Стаття 134. Автономна Республіка Крим є невід'ємною складовою частиною України і в межах повноважень, визначених Конституцією України, вирішує питання, віднесені до її відання.

“Occupational “revision” of Ukrainian symbols in Crimea”


As if by an irony of fate, on April 1, the “Chairman of the Republic of Crimea” Serhiy Aksyonov publicly responded[1] to the “appeal of concerned citizens” outraged by the presence of a street in Armyansk named after the founder of the People’s Movement of Ukraine Vyacheslav Chornovol – “one of the leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist movement”. For Aksyonov and his like-minded people, it is absolutely unacceptable that in “Russian” Crimea there remain symbols dedicated to people somehow connected with “Ukrainian Nazism” (an oxymoron that exists only in the minds of the masterminds and followers of the “special operation” against Ukraine ) and “realization of the project of Ukraine as anti-Russia”.

It would seem that so much attention is paid to a town in the north of Crimea, where there is almost the only street on the entire peninsula in honor of a Ukrainian statesman of the new era. Although, in the end, many people found out that there is Chornovola Street in provincial Armyansk. So far there is. The Crimean “helmsman” has already ordered to rename it in honor of the “one hundred and twenty-sixth separate Horliv twice Red Banner, Order of Suvorov coastal defense brigade” of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation – the one whose composition betrayed Ukraine and went over to the side of the occupier in the spring of 2014 and which for 8 years took part in full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. And to which the head of the occupying state Putin, by his decree on March 28, awarded the rank of Guardswoman. There is a tradition among Russian commanders-in-chief to call defeated military units “guards”: a week before receiving the title, the brigade suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, after which about a hundred coffins arrived in the village of Perevalne, Simferopol district.

However, the “head of Crimea” Aksyonov apparently decided not to go into such details and suggested that the regional “authorities” conduct an “audit” to identify Ukrainian “symbols” in the populated areas of the occupied peninsula. However, not all residents of Crimea were delighted with his initiatives – in particular, at least because these “symbols” were not paid attention to for years, and now the residents of the renamed streets will have to redo the “documents”. Yes, the measures will take funds from the already scarce budget that could be used for much more relevant needs. In addition, not everyone expresses a desire to “rewrite history through a change of views.” In short, all those theses that accompanied the processes of decommunization in mainland Ukraine. More than once, there have been critical remarks about the new name of Chornovola Street in Armyansk, which will have to be “pronounced for five minutes with a sober head” – like some other strange Crimean toponyms, such as “the street of 50 years of Soviet rule.” It also turned out to be a surprise that Vyacheslav Chornovil “has not done anything bad” either to Ukraine or to Crimea.

A separate discussion was caused by the issue raised regarding the restoration of Crimean Tatar historical names on the occupied peninsula – which in response evoked the desire to “remove all Tatars from the originally Russian Crimea to Siberia as soon as possible, to raise the virgin land”, because “they were given too much freedom”. At the same time, the initiators of such plans did not forget to “mention with a gentle quiet word” the Ukrainian “nationalists” and “Banderians”, who are currently being eradicated by Russian marauders.

But let’s return to the “traces of Ukraine”, which for the ninth year will not be fully cleaned from the occupied Crimea – despite all wishes and intentions. The same Aksyonov, who himself swore loyalty to Ukraine on the eve of the Russian occupation of Crimea, already at the end of 2015 lamented that the “post-Ukrainian mentality” and “the ideology that existed in the Ukrainian Crimea” from the heads of some “officials” can only be “wiped out” by demonstrative detentions.[2] No matter how much he insists at every step that the majority of Crimeans are “joyful at the historic reunification with Russia” – it’s worth putting flowers at the monument to Shevchenko, as the “police” immediately surrounds it, sometimes detaining those who laid them. It could also be recalled how in 2017, during a visit to Kerch, Aksyonov saw ballot boxes painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag on one of the local beaches, and called this coloring “anti-state” and proposed to fine the local “authority” 5 million rubles “for violation ecology and the image of aesthetics”[3], after which the “deputy head of the city administration” of Kerch Dilyaver Melgaziev reported that the ballot boxes were repainted in a “neutral” color.[4]

