The Latvian government has gone ahead with the demolition of a Soviet-era war memorial in the capital city of Riga this week, the latest Soviet monument to be destroyed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The 260-foot high memorial was demolished on Friday afternoon and is just the latest Soviet-era monument to be destroyed after the Latvian parliament voted to scrap all Soviet monuments before mid-November of this year.
The Riga monument was erected late in the life of the USSR in 1985 to recognize the Soviet invasion of Latvia, which had been occupied by the Germans, during the Second World War, and the ultimate victory over Nazi Germany, SVT reports.
According to the broadcaster, the monument was seen as controversial, with some seeing the monument as part of the USSR’s legacy of oppressing the country, but much of the ethnically Russian population of Latvia — around 30 per cent of all residents — protested its removal.
Latvia is not the only Baltic country to remove Soviet monuments in recent weeks, however. Neighbouring Estonia began the removal of a war memorial outside of the city of Narva earlier this month, with crews taking away a replica of a Second World War-era Soviet T-34 tank.
Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stated that while the tank was being removed, the site would remain a “dignified site for commemorating the dead.”
Prime Minister Kallas added that “[n]o one wants to see our militant and hostile neighbour foment tensions in our home,” vowing: “We will not afford Russia the opportunity to use the past to disturb the peace in Estonia.”
Earlier this week, Poland also began demolishing Soviet monuments, with a memorial in Brzeg to soldiers of the Red Army of the USSR being demolished on the same day Ukraine held its Independence Day.
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