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Lenin immortalised in Montpellier

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Reuters

Twenty years after statues of Lenin began to disappear from post-Communist eastern Europe, the Soviet socialist rose anew as a 3.3-metre bronze in the French city of Montpellier on Wednesday.


The man behind the move is Georges Frêche, president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region and chairman of Montpellier's development community. He said he commissioned statues of Lenin, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, France's Charles de Gaulle, US war leader Franklin Roosevelt and French socialist hero Jean Jaurès to celebrate his personal heroes.

Each statue weighs in at between 850 kilos and a hefty tonne and will be officially inaugurated in mid-September.

The so-called “heroes of the 20th century” weren’t cheap either, with each costing local taxpayers an estimated 200,000 euros.

Next year, Mahatma Gandhi, Golda Meir, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Nelson Mandela and Mao Zedong will also find themselves immortalised in bronze in an easterly corner of the city.

Frêche, a former Socialist, was expelled from the party after making comments about the French football team which were deemed to be racist.

Political opponents have slammed his decision, with the Green Party going so far as threatening to dismantle the statues.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP was outraged to find General De Gaulle standing next to Lenin, in what looks like comradely solidarity.

Nevertheless, in a recent interview with the Montpellier local newspaper La Gazette, Frêche defended his decision to honour Lenin and Mao and insisted that their political legacy outweighs the bloodshed associated with their regimes.