Russian Communists protest removal of Lenin statue

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The Independent Online

Russian communists protested Monday that authorities had secretly removed a statue of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin after it was damaged in an April Fool's Day explosion.

The statue -- featuring a huge hole in its buttocks since the prank blast -- was removed "under the cover of darkness" Saturday night, the Saint Petersburg branch of the Communist party complained in a statement on Monday.

A Communist youth group in the region also issued a statement of protest, calling the statue's removal "a dark day for Russia."

The Communists, who had planned night patrols to prevent the statue's removal for repairs, called for the edifice to be restored to its pedestal outside the Finland Station, where Lenin famously returned from exile in 1917 before leading the Bolshevik Revolution.

The figure of Lenin in an overcoat was put up in 1926, making it one of the oldest statues of the revolutionary leader, who died in 1924.

But it suffered an undignified end on April 1 this year, when vandals blew a hole in its rear end with a homemade bomb. The culprits have yet to be caught.

City authorities say the statue will be restored at a cost of around eight million rubles (184,000 euros, 277,000 dollars), the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The statue is set to return to its pedestal in time for the anniversary of Lenin's birth, by April 22 next year.