A powerful reminder from recent history as to why tearing down statues alone won’t get the job done

Public domain photo of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who passed away on March 5, 1953.

The New York Times has the details.

After some discussion, recalled Sergei B. Parkhomenko, then a young journalist covering the scene, the crowd turned its passion — more euphoria than anger, he said — on the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the ruthless founder of the Soviet secret police, which stood in a traffic circle in front of the Lubyanka, the forbidding stone building that housed the K.G.B.

The removal of the statue, accomplished with help from a crane sent by Moscow city authorities, was greeted with cries of “Down with the K.G.B.” and sent a powerful message that change had finally come to Russia.

Or so it seemed at the time. Nearly 30 years later, Russia is ruled by a former K.G.B. officer, President Vladimir V. Putin, and Dzerzhinsky is honored with a bust outside the Moscow city police headquarters.

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