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Odesa City Council votes to move Catherine II and Suvorov monuments from city streets to Fine Arts Museum
Odesa City Council has voted to remove two monuments related to the Russian imperial presence in Odesa from the city streets, and to move them to the Odesa Fine Arts Museum.
One of the monuments being removed is “The Founders of Odesa,” a sculptural group featuring the Russian Empress Catherine II surrounded by her favorites — José de Ribas, François Sainte de Wollant, Grigory Potemkin, and Platon Zubov. The monument was inaugurated in 1900, removed 20 years later, and reinstalled in 2007, leading to further efforts by local activists to have it taken down.
Another monument being banished is the equestrian sculpture of the Russian general Alexander Suvorov, inaugurated in 2012. The bronze is a copy of the Suvorov monument in Izmail, a city in southwestern Ukraine.
Out of the 44 councillors present, 43 voted for the removal of “The Founders of Odesa,” and 41 supported taking down the Suvorov monument, as clear from the video published on the City Council’s Telegram channel. The Ukrainian news service Hromadske reports that some of the councillors were absent during the vote.
The idea to move the two imperial monuments to the Odesa Fine Arts Museum came from Councillor Alexandra Kovalchuk, who is also the museum’s deputy director. Kovalchuk herself didn’t take part in the vote.
In August 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky supported the petition to remove the Catherine II monument and asked the City Council to consider the question.
In September, Odesa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov proposed creating a park to commemorate Odesa’s “imperial and Soviet past,” where some of the city’s historically controversial monuments could be gathered and preserved.
In recent months, “The Founders of Odesa” monument was repeatedly vandalized by the locals: in September, they poured red paint over it twice, and earlier this month Catherine’s head was covered by an executioner’s red hood, while a rope with a noose was placed in her right hand.
According to RBC Ukraine, preparations for removing the monument began in early November.
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