Battle rages over Daugavpils Fortress' future

Take note – story published 1 year ago

The latest controversy in Latvia's second-largest city, Daugavpils, concerns the status and future of its best-known and most interesting district – the nineteenth century Fortress region.

The desire of the local municipal Tourism Development and Information Agency to abandon research, preservation and inclusion of the Daugavpils fortress complex in active tourism has sparked a storm of protest. 

On February 6, the Daugavpils municipality posted on its website an invitation to residents to express their opinion on the fact that the city's Tourism Development and Information Agency will no longer promote research, preservation and inclusion of the fortress complex in active tourism.

These changes in the regulations envisage the dismissal of Daugavpils fortress manager Jānis Dukšinskis and his deputy Jānis Ostrovskis, although their direct duties are not related to research in any way.

Jeļena Aferonokas, acting head of the Daugavpils municipality's Tourism Development and Information Agency, explained to's local correspondent that after working in this position for three months, she realized that the duties of the officials in question overlap with the work of other municipal specialists, so she proposed to eliminate these positions because she wants to focus on polishing the overall image of the city.

"The fortress is a microdistrict (suburb) of the city, where these fortress employees are only intermediaries between the inhabitants of the fortress and service providers," said the head of the agency, arguing that if the Fortress suburb needed its own manager, then it might be expected that all other city districts would need one, too.

The planned changes have caused a wide resonance in social networks, with Vladislava Romanova, the director of a documentary film about Daugavpils, and Māris Grunskis, a long-time guide at the fortress, strongly criticizing the initiative. 

A group of activists of the neighborhood of Daugavpils Fortress has already submitted an application to the municipality, asking for Jānis Dukšinskis to be retained and praising his work.

Community representative Inga Belousa told LSM portal that the organization has been operating since the summer and has held various activities, including meetings and cultural events.

"For the implementation of all the aforementioned initiatives, we have received encouragement, support and provision of premises and economic affairs from Jānis Dukšinskis, who holds one of the positions planned for liquidation in the Culture and Information Center of the Daugavpils Fortress. The constant support that Jānis Dukšinskis provides for the implementation of the initiatives of the residents of the Daugavpils fortress neighborhood is one of the basic factors that strengthens neighborhood activism in the Fortress, ensuring the important connection between the neighborhood and the municipality," she said.

Residents have until February 20 to express their opinion regarding the planned changes.

As previously reported by LSM, Daugavpils Fortress is the city's main tourist attraction and houses the acclaimed Mark Rothko Art Center. It is the last bastion-type fortification complex, built in the 19th century, which is preserved in a relatively good condition nowadays. After the Soviet army left the Fortress, its territory was not used; it was an abandoned, degraded and unattractive space of urban environment and has been gradually regenerating itself in the decades since. 

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