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11 imaginative ways Ukraine has dealt with historic statues

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By Natalia Liubchenkova
11  imaginative ways Ukraine has dealt with historic statues

<p>In 1991 as part of its legacy from the Soviet Union, Ukraine had around 5,500 statues of Lenin scattered around the country. Now, 26 years after the country proclaimed its independence, all of them have been taken down. The most active demolition period began in 2013 and continued until recently. So what happened to the thousands of statues of the communist leader? </p> <p><strong>1. Lenin became someone else</strong></p> <p>The old statues were often melted down to create another monument or object. The idea of turning Lenin into an alternative figure or even a church bell often garner popular support but but face financial challenges and opposition from communist activists (and nostalgics). Nevertheless across Ukraine, you can meet a Darth Vader, who used to be Lenin in his previous life; or a Ukrainian <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cossacks;">Cossack</a> famous poets and many others. </p> <p>Learn more about Lenin reincarnations from the “Looking for Lenin” <a href="https://www.nack.ch/lost-in-decommunisation-lenin-ukraine/">project by Niels Ackermann and Sebastien Gobert</a></p> <p><strong>2. Lenin changed his colours</strong></p> <p>After the Soviet collapse, the statues of Lenin remained in Ukrainian cities and towns much longer than many locals wished. The ‘temporary solution’ was sometimes found by local activists, often nationalistic groups who painted Lenin in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. This was funny or ironic to some but treated as an act of vandalism by others.</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/38/47/384711/606x341_bonus-2017-ACKE-cat08.jpg" style="width:100%;"/><br /> <em>Niels Ackermann / Lundi13</em></p> <p><strong>3. Lenin got dressed</strong></p> <p>Rather than national colours, Lenin outfits were often painted to look like he was wearing the Ukrainian national costume: the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyshyvanka">vyshyvanka</a>, an embroidered shirt, the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BBupan">zhupan</a>, a warm overcoat, or the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharovary">sharovary</a>, a distinctive pair of trousers.</p> <p><strong>4. Lenin became a decoration</strong></p> <p>Taken with permission or stolen by locals, Lenin often ended up in the private backyards of Ukrainian villagers.</p> <p><strong>5. Lenin became art</strong></p> <p>The statues were sometimes exhibited in local state museums or private collections – either entire or in pieces.</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/38/47/384711/606x341_bonus-DSC05401.jpg" style="width:100%;"/><br /> <em>Niels Ackermann / Lundi13</em></p> <p><strong>6. Lenin was sold</strong></p> <p>The idea of raising money from demolished statues was quite popular. Sometimes they were sold as historical monuments, for example to foreign collectors, otherwise their value is derived from the materials of which they are made.</p> <p><strong>7. Lenin was stolen</strong></p> <p>Like anything else made of metal, Lenin statues are always at risk of being stolen by metal hunters.</p> <p><strong>8. Lenin was mothballed</strong></p> <p>Ukrainian municipalities are often willing to exhibit Lenin statues in their local museums but complain about the lack of funds to turn the demolished statue into a showpiece.</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/38/47/384711/606x341_bonus-DSC00626.jpg"style="width:100%;"/><br /> <em>Niels Ackermann / Lundi13</em></p> <p><strong>9. Lenin was decapitated</strong></p> <p>In recent years some statues have been left in place, but with heads missing. </p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/38/47/384711/606x341_bonus-DSC07487.jpg" style="width:100%;"/><br /> <em>Niels Ackermann / Lundi13</em></p> <p><strong>10. Lenin was hidden</strong><br /> Sometimes statues were simply moved by sympathetic locals from central squares to more discrete locations.</p> <p><strong>11. Lenin was graffitied</strong></p> <p>Before or after being removed and replaced, the statues were often covered by anti-Russian and anti-Putin messages.</p> <p><img src="https://static.euronews.com/articles/38/47/384711/606x341_bonus-DSC05568.jpg" style="width:100%;"/><br /> <em>Niels Ackermann / Lundi13</em></p> <p>In their book <a href="http://fuel-design.com/publishing/looking-lenin/">Looking for Lenin</a> Ackermann and Gobert have documented the inglorious fate of the Soviet statues, following their often violent removal.</p>