Stalin statue 'beheaded' in Ukraine
Zaporizhia - A controversial bust of Soviet dictator Stalin in southeast Ukraine has been badly damaged and apparently beheaded in an attack claimed by Ukrainian nationalists, officials said.
The unveiling of the statue in the southeastern city of Zaporizhia this May caused a heated controversy in Ukraine, still split between its nationalist west and the more Russified east which fondly remembers the Soviet past.
"Police received information that unknown miscreants had damaged the statue of Stalin by decapitating it," the local branch of the interior ministry said in a statement.
However mystery remained over the true state of the statue as the local Communist Party had draped it in a large white cloth to prevent the extent of the damage from being seen.
Local Communist Party deputy chief Olexander Zubchevsky insisted that the head was still in place and the statue was "just a little scratched and only two letters on the pedestal have broken".
"We don't want to expose the damaged monument and we will remove the veil once repairs are over," he said.
Nationalist group Tryzub (Trident) claimed the attack on its website, denouncing Stalin as "the executioner of the Ukrainian people and an international terrorist".
The group had won prominence in 2009 when its activists damaged a statue of Lenin in the centre of Kiev.