Red Hero Lenin

October 14th, 2012

The city of Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, has removed its last statue of Lenin from Peace Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares. Erdeniin Bat-Üül, mayor of Ulan Bator, oversaw the removal, and gave a ten-minute speech, calling Lenin a murderer, amongst other things.

Prior to its removal, the statue had a prominent place in a city park beside Peace Avenue:

Lenin statue, Ulan Bator, Mongolia

The removal is something of a piece of political theatre, coming two months after Mr. Bat-Üül’s appointment as mayor, at a time of heightened success for his Democratic party.

What has gone unmentioned in reports about the statue’s removal, however, is the fact that the city of Ulan Bator is itself a communist propaganda remnant: The name ‘Ulan Bator’ literally translates to ‘Red Hero’, a name it adopted in 1924 on the urging of Turar Ryskulov, a Kazakh communist (later executed on Stalin’s orders). Unlike other soviet-era appelations like Leningrad and Karl-Marx-Stadt, the name survived the collapse of communism, partly due to the nonspecific, generic nature of the red hero honoured by the name.

Could it be that Mr. Bat-Üül, having successfully rid the city of Lenin, might next move on to changing the name of the city itself?

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