Ukrainian people'.

As well as the work being done today, the mayor said another 60 monuments would be dismantled in the capital.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: CBC/Alamy

Topics: Ukraine, Russia, Politics, World News