Ivan Chernichkin

The swastika Versus the Sickle and Hammer

Zaborona Explains why Some Symbols are Allowed in Ukraine and Others are Not.

7th October 2020

Attention, this story features symbols and images prohibited by Ukrainian law.

Photo: Daria Kislaya

This is a new house in Poltava, on Sobornosti Street, 5-A. Its facade is decorated with runes and swastikas.


Construction is still ongoing. Not all elements of the exterior decor are finalized or reflected on the facade.

Gennady Sikalov is the owner and designer of the house.

"Perhaps the Dalai Lama's residence will be on the fourth floor, and Ganesha will establish a representative office in Poltava,” he jokes.

He insists that there aren’t any Nazi symbols on the facade: “Only a simpleton can hype, provoke and seek political dividends. A person who knows the symbolism will be understanding of the very things that are depicted in the house.”

Photo: Daria Kislaya

But a pre-trial investigation has already been launched concerning the promotion of Nazi symbols.

The Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance (UINP) noted that the left-wing swastika used on the facade of the house in Poltava "... may not formally belong to the symbols of the totalitarian Nazi regime."

Due to deep public trauma, the UINP recommended refraining from the public use of such symbols, and that educational activities about the true meaning of ancient solar and runic symbols should be carried out in another way.

Gennady Sikalov is skeptical about the recommendations of the UINP. On August 13th, on the Last Bastion website, of which he is the editor-in-chief, the owner of the house posted a response entitled: "A brief political illiteracy for ignoramuses from the Institute of National Remembrance regarding solar symbols in Poltava and disruption of decommunization in Ukraine."

"We see the complete destruction of living symbiosis - man, the planet and biogenesis around us. The oceans are dumps, around us are dumps, man to man interaction becomes animalistic, our animal instincts prevail over human instincts. The swastika, which is depicted in the opposite direction, tells us: listen, we are not moving in that direction. This is not the path of progress, this is not the path of development. This is the way to nowhere."

This is how Gennady Sikalov explains his plan.

Disputes over the use of symbols of totalitarian regimes banned in Ukraine have been going on for more than a year. The main problem in this matter is imperfect legislation.

Фото: Іван Чернічкін

A ban on Nazi symbols is not defined Ukraine’s legislation. There is no clear list. And if the symbols of the NSDAP are banned, then the symbols of the SS and many other Nazi organizations are not.

At the same time, the banned Soviet symbols are clearly enough spelled out.

Photo: Ivan Chernichkin

"If a person approaches Soviet symbols creatively, he will be able to use them. For example, you can use the symbols of the All-Russian Emergency Commission in the mid-20s, which combines a star and a swastika,” said military historian Vasily Pavlov.

Some nationalist groups use the black sun, which was one of the symbols of Anenerbe, an organization created by the Nazis to study the traditions, history and heritage of the German race. It was founded in 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Wirth and Walter Darre, explains Vasily Pavlov.

Photo: Scott Olson

In Germany, it is now forbidden to use not only Nazi symbols and SS symbols, but also Wehrmacht symbols. This is all spelled out clearly in paragraph 86 of the German Criminal Code.

There is also a clear ban on the use of Nazi symbols in UEFA and FARE documents (Football Against Racism in Europe). They specify in detail which symbols cannot be used during football matches.

But Ukrainian football fans often use Nazi and racist symbols.

In 2013, during a match between Ukraine and San Marino in Lviv, FARE representatives recorded numerous violations by Ukrainian fans. They used pyrotechnics, banners with the logo of the SS-Galicia division, banners with the number 88, which references the Nazi salute. And also some fans shouted like monkies towards the naturalized player of the national team of Ukraine, Brazilian Edmar.

Photo: David Madison

The national team was fined – it played the next match without spectators. And the Lviv-Arena stadium was disqualified for four years. But no criminal case was ever opened for promoting Nazi symbols at matches.

"And in fact it is unclear under which article this can be summed up. We have an article for propaganda of the Nazi and communist regimes. But, for example, you can't bring 88 and other things under it,” explains football fan Serhiy (his name was changed at his request).

Photo: Genya Savilov

Vasyl Pavlov describes the legal conflict with the use of Soviet and Nazi symbols as follows: “These symbols have no legal assessment. You can be punished for using any symbols that are in this law, and you will not be punished for using symbols that are not specified in it.”

Photo: Sergei Supinsky

According to Mr. Pavlov, it is the Ukrainian parliament that has to decide to resolve this conflict.

And until the legislation is clearly regulated, there will be contradictory situations, as in Poltava.

Photo: Nikolay Doychinov

The vagueness in the wording and definitions of which symbols and signs belong to Nazi symbols delegitimizes the use of Soviet symbols. Vasyl Pavlov is surprised why none of the parties has yet amended the law condemning the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.

And Gennady Sikalov says that the swastikas on the building are placed in accordance with the movement of the sun, they meet and see him off: "Together with the sun, they are the amulets of this building."

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