The struggle with the “legacy of the cursed past” in Crimea began in the fall of 2014 – if not earlier. Then the word “Ukrainian” was dropped from the name of the Crimean Academic Ukrainian Musical Theater, and Ukrainian productions were removed from its repertoire. The Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol also became “academic”, the situation in which was brought to the point that only one application was received for teaching in the Ukrainian language in the 2014-2015 school year. The only school in Yalta with the Ukrainian language of instruction – educational association No. 15 “Ukrainian kindergarten-school-gymnasium” named after Stepan Rudanskyi – was also deprived of the name of the classic (it is surprising that his grave in the city has not yet been razed to the ground); the same fate awaited Lesya Ukrainka Gymnasium No. 5 in Sevastopol.

Nevertheless, time and time again the Crimean “authority” seemed to come out of a lethargic sleep and continued the “struggle” – including with hatred and wild bitterness, almost personally uprooting road signs in the Ukrainian language. Despite the fact that Ukrainian TV and radio broadcasts were turned off in Crimea back in March 2014, during the occupation, in November 2015, the “head of Crimea” Serhii Aksionov gave the then Crimean “minister” of internal policy, information and communication Dmytro Polonsky the order to exclude any appearance of Ukrainian channels on the territory of the peninsula: “Clean up the Ukrainian mass media as a class, so that I do not hear that someone is watching these incomprehensible TV programs. “Good night, kids” let them watch. However, according to reports from other sources, the phrase “head of Crimea” sounded differently – “So that even I did not hear that someone was watching these TV programs in Ukrainian, which I personally do not understand at all”.[5] Such a reaction was caused by the report of the “deputy” of the Crimean “state council” Oleksiy Chernyak about the detected cases of Ukrainian media broadcasting in Armyansk and Dzhankoy.[6]

In March 2015, the “deputy” of the Crimean “state council”, the head of the “committee on culture and protection of cultural heritage” Svitlana Savchenko, at the plenary session of the session of the Crimean “parliament”, proposed to oblige the heads of organizations and institutions of Crimea to remove Ukrainian state symbols within two weeks from the signboards located on the buildings of many institutions – because, they say, “the fascists left, but the swastika remained”.[7] In November of the same year, Savchenko took part in the 19th meeting of the “World Russian People’s Council” on the topic “The heritage of Prince Volodymyr and the fate of historical Russia”: it was the trident that Savchenko compared to the swastika that was the princely symbol of Volodymyr.

The consequence of such rhetoric was the destruction of not only Ukrainian symbols, but also any inscriptions in the Ukrainian language. In April 2016, unknown vandals defaced the inscription “Eternal honor and glory to victorious heroes” on a memorial in the area of ​​a military town near Feodosia, correcting the letter I to I, and the word “winners” to “winners”.[8]

In April 2015, “Chairman of the Committee of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea on Education, Science, Youth Policy and Sports” Volodymyr Bobkov was indignant that the Ukrainian school in the village of Prymorske near Feodosia (now nominally the only school on the whole peninsula with the Ukrainian language of instruction) is named after Olena Teliga is a Ukrainian writer and poet, a member of the OUN, who was first arrested by the Gestapo in the winter of 1942, and then shot by the German Nazis in Babi Yar together with her husband and associates. “Deputy” demanded to rename the school in a week and a half.[9] Soon the Crimean “minister” of education, science and youth Natalya Goncharova reported that the school in Primorsky had been “fixed”.[10]

The “war of identities” affected not only state and cultural institutions and monuments. After the Russian occupation of Crimea, the first and only Ukrainian open-air museum “Native Village” in the Bakhchysaray district, founded in 2010, underwent changes: its owners had to change the name to “Slavian Village”, and two of the three hundred-year-old Ukrainian huts brought from Volyn adapt to Russian and Belarusian entourage.[11]

The number of times it was proposed to demolish monuments to Taras Shevchenko in large cities of the occupied Crimea is impossible to count. I don’t even want to bring up those despicable “arguments” that accompanied such intentions, as well as mention the persons whose monuments were proposed to be erected instead. It should only be noted that in the village of Novoozerne, Yevpatoriya region, in 2015, if not earlier, the foundation stone for the monument to Shevchenko was dismantled[12]; the fate of Kobzarev’s bust on the territory of the Navy headquarters in Sevastopol captured by the occupiers is also unknown.

