Ukrainian football fans dispersed a rally being held by people who support the restoration of a Lenin monument that was torn down on Freedom Square in the center of Kharkov, eastern Ukraine, on Monday.
According to an Interfax correspondent, the fans, chanting slogans in favor of Ukraine's unity and denouncing "Novorossiya", moved towards the statue from the opposite side of the square and stopped 200 meters from the monument in order to sing the national anthem. Meanwhile, most demonstrators retreated towards the Shevchenko city garden, located nearby.
The fans then started to set off firecrackers and smoke grenades. Some of them climbed onto the monument's pedestal and threw away the flowers lying there.
There were also several skirmishes with people who tried to stop the football fans. One of the demonstrators suffered a head injury and was treated by Red Cross volunteers. Medical aid was also provided to another person, who was attacked by several fans.
No police officers were present on the square at the time of the incident.
The Lenin statue in Kharkov's Freedom Square was torn down by nationalists, in a move supported by some local officials. Several minutes before the monument was toppled, Kharkov regional administration head Ihor Baluta said that he had signed a resolution to immediately exclude this statue from the list of Ukraine's monuments and dismantle it in accordance with the law.
The toppling of the monument did not do any harm to nearby infrastructure, Baluta said later.
The leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party, Petro Symonenko, for his part, pledged to secure the restoration of the Lenin statue in Kharkov.
Kharkov Mayor Hennadiy Kernes said that this move violated the countryo's laws and promised to rebuild the monument. He said that Baluta had no right to sign the resolution to dismantle the Lenin statue. Kernes also said that, acting on behalf of the city authorities, he was preparing to file a protest against this measure with the city's police and the Prosecutor's Office.
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