Demonstrators in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharvkiv, the country’s second-largest city, toppled a statue of Vladimir Lenin, the BBC reported Sunday. The move, which was supported by officials, drew cheers from the crowd as the Soviet idol came crashing down.
Ihor Baluta, the governor of Kharkiv region, signed an order to tear down the statue after nationalists gathered at a “Kharkiv is Ukraine” rally, the BBC said
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote in a Facebook post he gave orders for police to protect the people in the center, “not the idol.” "Lenin? Let him fall," he wrote in Russian, according to the BBC. "As long as people don't get hurt. As long as this bloody communist idol does not take more victims with it when it goes."
More than 3,000 people gathered to watch the statue of the Bolshevik Revolution leader topple, Russia Today reported.
Even though governor of Kharkiv and the minister sanctioned dismantling the statue, Ukrainian media reported there was an investigation into “vandalism” in the largely Russian-speaking city. There will be punishment for “the destruction of or damage to cultural heritage sites and personal property,” police said, according to RT.
One protester reportedly was hurt when the Lenin statue was taken down, the BCC reported.
Pro-Russian separatists defended the statue after President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February. Many considered it a victory when the Soviet idol was brought to the ground Sunday.
Statues of Lenin were abundant in Ukraine but have become a reminder of the country’s Soviet past. Since Yanukovych fled, many of them have been destroyed, the Huffington Post wrote.