A destroyed Russian tank from the Battle of Kyiv is on display at the popular Leidseplein in Amsterdam. It serves not only as a reminder of the war but also the fragility of democracy.
The tank is part of the Forum on European Culture, which is focusing on democracy in Europe this year, reports Het Parool.
Speaking from the square on Thursday, Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, along with the Ukrainian ambassador, reminded people not to take the freedom we have for granted.
A Russian tank as a symbol of democracy
As part of her speech, Halsema pointed out that “numerous Amsterdammers and visitors come here every day to sniff out culture, to discuss, to be entertained, to meet each other. This Russian tank is the symbol of the opposite of this freedom”.
“When you see this tank here in this place, the cold beats you to the heart. And that is exactly the intention,” she tells the curious onlookers.
May 25, 2023
She goes on to say, “Placing this tank is not a gesture of triumph, but a gesture of pain, sorrow and broken democracy. It reminds us that we must defend democracy every day.”
The T-72B tank was destroyed by Ukrainian soldiers almost a year ago and has since been travelling through Europe. After making stops in Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, and Groesbeek, the tank will be in Amsterdam until Sunday, June 4.
Controversy erupted on Leidseplein
The initiative to display a Russian tank in Amsterdam triggered both support and anger from the crowds.
A Ukrainian student studying in Amsterdam, Vlodomyr Kutsyi, was deeply affected by the broken down tank: “I think it’s good that the tank is here. I’ve seen photos and videos, but a real tank from the battlefield gives a much more real feeling,” he tells Het Parool.
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However, “Get rid of it!” and “This tank should not be here!” could also be heard from the crowd. Dozens of demonstrators against the war felt that the tank had the opposite effect and glorified Russia’s role in the war.
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