ArcelorMittal dismantled a monument to Vladimir Lenin outside one of its steel plants in Ukraine after protesters who forced the country’s president to flee destroyed statues of the Soviet Union founder.
The company, which operates steel plants and iron-ore mines in Ukraine, has also relocated some foreign workers and their families. Operations at its sites aren’t affected, the Luxembourg-based company said in a statement today.
“Due to the unstable situation in Ukraine, the management of ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih has decided to relocate abroad some expats with their families,” it said. The chief executive officer of its Ukrainian unit remains on site and foreign workers will return “in the near future,” the company said.
Ukrainian lawmakers in Kiev are working on establishing a coalition government after ex-President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital. Yanukovych and others were placed on a wanted list for their role in violence that killed at least 82 people last week.
People have toppled Lenin statues across the country in protests, according to Ukraine’s Channel 5, while Interfax reported that eight statues had been damaged or demolished in the country’s Poltava region.
The management of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker and among the largest foreign investors in Ukraine, decided to dismantle the monument at Kryvyi Rih “in order to ensure the safety of our employees and protect the company’s buildings,” it said. “The fate of the monument will be decided in accordance with Ukrainian law.”
Ukraine’s political crisis has polarized sentiment between its western and central regions bordering the European Union, and those in the south and east that are home to more Russian speakers and ethnic Russians.
ArcelorMittal’s plants, in central Ukraine, produced 6.4 million metric tons of steel last year. ArcelorMittal bought its assets in the country from Ukraine’s government for about $4.8 billion in 2005.