putin kensington toronto

Someone strung up a mysterious effigy of Vladimir Putin on a noose in Toronto

As Russia's botched invasion of Ukraine pushes into its 16th month of bloody combat, one Toronto local has installed a display of protest in the heart of the city's bustling Kensington Market neighbourhood.

Passersby strolling along Augusta Avenue, just south of College Street, might be caught off guard by a new installation that depicts Russian President-turned-dictator Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin hanging from a noose, surrounded by Ukrainian flag-inspired motifs and planters

The hanged effigy of the world's most notorious tyrant at 272 Augusta Ave. is accompanied by a sign noting the over 200,000 Ukrainian lives lost in the conflict, a number roughly mirrored by what have proven to be staggering Russian troop losses.

It appeared earlier in 2023 around the one-year anniversary of the invasion, and has since generated local controversy that has included complaints from passersby and even police visits.

So what's the story?

Seeking details on the eye-catching installation, blogTO reach out to Sublime Catering, which operates on the ground floor of the property, directly below the display.

Unfortunately, this was a dead-end, as a representative of the caterer responded by saying, "the Putin figure has nothing to do with Sublime. It's the occupant of the unit above us. He wishes to remain anonymous."

The mysterious resident who commissioned the work from a local artist was tracked down by The Scoop, telling the outlet that it was created to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and derailed decades of uneasy peace between Eastern and Western powers.

But according to a City of Toronto representative, there might be some issues with this art installation.

Though the representative states the City has not received specific complaints about the display, it is now "investigating this issue as the display may pose a risk to public safety."

Toronto and its bureaucratic city governance may be 8,000 kilometres from the frontlines in this conflict, but the multicultural city β€” home to large Ukrainian and Russian communities β€” has not been immune from the fallout, and this hanging Putin display is far from the first local flare-up.

Even in the weeks before the invasion, as Russian troops were concentrating along Ukraine's borders to the north and east, a Ukrainian bakery in Toronto was vandalized with pro-Russian graffiti in what the owner described as a hate crime.

Just days after invading Russian troops began their deadly sweep across northern and eastern Ukraine, a family flying a Ukrainian flag was attacked in the streets, all captured in a shocking video.

A couple of weeks into the invasion, more pro-Russian graffiti was spotted in the city, sparking outrage.

But there have also been kinder local connections in this conflict, like a Toronto artist who travelled to Ukraine to bring some light into the life of the wartorn country by painting over bullet-riddled fences and other structures with flowers and other positive imagery.

Lead photo by

Becky Robertson

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