By Ana Maria Touma
The decision of the local authorities in a Moldovan town to remove a statue of Vladimir Lenin has infuriated Communist and pro-Russian politicians.
The demolition of a statue of Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin in a small town in northeastern Moldova has angered Communist and Socialist pro-Russian politicians and their supporters – who have threatened retaliation.
The statue in the town of Falesti disappeared on Wednesday night and was later found decapitated on Thursday by an activist of Our Party, a pro-Russian political faction.
The monument, one of the few remaining in the former Soviet republic, was taken down by the local authorities following a decision of the town council, but pro-Russian politicians and Communist supporters have called for its restoration.
The Moldovan Communist Party announced that it had filed a request to the Ministry of Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the disappearance of the statue.
The press release said that if the authorities do not properly investigate the incident and restore the statue, the party would urge its supporters to attack other monuments and stage mass protests.
“We demand that the authorities restore Lenin’s monument, or we will inform our citizens of this crime the government has committed and reserve our right to take similar actions, including mass protests,” the press release read.
The Socialist Party also condemned the removal of the statue in a press release issued on Thursday.
“The demolition of the monument of Lenin in the town of Falesti is an insult to hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens for whom this historical figure represents authority. Regardless of our attitude towards various historical figures, any monument located in our country has historical and artistic value and is a part of our national heritage,” the statement read.
Local police said that it was an older decision of the town council, and the statue was meant to be have cleaned and installed in a different location. Falesti’s mayor, himself a member of Our Party, declined to comment.
Lenin statues have long triggered controversy in the former Soviet republic, annexed by Moscow from Romania after World War II.
In 2012, when army veterans carried hammers to knock down a statue located in Moldexpo Park in the capital, Chisinau. Communist Party supporters surrounded the monument to protect it.
During the 1990s, after Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union, several statues of the Bolshevik leader were demolished.
However, later on, several of them were re-erected by pro-Russian parties and their supporters. The monument in Falesti was one of them. Removed in the 1990s, it was restored on May 1, 2001.
Lenin’s statues have been removed from most Moldovan towns, but at least 12 still stand, including one in Chisinau and two in the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria, in the town of Bender and the separatist capital, Tiraspol.