Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Ukrainians Remain Split After Five-Year Effort to Eliminate Soviet Place Names and Statues, New Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 27 – Since April 2015, the Ukrainian authorities have renamed more than 51,000 place names, including a thousand cities and towns, 26 districts, 75 academic institutions, 30 railway stations and several ports, replacing Soviet-imposed names with Ukrainian ones, Anton Drobovich, head of the Kyiv Institute of National Memory, says.

            And has part of this same effort, officials have removed about 2500 Soviet-era statues from public places. Just over half of these are statues of Lenin; and at the present time, there are only three statues to the founder of the Bolshevik state remaining in Ukraine. All three are in Odessa Oblast whose officials pledge to remove them and 19 other Soviet symbols soon.

            Obviously, many Ukrainians view this as a necessary step to get out from under the totalitarian past and to put them on a course independent from Moscow.  But a new survey conducted by the Kucheriv Democratic Initiative Foundation and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology finds the Ukrainian nation is still divided about them.

            The poll shows that for Ukraine as a whole, just under half of the population opposes this program while a third supports it and efforts Kyiv has made to realize it and a fifth are indifferent to this program ( and

            As one might expect from earlier surveys, Kyiv’s decommunization program has the greatest support in Western Ukraine, where 45 percent back it, but significantly less in the eastern and southern portions of the country, where support stands at 22 percent and 24 percent respectively. Younger people are more supportive of these changes than older ones.

             Other findings of this survey, however, suggest that the views Ukrainians have about renaming streets and towns and removing statues should not be overly generalized and that far more support both Ukrainian national heroes and Ukraine’s integration with the European Union than the toponomy and statue numbers might suggest.

            Almost exactly half – 48 percent – of those surveyed support giving public recognition to figures from the Ukrainian Peoples Republic, with only 16 percent opposed.  Only 31 percent of Ukrainians don’t view the USSR as “a universal evil, and only 32 percent prefer a union with Russia as against one with the EU.

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