VILNIUS – The Soviet soldiers' sculptures were covered with a black fabric at Antakalnis Cemetery in Vilnius as the local authorities await the possibility of removing them later.
Workers from Grinda, a municipal company, had been working at the Soviet memorial since Thursday morning, and the sculptures were covered before noon, a BNS photo correspondent at the scene confirmed.
Vilnius councilors unanimously backed plans to remove the six grey granite statues featuring Soviet WWII soldiers in early June after they were removed from the register of immovable cultural property by the heritage authorities. However, this could not be done until as the local municipality had to take over the sculptures.
Last week, the Vilnius Council made the final step for the removal of the sculptures by taking over their ownership.
However, the municipality's plans to carry out the works before November 1, when the dead are honored in Lithuania, were thwarted by the UN Human Rights Committee's decision to introduce interim measures.
The Lithuanian Justice Ministry later sent explanations to the committee. While the correspondence is ongoing, the municipality has decided to cover the statues with a cloth. Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius says this has been done to "not to annoy people" and to protect against possible acts of vandalism, as there have recently been at least several incidents when the statues were defaced.
Under the plan, Vilniaus BDT will remove the statues for 48,000 euros.
In Lithuania, some Soviet monuments are being dismantled in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.