Sunday, June 21, 2015

Revisiting the past

Newcomers visiting this part of the former Soviet Union are always surprised at the number of imposing statues of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and first Chairman of the USSR. At the Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow's Red Square, almost all of the original Lenin is still there. Apparently every year more of his original biological body has to be replaced with look alike parts such as plastic skin. But his statues showing him in a striding forward pose, as in Molochansk, or pointing his hand pose, as at the dam site in Zaporozhye, or ( my favourite) in a sitting, reflective pose, as in Svetnadolinsk, appear to be indestructible. He is as familiar to the landscape as those bland Soviet era apartments only coloured by people shirts and underwear hanging from concrete balconies.

But times are a changing. New laws have been passed in the Rada called decommunization laws. The aim of these laws is remove signs of the Soviet past in Ukraine. The laws, among other things, ban Nazi and Communist symbols and other signs of the Soviet past I have been told that directives have been sent out telling villages to rename streets if they have been named after communist officials. I suspect the Mennonite Centre will soon not be on Rosa Luksembourg Street.

It appears the country is fighting a war on two two fronts; a war in the east to preserve it's future and a war in the rest of the country to rewrite it's past.

The statue of Lenin in Molchansk on the former Willms estate is shorter now, only two legs stand on top of the pedestal, the rest of him has been cut off. He is almost gone, but probably not forgotten.

 

I am leaving Molochansk on Monday the 22nd. I will be going further north and west in the next week. I am impressed how well Oksana and staff keep the operation going in spite of all of the distractions. Tokmak has had an amazing facelift. There is no garbage lying around, the streets in town are clean and well maintained. There is a building and home materials enterprise could easily fit into Canada. I just don't how locals can afford to buy anything.

The call up for men to go to the front carries on. Every day I seem to hear of someone else I know or am connected with, being called for service. People here want peace. That is the prayer I heard in Church today. Let it be our prayer.

Ben Stobbe

 

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