The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the removal of a monument to Odessa’s founders File photo: The monument to the founders of Odessa, November 3, 2022. © Carl Court/Getty Images
With its campaign of removing monuments and erasing Russian culture, the government in Kiev is attempting to rewrite Ukraine’s history and forcibly alter the memory of its own population, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. She was commenting on the removal of the statues of Empress Catherine the Great and General Alexander Suvorov from the port city of Odessa.
Local authorities ordered the monument to Catherine to be taken down “under the cover of night, like criminals,” Zakharova said, accusing Ukraine of “falsifying its own history, and destroying and replacing the historical memory of its people.”
“In their futile attempt to abolish Russian culture, to ban speaking and even thinking in Russian, Ukrainian authorities are trying to wipe off the face of the earth any objects that could awaken in the large Russian-speaking population of the country the awareness of what they are trying to take from them,” Zakharova noted.
Part of that process is removing the monuments their own ancestors put up, she explained. The statue of Catherine II was restored by the citizens of Odessa themselves, back in 2007, to replace the 1900 monument taken down by the Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1920.
Ukraine dismantles monument to iconic Soviet author
Suvorov commanded Russian troops that took the Ottoman fort of Khadjibey in 1791. Three years later, by imperial decree, Catherine II established the city that would be named Odessa in 1795. The port ended up becoming the Russian Empire’s “pearl by the sea.”
Some nationalists in Ukraine have called these facts “myths” imposed by “Russian occupiers” and urged the removal of monuments to Catherine, Suvorov and other Russians. President Vladimir Zelensky’s government created a special task force for “de-Russification, de-Communization and decolonization” in June, expanding the policy of removing Soviet-era names and monuments adopted after the US-backed coup in 2014.
Zelensky himself endorsed the removal of the Odessa monument in July, though he stopped short of approving a petition to replace the empress with a statue to American porn actor Billy Herrington.
Two statues to Suvorov, in the city of Odessa and nearby Izmail, were also taken down in recent days.
“The history of these places, like the entire history of Ukraine, is inseparable from Russian history, and any attempts of the Kiev regime to rewrite it are doomed to failure,” said Zakharova, vowing that the removed monuments will be restored to their place of honor once Ukraine is no longer under “the yoke of aggressive radical nationalists” and everything “returns to normal.” (RT)