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9 Dec, 2021 06:44

Russia must take down its Lenin statues – top historian

Russia must take down its Lenin statues – top historian

A well-known Russian public intellectual has said that he supports taking down statues of Vladimir Lenin across the country, arguing that his compatriots should reject the legacy of the Soviet Union's founding leader.

Nikolay Svanidze, a historian and journalist known for his TV documentaries about Russian history, told news site Ura.ru that he thinks monuments to Lenin, commonly found across Russia, will be taken down sooner or later. He went on to say that this is the right decision.

“I’m for taking down monuments to Lenin,” he explained. “Because his statues are all across the country. And I think, a little boy will see one with his mom. He’ll say, Mama, who’s this guy? And what will his mom tell him? What are this man’s merits? His remains are lying in a mausoleum. I wouldn’t answer. What did he do? Destroyed the country? He massacred an enormous number of people. Of course they’ll bring down the monuments, but when – that’s a different question.”

He explained that a series of Russian governments since the fall of the USSR have been slow to take this step, and said that he thinks it’s because they don’t want to bother people who consider Lenin important or who are simply used to the statues. 

“That’s why this question hasn’t been decided yet,” he went on. “When they took Stalin out of the mausoleum, nothing happened. Although at the time, Stalin was incomparably more popular than Lenin is now. Still, the authorities won’t act at present.”

In 2013, protesters in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, toppled and destroyed a monument to Lenin during the “Euromaidan” demonstrations. People across the country followed suit in what became known as “Leninfall,” when it was estimated that more than 500 statues of the leader were pulled down in the space of a few months.

Lenin was the founder and first head of government of the Soviet Union, and his image was ubiquitous across the USSR until it fell in 1991. A controversial figure, he has been viewed as a champion of the working class and as a totalitarian dictator responsible for mass killings.

In August, a new monument to Lenin was reinstalled in a public spot in the city of Smolensk, in western Russia. The sculpture, by the artist Alexey Izmalkov, was created in 1965, but sat in storage for decades before its installation this year in front of the city’s art museum.