The Baltic Region

2022 Vol. 14 №4

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Dismantling monuments as the core of the post-2014 ‘decommunisation’ in Ukraine and Poland



Drawing on a wide range of sources (Polish and Ukrainian legal acts, Russian and international media), this study looks at the ‘monument fall’ in Ukraine and Poland as part of the post-2014 memory wars. The purpose of this article is to identify the main patterns associated with the demolition of Soviet and Russian monuments in the two countries. The ‘decommunisation’ of public space is an element of Ukraine’s and Poland’s politics of memory, enshrined in legal acts. Its driving force is the Institutes of National Remembrance, whose priorities include dismantling Soviet and pre-revolutionary Russian monuments, which came into full swing after the beginning of Russia’s special military operation to denazify and demilitarise Ukraine. The official narratives allot Poland and Ukraine the role of victims of ‘two aggressors’ in World War II, which found themselves under ‘communist occupation’. Therefore, the politics of memory of the two countries seek to get rid of the ‘Soviet legacy’ as the legacy of the ‘occupying country’. Whilst Poland pursues ‘residual decommunisation’ focused on dismantling the remaining memorials to Soviet soldiers-liberators, Ukraine is committed to transforming ‘decommunisation’ into full-scale ‘derussification’. At the same time, the process of ‘re-Sovietisation/Sovietisation’ has been launched in the liberated territories of Ukraine. It consists in restoring previously destroyed monuments or installing new ones.


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