EU country could ban Soviet monuments

New law could force municipalities to dismantle all sites and objects ‘glorifying the Soviet regime’

Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima, aims to pass a new law that would require the demolition of all sites and objects “glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regime” on the territory of the country. The bill, which passed its first reading on Wednesday and is expected to pass by June 16, will require local municipalities to dismantle all Soviet monuments on their territory by the proposed deadline of November 15, 2022.

Under the proposed law, affected local governments will have the right to propose the dismantling of monuments regardless of who owns the site and without coordinating with the legal owner of the object or the land on which it sits.

The text of the bill also estimates that there are currently about 300 monuments, memorial plaques and memorial sites dedicated to the Soviet Union in Latvia, and asks the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers to draw up a list of objects that must be dismantled. by the end. from July 2022.

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The new law also applies to the “Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from German Fascist Invaders”, erected in 1985 in the Latvian capital to commemorate the victory of the Soviet army over Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The monument fell under a Russian-Latvian treaty on the preservation of monuments. However, that deal was dissolved earlier this month by the Latvian parliament, citing Russia’s so-called aggression against Ukraine.

Although the move was backed by an overwhelming majority of lawmakers, it sparked outrage among the pro-Russian population of Lativa, as hundreds of people gathered outside Riga City Hall on May 13 to protest against the decision.

Several people, including three members of the Latvian Russian Union party, were arrested during the protests and charged with various offences, including “petty hooliganism”.

Dismantling Riga’s monument could cost up to 2 million euros, according to the city’s deputy mayor, who said the project was already being prepared and construction companies were being approached.

Latvian authorities noted, however, that the new law on the dismantling of Soviet monuments does not include monuments placed in cemeteries and memorials for victims of the Soviets or Nazis.


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