Stalin Georgia statue latest in long line of removals

Stalin's statue has been removed from the central square in his birthplace and is to be housed in a museum in the town. He is not the first leader to be toppled from his place on a plinth. So who are some of the others?


There was nothing secret about the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad in April 2003.

It became the emblematic image of the first phase of the war in Iraq.

Image caption Like many iconic images, the depiction of Saddam's fall is bitterly contested

A crowd of Iraqis gathered in Paradise Square and attempted to pull down the statue.

American tanks had driven into Baghdad earlier that day. US troops arrived in Paradise Square and used an armoured vehicle to help topple the statue.

Shortly before it fell, a US soldier climbed up and draped the face with a US flag.

The crowd saw it as American triumphalism, and the flag was quickly removed.

But within months, the insurgency had begun. There were also conflicts between Sunni and Shia.

The toppling of Saddam's statue was the start of a new era, but one which cost thousands of lives, most of them Iraqi.


In 2007, the Taiwanese government removed statues of the late Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, from military premises.

Image caption The Taiwanese government wants statues of Chiang Kai-shek to be removed

The decision caused outrage in the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party which Chiang led until his death in 1975.

The KMT were in power for 51 years until 2000, when they were replaced by the DPP party.

The KMT said the move was another example of the DPP trying to cut off Taiwan's Chinese heritage.

The DPP said the statues represented Chiang's authoritarian rule. It said the statues had been removed to protect them from the weather.

Democratic Republic of Congo

A statue commemorating King Leopold II of Belgium made several appearances in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa.

Image caption The reappearance of Leopold's statue proved controversial

It was first put up in the 19th century but was removed in 1967 by the then President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Leopold II set up the Congo Free State in 1885 as his private colony and made a personal fortune from the harvest of its wild rubber.

He left arguably the worst legacy of all the European colonial regimes in Africa.

After 38 years in an open-air dump, the six-metre (20ft) statue returned in 2005.

The Congolese Culture Minister Christophe Muzungu said he had personally made the decision to reinstate the statue, arguing people should see the positive aspects of the king as well as the negative.

But just hours later, it was taken down again, this time for good.


Spain's military ruler, General Franco, died in 1975, but the last statue of him on the Spanish mainland was not removed until 33 years later.

Image caption The statue of Franco in Madrid had been daubed with paint by anti-fascist protestors

In December 2008, an equestrian statue of Franco was removed from the city of Santander. The last statue in Madrid was taken down more than two years earlier, in March 2005.

Before dawn one morning, to jeers and cheers from fascist and anti-fascist supporters, a crane lifted the statue of the general mounted on a horse from its plinth.

There had been no notice that the 1959 statue would be removed.


In 1991, a statue honouring the founder of the secret police, Felix Dzerzhinsky, was removed from Moscow.

Image caption A statue of 'Iron Felix' in Moscow was torn down in 1991

The KGB, as it became known, was the most feared arm of the Soviet apparatus, abducting, torturing and killing many thousands of people.

In December 1991, however, following the failed coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dzerzhinsky statue was torn down.

Thirteen years later, in a town which bears his name, a new statue to Dzerzhinsky was unveiled outside the palace of culture.


While the Soviet Union was in existence, almost every town had its statue of Lenin. Most of them disappeared along with the USSR in the early 1990s.

The Tajik capital, Dushanbe, had the largest Lenin statue in Central Asia. In 1999, the Tajik authorities erected an even bigger monument. The statue of the 10th-century national hero, Ismail Somoni, stands 40 metres (131 feet) high.


Until the war of the 1990s, Sarajevo was best known as the place where the tinderbox of the First World War was ignited.

It was on a Sarajevo street corner in 1914 that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was shot dead, along with his pregnant wife, Sophie.

Their assassin was a Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip. In 1930, the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia put up a plaque on the spot where Princip fired the fatal shot.

Image caption Memorials to Gavrilo Princip were removed and later reinstated

It was removed by the Nazis and their Croatian proxies, the Ustashe, when they occupied Sarajevo in 1941.

After the war, when Yugoslavia emerged once more, so did a memorial to Princip, this time in the form of a pair of footsteps.

"The youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina dedicate this plaque as a symbol of eternal gratitude to Gavrilo Princip and his comrades, to fighters against the Germanic conquerors," the inscription read.

But when Yugoslavia disintegrated, and Bosnia was engulfed by war in 1992, the footsteps were ripped out.

Sarajevo was under siege from Bosnian Serb nationalist forces. To many in the city, a plaque commemorating a violent act by a Serb nationalist was simply unacceptable.

In 2004, nearly a decade after the war ended, a new memorial to Princip was installed.

The plaque reads simply: "From this place on 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie."

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