Helsinki officials say the sculpture should be "reevaluated" after Russia sent troops into Ukraine
Finland removed a peace monument, which was donated by Russia during late Soviet times, from its pedestal in Helsinki on Monday. The sculpture was deemed inappropriate after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February.
The 6.5-meter (19.6-foot) bronze monument titled 'World Peace' was taken down from the pedestal on Thursday, but due to its size and weight, it took the authorities several days to ferry it out of the city by barge.
The monument, which consists of five figures raising their fists, was donated to Helsinki by Moscow and unveiled to the public in January 1990.
The sculpture will be stored in the warehouse of the Helsinki Art Museum until the museum and the city decide its fate. Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Reetta Heiskanen, a Helsinki culture official, as saying that the authorities are "following the routine process, under which a public art object is installed as close as possible to its original location, retaining its context."
City officials have argued that the monument has no place in Helsinki after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
"Over the years, the sculpture has attracted a lot of justified criticism. After the war of aggression by Russia, we have irrevocably entered a new era, where such symbolism is bound to be reevaluated," Helsinki Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemaki said in March.
After the military conflict in Ukraine began, the monument was defaced, and Ukrainian flags were fitted into the hands of the statues.
The monument has sparked debate in the past. In 1991, a year after it was unveiled, a group of protesting students tarred and feathered the sculpture. In 2010, the structure survived an attempt to blow it up.