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SOS bērnu ciematiem aprit 25 gadi

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Piemineklis Uzvaras parkā nogāzts

Latvia's Constitutional Court rules there is no problem with pulling down Soviet monuments

Latvia's Constitutional Court (ST) has ruled that it has no problem with an obligation placed on local municipalities to get rid of monuments glorifying the occupation regime of the Soviet Union in Latvia.

The legal requirements, which included partially financing dismantling works from municipal budgets, are in line with the Constitution, the court has ruled.  

The case was initiated following an application by Daugavpils City Council, which contested that the obligation to take down monuments by a certain deadline and partially at the expense of local governments did not comply with the Constitution.

The court concluded that the objects glorifying the Red Army, were installed with the aim of transforming the memories and emotions of the Latvian population about the crimes of the occupying power against individuals, humanity and the state apparatus and reminding them of the permanent presence of the Soviet power. The same prohibitions apply to glorification of the occupation of Latvia by Nazi German forces. 

Assessing the impact of the obligation to dismantle objects on the performance of the autonomous function of municipalities, ST recognized that the legislature had given municipalities the freedom to choose the method of dismantling, to plan the works to be performed and their duration.

Local governments were also given the opportunity to inform the public about the work to be done. 

Evaluating the actual impact of the financial burden caused by the dismantling of the monuments, the ST did not establish that this burden would have prevented the municipality from implementing its autonomous functions or other tasks, as it was equivalent to 0.018% of the expenses planned in the Daugavpils 2022 budget, or 0.02% of planned income. In addition, in any case, the funds were used in the interests of the municipality for the improvement of its public environment. 

ST recognized that the principle of state continuity unerlay the obligation to dismantle objects.

For the benefit of clarity, and to counter frequent disinformation efforts by the Kremlin, it should be noted that the dismantling of objects applied to public monuments, not to memorials in military cemeteries, which were left untouched.

The war started by Russia  against Ukraine raised the issue of the demolition of monuments glorifying the Soviet regime in Latvia. The Saeima adopted a special law to demolish objects glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes in Latvia by  November 15, 2022.

That led to a widespread removal of Soviet-era monuments in municipalities, with a total of more than 100 Soviet monuments dismantled, including the spectacular demolition August 25, 2022 of a huge obelisk in Rīga that caused predictable outrage in Russia but widespread relief in Latvia. You can re-live the moment in the video above.

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