Goodbye Lenin As Ukraine Statue In Vanishing Act

KIEV, Ukraine -- A statue of Lenin that still stands proudly in one of the host cities for the Euro 2012 football championships in Ukraine has mysteriously disappeared from the main promotional advertisement for the event.

A view of the football stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The snazzy 90 second video -- entitled "Switch on Ukraine" -- shows cities and landscapes extolling the beauty of the ex-Soviet state, which is to host the football extravaganza along with Poland.

Among the sites shown in the video -- aired on a host of international channels -- is Liberty Square in the handsome northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv which is to host matches along with three other cities.

But the video shows only an empty base where in reality a 8.5 metre high statue of Communist leader Lenin built in 1963 still proudly stands to this day in Liberty Square.

"Kharkiv is being shown to Europe without Lenin," said the newspaper Segodnia.

Ukraine's advisor for preparations for Euro 2012, Olexander Goncharenko, told AFP that the video had been "touched up" to "remove all images of a commercial and political nature".

"All the pictures shot in town have been touched up. I do not think that the monument to Lenin is a particularly important part of the Kharkiv landscape," he added.

Lenin's disappearance has already sparked a lively debate in Ukraine, divided between the nationalist west and the more Russia-leaning east which remembers the Communist past much more fondly.

Lenin statues are still common in the east but largely absent from the west of the country.

"We are ashamed to shown Lenin to Europe but we are not ashamed to show him to Ukrainians," said one blogger, marusia911.

Ukraine's promotion for Euro 2012 has already hit controversy when President Viktor Yanukovych suggested that foreigners should visit the country in spring to enjoy the sight of scantily-clad women.

The country faces an uphill struggle to be ready in time for the tournament amid controversy over political interference in football and delays in building infrastructure.

Source: AFP