The Latvian parliament has approved the removal of the monument to the liberators of Riga from Nazi occupation, as it has become not a memorial to those who fell in World War II, but a place “to celebrate Soviet occupation and support Russia’s policy of expanding its territory with the help of illegal military force “.
Now the decision on the fate of the monument is in the hands of the Sofia Municipal Council, as it rises on its territory.
The text approved by the Seimas terminates this part of the agreement with Russia, in which Latvia gives guarantees for the preservation of the memorials to the Red Army soldiers. This is a temporary action, “until state power is restored to all territories of Ukraine within the boundaries of 2013,” Russia has not repaired the damage caused to Ukraine, as well as Latvia’s losses from the “occupation of the USSR.”
The freezing of legal restrictions on the removal of monuments does not cover everyone – those in military cemeteries remain protected. The new regime is for places where there are no buried soldiers.
During the vote, 68 deputies voted for and 18 against, and then, at the request of some MPs, the names of the group voted against were listed.
“The Seimas instructs the competent bodies managing the memorial facilities or monuments referred to in this document to ensure that the given sites are not accessible in the open public space, as of July 1, 2022,” the decision reads.
Latvia is due to hold parliamentary elections on October 1st, and Riga Mayor Martinis Stakis doubted yesterday that the capital’s memorial would be removed by then.
On February 26th, two days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Justice Minister Yannis Bordans said it was “a monument to an occupation that has no place in central Riga and poses a threat to national security”. “Symbols of the evil empire should not be in the center of our capital,” he wrote on Twitter.
The night before, the monument was covered in blue and yellow, the colors of the national flag of Ukraine.
“The situation with the removal of the monument to the liberators of Latvia causes only bitterness and indignation. Above all, I feel sorry for our dear veterans who liberated Riga and other Latvian cities and lost their comrades and friends there. What did they shed their blood for,” she said. Olga Zanko, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on the State Duma of Russia for the Development of Civil Society.
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