Kiev scraps plan to build Babi Yar hotel

Last Updated: Monday, September 28, 2009 - 21:28

Kiev: The authorities in Kiev have scrapped a widely criticised plan to build a hotel near what experts say was a killing field used by Nazis during the Babi Yar massacre, officials said on Monday.
Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky`s office said he vetoed a decision by the city council to build the hotel, which would have been called Babi Yar.

The decision to build a hotel there had been supported by members of the Mayor`s faction in the city council. They said Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, needed more hotels to host the 2012 European soccer championship and develop tourism after the event. They argued that the planned hotel would not touch any of the remains.

Marta Hrymska, a spokeswoman for Chernovetsky, said the hotel had been merely a tentative plan by city architects and it has been rejected.

"It was just a proposal," Hrymska said. "Nobody has allocated any land, there are no investors, no hotel is being built. We are not going to build anything."

The hotel would have been built in the middle of the main killing site, according to Vitaliy Nakhmanovich, a leading Ukrainian Babi Yar scholar.

Jewish groups condemned the plan harshly, saying it would show disrespect for the victims of one of the worst chapters of the Holocaust. More than 33,700 Jews were shot at Babi Yar over 48 hours beginning September 29, 1941. In the ensuing months, the ravine was filled with an estimated 100,000 bodies, among them those of non-Jewish Kiev residents and Red Army prisoners of the Nazis.

The 68th anniversary of the massacre will be observed on Tuesday.

Alexei Kuznetsov, the son of Soviet writer Anatoly Kuznetsov, who authored "Babi Yar," a book documenting the massacre, said the plan to build a hotel on the site showed Ukrainian authorities` reluctance to honour the tragedy after decades of silence under the Soviet rule.

The location went officially unmarked for many years under the anti-Semitic Soviet authorities, who didn`t want to single out Babi Yar as a Jewish tragedy.

Kuznetsov called for building a government-sponsored memorial on the spot where several monuments to the tragedy are now located, but which are not yet linked into a comprehensive remembrance complex.

"It`s that Soviet delayed-action mine that is exploding only now," Kuznetsov said. "If the Babi Yar tragedy hadn`t been kept secret, ... there would be no talk about this (hotel) now."

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, September 28, 2009 - 21:28
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