I woke this morning to pictures of Russian tanks in the northern suburbs of Kiev, and vast orange explosions booming overhead. I was shocked, but not hugely surprised. I used to live in Kyiv, as Ukrainians call it, 30 years ago, in 1992-3, covering Ukraine’s break for independence, as a journalist. Now the dream of this country of some 44 million is being mortared and rocketed into ashes as the heirs to the Red Army roll through Ukraine’s lush, monotonous wheat fields. As I write, the tanks haven’t yet reached my old home, on Karl Marx Street, ulitsa Karla Marx – where I lived in a white, blue and gold wedding cake above the brand new Lancome shop – but they will, unless a miracle of Ukrainian defiance intervenes. Karl Marx Street is just round the corner from the Ukrainian parliament, presumably one of Putin’s main goals; back then our flat was very handy – considering I’m a journalist – for covering demonstrations.
The toppling of these monuments – in Poland, Lithuania and Czechia – gives the spaces they once occupied new meaning.