Destinations Magazine

Fighting with Ghosts

By Stizzard
Fighting with ghosts

WHILE the world marked the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s defeat, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, sent his embattled compatriots a mixture of messages about the past and their identity. His words and gestures had to be carefully crafted because of his country’s role as a battleground between Nazis and Soviet forces, with Ukrainians fighting on both sides and suffering terribly. Sensitivity was running extra-high because, in today’s war between his government and separatist rebels, many combatants feel those old battles are still in progress.

So on May 8th, the date when the Western world remembers the Allied victory, he ceremonially addressed parliament and stressed the vital role of Ukrainian soldiers (albeit in Red Army uniform) in quashing Germany. The following day, the date for Soviet victory festivities, there were further official commemorations in Kiev, the capital. They included a march past the Motherland monument, which looms over the city and is communist in style: the silver maiden holds a shield emblazoned with a hammer and sickle. But the stolid statue was adorned with poppies, a Western way of remembering war.


The Economist: Europe

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