National memory policy National memory policy

1. Evaluation of reform policies of the Parliament and Government during the period of September 2019 – August 2020 and its compliance with the Toronto Principles (based on the analysis of the Government Program, the plans of the ministries and the adopted/rejected regulatory acts)

The Toronto Principles identify the implementation of cultural and national memory policy as one of the key priorities for 2019-2023. In particular, the following tasks were set: to develop a policy in the field of symbols and commemoration aimed at consolidating the Ukrainian political nation, forming public immunity against human rights violations, including by banning propaganda of totalitarian regimes, preserving memorials, restoring the rights of victims of repressions and ensuring access to the archives.

The current program of activities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter - CMU), submitted by the Government of Oleksiy Honcharuk, with some exceptions, largely ignores the policy issues in the field of culture and national memory.

The work with the culture of memory is briefly mentioned in the specifications of the goal 4.2. "People have a choice and the opportunity to consume affordable cultural services", which applies to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine. In this context, the politics of memory comes down to completing the construction of two memorial museums, the Museum of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and the Holodomor Museum. To broaden the space for public dialogue, the plans also include building the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The program of activities of the new Government headed by Denis Shmygal was proposed for consideration in early June 2020, but was not supported by the Parliament. The document gives more attention to the politics and culture of memory, but the authors provide only some general formulations.

For example, in section 15.2. "Cultural heritage, cultural values and national memory" one of the priorities is determined as "preservation of the national memory of the Ukrainian people." It is not disclosed what exactly is meant by that and how exactly the Government plans to preserve this memory. The updated program also pays due attention to the completion of the Holodomor and the Heavenly Hundred Heroes Memorials. In addition, the construction of the National Military Memorial Cemetery and the creation of a Memorial in Remembrance of the Fallen Defenders is planned (Section 11.2).

The Government Report for 2019 and its future plans also deserves attention. The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine announced "development and launch of a "cultural barometer "- periodic surveys of the Ukrainian identity, [...] attitude to national / historical memory, sense of civic duty, belonging to a specific place, pride for one’s locality". Unblocking and continuing the construction of the memorial complex of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes and the second phase of the Holodomor Museum are also among the set goals.

In addition, the plans envisioned the creation of a "concept of integrated development of Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre with expansion of the National Historical Memorial Preserve Babyn Yar and the Museum of Totalitarian Regimes." It is not clear what kind of institution is meant by the "Museum of Totalitarian Regimes". Perhaps it refers to the already announced Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR?

Drafting of a law on indigenous peoples and national minorities is also on the agenda.

Important goals are set in the section on the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, which deals with the Ukrainian-Polish relations, in particular in terms of protection of memorial sites in Ukraine and Poland and "reconstruction of the destroyed Ukrainian monuments in Poland."

In general, issues referring to the policy and culture of memory are rarely mentioned in the governmental documents, with the exception of a few important memorial institutions.

Complete disregard for issues such as access to the archives of the Soviet secret services is fundamental to both programs, the current one developed by the previous CMU and the one proposed by the current government.

The Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR, which was announced in Kyiv in 2017, is not mentioned. Although this site should become a primary platform for talking about the past.

The processes of rehabilitation of victims of repressions of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917–1991, creation of the National Pantheon of Heroes and development of a framework document that would enable institutional independence of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, etc., also were left without any attention.

On the positive side, the Government recognized and included in the plans the work on the concept of the state project on the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (although in 2019 a group of scientists has already proposed an updated concept), and promised to unblock the construction of the second phase of Holodomor and the Heavenly Hundred Heroes Memorials. The Government's plans also pay substantial attention to the development of legislation on ensuring and preserving the rights and cultures of national minorities. This will continue the trend towards an inclusive approach to public policy of memory and strengthen support for local memory narratives.

0 comments

Only authenticated can comment

2. Current challenges / issues in the relevant policy area

  1. Creation of the Sectoral State Archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. This institution must unify the documents of the former Soviet law enforcement agencies, which are in fact still kept at the disposal of the security services. The institution is designed to provide free access to such documents.

