RIGA, June 21 (Itar-Tass) —— A signup campaign to demolish the Monument to Soviet Warriors-Liberators of Riga is inadmissible. If this initiative is realized, it will be a slap on the face of a substantial part of the Latvian society that will result for the country in forgetting about integration for a long time, Russian Mayor of Riga Nil Ushakov said in an interview with the local newspaper Neatkariga Rita Avize on Thursday.
“One should realize that for many people May 9 means an end to the war and the defeat of Hitler. To pull down the Monument to Liberators, being aware that about 200,000 people gather at the monument once a year, means to forget the words ‘integration’ and ‘the consolidation of the society’ at least for a century. I even do not want to imagine it. The attempt to demolish the Monument to Liberators will become a very rude slap on the face of a substantial part of the society. Then the society will be split like with an axe,” he said.
The Riga mayor noted that the Riga parliament supports all events, which are related with the days of remembrance and keeping the memory about the events and victims of the Second World War. “This is the fact that millions of people of various nationalities were killed during the Stalinist repressions. Tens of thousands of innocent people were deported, most of them died. I visited the Solovki and the Gulag Archipelago, where the guide took us on a tour through the forest and showed that a thousand people are buried at some place, another two thousand people are buried at another place and five thousand people are buried there. The whole district was the zone of massive graves. Those, who are seeking to deny Stalin’s crimes, are the criminals themselves. There are some things that should not be doubted. Apart from this, we can discuss everything, including politics, the questions of language, referenda and citizenship,” Ushakov noted.
The signup campaign was earlier launched in the Internet for the demolishment of the Monument to Soviet Warriors-Liberators of Riga. The petition under the slogan “Remove the Monument of Victory and ban the Communist symbols” was posted at the peticijas.com website. Its anonymous author urged to dismantle the monument and place it “on the Russian-Latvian border as a border post.” He also insists on “a tough criminal responsibility for those, who use the Communist symbols, refute the crimes of the Communist rule and glorify it.” At the present moment over 2,500 people signed the petition.
In retaliation, a signup campaign was launched at the same website to leave the Monument to Soviet Warriors-Liberators of Riga at its place. “Our past is an integral part of our life, it should be respected and remembered! Each person has the right for the memory about his ancestors, therefore, if you are proud of your ancestors, as we do, put your signature under this petition!” initiator of the action Alexander Prokopenko said. Over 2,600 people signed this petition so far.
May 9 in Latvia is not an official day-off, but many people, primarily Russian speakers in the country that make about 40% of population in the republic celebrate Victory Day. About 200,000 people meet at the Monument to Soviet Warriors-Liberators in Riga on this day each year to lay flowers to the monument and congratulate the veterans.