Vilnius' conservative councilors propose to change 3 Soviet-era street names

  • 2022-10-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Vilnius' councilors of the ruling Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats propose to rename the streets named after Liudas Gira and Russians, and the small garden square named after Petras Cvirka.   

Kamile Seraite, deputy chairwoman of the Historical Remembrance Commission of the City Council of Vilnius, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the commission will discuss these proposals in the near future, without waiting for the parliament to pass the so-called "desovietization" law.

The renaming of the streets "would leave less room for Russian soft power and propaganda on historical issues," the conservative councilor said.  

"In our opinion, the most problematic places that commemorate the memory of people who contributed to the occupation of Lithuania and their contributions to that regime are Liudo Giros Street and Petro Cvirkos Skveras, from which the monument has been removed but the name has not been changed, and Rusu Street, which is just a name imposed by the occupiers and has nothing to do with our city's 700 years of history," she said. 

According to Seraite, it will also be proposed that the municipality refuses to continue to use its budget funds to support the Venclova house-museum, which "suppresses historical facts and fails to meet the expectations of both Vilnius residents and visitors".

The municipal Culture Committee proposes either to reform the museum or to close it down, she said.

Seraite noted that the municipality is waiting for the United Nations Human Rights Committee to lift interim measures on the statues of Soviet World War Two soldiers at Vilnius' Antakalnis Cemetery so that they can be removed and transferred to the National Museum of Lithuania.

Conservative MP Paule Kuzmickiene, who is drafting the desovietization bill, said that its aim will be not only to ban symbols of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in public spaces, but also to set out a clear mechanism for identifying such symbols. 

"Under the law, a commission of experts would play a key role in deciding on street names and other matters," said Kuzmickiene, who chairs the parliamentary Commission for the Cause of Freedom and the National Historical Memory. 

"The commission would submit its findings to the municipality, which would help it decide whether the sign should remain in the public space or not, or perhaps it could be changed," she added.  

The MP said she will seek that the parliament adopt the law by the end of this year.