VILNIUS - Vilnius authorities want to remove the sculptures of Soviet soldiers at Antakalnis cemetery and have already asked to the Department of Cultural Heritage (KPD) for permission.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius said "the only Soviet eyesore – six granite sculptures, one of them with a rifle – were found to be standing in the cemetery's section of Soviet graves“.
"We checked and found that, for the time being, this ensemble of sculptures is protected as cultural heritage, along with the adjacent graves for Soviet soldiers. Of course, we will not touch the gravestones, but I will initiate the removal of the sculpture ensemble as no one is buried under them, and the Soviet habit of turning cemeteries into memorials to idols of ideology is repulsive," the Vilnius mayor said.
To remove the sculptures, they need to be split off from the tombstones in the heritage register, Simasius said, adding that the Department of Cultural Heritage has already been contacted.
"If we get permission, then six new Soviet granite sculptures will be moved to the Grutas Park (of Soviet monuments – BNS). The last ones from Vilnius," Simasius said.
Lithuania started reviewing and dismantling Soviet memorial signs in various locations after Russia started the ongoing war in Ukraine.
In April, Culture Minister Simonas Kairys signed a decree allowing local authorities to decide on Soviet heritage at local cemeteries, but some monuments are now under protection.