Footage of the nearly 80-meter tower of the Soviet monument in Riga collapsing filled social media. Latvia has demolished a monument marking the Soviet Union’s victory over Germany in World War II, which Latvians see as a symbol of nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation.
Latvia demolished a Soviet-era monument in the capital Riga on Thursday, dedicated to the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the war. The demolition was carried out under a law that was changed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and despite protests from the Russian minority in this Baltic republic.
The most delicate part of the operation, but the most spectacular, was the demolition of the 79-meter tower. For this, demolition crews worked with pickaxes at the base of the tower, causing it to slide down the small hill in front of the monument.
The monument was built between 1979 and 1985 to commemorate the Soviet Army’s victory over Nazi Germany. Every year, thousands of Latvian Russians, who make up about 30% of the country’s population, gather here on May 9 to mark the victory in 1945.
But most Latvians consider this date the beginning of nearly 50 years of Soviet occupation, which ended in 1991.
Like its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia, Latvia is part of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and has stood firm in support of Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
In 1991 all Soviet-era monuments and plaques except those in military cemeteries were suppressed, but the Riga monument was preserved by an agreement between the Republic of Latvia and the Russian Federation in 1994.
In May of this year, the Latvian parliament voted to amend the treaty, which deprived it of its legal protection.
Author: Bogdan Bagurar
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