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'Let it be': Mongolians protest as bulldozers threaten Beatles monument

From Reuters - August 11, 2017

ULAANBAATAR (Reuters) - A statue of the Beatles in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar 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 Beatles 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 organizer 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 music and soon became a quirky tourist attraction.

The music 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 thirty years ago.

The protests began after an August 2 announcement that construction work would start, with residents calling the project a "land grab" and expressing fears the Beatles 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.

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