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A figure in the snow. Dismantling of the monument to Shchors in the photos by Yevhen Zavhorodnyi

Today, on December 9, a monument to one of the Bolshevik leaders, Mykola Shchors, was dismantled on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard in Kyiv. Specialists of the Kyivblagoustrii utility company worked for almost seven hours to dismantle the seven-ton structure. Photographer Yevhen Zavhorodnii documented the process of lowering the figure from the pedestal to the ground.


In April 2023, the Kyiv City Council decided to remove memorials, monuments, and individual busts associated with the Russian Federation and the Soviet past from public space. The list of monuments recommended for dismantling included the Shchors monument.


Photo: Yevhen Zavhorodniy


The government decided to dismantle the monument to Mykola Shchors in November of this year. On December 9, 2023, at seven in the morning, the process of demolishing the monument began. It was decided to carry out the dismantling on a day off so as not to paralyze traffic in the center of Kyiv. Traffic was partially blocked on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard, as heavy machinery was involved due to the complexity of the process.


Photo: Yevhen Zavhorodniy


Photographer Yevhen Zavhorodniy arrived at the scene at seven in the morning. He did not want to miss the dismantling process. "I had an example when they were installing a trident on the shield of the Motherland monument. Colleagues who were five to ten minutes late did not make it, because the process was very fast," Zavhorodniy explains. Nevertheless, the utility workers worked for almost seven hours to dismantle the Shchors sculpture.


"I arrived very early and saw the workers trying to dismantle the sculpture carefully, sawing its base," says Yevhen. "I compared it to the demolition of the monument near the People's Friendship Arch, when the utility workers tried to do everything very carefully. It turned out like a dentist who can't pull a tooth right away and at the same time tries not to hurt the patient. Then the monument's head was cut off and its legs were cut down. Instead, the monument to Shchors was carefully separated from the base and lowered down. It took a lot of time, though."


Photo: Yevhen Zavhorodniy


Yevhenii Zavhorodnii says that the overall atmosphere at the scene was very comfortable and pleasant. A lot of journalists and fellow photographers gathered, and the utility companies did not interfere with the shooting. Cars passing by often honked their horns in support of the dismantling. "We were going to shoot an interesting event, not a 'flight' through a residential area of the city," says the photographer. A few years ago, opposition forces might have opposed the demolition of the monument, but now there has been no resistance or rallies.


"I was getting angles that looked like the sculpture was suffering in the frame. I noticed it when I reviewed the footage. I'll say right away that it was not because of ideological sympathy for the monument. I guess I just felt sorry for the horse whose legs were being cut," Yevhen says with a smile. Some photos show graffiti calling for the monument's demolition. "It's a kind of reference to the eighties and nineties of the last century, when monuments to Lenin were demolished en masse and various inscriptions were written on it," says Yevhen.


Photo: Yevhen Zavhorodniy


The monument to Mykola Shchors stood on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard for almost 70 years. The bronze sculpture was erected in April 1954 on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Pereiaslav Rada. The authors of the monument were sculptor Mykhailo Lysenko and two of his students, Mykola Sukhodolov and Vasyl Borodai. The sculpture is made as a classical monument: Shchors sits on a horse and greets Kyiv residents and visitors with his right hand raised. The sculpture is currently on display at the Antonov State Aviation Museum of Ukraine.

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