Saeima moves ahead law on removing Soviet symbols

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After a heated debate, the Saeima supported the adoption of the new draft legislation, which would make mandatory the removal of objects glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes, in the first reading on May 26. The parliament will view it in the second and final reading on June 16.

The Law On the Prohibition of the Exposition of Objects Glorifying the Soviet and Nazi Regime and the Disassembly thereof in the territory of the Republic of Latvia provides for the dismantling of specified objects by November 15 of this year. The government will have to establish a list of monuments to be dismantled by July 30. The future law will also apply to the monument in Uzvaras Park.

Dismantling of sites will be an obligation for the local government in the territory of which the site is located. It is planned that dismantling will be financed primarily by donations from natural and legal persons, if any, for this purpose. The other necessary funds will be financed equally from the budget of the State and the relevant local government.

The law will allow local governments to propose dismantling, regardless of the ownership of the site, without coordination with the owner or legal possessor of the land or object. 

In total, there are around 300 monuments, memorial plates and memorial sites dedicated to the Soviet occupation regime and the army, according to the bill's annotation. Burial sites are not included in the law.

The debate over the bill was passionate and loud. Atis Lejiņš (New Unity) stressed that the monument in Uzvaras Park is a symbol of the desire to re-establish the Soviet Union and must therefore be demolished. His remarks were accompanied by applause from colleagues.

On the other hand, several members of the opposition insisted that the monument should not be demolished.

Parliamentarian Sergejs Dolgopolovs (Harmony) said that a history with both dark and light pages cannot be erased, so it is pointless to dismantle the monument as the memory remains in people's minds.

The bill was supported by 64 members in the first reading, 18 were against.


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