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EU member paves way to demolishing Soviet memorial

The Latvian parliament voted in favor of stripping legal protection from war monuments

Latvian lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted to renounce part of a treaty with Russia in which Riga committed to protect and maintain war memorials in the country. Thursday’s move opens the door to the removal of a monument to Soviet soldiers who liberated Riga from Nazi occupation during World War II. The location serves as a focal point for civil confrontation over the country’s historical relations with Russia.

A 1994 agreement between Moscow and Riga on the protection of retired Russian servicemen living in Latvia includes an article on the preservation of memorials. The Latvian government pledged to preserve the sites and to allow war veterans to be buried at military cemeteries. The Russian side reciprocated by pledging to take care of memorials and burial sites of Latvian victims of wars and Soviet government repressions.