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Ukraine bans Soviet symbolism

Under the law, street names and public artwork depicting the Soviet era in Ukraine will be removed.

By Ed Adamczyk
Ukraine bans Soviet symbolism
A statue of Vladimir Lenin near Kiev, Ukraine. File Photo by wikimedia.org/ F. Cornella.

KIEV, Ukraine, April 10 (UPI) -- Ukraine's Parliament banned all Soviet-era symbolism in the country, a show of defiance against Russia.

The bill, which passed Thursday by 254-0, equates Nazi iconography with that of the Soviet Union, of which Ukraine was a part from the end of World War II to its 1991 independence. Ukraine was also overrun by the Nazis during the war. It outlaws "public rejection of the criminal nature" of Ukraine's Soviet and Nazi past, although thousands of Soviet street names, statues and public art remain across the country and it remains unclear how the new law will deal with those elements of the Soviet legacy.

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While toppling of town square statues depicting former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin has become a common occurrence in Ukraine, these actions have angered Russian-learning Ukrainians, particularly in the eastern part of the country.

The law prohibits flags, symbols such as Communism's hammer-and-sickle emblem, anthems and street names associated with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Soldiers' memorials and other tributes to acts of valor are exempt.

"Symbols including five-pointed stars and hammers and sickles will disappear from the streets of Ukrainian cities," said lawmaker Yuriy Lutsenko. "This is equivalent to the swastika. Symbols of those who tortured Ukraine will no longer be used, and offenders will be held to account."

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The legislation can be seen as an act of boldness against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has shown fidelity to Soviet-era history as a means of reinforcing national pride.

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