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ERA OF DEMOCRACY FORCES EXILE FOR 2-TON LENIN STATUE

Authorities today removed a large bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin from the Kremlin and shipped it off to a country house near Moscow where the founder of the former Soviet state spent his final days.

The removal marked the latest effort to strip the Kremlin of Communist-era trappings. The campaign began after the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, with workers removing USSR initials and symbols from buildings throughout the riverside fortress.The 2.2-ton statue of Lenin sitting in a thoughtful pose was installed on the Kremlin's main square in 1967. Last November, it was moved to a far corner of the Kremlin's garden to keep it out of sight.

Workers had to use explosives to dismantle the statue's granite pedestal, said Sergei Devyatov, a Kremlin spokesman. The statue was packed and shipped to the Lenin museum in Gorki.

Authorities are now trying to figure out how to remove an even larger Lenin statue, weighing 7 tons, from the former Russian parliament's session hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Last year, books, furniture and other memorabilia were hauled out of Lenin's former apartment in the Kremlin to Gorki, where he died in 1924. Gorki is about 12 miles south of Moscow.

Immediately after the collapse of communism, and later in the fall of 1993, when Yeltsin disbanded the old hard-line parliament, Russian officials considered evicting Lenin's body from his tomb on Red Square and burying him in St. Petersburg alongside his mother and sisters.

But the plans were shelved after Communists and hard-liners won a large portion of seats in the new parliament in the December 1993 election.