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Finland's last Lenin monument removed from streets of southern city

The City of Kotka received the statue as a gift in 1979, but it has been the subject of intense public debate over the years, and especially since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

The Lenin statue was presented as a gift to the City of Kotka in 1979. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle

A statue of Russian leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin will be removed from the streets of the city of Kotka in southeast Finland, and relocated to a museum, following a decision by the city council on Monday evening.

The removal means that no large monuments to the Russian revolutionary and politician will be present on the streets of Finland.

The statue of Lenin, sculpted by Estonian artist Matti Varikin, was presented as a gift in 1979 by Kotka's twin city Tallinn, which at the time was still part of the Soviet Union.

The monument will be moved to a museum. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle

The statue has been vandalised and damaged several times over the years, and had been the subject of an intense, years-long local debate even before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Proposals submitted to both the city and municipal councils argued that the statue should be moved to a local museum, as the monument insulted the memory of people who died as a result of Soviet war crimes.

The Kotka-based Kymenlaakso Museum had requested that the statue be kept in place, but that a plaque describing its history be added to the pedestal.

The museum had also proposed transferring the statue to the Lenin Museum in Tampere, but this offer was not accepted.

At a city council meeting on Monday evening, delegates voted 41-9 in favour of removing the Lenin statue.

Authorities in Turku also removed a statue of Lenin in April, citing Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Similar to the monument in Kotka, the presence of the statue in Turku had sparked significant public debate since being given to the city by authorities Leningrad — now St.Petersburg — in 1977.