Soviet memorial's days are numbered, confirms Latvian PM

Dismantling of the Soviet-era monument in Victory Park in Rīga is inevitable, the only question is when it happens and how, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) said in an interview with TV24 channel Friday the LETA newswire reported May 6.

The prime minister said that the monument to the Soviet army essentially glorifies Latvia's occupation which is why it has no place in an independent country.

"It appears that the situation has ripened, as the prevailing public opinion is that there is no place for the monument here. So we just have to find a way, when and how," Kariņš said.

Kariņš said that members of the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee are currently reviewing the matter, analyzing it from various angles. The prime minister voiced confidence that the lawmakers will find a solution for removing the monument.

The prime minister said that the image of Russia has been changing also in the eyes of Latvia's Russian-speaking population, including thanks to the ban on Russian TV channels, which has reduced the influence of Kremlin propaganda. Kariņš therefore believes that the monument issue is no longer as divisive as before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Now everything is black or white. Supporting Russia means supporting the murdering, raping and killing of civilians in Ukraine. Not supporting this means supporting freedom and democratic values. This relic of the occupation times can be regarded as reminder of some sort that has no place in our country anymore," Kariņš said.

As reported, the Conservatives group in the Saeima has tabled a draft decree intended to advance the plan to dismantle the Soviet-era monument in Victory Park in Rīga, the political group's chairman Krišjānis Feldmans informed LETA.

The goal is to ensure the monument's demolition as a result of the political process, the lawmaker said, adding that one of the options would be to relocate the monument to a territory closed to the public.

The draft decree provides for suspending a provision of a Russia-Latvia agreement on the social protection of the Russian military pensioners and their families concerning memorial structures and monuments.

Among other things, section 13 of the agreement obliges Latvia to preserve the Soviet-era memorial structures in its territory.

The draft document proposed by the Conservatives would oblige the authorities responsible for the maintenance of the controversial memorial to restrict public access to the monument by July 1, 2022.

The Conservatives argue that the removal of the monument is necessary in order to end the glorification of the Soviet armed forces in Latvia's territory. Furthermore, the Soviet-era monument in Pardaugava, Riga, has often been used to promote Russia's modern day policy aimed at territorial expansion by military force.

"Considering the above, the draft decree is intended to end the glorification of the Soviet Union's armed forces by removing from the public space the structures or monuments named in the decree, except for those that are directly associated with burial sites," the Conservatives said.

As previously reported by LSM, various other remaining Soviet-era relics are also being dismantled in other parts of Latvia.

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