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Russian Defense Ministry demands restoration of Soviet WWII memorial in Polish Slawno

February 26, 2016, 9:29 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Vandals tore off a plaque with an inscription ‘Glory to the Red Army Soldiers who fell in battles against fascist occupiers’ from a Red Army monument in the city of Slawno

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MOSCOW, February 25 /TASS/. The Russian Defense Ministry has criticized the Polish authorities for another act of vandalism directed against a Soviet WWII memorial in the Polish town of Slawno and demanded its restoration, Vladimir Popov, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry department for immortalizing the memory of those who died defending their homeland, said on Thursday.

"We consider such actions to be inadmissible and demand that [the Polish authorities] take all necessary measures to restore the monument to its original look," Popov emphasized.

Moscow issued a strong protest to the Polish ambassador to Moscow over the incident on Thursday.

"On the night from February 19 to 20, [vandals] removed a plaque with an inscription saying ‘Glory to the Red Army soldiers who fell in battles against fascist occupiers’ from the Gratitude Monument to the Red Army in the town of Slawno," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

"A five-pointed star disappeared from the same monument a year earlier," she added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strong protest with the Polish ambassador to Russia over the recent act of vandalism on February 25, the Russian diplomat said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry told the Polish diplomat that the Polish authorities continued violating their international legal obligations, including a direct breach of the May 22, 1992 Russian-Polish agreement on friendship and good-neighborly cooperation.

"Under this document, the sides committed themselves to protect any memorials, which people in both countries consider to be objects of respect and memory," Zakharova said.

The Gratitude Monument to the Red Army soldiers, which is a stone obelisk, was unveiled in 1953 at a place where 18 Soviet soldiers were killed and buried back in 1945. Their bodies were exhumed and re-buried at communal cemeteries in the towns of Slawno and Slupsk in October-November 1952.

Vandals have poured red paint over the obelisk many times. A five-pointed star disappeared from the monument a year ago. Investigators, however, concluded that the star had been carried away by a strong gust of wind.

According to the local media, the city authorities want to pull the monument down. In 2009, they even sent an inquiry to the Council for the Protection of Struggle and Martyrdom. In February 2016, the city authorities decided to repair the street where the monument is located. They asked the local residents to say what they thought about plans for the monument’s relocation to a communal cemetery together with the missing memorial plaque. The collection of signatures will last until February 29.

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