London: Ukrainian authorities have described a New Year’s Eve explosion that destroyed a statue of Soviet-era dictator Joseph Stalin as an act of terrorism rather than an intentional destruction of property.
The statue, which stood near a Communist Party office in Zaporizhya, was blown up on December 31.
‘The First of January movement’ had claimed responsibility for the blast, saying that it was intended to mark the 102nd anniversary of Ukrainian Second World War nationalist leader Stepan Bandera’s birth.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine said that an analysis of the crime scene showed that the blast could have killed or injured people and was aimed at threatening public safety and frightening the residents of the city.
In connection with this, Zaporizhia Regional Prosecutor’s Office recategorised the actions of the unidentified perpetrators under Part 2 of Article 258 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (act of terrorism).
According to the Telegraph, the unveiling of the statue in Zaporizhya in May last year had fuelled tension between Ukraine’s pro-Russian east and nationalist west.
Many people in the country see Stalin as a symbol of Russian oppression and hold him responsible for the 1933 famine which killed millions of Ukrainians, including many in Zaporizhya, the paper said.
However, some people still praise him as a heroic leader who led Soviet forces to victory over the Nazis in Second World War.