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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Russia KGB founder honoured
By Rob Cameron
BBC correspondent in Moscow

A new statue of the founder of what became the KGB, Felix Dzerzhinsky, has been unveiled in a small town outside Moscow.

The monument was commissioned by the town authorities.

Dzerzhinsky statue being torn down and stamped on
A previous statue of 'Iron Felix' in Moscow was torn down in 1991

Some believe the event is part of the gradual rehabilitation of the once feared Russian secret service under President Vladimir Putin, himself a former officer of the KGB.

Around 300 people - including Dzerzhinsky's grandson - attended Saturday's ceremony in the town that bears his name.

Dzerzhinsky was nicknamed Iron Felix, but this statue is actually bronze and will stand outside the town's palace of culture.

Murky past

As every Russian school child knows, Felix Dzerzhinsky played an active part in the October Revolution and founded the Cheka - or All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage - to give the body its full name.

It was later renamed the NKVD before becoming the KGB and throughout the Communist era was the most feared arm of the Soviet apparatus, abducting, torturing and killing many thousands of people.

A statue of Dzerzhinsky once stood in Moscow's Lubyanka Square, home to the KGB's infamous headquarters.

In 1991, however, following the failed coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev it was torn down. But in the last few years there have been attempts to rehabilitate the organisation.

President Putin even allowed the organisation's successor, the FSB, to produce a calendar commemorating major events in the KGB's history.

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