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French town debates plans to erect Lenin statue

PARIS, January 18 (RIA Novosti) - The former mayor of the French city of Montpellier plans to erect a monument to Vladimir Lenin, the father of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, in the center of the city, the Libre Midi said on Friday.

"The erection of this monument in Montpellier is one of many ideas which tempt me," the newspaper cited Georges Freche, the president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, of which Montpellier is a part, as saying.

The seven-ton bronze statue of the Russian communist leader that Freche has been tempted by has been put up for auction in Seattle with a starting price of $150,000.

The statue, which formerly stood in Prague, in the former Czechoslovakia, was pulled down after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. It was previously owned by a U.S. national, Lewis Carpenter, who was giving English lessons in the country at the time. Carpenter liked the monument so much that he bought it for $13,000 and took it home to the U.S.

Freche regretted that young French people lack an interest in history and hoped the decision to erect the monument in the city would "spark a political debate."

However, the idea has not been well received by many local French taxpayers, who argue that the purchase of the statue is too expensive for the regional budget.

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