Workers in Lithuania have begun dismantling the last Soviet statues in the capital, following calls prompted by the Ukraine crisis that symbols of Soviet occupation be removed.

The statues, which depict Soviet-era heroes including Red Army soldiers with machine guns, have commanded a prominent position on the historic Green Bridge in central Vilnius since 1952.

Officials said that the removal of four sets of statues on the corners of the bridge, which began early Monday, is expected to last several days.

Lithuania began removing hundreds of Soviet-era symbols after it broke away from Moscow in 1990, following nearly five decades of Soviet occupation.

Earlier this year, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius pledged to remove the statues, despite opposition for historical reasons from several politicians and historians.