A monument to the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin recently erected in the Siberian town of Surgut has been vandalized the day after it was unveiled.
Protesters threw red paint on the statue to mimic the appearance of blood. The monument was originally installed by a local civic group, who bought the bust of Stalin in an antique shop in Yekaterinburg and raised 150,000 rubles ($2,300) to finance its installation.
Tweet caption: “Somebody poured red paint on the Stalin bust unveiled just yesterday. Putin, send troops to Surgut!”
The bust officially went on display on Thursday, with some local residents laying flowers by the statue.
Town authorities later went on to declare that the statue had been erected illegally.
The spokesperson for Russkiy Dukh (“Russian Spirit”), Denis Hanzhin, said that no complaints had been received, and that the group would appeal to a “higher authority” if asked to remove the statue.
During the Soviet era, the people of Surgut witnessed the effects of Stalin's regime first hand, as the town served as a stop on the Salekhard–Igarka Railway: a transport link constructed by Gulag prisoners under unspeakably cruel conditions.
More than a decade ago, local activists petitioned the town to construct a memorial to the victims of Stalin's regime, but the authorities have only now formally agreed to consider the project.