Russia Unveils Controversial Yalta Statue

Russia Unveils Controversial Yalta Statue

Russia has unveiled a divisive statue depicting Winston Churchill's historic meeting with Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt at Yalta.

The 1945 meeting of the leaders of the Soviet Union, Britain and the US is credited as a major influence in shaping post-war Europe and the eventual drawing of the Iron Curtain.

Yalta is part of the Crimea region, now controlled by Russia after they annexed the peninsula from Ukraine last year.

The 10-foot-high bronze sculpture was timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the meeting and recreates a famous photo of the three leaders.

It was unveiled to the sound of the Russian anthem and in the presence of Duma chairman Sergei Naryshkin - but has angered Crimea's 300,000-strong Tatar population.

Stalin is a hate figure for the Turkish-speaking Muslim people.

The Soviet dictator accused the Tatars of collaborating with the Nazis and deported many to central Asia where they died of starvation and disease.

They only began returning to Crimea under Mikhail Gorbachev and became Ukrainian nationals in 1991.

Street protests caused a previous plan for the sculpture to be scrapped a decade ago.

Speaking ahead of the unveiling, Tatar assembly member Abduraman Egiz said: "If the monument gets erected it would be an open demonstration of the attitude to the memory of Crimea and our people."

The Tatars also boycotted last year's disputed referendum on splitting from Ukraine and have accused Russia of a crackdown on their activists.