On Thursday, 26 may, Latvia’s parliament passed in the first reading the draft of a new law that provides for demolishing the Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders in Riga, Victory Park.
The legislative draft declared urgent On Prohibition of Display of Objects Glorifying the Soviet and Nazi Regimes and Their Dismantling in the Territory of the Republic of Latvia states that the Cabinet of Ministers is to provide a full list of other removable objects by 30 July 2022.
Demolition of all problematic objects is to be performed by 15 November 2022. Removal will be the duty of municipal administrations responsible for the territories in which monuments and other Soviet objects are located. It is planned for the demolition to be financed from the donations provided by private and legal persons, if such donations exist. Remaining funding will come in equal amounts from the state and municipal budgets.
The legislative draft includes special rules for demolition of Soviet memorials and other objects, including the right for municipal administrations to initiate demolition regardless of the object’s affiliation and without the need to coordinate the decision with the owner or legal manager of the object. The legislative draft also cover the topic of special rules for procurement procedures. It is also planned to provide municipalities the right to organise procurements to perform demolition without applying general rules that govern public procurements.
Fragments with artistic or educational value will be donated to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.
The goal of this legislative draft, according to the Saeima, is preventing risks to values held by Latvia as a democratic and national country, as well as voice condemnation of both the USSR’s and Nazi Germany’s occupation regimes, their policy and crimes committed. The legislative draft is also intended to promote society’s understanding of what happened in Latvia during WWII and after the war, as well as to ensure restoration of historic justice – prevent untrue, imprecise and subjective interpretation of the past and to honour Latvian nation’s resistance against both USSR’s and Nazi Germany’s occupation regimes.
There are approximately 300 monuments, memorial plaques and memorials dedicated to the Soviet occupation regime and its army in Latvia, according to the annotation to the legislative draft.
It is planned for the law to not extend to monuments, memorial plaques and memorials located within burial sites and memorials dedicated to victims of Soviet or Nazi terror.
For the law to come to force, it needs to be passed by the Saeima in the second and final reading.