“The monuments of the Soviet regime and the Russian empire remind people of all the atrocities that Russia and the Soviet Union did to the people of Ukraine,” said Sternenko, a YouTuber with nearly 900,000 followers who has posted some of his exploits online. “When I see a monument of Catherine the Second in Odessa it seems for me like a monument of Hitler in Israel.”
The onset of war has hastened Ukraine’s efforts to remove the names of famous Russian and Soviet figures from metro stations, streets and landmarks. There’s even an app. The only reason more Russian statues haven’t been toppled lately, Sternenko said, is that Ukrainians have been too busy fighting a war.
“After we win the war, we will have time and we will clear all the Soviet and Russian imperial monuments from Ukraine,” said Sternenko, a former regional head of the ultranationalist militant group Right Sector who said his sights are set on a monumental statue of Catherine the Great in his hometown, Odessa.