Workers began pulling down the largest statue of Vladimir Lenin in ex-Soviet Central Asia yesterday, sparking outrage from die-hard Communists celebrating the Russian revolutionary's 141st birthday.
A significant but waning number of people in former Soviet countries remain faithful to the iconic founder of the Soviet state even 20 years after the collapse of Communism. Lenin statues were demolished as Communist regimes crumbled two decades ago, but the monuments remain ubiquitous across parts of the former Soviet Union still ambivalent about the era.
As hundreds of Communists laid flowers at Lenin's Red Square tomb in Moscow, workers in Tajikistan were dismantling the 74-ft Lenin monument in the city centre of Khujand, once known as Leninabad in honour of the Soviet founder.
The statue, which was built in 1974 to mark the 50th anniversary of the leader's death, is being moved to a new location next to a war memorial on the western fringe of the city. City authorities insist there is no political motive, but that doesn't wash with the Tajik Communist Party leader, Shoddi Shabdolov. "Nobody can rewrite the history," Mr Shabdolov said.