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News > Ukraine

Russia Rejects Ukraine Ban of Communist Symbols

  • Statues of Lenin and flags bearing the hammer and sickle have been banned by Kiev.

    Statues of Lenin and flags bearing the hammer and sickle have been banned by Kiev. | Photo: AFP

Published 11 April 2015

Ukraine has been accused of cracking down on free speech by banning the hammer and sickle.

Russia accused Ukraine of trying to rewrite history Friday, after legislators in Kiev passed a law banning Communist-era symbols.

“Kiev used truly totalitarian methods of liquidating unwanted parties, civic organizations and movements,” Russia's foreign ministry said.

Moscow further warned the Ukrainian legislation was an attack on “freedom of the press.”

The law sailed through parliament with little debate Thursday, and bans all uses of Communist era symbols for all purposes except education or research. Anything from the flag of the former USSR, to songs and even public monuments to Soviet leaders are all effectively outlawed.

Legislator Yuriy Lutsenko explained, “Symbols including five-pointed stars and hammers and sickles will disappear from the streets of Ukrainian cities.”

“This is equivalent to the swastika,” Lutsenko stated, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Many of Ukraine's most well known public squares feature statues of famous Soviet leaders such as Lenin, and some streets still carry Soviet-themed names. Symbols located in cemeteries are also excempt – such as the hammer and sickle emblems that adorn many tombstones. The law also banned Nazi symbols, though in separate legislation the parliament officially recognized the role of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – a nationalist guerrilla group that temporarily supported the Nazis in World War II.

Overnight on Friday, a nationalist militia posted footage online showing a group of masked individuals tearing down USSR-era monuments in the city of Kharkiv.

In a final jab at Russia, on Thursday the Ukrainian government released a draft of its latest national security strategy update. The draft broaches the possibility of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – a move which would likely infuriate Moscow.

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