Up to 300 Soviet monuments set for removal in Latvia

Experts have assessed that there are around 300 monuments and other objects glorifying the Soviet occupation regime in Latvia, which are now set for removal. The largest amount of potential dismantling work will be in Riga, according to Solvita Vība, director of the Latvian Occupation Museum in an interview with Latvian Radio.

Taking into account the law adopted by the Saeima "On the prohibition of exhibiting objects glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes and their dismantling in the territory of the Republic of Latvia", which stipulates that objects glorifying totalitarian regimes must be dismantled by November 15, the full list of objects to be dismantled must be created by July 30 for government approval, and will be based on expert recommendations.

The director of the Occupation Museum pointed out that the law includes three groups of objects to be dismantled - the Victory Park monument in Rīga, which must be demolished, plus a list of objects to be demolished created by the government, and at the same time municipalities can make decisions on objects which can be dismantled on their territory. 

Vība stated that the experts evaluated more than 300 objects, but the upcoming government list, which will also be the final word on the monuments to be dismantled, will not be quite as large, because among the objects evaluated by the experts, some have already been removed or fallen into states of disrepair, while others have already been removed or are not covered by the law, such as burial places.

The director of the museum explained that this list mainly includes memorial stones and plaques, which will not take much work to dismantle, but there are also larger forms where dismantling work will be more complex and demanding.

Vība also said that after the approval of the list of objects to be dismantled, the Museum of Occupation will evaluate which objects should be preserved and moved to a new location. When asked about where the objects to be preserved would be moved, Viba stated that this has yet to be decided and will depend upon their number, type and size.

As previously reported by LSM, in May, the Saeima decided to suspend the operation of Article 13 of the "Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Latvia on Social Protection of Military Pensioners of the Russian Federation and Their Family Members Living in the Territory of the Republic of Latvia". Article 13 stipulates that Latvia ensures the preservation of memorial structures in Latvia. 

Operation of Article 13 is suspended from May 16, 2022 until the moment when Russia ends violations of international law regarding Ukraine, including withdraws its armed forces from the entire territory of Ukraine in accordance with the requirements of international law and fully compensates Ukraine for the violations of international law already committed.

Controversy about the continued existence of Soviet memorials on Latvian territory has existed for years, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its explicit glorification of the oppressive Soviet occupation state has prompted many people to the conclusion that it is finally time to get rid of these reminders. Similar moves are also under way in Lithuania and Estonia.

 

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