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Heavy police protection, just for Vladimir Lenin statue

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Nov. 25, 2013, 3:05 p.m. | Ukraine — by Daryna Shevchenko

Pro-European demonstrations march down Shevchenko Boulvard, passing the statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin near Kreshchatyk Street. Ever since vandals damaged the statue four years ago, there has been a constant police presence to safeguard the monument. The police took no chances on Nov. 24, heavily fortifying the statue.
© Yaroslav Debelyi/lenta.ru

Daryna Shevchenko

On the way from Shevchenko Park to European Square on Nov. 24, the EuroMaidan crowd smashed the Ukrainian Communist Party tent near the Vladimir Lenin monument on Shevchenko Boulevard, even though the park where the monument stands was full of riot police. They could not, however, get through to perhaps the most heavily guarded statue in Ukraine.

On Nov 24, more than 60,000 people gathered in Shevchenko Park, near Lev Tolstoi metro station, and  marched down to European Square, some two kilometers away, to protest the government's decision to suspend Ukraine's attempts to integrate more closely with the European Union through an association agreement.

The majority of protesters just walked past the statue shouting “Hanba (Shame on you)” to the police officers guarding the Communist Party leader’s statue, although several dozen activists reached the red-colored Communist Party tent and trampled it.

Several dozen activists reached the Communist tent near Lenin Monument on Shevchenko Boulvard and smashed it away.

Ever since vandals damaged the nose and one arm of the Bolshevik leader in 2009, forcing an expensive repair job completed in 2010, the Communist Party has kept vigil at the site -- erecting a tent and hiring private security guards.

Read about the Kyiv Post coverage here.

“The tent was there (for people) to keep an eye on vandals. We already reconstructed the monument once,” said Ukrainian Communist Party spokesman Petro Shelest.

Obviously, however, there was not enough protection on Nov. 24 -- so dozens of riot police officers stood in a tight triple circle around the monument. At least 30 officers stood guard.

Ukrainian communists say they had nothing to do with Lenin’s crowd of police guardian angels. “We didn’t ask for the guard, the city was guarding the statute not because it is Lenin, but simply because it is state property,” Shelest said.

Kyiv police spokeswoman Olga Bilyk says the police officers were sent to the monument after a group of people came and started throwing eggs at Lenin even before the march. "After all, this is an architectural monument and we should have protected it," Bilyk said. When the Kyiv Post asked why the same amount of police wasn't send top other Kyiv's architectural monuments, she confessed that "taking into account people's moods police estimated that it would be Lenin in bigger need of protection than the other monuments."

Even after the crowd moved on to Khreshatyk Street and then to European Square, riot police around the Lenin monument stayed and kept watch, taking no chances with a decidedly anti-communist crowd. It's not totally clear why. Either authorities are intent on defending a bronze statue from a planned assassination or they just wanted to keep him a company during the dark days of pro-European protests. 

Kyiv Post staff writer Daryna Shevchenko can be reached at shevchenko@kyivpost.com. 

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