KIEV, Ukraine -- Extremists blew up a controversial monument to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin on New Year's night in southeastern Ukraine in an 'act of terror', the local Communist Party said on Saturday.
The bust in the city of Zaporizhia, unveiled this May, caused a heated controversy in Ukraine which is still split between its nationalist west and the more Russian orientated east which fondly remembers the Soviet past.
'A criminal broke into the grounds of the Communist Party regional headquarters, and laid an explosive charge which detonated after a few minutes,' the Communist Party said.
'The statue of Stalin was destroyed as a result of the blast,' the Communists said in a statement. It said that the explosion inflicted serious damage on the building but there were no casualties.
'We consider this to be an act of terror and a challenge from extreme right-wing forces,' it added. The explosion took place at 10:40pm (3:40pm Friday, New York time) on New Year's Eve, it said.
The same statue had been badly damaged last week in a blast claimed by Nationalist group Tryzub (Trident) which denounced Stalin as 'the executioner of the Ukrainian people and an international terrorist.'