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'Donkey Monument' Destroyed In Azerbaijan

Wreckage of the donkey statue in Shamaxi.
Wreckage of the donkey statue in Shamaxi.
BAKU -- A controversial statue depicting a farmer riding in a donkey cart has been destroyed in the eastern Azerbaijani city of Shamaxi, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Shamaxi police told RFE/RL that a man driving a KamAz truck accidentally ran over the monument and was detained for destroying it.

Interior Ministry official Ehsan Zahidov told RFE/RL on July 4 that the driver resisted arrest and broke some windows after he was taken to the police department.

"The case has been submitted to the district prosecutor's office," Zahidov said. The driver gave a statement about the incident and was released, he added.

But local media reported that Shamaxi residents intentionally destroyed the monument.

An RFE/RL correspondent said there were high barriers surrounding the statue and it would have been impossible for a truck to run over it.

The monument had caused discontent in Shamaxi -- which is some 120 kilometers from Baku -- as many residents felt it was insulting.

Some told RFE/RL that Azerbaijanis consider the donkey to be a foul animal and that calling someone a "donkey" is an insult. They said such a monument in the touristic city center was not a positive thing.

But one woman said she disagreed with that attitude toward the statue because she said the donkey has a place in Azerbaijani folklore.

Agamusa Vahidov, the head of the Shamaxi district administrative office, told RFE/RL last week that the monument paid tribute to the hard-working farmer from a bygone era.

Read more in Azeri here