• Iryna Tuz, a 38-year-old Ukrainian living in Toulouse since 2010, chairs the Ukraine Libre association, which collects humanitarian donations for Ukraine.

    Leaving behind her husband and two children, she returned to Ukraine to see her parents and supervise the work of her association there.

  • Iryna Tuz tells

    20 Minutes

    about the life that is slowly returning to its quarters in the Ukrainian capital after five months of armed conflict throughout a series in four episodes called "In the eye of Iryna".

  • In this last episode, the Ukrainian immerses us in the streets of kyiv which change names and explains why Russian culture, "symbol of the aggressor", has, according to her, no longer a place in Ukraine in time of war. .

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, has been trying to reduce the legacy of the tsars and the USSR which still marks its identity and its culture.

In Kiev, "there was a wave of street renaming," warns Iryna Tuz, president of the Free Ukraine solidarity association in Toulouse, who tells

20 Minutes

about the few weeks she spent in Ukraine.

Thus, "the street of Saint-Petersburg has become the street of London", and those with the names of Russian personalities have given way to streets with the names of Ukrainian heroes.

"At the start of the war, we were talking about decommunization, today it's downright derussification," said the former journalist.

The statue of the writer Mikhail Bulgakov in kyiv has been removed, and those of the poet Pushkin are endangered across the country, including in Ternopil where part of Iryna's family lives.

"The police preferred to remove it in the face of the anger of the crowd," she explains.

At the beginning of July, the BBC listed more than 80 destructions of monuments.

In kyiv as in the Baltic countries, we are remaking history

The visual change still has its limits.

During her first days in kyiv, Iryna had seen statues of Ukrainian celebrities protected from bombings in the center of the capital, unlike statues from the communist era.

The hypothesis of a difference in treatment has faded over the days, also observing Ukrainian statues in the open air in a park.

And in the deep University metro station, where the busts of Soviet scientists are lined up, none have been moved or even defaced.

But Iryna does not want to minimize its impact.

Among the renamed streets are "Ukrainian heroes, some of whom were called traitors" in Soviet times.

Ukraine is taking a step back and rebuilding its history in the light of the relationship of domination with Moscow.

The national feeling goes through a new collective identity, so that “in the streets, we hear Russian speakers speaking Ukrainian or others who have changed their political point of view”.

kyiv spares no effort to encourage the international media to change their ways of writing city names.

And Ukraine is not the only one to rework its history and want to get rid of the Soviet heritage: Latvia and Estonia have recently removed monuments commemorating the victory of the Red Army against Nazi Germany.

Russian culture will return 'when the war stops'

"It's really a cultural act, because the statue of Lenin, a much more political symbol, was removed in 2014" and the war in the Donbass, continues the former journalist on the statue of Pushkin removed in Ternopil.

The next figure that could fall?

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the illustrious composer of

Swan Lake

, after whom the National Conservatory in Kiev is named.

If the majority of the population wishes to replace him with a Ukrainian composer, Iryna reports a discussion with a trombonist from the Ukrainian symphony orchestra: the latter wishes to keep the name of Tchaikovsky, highlighting “his Cossack roots”.

The rejection of Russian culture is necessary, according to her.

“When the war stops, we will think about culture,” she promises, and about the place that Russian artists should play in the Ukrainian panorama.

But in the meantime, she remains "a symbol of the aggressor", and must therefore be set aside, in the same way as Russian athletes, she argues.

Even internationally, organizing concerts by Russian artists thus amounts to “supporting Russia”, she believes, drawing another parallel: “Today, there are Wagner concerts everywhere.

But it was not really in good taste during the Second World War… ”


War in Ukraine: Far from the front, women have "taken over the obligations" of men, says Iryna Tuz


War in Ukraine: Despite the sound of the sirens, kyiv does not feel "too much the effects of the war in everyday life"

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