"The Ukrainian state should take control of the concept of Babyn Yar memorialization," - the UCU
"In any other country, this would be unthinkable. Professor of Jewish history at Northwestern University in the United States Johanen Petrovsky-Stern rightly noted that the transfer of the entire territory of Babyn Yar to the Russian project for a multi-year lease can become a new "Sevastopol", from which the cultural occupation of Kyiv will begin, as in 2014 the military occupation of Crimea began from Sevastopol. It is impossible not to agree with the opinion of the English historian Willem Blacker that in the context of Russia's military aggression, Babyn Yar should be considered, in a certain sense, as a matter of national security," the UCU notes.
"Ignoring the potential threat by the authorities is completely unacceptable and we are convinced that the Ukrainian state should take control of the concept of memorialization and its implementation, sharing this responsibility with Ukrainian civil society. It is precisely double control that is needed since the authorities have significantly undermined their confidence in themselves by their previous actions and ignoring appropriate warnings. And the more stubbornly and demonstratively state leaders and the Supervisory Board of the project ignore these warnings, the more they feed them," the appeal of the UCU says.
The UCU criticized the "creative" concept of the project by Russian film director Ilya Hrzhanovsky: "We do not feel the spiritual depth of the Jewish religious tradition, from which the Christian tradition grew, in the elements of the project that were made public. In the artistic design of the planned memorial, we instead see a loud desire to imitate human pain, but, unfortunately, we do not see respect for it... It is also impossible to logically explain the fact that the "Memorial Synagogue" as part of the project was built on the territory of an Orthodox cemetery – and again with stubborn disregard for public protests. The conflictogenicity of such a decision is obvious – we all remember the protests of the Jewish community when memorial crosses appear on the places of Jewish graves or at least in places that Border them. And it is clear to everyone that even the slightest conflict in such a sensitive place as Babyn Yar will be a godsend for Russian propaganda in its information war against Ukraine. It is the duty of the current Ukrainian government to prevent this. Therefore, we fully support the statement of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations, contained in its appeal dated April 5, 2021, that "when implementing such projects, it is necessary to take into account not only the high international standards of science but also the religious feelings and traditions of those faiths whose faithful rest in this territory."
The UCU also warns against interpreting protests against the ongoing project as an attempt to "politicize" it, as a manifestation of hidden anti-Semitic sentiments, or an intention to "rewrite history" in its favor.
"The Babyn Yar memorialization weighs a lot for Ukrainian society, and the slightest mistake can cost us all very much. Conversely, the consolidation of Ukrainian society around the Ukrainian Babyn Yar memorial project would help not only us, the living, to understand the painful trauma of the past, but also the souls of the innocently murdered to finally find the desired peace," the UCU notes.