KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Communists in northern Tajikistan say they fear authorities there are preparing to remove what is the largest Lenin statue in Central Asia, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
The head of the Communist Party in Sughd province, Ghufron Rustamov, told RFE/RL that authorities have what he called a verbal order from Dushanbe to remove the statue of Vladimir Lenin from the center of the city of Khujand.
But the head of Khujand's city architecture department, Olimjon Haidarov, said access to the monument had been restricted this week because of renovation work being carried out on the square and the monument itself, which has not been renovated in many years.
Rustamov said any move to remove or relocate the statue should only be done after public debate.
He noted that recently a small monument to Lenin had disappeared from the center of Sughd's Ayni district.
The Lenin statue in the center of Khujand on the right bank of the Syrdarya River was built in 1974 and at 24 meters high is believed to be the biggest monument to the Bolshevik revolutionary leader in Central Asia.
In Soviet times Khujand was called Leninabad and Sughd was called Leninabad province. After a referendum in 1990 Khujand reverted to its historic name; Sughd followed suit in 2001.