Architect Andrejs Ģelzis has come up with the idea of either turning the monument by 90 degrees or dismantling it. He notes in a letter to the Riga City Council Monuments Council that Lācis is a controversial figure in the history of Latvia, whose monument should not obscure the Čakste Monument.
Vilis Lācis (1904-1966), a writer of social realism, is considered an important contributor to Latvian literature. However, after the occupation of Latvia, he was one of the leading collaborators, becoming Interior Minister and Chair of the Council of Ministers during Stalin's time.
“If we look at all sorts of soldier monuments and the 'Victory' obelisk, they were political symbols of power, but this is a monument to a particular person and we know the specific works that he has done. He has signed the documents for deporting the Latvian nation, he is responsible for what happened,“ said Ģelzis.
Riga councilors have surveyed the monument, and it is already clear that it would not bear turning, because the foundations of the monument have been affected by time.
Therefore, the only solution now could be to rebury Lācis with the rest of his family, where he had been buried until 1974 when he was reburied by the monument. The monument, meanwhile, should be relocated.
“It is a work of art and a worthy place could be found for it, art is not discarded by any dignified person,” said Valdis Gavars (United List/National Alliance), deputy chairman of Riga City Council's City Development Committee.
The head of the Council's Housing and Environment Committee Viesturs Zeps (For Latvia's Development) also said the municipality will try to contact relatives in order to agree on the reburial of Lācis and relocation of the monument in the urban environment. Gavars agrees, too.
Meanwhile, historian Juris Ciganovs mentioned that during Stalin's time, Lācis was both Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Council of Ministers. And above all, he signed the fatal order to deport 10,000 families in 1949.
“Lācis' contribution to literature is undoubted, but it cannot be denied – he manifested himself as a political employee at the time of the occupation of Latvia. He was a collaborator and participated in the destruction of independent Latvia,“ the historian said.
If consent is obtained from family members and experts, Lācis' exhumation and relocation of the monument could take place as early as next year.