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Bulldozers threaten Beatles monument in Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar

Residents are protesting against plans to build commercial properties in the Beatles Square area

Terrence Edwards | Reuters  |  Ulaanbaatar 

Beatles monument, Beatles, Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
The Beatles Monument in Ulaanbaatar. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A statue of the in the Mongolian capital of could be at risk amid an alleged land grab, protesters say, as rapid development turns a city once famed for wide open spaces into a cluttered metropolis.

Residents are protesting against plans to build commercial properties in an area known as Square, where a bronze bas-relief monument to the “Fab Four” commemorates the former Soviet satellite’s transition to democracy in 1990.

“For a long time there were stories about construction on the land, but nobody wanted to believe it,” said Tsoggerel Uyanga, a community organiser and senior partner at research group MAD Investment Solutions.

The monument, erected in 2008 with donations from politicians, businessmen and artists, marks the site where Mongolians gathered to talk about banned Western pop and soon became a quirky tourist attraction.

The of the Beatles, Abba, and other Western pop groups helped launch the “Rock and Roll Communist Revolution” that inspired a generation to fight for Mongolian democracy 30 years ago.

The began after an August 2 announcement that construction work would start, with residents calling the project a “land grab” and expressing fears the statue could be moved or even demolished.

Authorities have defended the development as part of a “car-free street” project to build an underground shopping complex complete with street gardens.

A lawyer for Mongolia’s National Construction Association said there were no plans to remove the statue, however. “By implementing the project, there are a great deal of advantages, such as increasing jobs and reducing traffic congestion,” said D Uuganbayar, the lawyer. The national association, the city government and a private contractor called “Buti” are leading the project.

First Published: Sat, August 12 2017. 20:31 IST