The International Day of Friendship, July 30th, came into being just in 20111, this United Nations initiative was designed to promote the all the positive feels nations can muster between themselves and inspire peace building efforts.
Here in Kyiv we have our very own large and awkward reminder of this kind of sentiment, it is the People’s Friendship Arch located in Kreshatyk Park, just off European Square. At present there is a crack painted on the Arch, just as what it is supposed to represent has been broken by Russia’s war in and against Ukraine.
The arch was opened back in 1982 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the USSR (sorry, “celebrate”) and the 1,500th anniversary of the founding of the city of Kyiv. The arch is 50 metres from end to end and with the reliefs stepped into it the design clearly reflects a rainbow, and that element is one of the ways in which it has been put to positive use in recent years when it has been decorated to support Kyiv’s Pride equality marches and also when it was literally painted in the rainbow colours when the Eurovision Song Contest was being hosted in Kyiv in 2017.
The crack painted on to the Arch now is symbolic, and as the history of the arch is related to Ukraine’s communist era history it is slated to be removed at some point under the decommunisation laws that followed the Revolution of Dignity. Considering what Russia has done to what was symbolised by the arch, it would also be symbolic to drive the post-demolition (if it ever happens) scrap titanium and dump it outside the Kremlin in the middle of Red Square.