Cash-strapped Russian city to sell Lenin statue

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - A city in Russia’s south is selling its bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, as it can no longer afford the cost of repairs, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

The 14-tonne, balding figure has stood upright with one arm outstretched -- one of several typical Lenin poses -- in the main square of Voronezh, some 500 km (311 miles) southwest of Moscow, for 60 years, state-run Vesti-24 television showed.

But the city-owned company responsible for his upkeep has gone bankrupt and is looking for a new owner who can afford present repairs costing 1.5 million roubles ($49,420), popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.

“It (statue) is under state protection and the law dictates that the owner is obliged to provide free access to it,” the paper quoted the head of Voronezh’s culture department Ivan Chukhnov as saying. “People have to be able to visit him (Lenin), and lay flowers,” he added.

The city council of Voronezh, which has a population of around one million, was offered a brick statue of Lenin from another Russian region for the modest sum of 5,500 roubles last year, but rejected it at the last minute.

During the time of the Soviet Union, which collapsed in 1991, statues of Lenin of all sizes were omnipresent. Though most ex-Soviet countries have since removed them, most Russian cities still have at least one, usually in the main square.

Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, editing by Paul Casciato