Currently, the premises for the archive have already been determined, but a plot has not been allotted yet. There is no funding for the reconstruction of the building, and there is still a long process of construction ahead, as well as the need to provide the equipment and create the necessary conditions for the storage of archival documents. In addition, the documents are scattered in different archival institutions in different regions of Ukraine with minimal opportunities for digitization and in some places with limited physical access.

  1. Development of the concept and creation of the Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR. Its creation was officially announced in 2017. The location has already been determined - on the territory of the The Expocenter of Ukraine National Complex (VDNG). Such a museum could house communist monuments dismantled during decommunization, and could become a thematic platform for a thorough account of the Soviet period in Ukrainian history.
  1. Updating the compensation mechanism and in the social part of the legislation in general on the rehabilitation of victims of repressions of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917-1991.

In 2018, an updated version of the relevant law was adopted, which allowed to restart the rehabilitation procedure and expand the categories of victims of political repressions of the communist regime (for example, according to the previous version of the law, deported Crimean Tatars were not considered repressed and were not covered by the benefits provided to victims of political repressions). The category of "victims of repression" was also added to the law.

However, the question of updating the social part of the law remains. The existing mechanism of compensation for confiscated property or its return in kind, defined by the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR of 1991 № 48, does not comply with current legislation and cannot be applied in practice. The form of the certificate on the right to benefits of rehabilitated persons also needs to be harmonized with the law.

A significant share of the benefits provided to victims of the repressions of the communist regime of 1917–1991 under current legislation is irrelevant in 2020. First, this part is still provided in the 1990 edition. Second, the law does not provide for any payments to the category of persons recognized as victims of repressions. There are only some provisions provided in the pension legislation on "family members of a repressed person", which are very limited in application.

  1. Unlocking the construction of the National Memorial Complex of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes - the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity. For more than six years, the relevant law enforcement agencies have not conducted the necessary examinations and investigative experiments on the Instytutska Street to establish responsibility for the shooting of protesters during the Revolution of Dignity. At present, this makes it impossible to begin construction of the Memorial.
  1. Intensification of work on the state project state project on the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (National Historical Memorial Preserve Babyn Yar). The preserve was established in 2007, but for a long time the state did not allocate adequate funding for the development of the project. In 2016, the international architectural competition "Babyn Yar - Dorohozhychi Necropolis" was held. In 2019, a group of Ukrainian scientists presented the "Concept of integrated development (memorialization) of Babyn Yar with the expansion of the National Historical Memorial Preserve Babyn Yar. Instead, in 2016, there was a private project, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, which was criticized for funding sources of Russian origin, as well as a proposed artistic concept called the Holocaust Disney. The lack of an alternative for the memorial on the part of the state does pose a threat that the memorial of state importance in Babyn Yar will be created by private individuals at their own discretion.
0 comments

Only authenticated can comment

3. Recommendations for priority actions in 2020-2021

  1. To complete the reconstruction of the premises of the Sectoral State Archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.
  1. Develop a concept and create a Museum of Monumental Propaganda of the USSR.
  1. To update the social part of the legislation on the rehabilitation of victims of the communist totalitarian regime of 1917–1991 and to harmonize the compensation mechanism with the current legislation.
  1. To carry out the investigative procedures on Instytutska Street to unblock the construction of the National Memorial Complex of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes - the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity.
  1. To complete the construction of the National Memorial Complex of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes - the Museum of the Revolution of Dignity and the second phase of the National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide.
  1. To develop a concept and hold public consultations on the creation of a National Pantheon of Heroes.
  1. To complete the implementation of the state concept of the project of the National Historical Memorial Preserve Babyn Yar.
0 comments

Only authenticated can comment

Authors:
Anna Oliynyk
expert,
Centre for Research of Liberation Movement
Serhii Ryabenko
expert,
Centre for Research of Liberation Movement
Yaryna Yasynevych
expert,
Centre for Research of Liberation Movement
Reviewers:
Ivan Patrlyak
Dean of the Faculty of History,
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Organizations Support:
Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition Centre for Research of Liberation Movement Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
Support the reform from your organization