A statue of the Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin has stood tall in a park off of Moscow's Klimashkina Street for decades, but this week it came down to earth with a crash.
Worse still, the statue's head apparently came off in the process. The communist revolutionary, still widely admired in Russia, was beheaded in the very Russian city he had restored as the capital almost 100 years ago.
It's a somewhat mysterious story. According to reports in the Russian media, the statue was discovered on the ground early Tuesday. At first, utility workers suggested that the statue had been brought down by winds. However, weather reports for Moscow showed that the wind that day was hardly gusty enough to knock down a heavy statue.
More intriguing still, Life.ru reported that a puzzling note and small bits of rope had been left at the scene. The note, which had an image of a clothes hanger and a tank top, appeared to suggest the word "hangman."
Later, it was reported that authorities arrested two young men in connection with the statue's fall.
It's an unusual occurrence, but it is hardly unprecedented when you look not far beyond Russia's borders. In Ukraine, a huge number of statues of Lenin have been toppled in the past few years, part of a broader removal of Soviet images from the country that was mandated by a new law. The sudden removal of these monuments, which had survived many years after the end of communism in the country, was widely seen as an attempt by some Ukrainians to distance themselves from their shared history with their eastern neighbor.
There seems to be little comparable movement in Russia, where Lenin's body lies embalmed in Moscow's Red Square, with no signs that it will leave anytime soon. A recent poll conducted by the Levada Center found that 53 percent of Russians thought Lenin had left a largely or entirely positive mark on Russian history. (Perhaps more remarkable, however, was another recent poll from Levada, which found that 54 percent of Russians described their attitude to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as positive).
However, while defacements of monuments to Lenin remain rare within Russia, they are not unheard of. Last year, at least two Lenin statues in Russia were defaced: One had red paint applied to the face as lipstick, while the other was painted the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.
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