VILNIUS – Lithuanian Culture Minister Simonas Kairys was on Tuesday due to sign an order giving leeway for the country’s municipalities to decide on Soviet heritage at cemeteries.
“Today’s amendments modify the list of criteria and will mark the beginning of the process for municipal assessment councils or together with cultural heritage departments, given that only seven municipalities have assessment councils…,” Kairys told BNS earlier on Tuesday.
Amendments to the list of criteria for the assessment, selection and determination of the level of significance of immovable cultural property had also been coordinated with the ministries of defense and foreign affairs in order to ensure proper respect for the deceased, the minister said adding that competent authorities also sought to single out that some sculptures in cemeteries that “spread aggression and symbolize war” could be removed after lifting their protection.
Until now, the criteria have included an exception that graves, non-functioning cemeteries and burial sites of the remains shall be added to the Register of Cultural Property. As a result, immovable cultural heritage assessment councils at the municipal or the national level could not cross out such objects from the list.
Discussions on the removal of Soviet monuments have resumed in Lithuania in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
According to the Ministry of Culture, there are 160 protected cemeteries or burial sites of Soviet troops in Lithuania, half of them with Soviet monuments.