Comrade Lenin was happy where he stood for 35 years. Then city authorities built a stadium directly in his line of site. Within a year, so disappointed by the local football team’s losses, Vladimir Ilyich couldn’t take it anymore, and got up and moved downriver.
So go the jokes in Khujand, formerly Leninabad, to explain why officials moved Central Asia’s tallest statue of the Bolshevik revolutionary in May 2011 from a central square to a patch of weeds where cows graze by the Syr Darya River. He was replaced by a statue of Ismail Somoni, a proto-Tajik 10th-century king.
He’s still the tallest Lenin in Central Asia, however, at 12.5 meters with a new 12.5-meter pedestal, just like the old one. (Except without the marble facing and nameplate.)
To placate some locals upset by the move, a new story is making the rounds: The cow fields and industrial wasteland surrounding Lenin’s new spot will be turned into a large park.
The fad for dismantling Lenin statues across Central Asia is continuing apace.
Privately owned Kazakh television station KTK reported this week that authorities in the central town of Karaganda have begun work on "overthrowing" the hulking 270-ton granite leader, the largest monument of its kind in the country.
Removing Vladimir Ilyich is proving as hard as expunging the legacy of his ideologies, however. Ironically, it is from Switzerland, Lenin's home-in-exile in the years ahead of the Russian Revolution, that Karaganda authorities have turned to buy the equipment needed to cut the 12-meter statue into more easily transportable sections.
Lenin will be re-erected just a few streets away from his current location -- on Lenin Street, fittingly enough. Attempts to remove these enduring reminders of Central Asia's Soviet past invariably meet resistance from the old guard of adherents, such as retiree Gani Isakakova, who charged in decidedly seditious tones in an interview with KTK that "what we learned from Lenin was: 'Learn, learn, learn,' and all you learn today is to steal."
RFE/RL's Kazakh-language service Azattyk offers details of even more concerted efforts to halt the perceived desecration. According to local journalist Ainur Aldanysheva:
"A group of Communists shouted 'Hands Off Lenin' and painted the slogan 'Do Not Destroy History' on the metal fence erected around the monument. They were taken to a police station for disrupting the peace."