From Stalin to Putin


  • Fabien Bellat




Ukraine, war, ideology, modern heritage, restoration and conservation


In Ukraine, heritage has been a battlefield since World War II. In those years, the Kyiv reconstruction was dominated by Russian architects, and Ukrainian architects were marginalized in their own city. However, restoration of churches slowly became a topic where policy changed from Stalin’s doctrines to his successors’ principles, and where Ukrainian builders managed to gain some success in heritage protection. This prevailed more after independence in 1991. The present war that Putin triggered against Ukraine is accelerating heritage issues. The destructions of this war have hit all types of buildings, but some of the reactions of the people in charge should arouse worry for the preservation of the 20th century heritage. The obvious lack of interest for the modern heritage of the 1920s and 1930s, or even for the more classical Stalinist buildings of the 1940s and 1950s, expresses a kind of selective memory. Soon this may lead to regrettable deletions, adding more disaster to the destructive traces that the war has already left. Consequently, and despite the many ghosts left by the Soviet regime (something which understandably led to the controversial decommunization laws), more studies should be launched on the Constructivist and Stalinist legacy in particular, in order to help saving this significant part of Ukraine history. This research could be useful when the reconstruction and conservation of the damaged towns eventually begins.

How to Cite

Bellat, F. (2022). ERASING OR RESTORING UKRAINIAN HERITAGE: From Stalin to Putin. Docomomo Journal, (67).




Author Biography

Fabien Bellat

Fabien Bellat holds a PhD in art history from Paris X University. He has taught in France, Canada and Russia. He is now researcher at the EVCAU laboratory and associate professor at the Paris Val de Seine School of Architecture. He curated an exhibition on the Soviet new town of Togliatti, shown at the Moscow Museum of Architecture, and published on this topic a book, first in Russian and then in French. His research on Minsk was also published in Russian, while a French version is still planned. He recently also published in Germany with Galda Verlag, Dushanbe: Urban Palimpsests in Tajikistan


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