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RIGA, September 19 (Itar-Tass) —— A monument to members of three police battalions of the Latvian Waffen SS legion will stay. Mayor of Bauska Valdis Veips said so in an interview with Itar-Tass.
“This is our history, so the monument must stay here,” the mayor said. He said the monument had been built on the initiative of one of the surviving participants in the fighting for Bauska, Imants Zeltins, on private donations. The municipal council of the city gave the site for the construction.
The installation of the monument caused a wave of indignation and protests. The monument to the Latvian legionnaires from Waffen SS sets the basis for propaganda of Nazism in Latvia, holds Irina Tsvetkova, member of Saeima (parliament) of Latvia from the Center of Accord, the biggest oppositional association representing the rights of Russian speakers in Latvia.
“This is the first occasion in world history that a monument of this kind was installed in the center of a European city. This is a glaring fact. We know that Latvia was occupied by Nazi Germany. Facts are distorted now, after twenty years of Latvia’s independence. It is intended to register officially, by monuments, that 1944 was not the year of Latvia’s liberation from the brown plague and that the Red Army was not the liberator but was in Latvia to occupy it over again. This means distorting reality. Regrettably, it is attempted to rewrite history, so monuments like this are unveiled. This is a bad sign for Latvia and for entire Europe,” Tsvetkova told Itar-Tass.
Meanwhile local antifascists from the Association against Nazism demand that the monument be dismantled and that the mayor of Bauska resign. “The monument is actually not only to the Latvian Waffen SS legion. It is, in essence, a monument to entire Waffen SS, including police battalions that perpetrated atrocities and participated in genocide of peaceful population of Belarus and Ukraine. This is a historic fact. Opening such monuments in the center of a European city does nothing to rally society,” Janis Kuzins, the head of the association, told Itar-Tass. He said installing monuments to Nazis is a disgrace to the city and to Latvia.
The antifascists say the mayor of Bauska should apologize for this monument to the people of the city and should resign. Otherwise the association is going to turn to the Latvian minister for environmental protection and regional development to demand that the mayor should be dismissed.