However, surprisingly, libraries named after Taras Shevchenko, Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi, Ivan Kotlyarevskyi, Ivan Franko and other classics of Ukrainian literature are still functioning on the peninsula – the works of which, in fact, Crimean book collections and educational institutions are deprived of. The contents and functions of these libraries are the subject of a separate study. At the end of 2014, it was announced that the scientific library named after Ivan Franko in Simferopol will get rid of the name of the Ukrainian classic, which it received back in 1956 in connection with the 100th anniversary of the writer’s birth.[13] Some Crimean and Russian political, social and cultural figures spoke out against; the scandal gained a wide public resonance and reached the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, which negatively perceived the desire of the Crimean “Kermanychi” to “divorce everything Ukrainian”.[14] Another issue was raised in October 2018 by the “deputy chairman of the Committee of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea on Culture and Cultural Heritage Protection” Volodymyr Klichnikov, who initiated the renaming of the library “in accordance with current legislation” in honor of the Russian nationalist Mykola Danylevsky[15], who is “closer to Crimea for Frank”. However, the question hung in the air – just like the renaming of Franka Boulevard in Simferopol, initiated in November 2014, in honor of Mykola Sultan-Krim-Girey.[16]

In the spring of 2019, in Yevpatoria, at house No. 41/24 on Revolution Street, where Lesya Ukrainka lived in 1891 and which is a monument of cultural heritage, unknown persons broke a marble commemorative plaque installed in 1952 in honor of this fact.[ 17]

On October 22, 2015, the “deputies” of the Simferopol “city council” named twelve new streets: in particular, the “Krymska Vesna Street” appeared in the Kamianka microdistrict.[18] On March 26, 2020, the “city council” of Simferopol named 29 new streets in the city, one of which was allowed to be named after the Hero of Ukraine, Ukrainian embroidery artist Vira Roik. However, the “company” for the outstanding Crimean Ukrainian woman was chosen “wonderful”: the rest of the streets were named in memory of the former mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov, the “first chairman of the DPR” Oleksandr Zakharchenko, the former ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UN Vitaly Churkin, who carried out anti-Ukrainian propaganda on at the international level, one of the theorists of Russian nationalism, Mykola Danylevsky, one of the figures of the pro-Russian separatist movement in Crimea, Volodymyr Terekhov, as well as in honor of the “Crimean militia”, etc.[19]

Quite expectedly, the first point on the map of Crimea, where the destruction of all Ukrainians unfolded in the spring of 2014, was the “most Russian” city of the peninsula – Sevastopol. When on March 17, 2014, the already de facto illegitimate parliament of Crimea declared “independence from Ukraine”, Sevastopol deputies on behalf of the entire city asked to join Russia with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation in the status of a city of federal importance. The announcement of the results of the local “referendum” was marked by the breaking of a Ukrainian-language board on the building of the city’s state administration, after which the self-proclaimed “mayor” Oleksiy Chaly dissuaded the rioters from vandalism, at the same time announcing the dismantling of all symbols of Ukrainian statehood in the occupied city[20] and promising them ” carefully pack and send to Kyiv for further use”.[21] The next “helmsman” of Sevastopol, Serhiy Menyailo, condemned the same fate to the city’s sights connected with the Ukrainian identity. In particular, in April 2014, the monument to the Ukrainian hetman Petro Sahaidachny, installed in 2008, was dismantled and sent to Kharkiv – almost destroyed today by rocket and artillery fire from the “liberating” Russian army. On August 1, 2002, a commemorative sign in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Navy was trivially destroyed on Nakhimov Square in the square near the memorial with the names of honorary citizens of Sevastopol.

