A popular Ukrainian supermarket in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia announced a grand reopening Saturday under new – Russian – management. It is the latest sign of attempts by Moscow’s occupying forces to rub out Ukrainian identity in territories under its control.
Formerly, the shop in Melitopol was part of the ATB chain, a Dnipro-based business. But a leaflet posted on a local TV station’s Telegram channel boasts the supermarket is now part of the MERA chain, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The leaflet promises that shoppers spending at least 500 hryvnia (about $16) will be entered into a “super prize draw” – though details of what the winner could take home are not revealed.
Elsewhere in the region, a large Ukrainian coat of arms has been removed from the front of the mayor’s office in the town of Tokmak. Photos circulating on social media show the distinctive Ukrainian symbol – a yellow trident on a blue background – propped up against the entrance of the building. An earlier photo on the same Telegram channel shows a man up a ladder apparently working to loosen the trident from its place.
And as if to underline the sense of a clock being turned back, video has emerged from the neighboring region of Kherson — also under Russian occupation — of a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin being re-erected in the town of Nova Kakhovka.
One video captures the statue of the Russian revolutionary and first leader of the Soviet Union being carried flat on a truck through the city.
A later photo shows the statue being winched onto a plinth in front of the city council building.
“While Ukraine is the first in the world to introduce e-passports, ‘orcs’ are restoring Lenin's monument in temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister, said in a Telegram post under the photo, using the popular Ukrainian slang term for Russian forces.
Some context: Statues of Vladimir Lenin were a hallmark of towns and cities across the Soviet Union, but many have been removed from Ukrainian locations in recent years as relations with Russia have deteriorated.