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Ukrainian Communists Mark Lenin's Birthday

"So how do you like living under capitalism?"

"So how do you like living under capitalism?"

LUHANSK, Ukraine -- The Communist Party in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk is marking the 140th birthday of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in a big way, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

Some 40 huge billboards depicting Lenin appeared this week along city streets. Next to his portrait is the question: "So how do you like living under capitalism?"

Lenin's birthday is April 22.

"This billboard simply reminds us about the birthday of Vladimir Ilyich [Lenin]," Maksym Chalenko, secretary of the regional office of the Communist Party, told RFE/RL. "On the other hand, it also reflects his ideas. People have a choice: capitalism or socialism."

Luhansk residents are divided on the issue. "This is an attempted political provocation," one of them told RFE/RL.

"We have a democratic society, so I do not see any harm in this," another Luhansk resident said.

Anatoliy Avershyn, from the Luhansk mayor's office, told RFE/RL it was not authorized to monitor the content of city billboards. He said that was the responsibility of central authorities.

The Communist Party has promised to surprise the people of Luhansk with new billboards in the run-up to Victory Day on May 9 to mark the end of World War II. Local media have reported that the new billboards will depict Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

The Communist Party is a member of the ruling coalition of Ukraine, the legitimacy of which was confirmed by the Constitutional Court on April 8.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party's office in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya has announced plans to erect a monument to Stalin in early May.

Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Semynozhenko responded that the Ukrainian government "will not curb the initiatives of local communities."