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Government threatens city for not destroying WWII monuments

Latvian minister says Daugavpils must act to remove Soviet memorials or get a “red card”

Only one of Latvia’s 43 municipalities has not submitted a plan to dismantle monuments to Soviet “occupation,” and there will be consequences if this defiance of Riga continues, the Baltic country’s minister of environmental protection and regional development said on Monday. The lone holdout against Latvia’s crusade to demolish Soviet memorials is Daugavpils, a city in the south near the border with Lithuania and Belarus.

Riga has “repeatedly” demanded of Daugavpils mayor Andrejs Elksninas to plan and implement measures to “dismantle objects glorifying the occupation,” minister Arturs Toms Pless told reporters. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) has been keeping a tally of the city’s refusals, he added.

“If you have received a yellow card several times, a red card may appear at some point,” said Pless, according to the state news agency LETA. “The laws must be followed regardless of whether someone personally agrees or disagrees with them.”

Citing the conflict in Ukraine, the Baltic state’s government voted in May to remove all the Soviet-era monuments by a November 15 deadline. An obelisk memorializing the Red Army troops who liberated Riga from Nazi occupation in 1945 was destroyed last week. 

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Construction workers at the monument to the liberators of Latvia from Nazi Germany, August 23, 2022, Riga, Latvia. Source: Zvezdanews Telegram channel
Baltic state demolishes Soviet WWII monument

Meanwhile, Latvian President Egils Levits told the state broadcaster LSM that ethnic Russians whose loyalty to the government was suspect should be “isolated from society.” Ethnic Russians make up some 25% of Latvia’s total population.

VARAM has given Elksninas a 20-day deadline to submit a report providing “extensive, detailed information” on measures taken to dismantle the monuments so far and going forward. Two out of three Soviet monuments in Daugavpils are marked for destruction: a Red Army memorial and a monument to the 360th Rifle Division, which liberated the city. The third monument, in Dubrovina Park, has been spared destruction so far because several officers are buried there.

The territory of present-day Latvia was ruled by the Russian Empire from 1795 to 1920, with Riga becoming the empire’s largest port. After the Bolshevik revolution, Latvia declared independence with the support of Germany and Poland. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany raised two Waffen-SS divisions in Latvia. The period from 1945 until 1991, when Latvia seceded from the USSR, was later designated by Riga as “Soviet occupation.”

https://ift.tt/Xz58NFi 29, 2022 at 11:59PM
from RT – Daily news

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