Russian sets himself alight on Lenin statue

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An unemployed Russian man climbed on to a statue of Lenin in a Siberian town and set himself on fire, suffering serious burns, police said Friday.

"After climbing the steps up to the pedestal of the Lenin monument, the man set fire to himself and, engulfed in flame, fell to the ground," the police for the Krasnoyarsk region said in a statement.

The man, 51, climbed on the statue in front of a district administration building in the town of Uzhur, but made no demands before pouring petrol on himself and lighting a match.

Believed to be drunk, the man "had not worked anywhere for the last two years and abused alcohol," police said, adding that he had told relatives earlier that day that he intended to commit suicide.

In another explanation, Life News tabloid website cited doctors as saying the man had been diagnosed as HIV positive a few months ago and had given him only two or three more years to live.

The website posted a video taken on a cell phone of the man standing engulfed in flames on the pedestal and then falling on to paving stones as passers-by ran up and beat out the flames.

The unnamed man was hospitalised in a serious condition with first and second degree burns, police said.

Lenin statues churned out during the Soviet era remain ubiquitous in Russia, with an estimated 61 statues of the Bolshevik leader in Moscow alone, and still dominate the central squares of most regional towns.

© 2011 AFP

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