The CRCE is a long standing think tank that worked on the subject of communism and, later, on transitions from communism. They recently published a survey on communist symbols in former socialist countries.
By communist symbols, they mean those pieces of propaganda that infiltrated into the daily life of cities: like statues of communist leaders (Lenin, Stalin, et cetera) or streets’ or even villages’ names. CRCE has asked a network of people and think tanks to provide some information on the current status of monuments, buildings, et cetera.
The findings are quite interesting. I could have imagined that in Belarus “at least dozens of communist statues still exist in public spaces or have been placed in museums (…) various villages, towns, cities still have communist symbols”. But I didn’t know that in Hungary wearing a Red Army coat was forbidden by the law.
CRCE’s research into “how symbols of communist rule and power have been abolished, changed, destroyed, or otherwise dealt with” is still in a preliminary stage, but it is worth following closely. The political future of a country is not independent of the way in which it reads her past – and, in this context, symbols are a crucial part of politics indeed. If you doubt that “statues have consequences”, you should just think to the dispute that in 2007 erupted between Russia and Estonia, when the latter relocated the Bronze Soldier of Tallin, originally erected by Soviet authorities in Estonia “to the liberators of Tallinn” (i.e., the Red Army).