Moscow election officials have cleared the way for a popular vote on whether to restore a statue of the Soviet secret police's founder to a square in central Moscow.

The statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the Bolshevik revolutionary nicknamed Iron Felix, stood outside KGB headquarters in Moscow until it was toppled by protesters in 1991 when the Soviet Union was heading to its demise. It has remained at a Moscow park since then.

The Moscow city legislature on Wednesday allowed the Communist Party to collect the nearly 150,000 signatures needed to hold a referendum in September on restoring the statue to its original venue.

The Moscow Election Commission, which initially vowed to block the vote, reversed course Thursday and registered a group that would collect signatures for holding the vote.