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Lenin Statue Removed From Center Of Tajikistan's Second City

WATCH: footage taken by RFE/RL's Tajik Service of the dismantling of what is believed to be Central Asia's largest Lenin statue.

KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Authorities in northern Tajikistan have dismantled what's believed to be the largest Lenin monument in Central Asia.

The statue of the Bolshevik revolutionary leader was taken down from the central square in the city of Khujand on May 30.

The monument was removed at night under the supervision of police and local officials and will be placed in Victory Park on the city's outskirts.

Local authorities say a memorial to Ismoili Somoni, the founder of Tajik statehood, will be erected in its place.

RFE/RL's Tajik Service correspondent reports that the dismantling started at around 7 p.m. and lasted for about four hours.

He said the operation was not announced beforehand and nobody was allowed to approach at first, though the dismantling soon attracted the attention of journalists and locals who started gathering to watch.

RFE/RL's correspondent said workers first temporarily removed the statue's head in order to put steel cables inside the monument.

An elderly lady, who asked not to be named, cried and told RFE/RL's correspondent that it was very hard to see the Lenin statue removed from the square.

"We have got used to the monument and Lenin did a lot for us, Tajiks, after all," she said.

According to local authorities the statue is 12 meters tall and the pedestal is another 12 meters high, making it one of the largest monuments to Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. It was erected in 1974, when Khujand was called Leninabad.

Khujand authorities tried to remove the statue last year, but some locals protested against the plan and therefore it was decided to leave the statue for some time.

After a referendum in 1990 Khujand reverted to its historic name.

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