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Latvian president: Collection of signatures for demolition of Memorial to Soviet Liberators - pre-election gimmick

October 23, 2013, 23:36 UTC+3

Over 10,000 signatures for the demolition of the memorial were collected on an internet portal

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Photo ITAR-TASS/Victor Lisitsin

Photo ITAR-TASS/Victor Lisitsin

RIGA, October 23 (Itar-Tass) - Latvian President Andris Berzins holds that the initiative for the collection of signatures for demolition of the Memorial to Soviet Liberators in the Latvian capital was made with a view to the parliamentary election in Latvia in the autumn of 2014 and is a pre-election gimmick.

“No one really aims for the memorial’s demolition. It is merely a gimmick with a view to the election and it will be used again and again,” Berzins told reporters after the weekly meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis on Wednesday.

The prime minister, in his turn, said it must be considered how this initiative goes together with the agreements concluded with Russia, under which Latvia must tend to memorials of the Second World War. “Another thing is if this initiative heightens tension in society still more. It is said that we must all exert efforts to rally society, but such initiatives work quite the other way. Certain political forces are out for confrontation,” Dombrovskis said.

Over 10,000 signatures for the demolition of the memorial to Soviet soldiers in Riga were collected on an internet portal in Latvia. If at least 10,000 signatures of adult Latvian citizens are collected in favour of an initiative, this is regarded as a collective statement and should be considered by the republic’s parliament Saeima under Latvian law.

This prompted the collection of signatures so that the memorial should remain intact. Over 5,000 people signed this call by now.

The Riga Memorial is the main memorial for the Russian-speaking community that makes up about 40 percent of Latvia’s population. Some 200,000 Latvian citizens gather at the memorial on May 9 every year to lay flowers at its basement and to congratulate war veterans. Local nationalists made calls more than once to dismantle the memorial built in the 1980s, but the parliamentarians objected to that. The monument was desecrated many times and an attempt to blow it up was made in 1997.

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