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Mongolia ditches tyrant-osaurus Lenin for the real thing

Date

Tania Branigan

Out with the new .. a statue of Lenin is removed from its plinth in Ulan Bator last year as the country moves to celebrate a more ancient history.

Out with the new .. a statue of Lenin is removed from its plinth in Ulan Bator last year as the country moves to celebrate a more ancient history. Photo: Getty

BEIJING: Once he bestrode his world, lending his name to more museums, streets, monuments and public institutions than any other 20th-century figure.

But in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, it is goodbye Lenin, as a political dinosaur makes way for the real kind.

A museum once dedicated to the Soviet dictator is to be transformed into a centre to display Mongolia's wealth of prehistoric fossils, including that of a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar.

The grand building, which still boasts a giant bust of Vladimir Ilyich, has been used as offices for several years, but the government has earmarked the complex for a dinosaur museum.

''Mongolia has been sending dinosaur exhibits abroad for 20 years,'' the Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, said. ''We have a wonderful dinosaur heritage but people are not aware of it.''

The Lenin Museum opened in 1980, when the country was a Soviet satellite.

''It was a very grand museum with Lenin's statue, everything embellished with red flags and with pictures of Lenin's childhood and history,'' the minister said.

Since the transition to a multi-party democracy in 1990, the Mongolian People's Party has been based in the building, which has also housed a bar and restaurant; at one stage Lenin's bust gazed over pool tables.

Guardian News & Media

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