Ukraine presses ahead with removal of Soviet monuments

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian officials pressed on with a campaign to remove Soviet-era monuments on Saturday as authorities in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv dismantled a statue of a Red Army commander from a central boulevard.

Ukraine has doubled down on efforts to erase all traces of Russian rule amid a full-scale invasion by Kremlin troops, now nearing its two-year mark.

Municipal workers on Saturday carefully hoisted the hulking statue of Mykola Shchors, a Soviet field commander during the Russian Civil War, off its pedestal.

The structure had occupied a prominent spot on a central artery named after Ukraine's national poet.

Onlookers stopped to watch and photograph as a giant crane lowered the horse-riding Shchors onto a flatbed truck.

"We need to educate our youth so that they know our history," said Zoya Kobyliukova, 82, who described communism as a "utopia" that led to many people being killed.

"They're doing the right thing to be taking him down."

Kyiv city councillor Leonid Yemets told Reuters the statue would be moved to a museum.

Authorities in Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa dismantled a prominent statue of Catherine the Great last year after a months-long campaign by activists.

Thousands of Ukrainian streets and settlements have also been renamed in recent years as part of a de-communisation campaign launched after the 2014 Maidan Revolution, which toppled a pro-Russian leader.

(Reporting by Yurii Kovalenko Writing by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Mark Potter)