monument to lenin

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Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a study on public symbols of the Confederacy. The center found more than 700 Confederate monuments on public land in the U.S. — with nearly 300 in the states of Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina alone.

Around the country, a fresh push is on to remove Confederate statues, the great majority of which were erected well after the Civil War.

A protest linked to the proposed removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., became a scene of violence, and officials elsewhere are moving swiftly to remove statues, hoping to keep their own towns and universities becoming similarly embroiled. Monuments in cities including Baltimore, Annapolis, Austin, Durham and New Orleans have already been taken down.

Though the controversy surrounding Confederate monuments is uniquely American, the U.S. is not alone in reckoning with public symbols of the past.

In Reckoning With Confederate Monuments, Other Countries Could Provide Examples

Photos: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images, Prylepa Leksander/AFP/Getty Images, Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images and Axel Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

Aleksandr “Tundra” Kolchenko is a Ukranian anti-fascist who was arrested in Crimea on May 17, 2014, along with several others, and accused by Russian authorities of participation in a “terrorist group” which planned explosions near the Eternal Fire memorial and the Lenin monument in Simferopol, as well as having sabotaged railway tracks and electricity lines. Aleksandr is also alleged to have carried out two arson attacks in April: against the headquarters of the Russian Unity-Party, and the Russian Community of Crimea.

He was transferred to Moscow and is being kept in draconian conditions. His lawyers are under a gag order, and have been refused elementary rights to defend him. He faces fifteen-to-twenty years in a labor camp.  

Russian authorities claim that Aleksandr is a member of Right Sektor, a Ukrainian ultra-right nationalist organization, but he has no connection to the group—a fact confirmed by relatives and friends. Moreover, Aleksandr is an antifascist and anarchist who consistently opposed nationalistic movements in Crimea and faced constant fascist attacks for his activism. For example, after a film screening about murdered anti-fascist journalist Anastasiya Baburova, he was attacked by thirty Nazis with knives. 

Since this case is highly political, Aleksandr’s legal costs are high, around 850 euro per month. The investigation has created a heavy financial strain on local ABC groups, and there is a call for financial support and information distribution. You can make donations via PayPal to abc-msk@riseup.net or using a bank account (write to the same e-mail address for details).

At the moment, Aleksandr is being transferred to a different prison so we do not have a mailing address for him right now.

Demolition of the Lenin monument in East Germany, November 6, 1991

The protest against the demolition of the Lenin monument posted this sign.

The poster inscription: “You, the occupants of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) ! Are you afraid of Lenin even when made of stone?

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In its heyday, Soviet officials erected some 14,000 statues to honor Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and a powerful political icon throughout the USSR. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, former Soviet states began dismantling Lenin statues by the thousands.

Swiss photographer Niels Ackermann tracks down the ousted Lenins in his ongoing series Lost in Decommunization. There was a decapitated golden statue in an overgrown square in Chabo, and nothing but the nose of a 28-foot monument—once the largest Lenin in the country—in Kiev. An Odessa statue was completely unrecognizable, transformed into Darth Vader.

MORE. When a Lenin Statue Is Decapitated, Where Does the Head Go?