07/01/2015, 00.00
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The statue of Cheka founder could return to central Moscow

The question could be the subject of the first referendum in the Russian capital in its post-Soviet history. Communists behind initiative, but analysts say the Kremlin also has its own interests.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Moscow could soon hold its first referendum in its post-Soviet history and one of the questions might concern a sensitive matter for Russian public opinion: the return the statue of the founder of the Cheka, the secret police that preceded the KGB, Felix Dzerzhinsky (pictured) to Lubyanka Square, the historic home of the Soviet and Russian intelligence agency.

On 25 June, in fact, the Moscow Duma approved the Communist Party request to hold a referendum that would ask citizens to express themselves on three questions. The first two concern education and health, but the third asks whether the iron statue of Felix, known as the infamous founder of the Cheka, be returned to the city center. It was removed in 1991 to mark the end of the Soviet era .

Now in a month, the Communists must collect at least 146,000 signatures (2% of Muscovites with voting rights) in support of the referendum, which - according to initial estimates - is expected to cost over 450 million rubles. If everything goes smoothly, Moscow will hold its first referendum since the collapse of the USSR in September.

"We tried to organize a referendum in 2011, but the Election Committee in Moscow has always found an excuse not to authorize us to do so - complained communist deputy Andrei Klychkov to the Moscow Times - the last time we appealed against the decision of the committee and after that we got the go ahead from the City Court of Moscow and the Supreme Court, who were forced to vote in favor. "

The iron monument to Felix symbolizes the power of the KGB, created to fight the "enemies of the nation" and that has terrorized the lives of Soviet citizens. Not surprisingly, the question on its future location is causing a lot of debate in view of the possible referendum. "Vladimir Putin is using the rhetoric of the left now that he has run out of nationalist ideas – says political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin - the political and economic situation is not improving, so there must be something to distract attention". According to Oreshkin, it is unlikely that the controversial monument will return to Lubyanka Square even if the referendum takes place. Amother analyst, closer to the Kremlin, Dmitri Orlov, disagrees according to which the result is not at all obvious. (N.A.)


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