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A Soviet-era statue of a Red Army commander taken down in Kyiv

People watch as municipal workers dismantle a monument to Soviet military leader Mykola Shchors in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. Writing on the monument reads "Executioner". Shchors was a Ukrainian communist who fought with the Soviet army against Ukrainian independence following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Ukraine has accelerated efforts to erase the vestiges of centuries of Soviet and Russian influence from the public space since full-scale Russian invasion last February. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) People watch as municipal workers dismantle a monument to Soviet military leader Mykola Shchors in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. Writing on the monument reads "Executioner". Shchors was a Ukrainian communist who fought with the Soviet army against Ukrainian independence following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Ukraine has accelerated efforts to erase the vestiges of centuries of Soviet and Russian influence from the public space since full-scale Russian invasion last February. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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KYIV -

City workers in Kyiv on Saturday dismantled an equestrian statue of a Red Army commander, the latest Soviet monument to be removed in the Ukrainian capital since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year.

The statue of Mykola Shchors on horseback, erected in the 1950s, was taken down from a pedestal in downtown Kyiv to the applause of a small group of onlookers. City officials said it will be stored in the State Aviation Museum.

"Derussification and decommunization are continuing. We have already dismantled more than 60 monuments related to the history and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union," Mykhailo Budilov, director of the city's Department of Territorial Control, said in a statement.

An effort to remove symbols of the Soviet era, which many Ukrainians equate with Russian imperialism, accelerated after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

In August of this year, officials removed a hammer-and-sickle symbol from the Mother Ukraine statue in Kyiv -- one of the country's most recognizable landmarks -- and replaced it with Ukraine's trident coat of arms.

On Saturday, a few dozen people gathered around the Shchors monument as workers cut the statue from the pedestal and removed it with a crane.

"Once I heard this was happening, I put my coat on and ran here to see a historic moment," said Heorhii Lukianchuk, a Kyiv resident.

Oleksii Prokopets, another Kyiv resident, said he supported taking down Soviet monuments but questioned whether it was worth the resources as Ukraine finds itself struggling to fight off the Russian invasion almost two years into the war.

"I guess it is not the right time to spend a lot of money for taking them down. It could be just wrapped in a black cloth and dealt with after the victory," Prokopets said.

It's not yet clear what the monument will be replaced with.

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