The Riga City Council voted to demolish the monument to the liberators of Riga from Nazi invaders. Protests began in the city after the decision was announced. Representatives of Russia have previously condemned the possible demolition and expressed readiness to remove the monument from Latvia.
The City Council of the Latvian capital on Friday decided to begin all the preparatory work necessary for the future dismantling of the monument to Soviet soldiers. 38 deputies voted for, 7 against.
After the vote, a protest rally began in the city center, attended by about 200 people. According to Delfi, police detained seven people in the Town Hall Square, including the leader of the Russian Union of Latvia, MEP Tatiana Zhdanok.
The memorial complex, called the “Monument to the Soldiers of the Soviet Army – the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from Nazi Invaders” was opened in 1985.
It is an almost 80-meter column with gold stars, next to which are sculptures of Soviet soldiers and the Motherland.
Voting and protests
The day before, the Latvian parliament approved a bill suspending Article 13 of the 1994 Latvian-Russian treaty, which ensures the preservation of memorials. This bill removed the main legal obstacle to the demolition of the monument.
The parliament’s decision was linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Article 13 will be suspended until “Russia’s violation of international law against Ukraine ceases, including the withdrawal of its troops from Ukraine, the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty under international law and payment of compensation to Ukraine for violations of international law “.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted to the Sejm’s decision, calling the deputies “goblins.” The governor of the Leningrad region Oleksandr Drozdenko sent an appeal to the mayor of Riga Martins Stakis, in which he announced his readiness to take away the monument.
Controversy over the Soviet monument escalated on the eve of Victory Day. This year, instead of traditional concerts and marches on May 9, the Latvian authorities only allowed flowers to be laid at the monument, much to the displeasure of the Russian-speaking population.
A photo exhibition with footage of the war in Ukraine was organized around the monument.
The next day a bulldozer collected flowers in front of the monument. This caused even more outrage among supporters of the preservation of the monument, and soon new flowers began to appear near it. And in the park around the protesters began to gather both in support of Russia and against it. Police have launched a detention.
As a result, the police opened about 20 administrative cases (mostly for participating in unauthorized rallies, as well as for demonstrating prohibited symbols), and three – criminal (according to articles about police resistance and justification of genocide) reported by local media.
On May 11, Armands Rux, the head of the State Police, said that the monument would be fenced off by August 31.
“Even if the monument is not demolished, let it be forgotten, there will be no laying of flowers next year. It is a dangerous object for public safety, no one will come there anymore. There will be police standing around, even if it is not demolished. “At the monument, at the foot, at that square, there will be no laying of flowers on that square,” Ruxa was quoted as saying by Delfi.
On the same day, the collection of money for the dismantling of the monument began – the Ziedot.lv portal has already raised more than 200,000 euros for the demolition of the “monument of occupation”.
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