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Plaque Honoring North Korean Leader Unveiled in Russia's St. Petersburg

Former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il Reuters

A memorial plaque honoring North Korea's former leader Kim Jong Il was unveiled during an opening ceremony on Thursday in St. Petersburg, the Interfax news agency reported Friday.

The plaque was installed in the city’s Kirov factory to mark the 15th anniversary of Kim-Jong-Il’s visit to Russia. "When the North Korean embassy contacted us and asked to install the memorial, we decided to fulfill the request," factory representatives said.

"Chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission Kim Jong Il visited the Kirov Plant on Aug. 7, 2001," reads the plaque, which may be seen as a symbol of a closer relationship between the two countries, as Russia has turned its diplomatic attention eastward over growing tensions with the West. 

It is not the first time that St. Petersburg’s citizens have faced decisions by the city administration to perpetuate the memory of those with no obvious ties to the northern capital. 

Just two months ago, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky delivered a speech during the opening ceremony of a memorial plaque for Carl Gustav Mannerheim — a Finnish military leader allegedly linked to Adolf Hitler.

Mannerheim’s regiment is believed to have contributed to the siege of Leningrad, which caused many questions about the memorial’s relevance. 

In May, the city authorities announced that one of the city bridges will be named after deceased Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov, despite discontent that the idea sparked within and outside St. Petersburg. An online petition claiming that Kadyrov had nothing to do with the city gained about 90,000 signatures, but the city authorities did not revoke the decision.

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