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RIGA, May 28 (Itar-Tass) —— The move to collect signatures for the demolition of the memorial to Soviet soldiers, liberators of Riga, is unacceptable, Janis Urbanovich, one of the leaders of the Center of Accord, a major parliamentary opposition association of Russian speakers, said here on Monday. A source in the association’s press service said this to Itar-Tass.
Earlier Veiko Spolitis, spokesman for the Latvian Defense Ministry, twitted in favor of supporting the initiative of pulling down the memorial which is located in the center of the Latvian capital. He believes the monument’s existence is not conducive to cohesion in society.
“A ministry whose ranking official dares make such statements does not deserve being called a defense ministry. It should be called a ministry of war instead,” Urbanovich said. “Such public statements hurt the feelings of hundreds and even hundreds of thousands of Latvians. Distrust existing in society is prompted by precisely such statements,” the politician said.
The collection of signatures for the demolition of the memorial to Soviet soldiers had already been started in the internet. The petition entitled “Remove the memorial, ban Communist symbols” was posted on the website “peticijas.com”. The anonymous author of the petition, calling for the demolition of the memorial, writes: “If dumping grounds refuse to have it, let it be put on the Russian-Latvian border as a frontier post.” He also insists on “serious criminal responsibility for the use of Communist symbols, for denial of the crimes of the Communist regime and for its glorification.” As many as 2,327 persons have already signed that petition.
Although May 9 is not a public holiday in Latvia, a large number of people, many of whom are Russian speakers, who make up about 40 percent of the population, celebrate the Victory Day on May 9. Every year on that day, about 200,000 people come to the memorial to lay flowers and greet war veterans.