OREANDA-NEWS  Finland's last remaning statue of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin has been removed from a public space in the city of Kotka and relocated to a warehouse.Earlier, Kotka City Council voted to remove the statue from the central square, citing Russia's special operation in Ukraine. Similarly, a petition requesting that it do so had been launched.The statue is part of an art collection belonging to City of Kotka, and its future fate will be decided by the local Kymenlaakso Museum, a process that may take years.Kymenlaakso Museum director Kirsi Niku said the museum's opinion is that the statue could well have remained in its original location.The statue of Lenin was a gift from Kotka's twin city of Tallinn, given in 1979.

This is not the first instance where Finland has removed Soviet-gifted statues, citing the conflict in Ukraine as a pretext. The capital city of Helsinki took down a Soviet-gifted statue in August, whereas Turku removed a Lenin statue in mid-April.During the Soviet Era, Lenin was seen as the man behind Finland's nationhood. In 1917, the founder of the Soviet Union and the head of the burgeoning Soviet state granted independence to Finland, a former Grand Duchy of Russia. Following the start of Russia's special operation in Ukraine to protect the inhabitants of the People's Republics of Donbass, a number of European nations, including Poland, the Baltic States and Bulgaria, removed their Soviet-era monuments, including those of World War II heroes and liberators, emphasizing their apparent “Russian connection.” Russia denounced these steps as not only as “desecration, ignorant of history”, but also as a proof of the West “having set a course to reincarnate fascism,” in the words of Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.

Finland enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Soviet Union and, later, Russia, which included lively trade and economic cooperation. However, following the start of Moscow's special operation in Ukraine, it joined the West in launching several rounds of sanctions against Russia, bringing economic activity to a grinding halt. As trade plummeted to nearly non-existent levels, the Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce was rebranded as EastCham Finland, and now works with Central Asia, the South Caucasus and Eastern Europe, including Russia.Finland also restricted travel, stifled visa issuance and closed its border for Russian tourists in a move not merely symbolic, as visitors and shoppers from Russia have enriched numerous border communities. Lastly, the Nordic country is now seriously discussing fencing off parts of its eastern border with Russia as part of a general security beef-up, to the tune of millions of euros. This step, which undoubtedly will damage relations with Russia further, has been welcomed by Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.