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Victory Monument removal drive picks up pace

  • 2013-10-29
  • From wire reports, RIGA

The Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FM), in a statement released on Oct. 24, urges people to seek common points of understanding to jointly meet future challenges, not exert tremendous energy in recounting “politicized history” and battling memorials of the past, reports LETA.

Taking into account the current debate around the Soviet-era Victory Monument, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the 1994 Latvian-Russian inter-governmental agreement on preservation and maintenance of places of burial and memorial sites in each other’s territory pertains to the Pardaugava monument – erected to the so-called ‘liberators of Riga,’ that is, Soviet Red Army soldiers. (The Soviet Red Army, however, remained in the country to occupy it by force for the next almost 50 years).

However, this has been the stance of every previous Latvian government since re-independence, and the current one as well; the agreement’s stipulation is carried out by the monument’s “caretaker” - the Riga City Council, the FM says.

The Victory Monument’s opponents have collected over 11,000 signatures demanding that the massive ensemble - and a disgrace to Latvia - be removed, and the number is enough to hand the motion in to Saeima.

Not unexpectedly, Russian Foreign Ministry representative Alexander Lukashevich released a statement condemning the calls for removal of the Victory Monument. “The cynical suggestion by Justice Minister Janis Bordans to tear down the monument to Soviet soldiers in Riga has caused deep indignation in Moscow,” says the statement.

“Such provocative statements prove once again that it is the official policy of Riga to falsify the events of World War II,” said Lukashevich, adding that the Latvian government supports the initiative to remove the monument.

The persons behind the petition - Roberts Krastins, Emils Gailis and Maris Ruks - emphasize that the area in Pardaugava is not the Soviet Army’s Victory Square, but Latvia’s Victory Square, where “The last largest National Song Festival was held.” Therefore, they want to resume the reconstruction of Latvia’s Victory Square that was halted by World War II.