Artists, scientists, and public activists urge not to support the Russian Babyn Yar memorial project
"We, representatives of civil society, defend the memorialization of Babyn Yar and the preservation of the historical memory of the victims of the Holocaust and other tragedies in Ukrainian history. It is extremely important for Ukrainian society that the discussion of this issue takes place publicly, with the involvement of the public," the appeal emphasizes.
It recalls that on February 11, the agenda of the meeting of the Kyiv City Council included the issue of leasing three land plots to the charity organization "Babi Yar memorial fund" for further implementation of the Russian private project of Babi Yar memorialization (ICGBJ). After the issue was withdrawn from consideration, voting was postponed to February 18.
"The public has repeatedly drawn attention to the direct involvement in this project of two odious Russian businessmen - Mikhail Fridman and German Khan, associated with the head of the aggressor state – Russia, Vladimir Putin, and therefore included in the US presanctions lists. In our opinion, any projects in the realities of the Russian-Ukrainian hybrid war, which has been going on for 7 years, any projects promoted by Putin's entourage, cannot be supported by the Ukrainian, and, in particular, Kyivan authorities and implemented in Ukraine," the authors of the letter stressed.
At the same time, they drew attention to the fact that in 2017 the Ukrainian government commissioned the state concept of integrated memorialization of Babyn Yar, which was developed and presented in early 2019 by a working group (18 scientists) of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine under the leadership of Professor Hennadiy Boryak.
"It is important for society that any projects that relate to the culture and politics of Ukraine's memory take place without the participation of our enemy - Russia and local adherents of the Kremlin regime. There are good reasons to believe that this private Russian project is another special operation of a hybrid war that is being waged against our state. In this context, the letter of the Security Service of Ukraine dated 22.01.2021, which states that the issues promoted by the Babyn Yar Memorial can be used to discredit Ukraine in the international arena and accuse it of allegedly violating the rights and freedoms of national minorities in our country, deserves attention," the appeal says.
Its authors added that during 2020, about 200 publications and several collective appeals were released in the media, including two appeals of Ukrainian Jews with thousands of signatures in support of the Ukrainian project and criticism of the Russian Babi Yar memorialization project.
"Even now, lobbyists of the Russian project are manipulating facts and materials, because they want to present support for the Ukrainian project and civil society's protest against the Russian project as a" protest against the Holocaust Memorial" and at the same time keep silent about the existence of a worthy Ukrainian project to memorialize Babyn Yar," the authors of the letter express their outrage.
They noted that one of the provocative ideas of the Memorial deserves separate consideration – the construction of the Memorial Synagogue on the territory of St Cyril Orthodox cemetery in Babyn Yar. This idea is mentioned in the letter of the SBU as potentially dangerous for the international image of Ukraine.
"We urge the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko and members of the Kyiv City Council to withdraw from consideration the issue of allocating land plots to the private Russian project of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and hold broad public hearings on the issue of Babyn Yar memorialization based on the Ukrainian concept of integrated Babyn Yar memorialization from the working group of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. We insist on presenting the Ukrainian state concept of Integrated memorialization of Babyn Yar to the members of the Kyiv City Council before considering any issues related to the Russian Memorial project," the authors of the appeal urged.
It was signed by the participants of the initiative group "First of December" - co-president of the VAAD of Ukraine Iosif Zisels, vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University Myroslav Marynovych, hero of Ukraine, academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Ivan Dzyuba, hero of Ukraine, honorary president of Naukma Vyacheslav Bryukhovetsky; Ukrainian poet, politician, public figure, long-term political prisoner Mykola Gorbal; MP of Ukraine, leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev; Hero of Ukraine, long-term political prisoner, MP of the Verkhovna Rada of the VIII convocation Yuriy-Bohdan Shukhevych; writer and publicist, honorary president of the Ukrainian Pen Club Mykola Ryabchuk; professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University Yaroslav Hrytsak; writer, winner of Shevchenko National Prize Oksana Zabuzhko; publicist Vitaliy Portnikov; politician, diplomat, ambassador of Ukraine, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2007-2009), member of the Strategic Council of the capitulation Resistance Movement Volodymyr Ogryzko and others. Overall about a hundred signatures were collected.