Sandbag Statues: How Kyiv Protects Statues from Russian Attacks

Sandbag statues in Kyiv are just another reminder the city is at war, along with the 11 am curfew and the wail of regular air raid sirens.

Oct 18, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Sandbag Statues in Kyiv, Dante
Sandbagged statue of Dante Alighieri in Volodymyrska Hirka Park.


Sandbag statues in Kyiv give the city a completely new look. It seems like contemporary art replaced the sculptures. It is still not clear what the main reason is behind the attacks. But it is possible the city’s culture is under primary attack.


Sandbag Statues as a Way of Protecting Its Heritage

Sandbag Sculpture in Kyiv
Workers fix hoarding around a statue of Mykhailo Hrushevsky.


For two Mondays in a row, Russian missiles hit the city center. The attack occurred close to significant national monuments. Because of this, some speculate the statues themselves are the targets.


One of these missiles hit a children’s playground. The playground is a few meters from a monument to Taras Shevchenko (a Ukrainian national poet).  Another one fell close to a monument to the statesman and scholar Mykhailo Hrushevsky, a key figure in the pre-revolutionary Ukrainian nationalist movement. This missile killed seven and wounded 50 people.


In Volodymyrska Hirka Park is a sculpture dedicated to Dante Alighieri. His head only sticks out above the sandbag. A few steps away is one of Kyiv’s most controversial Soviet-era collections. Additionally, it is a symbol of Ukrainian-Russian friendship. In April this year, the twin figures representing their friendship are removed.


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Since May, it has a new name, the Freedom of the Ukrainian People. They also covered the sculpture of Pereislav, which symbolized their friendship. It is not because of the fear of Russian attack, but in order to hide it from the eyes of the public.


What Kyiv Statue Is Not Sandbagged and Why?

The Arch of Freedomn
The Arch of Freedom, with boxed-up sculpture beneath it.


There is also Saint Volodymyr who made Christianity the official religion of Kyivan Rus at the turn of the first millennium CE. He and his cross are still visible. Only his elaborated carved plinth is under protection. On the other side, Kyiv authorities sandbagged his grandmother Olga in Mykhailivska Square.


Something similar happened to Bohdan Khmelnytsky. His head is the only one visible. But a new memorial is the one attracting the most attention. The memorial represents a display of large photographs of Azov battalion soldiers killed at the siege of Mariupol.


One Kyiv public sculpture is neither sandbagged nor boxed up and lacks protection of any kind. That is a statue dedicated to Mykola Shchors, the Ukrainian Red Army’s fighter. As a result, there are all kinds of slogans such as “demolish me completely!” and “butcher”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.