On a chilly morning recently, workers in Ulaanbaatar dislodged Mongolia’s last statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin from the downtown plinth where it had stood since 1954. A small group watched as the city’s new mayor recalled the repression that marked the communists’ years in power and denounced Lenin and his followers as "murderers.”
Among the excited murmurs that followed, a few Russian voices stood out. "Those who try to erase the past will repeat mistakes of the past. Lenin and the statue is a part of Mongolia's history – it should be kept," said Sergei Smolov, a middle-aged history teacher from Ulaanbaatar. "I see this as an anti-Russian gesture, more than an anti-communist one.”
Statues of Mongolian communist-era heroes still stand tall around the city, including that of General Khorloogiin Choibalsan, who, at Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s urging, purged over 30,000 Buddhist monks in the 1930s.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.