In October 2014, local mass media declared the need for “lustration of signs of the Ukrainian era”, which were “outlawed” due to “Sevastopol government resolution No. 396”: they said, “the aesthetic perception and historical memory of the city’s residents will be safer if these signs will cease to exist”, and the legislation of the occupying state “forbids idealizing fascist symbols and values ​​(?! – author) and informing about anything in a foreign language”.[22]

In February 2016, it became known that an “art object” named “Territory of Happiness” was installed in Sevastopol for Valentine’s Day at the place of the memorial plaque in memory of the victims of the Holodomor at the entrance to the cultural and information center – which belongs to the Russian occupation of Crimea had the word “Ukrainian” in its title.[23] In July, it was confirmed that the memorial plaque on the wall of the building is missing[24]: still no one can say when and where it went. In May of the same year, a group of vandals arbitrarily twisted Ukrainian security signs from the facades of several buildings on Nakhimova Avenue – in response to the “fifth column” that settled in the city”.[25]

All this is in no way surprising for the ninth year of the war of destruction, which Russia is waging against Ukraine and everything Ukrainian. Even today, we have the opportunity to see for ourselves, using the example of the temporarily enslaved Ukrainian south, that the first thing the occupier’s hand touches on the conquered lands is language, literature, and historical memory. And it reminds us of how much work we still have ahead of us after the liberation of our occupied territories.


[1] https://vk.com/wall535871340_323520

[2] http://gazetacrimea.ru/news/mi-kak-vsegda-vseh-pobedim-21194

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe3n0gq6Xo4

[4] http://news.allcrimea.net/news/2017/5/16/v-kerchi-perekrasili-zheltogolubye-urny-kotorye-ne-ponravilis-aksenovu-80502/

[5] http://news.wikilex.com.ua/2015/11/okkupanty-reshili-ustroit-zachistku-ukrainskix-smi-2/

[6] http://www.c-inform.info/news/id/32003

[7] http://sevastopol.su/world.php?id=75408

[8] http://vk.com/wall-64596222_322116

[9] http://krymedia.ru/society/3375166-deputat-potreboval-srochno-pereymenovat-krymskuui-shkolu-nazvannuui-v-chest-chlena-oun

[10] http://crimeavector.com.ua/obschestvo/15019-v-krymu-pereimenovali-shkolu-nazvannuyu-v-chest-chlena-oun.html

[11] http://ua.krymr.com/a/27609026.html

[12] https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Новоозёрное_(Крым)

[13] http://krymedia.ru/culture/3364035-nauchnuui-byblyoteku-ymeny-franko-v-symferopole-pereymenuuit

[14] http://15minut.org/article/krymskoj-biblioteke-vernuli-imya-franko-2014-12-31-16-10-04

[15] http://www.c-inform.info/news/id/70059

[16] http://vesti-ukr.com/krym/76991-v-simferopole-zapridumali-ulicu-sultan-krym-gireja

[17] https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-crimea/2687590-u-krimu-nevidomi-rozbili-pamatnu-dosku-lesi-ukrainki.html

[18] http://kafanews.com/novosti/110412/v-stolitse-kryma-poyavilas-ulitsa-krymskoy-vesny_2015-10-22

[19] http://www.c-inform.info/news/id/84453

[20] http://glavred.info/politika/sevastopol-obyavil-o-vyhode-iz-sostava-ukrainy-i-snimaet-gosudarstvennye-flagi-274289.html

[21] http://www.tvc.ru/news/show/id/34283

[22] http://ruinformer.com/page/ljustracija-vyvesok-ukrainskij-epohi-v-sevastopole-kto-i-kogda-foto

[23] http://twitter.com/fuckysebastopol/status/698944459099209728

[24] http://hromadskeradio.org/2016/07/13/u-sevastopoli-prybraly-pamyatnyy-znak-zhertvam-golodomoru

[25] http://sevnews.info/rus/view-news/sinyavskij-tablichka-V-Sevastopole-grazhdane-samostoyatelno-reshili-demontirovat-ostavshiesya-s-ukrainskih-vremen-tablichki/26155


Sergii Konashevich

Author of numerous culturological publications, editor of Ukrainian Culture Publishing House LLC

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