KYIV -- The trial has begun of five Ukrainians who allegedly broke the nose and left arm off a Vladimir Lenin statue in central Kyiv, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.
The men are activists of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists and could be sent to jail for five years for the damage they reportedly did to the statue on June 30.
Such a long sentence is possibly because the statue enjoyed the status of "national significance."
But after the incident, the government decided to annul that status.
A week ago, police tried to arrest the activists but failed to do so after a mass gathering of people protested their arrest and prevented police from reaching them.
Mykola Kokhanivski, Andriy Tarasenko, Oleksandr Zadorozhni, Ivan Sribni, and Bohdan Frant are officially charged with hooliganism and damaging a monument of "national significance."
Kokhanivski told RFE/RL that the activists' destruction of the statue was not an act of hooliganism but an ideological protest.
He said that he and his comrades achieved their major goal, the changing of the monument's status, and the authorities have to decide whether to take down and dispose of Lenin or to spend a lot of money to repair it.
Kokhanivski said the best decision would be to remove the statue forever, adding that he and his fellow activists would continue to fight against the remnants of the Soviet regime in Ukraine.