Ukraine Ban on Russian Symbols Fuels Fight Over National Identity

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tags: Russia, Ukraine



A young policeman knocked on Ivan M. Papchenko’s front door one recent afternoon, brandishing a complaint from the National Memory Institute of Ukraine and demanding to know why this village had resurrected Lenin.

Semyonovka stood accused of being a “de-communization” scofflaw.

Mr. Papchenko, the local Communist Party chief, refused to concede that anything was remotely amiss. The Lenin statue, he said, was long gone from the town’s Red Square. The expanse of naked asphalt, even more dreary without the statue, does not exactly conjure up the grand Moscow version. 

Instead, Semyonovka’s 12-foot, silver-colored Lenin with his right arm extended had been propped back up on a plinth in a discreet, leafy park. “We want to preserve this small corner of Soviet history,” said Mr. Papchenko, 67, a stout former school principal whose multiple gold molars attested to his own life in the U.S.S.R. “If they destroy all signs of the past whenever the ideology changes, what will be left?”




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