A rally of Ukrainian activists in Kharkiv ended with toppling a Soviet-era monument of Vladimir Lenin on the night of Sept. 28.
Nearly 3,000 activists responded to the call “Kharkiv – it’s Ukraine” and showed up Sunday evening to express support for Ukrainian government officials in Kiev.
Following the main protest event, a group of activists carrying blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and nationalist red-black banners crowded around at the site of the Lenin monument and began taking it down as the crowd cheered them on.
The development came as governor of Kharkiv region Ihor Baluta signed an order on Sunday night to dismantle the statue.
While Ukrainian media outlets reported that law enforcement authorities had launched an investigation into what they described as “vandalism,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov posted a statement on his social media site saying that he had issued orders to police forces to only ensure the safety of people and “not the idol.”
“Lenin? Let him fall…,” he reportedly wrote. “As long as people don’t get hurt. As long as this bloody communist idol does not take more victims with it when it goes.”
Back in February, when the country’s former President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, Pro-Russian demonstrators in the mostly Russian-speaking city defended the Lenin statue.