In a New Years Eve blast detonation, a group of Ukrainian nationalists allegedly destroyed a statue of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin -- a symbolic act the country's Communists are decrying as "an act of terrorism."
The bust of Stalin, unveiled last May, caused immediate controversy in a country split between its nationalist west and the more Russian-oriented east, which fondly remembers its Soviet roots:
France 24 reports:
"A criminal broke into the grounds of the Communist Party regional headquarters, and laid an explosive charge which detonated after a few minutes," the Communist Party said.
"The statue of Stalin was destroyed as a result of the blast," the Communists said in a statement. It said that the explosion inflicted serious damage on the building but there were no casualties. ...
The local police said in a statement that according to its information a group of several people passed the monument just a few minutes before the explosion. "One of them climbed over the fence and fastened to the monument a shopping bag which evidently contained the hand-made explosive device," the police said, adding that those behind the blast were currently being searched.
Meanwhile, the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) group reported that the police had already arrested its head in Zaporizhia, Vitaliy Podlobnikov, and his deputy on the youth issues, Yuriy Hudymenko, on charges of causing the Stalin monument destruction.
The same statue had been badly damaged last week in a blast claimed by Nationalist group Tryzub (Trident) which denounced Stalin as "the executioner of the Ukrainian people and an international terrorist."