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New bill looks to find replacement for Seattle’s iconic Lenin statue

A new bill proposed by a group of 14 Republicans in the state Legislature would look to convene a “work group” to find a suitable replacement for Seattle’s iconic Vladimir Lenin statue.

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Seattle’s Lenin statue sits in the city’s Fremont neighborhood, having been there since 1995. It’s often found itself at the center of controversy, though, with opponents decrying Lenin’s role in the Red Terror, along with a variety of other human rights violations.

A bill proposed in the Washington State House of Representatives would form a work group “to study and make recommendations on an appropriate historical figure to replace the statue of Lenin, and to represent the state of Washington.”

“The legislature finds that under rigorous, objective review Vladimir Lenin does not meet the standards of being one of our state’s top honorees with a statue display in Seattle,” the bill reads.

The proposed work group be be comprised of the director of the state’s Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the director of the Washington State Historical Society, four public representatives selected by Gov. Jay Inslee, and members of the state Legislature.

The Lenin statue was originally created by Bulgarian sculptor Emil Venkov, commissioned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Venkov’s intent was to portray Lenin as a violent revolutionary, a stark contrast to most depictions of him that typically featured him as more of a scholar.

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Found in a scrapyard, it was brought to the United States in 1993. Not long after that, its owner passed away before he could determine a proper place for it, keeping it in a trust awaiting a buyer, and left standing on a Fremont street corner for the last 24 years.

This latest bill appears to be in response to recent legislation proposed by Democratic State Senator Reuven Carlyle, that proposed a similar work group to find a replacement for a statue of Marcus Whitman on display in Olympia. It even lifts text directly from Carlyle’s bill regarding the reasoning behind a possible removal of the statue.

Whitman, the namesake of Whitman College in Walla Walla, is himself a controversial figure in Washington’s state history. Even so, Carlyle’s bill doesn’t appear as though it will move through the Legislature.

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