Earlier in the year, the Culture Ministry received the State Cultural Monument Protection Inspection's request to consider exercising the right of first refusal and buying the Great Cemetery, having great cultural and historical value.
The Culture Ministry asked for €372,443 to buy the cemetery, however the Finance Ministry objected as it would have been costly and involve high maintenance and management costs.
The Riga City Council is willing to buy the cemetery from the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Riga hopes to build a new tram line to serve the quickly-developing Skanste area of the city which would run through part of the Lielie Kapi territory. This has caused protests from people who fear that, despite assurances to the contrary by the municipal authorities, the ambitious project would disturb graves.
The Lielie Kapi cemetery was founded in the late 1770s in a place which at that time was well outside the city limits. The city grew with time and so did the cemetery until it was completely closed for new burials in 1969.
Many prominent Latvians have been buried in Lielie Kapi in the past, and there are numerous tombstones with historic and cultural value in the graveyard.