Latvia completes removal of Soviet monuments across the country
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Latvia completed, this Friday, the removal of at least 69 monuments and commemorative structures of the Soviet Union across the country, on the day it celebrates its independence from the former eastern power.

The country was the first of the three Baltic nations to set a date for the removal of the last visible vestiges of the Soviet regime, which kept Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia under control for almost 50 years, until 1991.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on February 24, triggered several movements in the Baltic republics in favor of tearing down the monuments of the Soviet period, with Latvia fulfilling the objective on its Independence Day.

Gone are more than 30 years of discussions about what to do, for example, with the great Victory Monument to the Red Army, which defeated the Nazi army.

The most visible of all Soviet-era testimonies was toppled on 23 and 24 August, after special laws were passed by the Latvian Parliament and Riga Municipality to that effect.

Although Latvia and its neighboring countries have passed new laws and special regulations aimed at eliminating all “monuments of occupation”, some have already been suppressed before.

In Lithuania, statues of Lenin, characteristic of cities across the country, were spontaneously removed and assembled in a Soviet Sculpture Park, near the town of Druskininkai, which became a tourist attraction.

Estonia has also removed several Soviet monuments, including a commemorative tank in the town of Narva, near the border with Russia, which was ‘transferred’ to the capital, Tallinn, where it became part of a monument to the victims of communism.

Also in Latvia, in addition to the large statues reluctantly removed in the eastern cities of Daugavpils and Rezekne, many lesser known structures were removed even by local residents.

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