Government threatens city for not destroying WWII monuments — RT Russia and the former Soviet Union

Latvian minister says Daugavpils must act to remove Soviet memorials or get ‘red card’

Only one of the 43 municipalities in Latvia has not submitted a plan for dismantling Soviet memorials « Occupation, » and there will be consequences if this challenge in Riga continues, the Baltic country’s minister for environmental protection and regional development said on Monday. Daugavpils, a southern town near the border with Lithuania and Belarus, is the only resister to Latvia’s crusade to demolish Soviet memorials.

Riga has « Many times » asked the Mayor of Daugavpils, 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 Spatial Planning (VARAM) counts the refusals of the city, he added.

« If you have received a yellow card several times, a red card may appear at some point », Pless said, according to state news agency LETA. « Laws must be obeyed whether or not someone personally agrees with them. »

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

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

VARAM gave Elksninas 20 days to submit a report providing « complete and detailed information » on the measures taken to dismantle the monuments so far and in the future. Two out of three Soviet monuments in Daugavpils are slated 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 so far escaped destruction as 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 its independence with the support of Germany and Poland. During World War II, Nazi Germany raised two Waffen-SS divisions in Latvia. The period from 1945 to 1991, when Latvia seceded from the USSR, was later referred to by Riga as « Soviet occupation ».

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