Ukraine topples its biggest remaining Lenin statue

KIEV (AFP) - It took two days and a giant crane, but Ukraine on Thursday (March 17) finally managed to lift its biggest remaining statue of Soviet founder Lenin off its pedestal and consign it to the dustbins of history.

The 20-meter-tall bronze and granite monument fell victim to a Ukrainian ban on Soviet symbols that was imposed in May 2015 as part of the Russian neighbour's drive toward closer relations with the European Union.

The Lenin who suffered his ignoble fate in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia weighed 40 tonnes and was one of about 2,500 similar statues scattered across the country since its Soviet days.

Most of those have since been toppled, with Ukraine's tallest Lenin in the city of Kharkiv falling in September 2014, seven months after the ouster the pro-Russian leadership in Kiev and the country's tilt toward the West.

The Zaporizhia Lenin's removal was livestreamed by major websites when the operation began.

Around 200 people still mingled on the city's main square by the time the statue was finally lifted and placed gingerly besides its pedestal.

The city's authorities have not yet specified what they planned to do with the monument next.

Russia often accuses Ukraine of violating international law by banning the Communist Party, which it also did shortly the 2014 pro-EU revolt.

It also denies backing the pro-Moscow insurgency that broke out in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, claiming nearly 9,200 lives.