Russian citizens this week gave Moscow’s iconic Seven Sisters skyscrapers a slight makeover to show support for Ukraine, painting the Soviet star above the building yellow and blue with the Ukrainian flag above its top point.
The apartment complex on the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment was built between 1947 and 1953 by former Soviet leader Josef Stalin “as symbols of victory and a new era of Soviet power.” These buildings decorate the Moscow skyline and are easily recognizable from afar.
No one knows who committed the stunt, but it transpired very early morning of August 20. The building is 176 meters high with 32 floors. Moscow police did arrest four people with climbing gear. One official said “the group used an internal staircase to reach the top floor and the used special equipment to reach its spire.” Russian propaganda machine LifeNews published a video of one of the vandals parachuting from the top of the building. The four said even though they parachuted from the building, they did not vandalize the star or hoist the flag.
A worker, sent to take the Ukrainian flag down from skyscraper in Moscow, makes a selfie before doing it pic.twitter.com/f1AWW3tJH0
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) August 20, 2014
— Euromaidan PR (@EuromaidanPR) August 20, 2014
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to skyrocket since former Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych chose a trade deal with Russia over a trade agreement with the European Union. Ukrainians set up the Euromaidan protests in the middle of Kiev to protest against Yanukovych. Parliament ousted Yanukovych, which drove Russian President Vladimir Putin to retaliate. Russia pushed Ukraine over the edge when the Kremlin annexed Crimea, a move Yanukovych did not like. East Ukraine, which is home to many Russian speakers, is at war with Kiev, and Ukraine officials accuse Russia of helping the pro-Russian separatists.
But Russians are slowly voicing outrage against Putin’s regime when it comes to Ukraine. Activists sing the Ukrainian national anthem when arrested. Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine) frontman Andrei Makarevich performed for displaced children in east Ukraine, but the Russian government and some Russian singers said he was a traitor even though the move was to help the children. Rapper Noize MC performed in Lviv and accepted a Ukrainian flag from a woman in the front row.
“I went to the edge of the stage and a girl in the crowd gave me a yellow-blue flag,” he said. “As a token of friendship between our peoples… I of course took it.”
“Arriving in Ukraine I primarily wanted to show that our people are brothers and friends,” he continued. “What we do not need to fear and hate each other. I’ve never danced to the tune of the state, no matter what kind of state it was. I am for the people.”
Ukraine is considered the crown jewel of the former USSR. Many Russians believe the birth of their country occurred in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, in 882 by Oleg of Novgorod. Moscow did not become the center of Russia until after the 13th century. The vandalism occurred a few days before Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day on August 24. Parliament adopted The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine on August 24, 1991, just days after Communist leaders attempted to restore Communist control in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko celebrated the stunt.
“On the eve of Independence Day we are starting an initiative called ‘Our Colors,’ which is devoted to the Ukrainian flag,” he said. “And it is symbolic that, on this day, our colors have been painted on what is perhaps the greatest skyscraper in Moscow. I urge Ukrainians throughout the world, wherever they are, on the eve of the anniversary of our independence, to decorate their homes, offices, and cars in our national colors.”