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Last Updated: Friday, 9 November 2007, 19:51 GMT
Tajik capital's 'last Lenin' plea
A statue of Lenin
Statues of Lenin can still be found in other areas of Tajikistan
Tajikistan's Communist Party has asked the authorities for permission to preserve the capital's last remaining statue of Lenin.

The communists want to move the statue to their party headquarters when the park in which it stands is redesigned.

It will be replaced by a statue of the ninth-century Tajik poet, Rudaki.

Correspondents say the authorities hope to promote nationalism but that the move could prompt debate about ownership of old communist items.

Dushanbe's last remaining statue of Lenin has been standing in the central park since 1926 when it was brought from the Russian city of St Petersburg.

Now the authorities are redesigning the park to complement the building of several five-star hotels and a police headquarters in the area.

They believe a statue of Rudaki, the founder of Tajik literature, is a more fitting ideological figure for the city.

Strong emotions

The Communist Party has written to the government asking for permission to save what it says is an important part of Tajikistan's history.

The government has not yet responded to the request, but if it refuses there could be a legal debate about who owns the statue.

Saymudin Oymahmadov of the BBC's Tajik service said that when Tajikistan declared independence in 1991, ownership of all Soviet monuments was passed to the Communist Party.

But he said the government might claim that the statue belonged to the country and not the Communist Party, which would spark a heated legal argument.

Most young Tajiks have little interest in Lenin but the statue still provokes strong emotions in older people who lived under the Soviet Union.

Dushanbe's main Soviet-era statue of Lenin was replaced some years ago by a huge effigy of Ismail Samani, the 10th Century ruler of Central Asia and Iran.

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