Removal of Soviet statues from Green Bridge in Vilnius to begin next week

  • 2015-07-09
  • From wire reports and George East, VILNIUS

Vilnius municipality has announced it will start removing the Soviet statues on Vilnus' Green Bridge the week commencing July 13, 2015. 

On July 9, Aleksandras Zubriakovas, an advisor to Vilnius Mayor, Remigijus Simasius, confirmed the work will begin early next week, and preparation for the removal of the controversial statues will begin this weekend. 

Zubriakovas underlined "all necessary safety measures" would be taken to ensure a safe removal process and it will take up to two weeks to complete the work. 

The statues have stood on the bridge in the centre of the Lithuanian capital since 1952, and depict typical Soviet iconography - Red Army soldiers, workers, peasants and students. 

Since Lithuania gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, debates have raged between Lithuanian politicians and historians on whether the statues should remain on the Green Bridge.

Critics claim the statues are relics of Soviet propaganda and are offensive to those who faught for Lithuania's independence from the Soviet regime, while those in favour claim they demonstrate the country is now comfortable with its Soviet past.

In Kaunas, Lithuania's second city, the last Soviet iconography was removed in March 2015 as part of its municipality's de-Sovietisation process. 

The final remaining Soviet symbols in Kaunas were hammer-and-sickles on the city's Aleksotas Bridge.