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Stalin-Monument Vandals In Ukraine Have Charges Reduced

Zaporizhzhya's Stalin monument in May, with head
Zaporizhzhya's Stalin monument in May, with head
ZAPORIZHZHYA, Ukraine -- Nine Ukrainian nationalists charged in the decapitation of a monument to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhya last year have had their charges reduced, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reports.

The activists -- who were members of the right-wing nationalist organization Tryzub (Trident) -- were arrested in January and went on trial in March.

Their lawyer, Volodymyr Prudovskyy, told RFE/RL that his clients were originally charged with "violent vandalism in a public place with a possible threat to the public" for their severing of Stalin's head from a monument in December.

The detained activists faced up to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

But Prudovskyy said that the case has been reclassified as "vandalism" for which the activists could be either fined or sentenced to up to three years in jail.

Prudovskyy added that the damage caused was originally estimated to be 370,000 hryvnyas ($45,700) but the court lowered the amount to 109,000 hryvnyas ($13,500).

Communists in Zaporizhzhya unveiled a monument to Stalin in May 2010. Tryzub activists protested, calling Stalin "the executioner of the Ukrainian people and an international terrorist."

Read more in Ukrainian here