The protesters gathered at the monument General Nikolai Vatutin, the Soviet commander who organized the liberation of Kiev from Nazi forces in 1943, before being killed by Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) insurgents in 1944.
The protesters demanded that city authorities halt plans to take down the monument in central Kiev, located just a few hundred meters from the parliament building. Ukrainian media had earlier reported that city authorities planned to take down the monument, located near the country's parliament building, as "a relic of the Soviet legacy."
The demonstrators placed flowers before Vatutin's grave, observing a minute of silence, and spoke to reporters. Two people unveiled a banner reading "Vatutin died for our Ukraine. Hands off his holy grave." A woman held up a sign reading "To the enemies of N. Vatutin: You can destroy monuments, burn books, lie about the great generation of the victors, but you will never extinguish the people's memory about the heroism and exploits of our Soviet fathers and mothers."
Soviet Army WW2 veteran Ivan Zubov, delivered an emotional appeal, speaking to a reporter: "We, the defenders of Ukraine and Kiev, became the witnesses of the crimes before history and before us. Ukraine today is being governed by Nazis, fascists, Banderovites. We could never have imagined that we would be governed by those against whom we fought and spilled our blood. I hope that in time each of these criminals will bear legal responsibility for their actions."
Lyudmila Bodrova, Kiev resident and war child, told reporters "this is not only blasphemy; the word that comes to the tip of the tongue is 'crime'. Recall that on the eve of May 9th, May 8th has been designated the Day of Reconciliation –that is, those who shot our soldiers in the backs are supposed to reconcile with one another? Where else would this be considered possible? Such a thing cannot be."
More photographs from the gathering can be found here.