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Piemineklis Uzvaras parkā nogāzts

Demolition of Soviet Victory monument in Rīga

Take note – story published 1 year and 9 months ago

As the demolition of the Soviet Victory monument continued in Rīga, Uzvaras park, the dismantling of the central obelisk or pillar was tackled succesfully on Thursday, August 25.

It took several hours. Latvian Television and LSM offered a live stream of the process, which proved extremely popular.

After a couple of hours' intensive application of giant jackhammers, the main obelisk came down at 16:42.

The demolition began on August 22, with the statues of Soviet soldiers and a female figure transferred from the vertical axis to the horizontal over the subsequent two days. The ornamental pool is also being drained and the hidden basement dismantled. 

The Riga City Council plan foresaw that the monument would be toppled without the use of explosives.

Traffic near the park was closed for pedestrians and all vehicles including public transport for safety reasons. The police announced the restoration of traffic flows just a few minutes after the obelisk was toppled.

The police monitor the location and ask residents not to go near the demolition site. A ban on the flight of unmanned aircraft or drones has been imposed above the site.

A few dozen people gathered near the monument on Monday and Tuesday night, despite the ban. Several of them were detained by the police. Overall, the works haven't attracted widespread attention from people, perhaps also because of searing daytime temperatures.

The Latvian public media (LSM) Latvian- and Russian-language services have produced a lengthy overview including a timeline of the monument's history and the often controversial events that have taken place in its considerable shadow. You can read it in our earlier story.

Predictably, Russia has threatened unspecified dire consequences for toppling the monument.

A drone operated by the State Police captured some of the best footage. Luckily, the monument did not appear to exceed the 50 km/h urban speed limit. 

Police said the situation during the dismantling of the obelisk could be described as "calm and without significant incidents." In total, four persons were detained for disobeying the instructions of police officers. Two of them publicly expressed slogans glorifying Russia and its aggression. A woman who had tried to climb over the fence delimiting the demolition zone was arrested and fined 100 euros.

Over all days of demolition work, 27 administrative violation processes and 3 departmental inspections for violations of drone piloting regulations have been started. In total, 20 drone pilots have committed violations.

The State Police, in cooperation with the Riga Municipal Police and partner services, said they will continue to monitor public order and security and remains on high alert to respond to any situation. At 21:00 police issued a warning saying they were monitoring online calls for a gathering at the demolition site, saying: 

"At the moment, information has come to the attention of the service that this evening some provocateurs, whose identities have already been established, are calling for a mass gathering on communication sites. Do not come, refrain from such actions and do not make provocations. Police action will be strong, immediate, and punishments – severe."

Later, at a press briefing, Mayor of Rīga Mārtiņš Staķis said that a temporary recreation spot could be created at the site. It is planned to do so quickly. For long-term solutions, public discussions would be necessary, said Staķis.

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