In the Ukrainian city of Charkov, right-wing nationalists destroyed the largest Lenin statue of Europe. Anti-Russian demonstrators had tried to destroy the statue in the past, but pro-Russian Ukrainians were able to safeguard it then. Now with the Ukrainian Civil War in progress and with Russia’s participation in it, many Ukrainian nationalists are on a rampage to destroy all monuments and symbols of the former USSR. The police stood by and did nothing to protect the monument. After many attempts, the statue of Lenin fell. Nationalists painted nationalist and fascist propaganda on its remains, including the Wolfsangel, the symbol of the former neo-Nazi; Social-National Party of Ukraine, today called the All-Ukrainian Union “Svoboda”
Lenin was the most view able icon of the Stalinist USSR and so his statues are hated by the Ukrainian nationalists. In the past the government of Ukraine prevented the destruction of Soviet monuments, but now they allow these vandals to destroy all remnants of the Soviet-Union. The Lenin statue in Charkov was the largest in Ukraine, its destruction is hailed in the Ukrainian media as a victory over Russian imperialism. In reality, it shows how far the Ukrainian nation has degenerated into ethnic nationalism. Ukraine was a founding father of the USSR, equal to Russia along with Belarus and Transcaucasia!
We revolutionary socialists do not weep because some angry nationalists destroy a Stalinist made Lenin statue. Vladimir Lenin hated statues and did not liked portraits of himself. In 1918, he ordered the release of a young woman who removed his picture from a building. Before Lenin’s death, he was portrayed equal to other Bolsheviks such as Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zenoview and even Joseph Stalin. No Soviet leader stood above the others during the Civil War era!
However after Lenin died, he became a semi-god. One of the first statues build was on the Finland Station in Petrograd, renamed Leningrad. More and more statues were build between 1924 and 1930. The death Soviet icon became the center of the Stalinist cult of personality. Even Trotsky fell into the trap of worshiping Lenin as most Bolsheviks did. After Stalin took power he replaced Lenin’s friends with his own henchmen. By 1934, Stalin was absolute dictator of the USSR. Still he feared popular people like Sergei Mironovich Kirov, a Leningrad leader. Stalin ordered his new NKVD to murder Kirov, this was the start of the Great Terror which killed 600.000 communists and jailed millions. By the time the Nazi Germans invaded the USSR, Stalin had murdered all original Bolsheviks, from the highest leaders of the communist party to local party members!
After the death of Stalin, the ruling caste of the communist party removed the statues and monument to the Great Dictator. Lenin became the sole face of the reformed Stalinist bureaucracy. Many more statues were build in the period between 1956 and 1980. Leonid Brezhnev was the longest Soviet leader since Stalin’s days. His rule led to the stagnation of the Soviet economy and the eventual collapse of stalinism. After Gorbachev became Soviet leader he tried to reform the Stalinist system. He failed and on 25 December 1991, the Soviet-Union collapsed. Most former republics of the USSR removed the many Lenin statues. Only Belarus, Ukraine and Russia kept most statues standing!
Ukraine’s government was always divided between anti-Russian politicians and pro-Russian politicians. Anti-Russian governments oppose Russia, but never dared to remove the statues of Lenin. The pro-Russian governments of Ukraine kept the statues to impress the ethnic Russian population in Eastern Ukraine. When the civil war broke out in 2014, the majority of Ukrainians saw the statues of Lenin as symbols of ”Russian” dominance. Already in December 2013 during the EuroMaidan protests, did anti-Russian Ukrainians destroy statues of Lenin. In the end, more then 1400 Soviet memorials, monuments and statues were vandalized across Ukraine. Most vandals who attack these symbols of Ukraine’s Soviet past, are young people. Teens who are born after 1994 and brainwashed to believe that Lenin stood for Russian imperialism!
We revolutionary socialists oppose the destruction of memorials, statues and monuments, but we do not weep because they were of Lenin. For us, Lenin is not a statue or a stone monument. Lenin symbolizes struggle, solidarity and socialism. The vandals who destroy Soviet monuments are poisoned with ethnic nationalism. A result of massive poverty, brainwashing and anti-Russian hatred. They see in Lenin a ”Russian” leader, a ”Russian” who came to conquer their nation, this is what the nationalists and fascists tell them. In response, ethnic Russians have created the separatists who want to join the Russian ”Empire” of Vladimir Putin.
Moscow puts oil on the fire by spreading the lie that all Ukrainians are fascists. This frightens the ethnic Russian Ukrainians, who remember the horrors of the fascist occupation of 1941-1945. During the occupation, many ethnic Ukrainians joined the Waffen SS and participated in the mass murder of Jews. Now teenagers with symbols of those pro-fascist Ukrainians are on a rampage, destroying Soviet symbols and calling for ethnic cleansing. Antisemitism is also on the rise as Russians are called ”dirty Jews”. A response to Leon Trotsky, founder of the Red Army who was born to Jewish parents!
The fascists in Ukraine can destroy all statues of Lenin, but they cannot hide their incompetence and their totalitarian racist ideology. In the absence of a workers party, they are able to rally these workers and poor against what they call the ”enemies of Ukraine”. Revolutionary socialists call for a unified workers party on a socialist program that rejects ethnic nationalism, chauvinism and vandalism. Workers of both Ukraine and Russia must stand up and fight for genuine socialism. The destruction of these Lenin statues will not affect us revolutionary socialists. It only proofs how far Ukraine is from being a democratic and tolerant nation!