Vilnius won't rush to remove Soviet relics from cemeteries – mayor

  • 2022-04-11
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Vilnius will not rush to remove Soviet relics from cemeteries, the Lithuanian capital's Mayor Remigijus Simasius says.

As authorities in Lithuania's western port city of Klaipeda mull removing a local memorial to Soviet soldiers, the eye are also on the memorial in the capital's Antakalnis cemetery. Traditionally, every year on May 9, top Russian diplomats and some members of the Russian-speaking community come here to commemorate the Soviet Union's WWII victory over Nazi Germany.

"However, a cemetery is a cemetery, and in the Western civilization, it's a normally untouchable place. Of course, the Soviets always liked to walk the line, to cross it and make ideological things out of cemeteries," Simasius told BNS.

"Where is the boundary - a bigger monument on a mass grave or individual monuments? Cemeteries are a slightly different territory, of course, we all understand that. But we will assess the situation, we will look at it," he said.

Culture Minister Simonas Kairys has vowed that the so-called "desovietization law", which would oblige municipalities to review their Soviet heritage and make necessary decisions, will soon be put before the Seimas. However, he admits that quick decisions should not be expected as burial sites are protected by international conventions and some objects are recognized as cultural heritage.