The Riga City Council approved the demolition of the monument to Soviet soldiers
In February, the Ministry of Justice of Latvia called the monument a threat to national security; on May 12, the Saeima of the Republic removed the legal barrier to its demolition. Residents of Riga on May 9 and 10 brought flowers to the monument, but they were removed with a bulldozer
The monument to the soldiers of the Soviet Army – the liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the Nazi invaders
The Riga City Council voted for the dismantling of the monument to the liberators of Riga, having held 13 May extraordinary meeting on this issue. Radio LSM reports this.
“39 deputies of the Riga City Council voted for the draft decision, against— 13»,— reports the radio station.
The City Legislature instructed the Metropolitan Monuments Office, with the support of the City Property Department and the municipal police, to “take all necessary measures for the dismantling.” memorial.
The mayor of Riga, Mārtiņš Stakis, said at a City Council meeting that now the city authorities will have to assess the cost of the demolition of the monument, noting that it will cost “not cheap”.
On the eve of the Saeima of Latvia adopted a bill terminating the article of the agreement with Russia, guaranteeing the safety of military memorials and, as a result, allowing the country's authorities to demolish the monument to Soviet soldiers. The bill, in particular, states that “some monuments in Latvia, including the monument to Soviet soldiers— to the liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from Nazi invaders, are often used not to perpetuate the memory of the fallen in World War II, but to glorify the Soviet occupation and support Russia's policy of expanding territory using illegal military force.
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After the entry into force of the law, the fate of the monument will be decided by the Riga City Council, since the memorial is located on the territory of the city. On May 11, Mārtiņš Stakis expressed doubt that the memorial would be demolished before the country's parliamentary elections on October 1.
On February 26, the country's Minister of Justice, Janis Bordans, said that the monument to the liberators of Riga poses a threat to Latvia's national security. “The occupation monument has no place in the center of Riga, and it poses a threat to national security. Symbols of the evil empire should not be in the center of the capital,— he wrote then on Twitter.
Representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova reacted to the decision of the Seimas on the monument with a post on Telegram. «Ghouls»,— she wrote.
The Russian Embassy in Latvia sent a note of protest to the country's Foreign Ministry. Russian diplomats called the actions of the Seimas illegal and referred to Article 15 of the same interstate agreement. In accordance with this paragraph, the signatories of the document should not take unilateral actions on the issues raised in it. The embassy believes that with such actions, Latvia “settles scores with its own historical past.”
Mikhail Shvydkoi, special presidential envoy for international cultural cooperation, believes that Russia can prevent the demolition of the monument if it uses diplomacy. If this cannot be avoided, according to Shvydkoy, “it would be expedient” take the monument to Russia.
Earlier, on May 9 and 10, local residents twice held commemorative actions near the memorial and brought flowers to it, which the local authorities harvested with a tractor. Three criminal and 20 administrative cases were opened against those who gathered at the monument, including one against a man who came to the monument with a Russian flag, and another for resisting a representative of the authorities. The LETA news agency reported that about 500 people gathered at the monument on May 10 were noisy: they sang songs and shouted slogans “glorifying Russia and the Soviet army.”
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