March 01, 2004

Letters to the Editor

To the Editors:

I read with interest Dasha Demourova’s story on the Lenin statues. I have another view of this from my eight years working in Lviv, Ukraine. I arrived there in 1994, three years after Ukrainian independence. By that time, the city had managed to eradicate almost all traces of Russia, the Party and statues of Lenin. Western Ukrainians tend to have a less romantic view of Vladimir Ilyich and Communism, as they only had to endure it since the end of the war (except for two unpleasant years between the Polish partition and Barbarosa). I also wondered what happened to all the Lenin statues in Lviv and the surrounding oblasts. Then, in 1996, I had the opportunity to visit the famous bronze monument enterprise in Lviv and discovered them busily casting statues of Taras Shevchenko and other Ukrainian notables and using old bronze statues of Lenin as a source of metal. Walking around outside the casting building, one could see the discarded bases of many of the old monuments – it was sort of a epilogue of who was “out” (and laying around in the snow) and who was “in” (being cast).

In 2001, I visited Yalta (Lenin and the “old days” seem to be more popular there) and noted that there was a nice Lenin statue in the main plaza with his arm outstretched – possibly the old aim was across the Black Sea to Turkey, but now fate has intervened and the new waterfront McDonalds is the object of his interest.

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