Latvia has begun dismantling a Soviet-era monument commemorating the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany.
The statue in the capital Riga was erected in 1985 when Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Latvian government introduced a law requiring the removal of such monuments.
“Of course, this is a question of values,” explained Janice Lange, the city’s executive director. “For Latvians, this monument symbolizes the occupation of Latvia after World War II, and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we can no longer tolerate it.”
However, not everyone agrees with the new policy.
A large number of Russians live in Latvia. During Russia’s annual Victory Day holiday in May, they always gather in front of the monument, lay flowers and hold concerts in memory of the soldiers who died fighting Nazi Germany.
The demolition of the monument has upset many, including Dmitry Prokopenko, co-chair of the Monument Support Group.
“I think Latvia is a country where Latvians and Russians live together,” said Dmitry. “Riga is half Latvian, half Russian, and I believe that part of the state, part of the country should respect the rights of other parts as well.”
Since regaining its independence in 1991, Latvia has become a member of NATO and the EU.
Last week, neighboring Baltic countries Estonia also removes Soviet-era monuments For the same reason as in Latvia.