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A statue of Vladimir Lenin near the Finlyandsky railway station
A statue of Vladimir Lenin near the Finlyandsky railway station in St. Petersburg was badly damaged in an explosion on Wednesday, a local police spokesman said.

"Unknown people detonated an unidentified explosive device by the monument at about 04:30 a.m. (00:30 GMT)," the spokesman said, adding that the blast had caused a large crater and a hole in the statue.

A member of the city administration said that there was a danger that the statue would collapse if emergency repair work was not carried out.

"Experts have come to the conclusion that there is a threat of collapse, therefore the monument needs to be dismantled. The work will be carried out tonight. The damaged statue will be taken to professional restorers for a thorough examination and to carry out the restoration work. Initial estimates put the cost of the work at 6-8 million rubles ($17,300 - $23,500)," an administration press release said.

The bronze monument to Lenin was unveiled on November 7, 1926 at the site where the Russian communist leader made a prominent speech after returning from exile in 1917 just prior to the Russian Revolution. The statue was later moved closer to the Neva River.

Although there were once numerous Lenin monuments in St. Petersburg, the 10-meter high bronze statue is one of the few to have survived the collapse of the U.S.S.R. Residents of Russia's second-largest city protected it from artillery fire during WWII.

The Communist Party of Russia was outraged by the explosion which it described as "a politically-charged act of vandalism."

"Indeed, Lenin standing on the armored car is not just a monument to Lenin. It is a symbol of the revolution, [built] at its starting point," a party leader, Ivan Melnikov, said. "An attack against the symbol is not just an explosion. It is clear that the organizers were seeking to demonstrate something by such a move."

"I'm sure the public will condemn what has happened tonight," he added.

Communist Party lawmaker Valery Rashkin said the explosion could be an attempt to distract public attention from pressing problems.

"I am not ruling out that this was a kind of provocation for our criticism of authorities, an attempt to distract attention from the present-day conditions," he said.


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