Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Erased history

The destroyed graffiti in Hrushevsky Street: are Ukrainians ready to not give in to provocation, and the authorities to not provide reasons for it?
5 September, 2017 - 11:40

“They have gathered at the gate – how do you call them? – the people!” This phrase of the Russian actor and poet Leonid Filatov comes to one’s mind when the government provokes once again public outrage which is sometimes radical in nature as well. Radicalism is a destructive phenomenon. Nothing good is likely to come from it. But it objectively exists. Moreover, it is precisely radicalism that is fed by some forces that try to maintain their political and business balance as if they were wave surfers. And let us not forget that it was precisely because of the grader coming to Bankova Street, which Poroshenko tried to stop in December 2013, that he came to power. So he ought to have studied all the nuances and peculiarities of popular anger and resistance and how one can use or, conversely, not to provoke it.

At the end of last week, something that few expected happened in downtown Kyiv. Someone erased the patriotic graffiti that were painted in Hrushevsky Street during the turbulent events of February 2014. It was not just another fantasy of a street artist, but an artifact which had already been included on the list of historical heritage and protected by law. He erased it and thus spit into the souls of those who died in that square, who then left it to volunteer for the war, who dreamed of a renewed state, who sincerely wished for a better country. We cannot ask members of the Heavenly Hundred whether they had weighed it all during the Euromaidan, whether they understood the historical causal relationships, or whether they doubted the correctness of their actions. We cannot ask them, because they are not here anymore. Just like that, we cannot ask thousands of fallen volunteers of the war in eastern Ukraine who sacrificed their lives amidst slugheaps of the Donbas for our land whether they were expecting Minsk I or Minsk II to happen. Some soldiers of the anti-terrorist operation did not accept the Euromaidan, but nonetheless went to the front guided by (I stress it!) their own free will. And portraits of Taras Shevchenko and Lesia Ukrainka in Hrushevsky Street pulsed in the rhythm of their hearts, because they symbolized the main thing which is sincerity!

Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko responded to the graffiti destruction incident on that very day by making a statement about launching a criminal investigation in connection with the destruction of graffiti, referring to the order of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine No. 869 from October 15, 2014, which declared the location of fighting and mass death of citizens near Hrushevsky Street in Kyiv during protests in February 2014 to be an object of cultural heritage. In his turn, Ukrainian historian Volodymyr Viatrovych stated on Facebook that “the public has shown that Ukraine has learned from the Euromaidan. Law-enforcement agencies have to show that Ukraine is a state subject to the rule of law. The offender must be brought to justice so that others would not want to repeat his actions.”

Popular resistance is a healthy response of the social organism as it is hit by a virus. The temperature kills this virus, even though it feels like fever. Still, we need to know to what extent it should be tolerated. Otherwise, the organism will die. A man with massive rings on his hands, who boasted of gold ingots and sold luxury furniture for the rich, in one instant turned into more than just a barbarian vandalizing the souls of the people. He became the personification of the stratum which not only has not accepted the Euromaidan (this event should actually be treated highly critically), but most importantly, has failed to realize what had happened outside their store for the rich, located in a rented property. And it is very revealing that some MPs from the pro-government party came to defend this owner of luxury items in a time of general poverty while spitting out a phrase about the “civil war.” He and they have never realized that history was literally painted in blood on these walls, and no proper conclusions were drawn, as goods suited to glamorous chic of the 1990s were calmly lying inside these walls. It is a glitzy eczema of time which stood still. Well, it is sometimes not necessary to invent pieces and decorative productions at all for a demonstration of the drama of the modern time. Time itself paints a canvas in the right colors, both glamorous and bloody. One should just take care not to choke in them.

It is possible to restore the graffiti, but their value was in the time when they were painted. It is possible to break the glass of the store that belonged to a “fat cat,” but it does nothing to fix the brains of all those who while living in Ukraine, still perceive it as a bazaar, not a state. It is necessary to jail the vandal, because otherwise popular resistance will only grow, which will amount to pouring kerosene on the flame in our unfinished state. And for this, the government will have to deal with their own supporters as well – those who, as it turns out, believe that Ukraine is fighting a “civil war.” Is the government able to do this?

By Valentyn TORBA, The Day. Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day
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