At the meeting on May 12, the Saeima of Latvia voted for the adoption of amendments to the law “On agreements between the Republic of Latvia and the Russian Federation, signed in Moscow on April 30, 1994”. These amendments were developed by the parliamentary commission on foreign affairs. 68 deputies were in favor of them, 18 were against.
What does it mean
The legal decision adopted by the Seimas suspends Art. 13 of the Agreement between the governments of Russia and Latvia, which protects the rights of Russian pensioners living in the Latvian territory and members of their families. This article states that Latvia undertakes to ensure the safety of memorial structures, which include Victory Park (Uzvaras) in Riga’s Pardaugava.
The monument to Soviet soldiers in Riga was opened in 1985. This is a 79-meter column with five-pointed golden stars, next to which there are sculptures of Soviet soldiers and the Motherland.
According to the decision of the Seimas, the agreement will be suspended from May 16, 2022, until “until Russia stops violating international law against Ukraine, including the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine, the full restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as full compensation to Ukraine for violations of international law already committed.” rights”.
The mayor of Riga, Mārtiņš Stakis, said he considers it unlikely that the monument in Pārdaugava will be demolished before the parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the Latvian portal ziedot.lv launched collecting donations for the demolition of the monument and collected €42,607 overnight, and by the middle of the day on May 12 – about €100,000.
History of the agreement
On April 30, 1994, Latvia and Russia signed four interconnected international treaties that determined the terms and conditions for the withdrawal of Russian armed forces from the territory of Latvia. Later, on November 24, 1994, all these agreements were approved by the Seimas – by adopting the law “On agreements between the Republic of Latvia and the Russian Federation, signed in Moscow on April 30, 1994.” The main goal of the agreements was the most efficient withdrawal of the Russian army from Latvia with “the least negative consequences.”
One of the four international treaties mentioned was the agreement on the social protection of Russian military pensioners and members of their families residing in the territory of Latvia. It concerned the social sphere and was intended to resolve property issues, provide Russians with pensions, medical care, and access to cultural and educational institutions.
Article 13, the effect of which was decided to be suspended, reads: “In accordance with international practice, the Latvian side ensures the cleaning, improvement and preservation of memorial structures and mass grave sites on the territory of the Republic of Latvia. The Russian side undertakes to ensure the cleaning of memorial structures and burial sites of Latvians, Livs and Latvian citizens who died as a result of wars and repressions on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
What happened in Riga
The situation around the memorial escalated on May 9, when residents of the Latvian capital began laying flowers at the monument. Early in the morning of May 10, all these bouquets and wreaths, by order of the city authorities, were raked up by a tractor and thrown away.
On the afternoon of May 10, the townspeople again came to the monument and again laid flowers, and also set up a “memory watch” at the monument and sang Soviet songs, including those of the war years. In the evening, a special police battalion was sent there and dispersed the crowd.
In this regard, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins demanded an explanation from the Minister of the Interior Maria Golubeva. Golubeva said she did not consider the incident an emergency and did not intend to resign, but acknowledged that “the reaction of the State Police to the events at the foot of the monument could have been faster.”
Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks criticized the “inadequate” actions of the Riga City Hall, saying that “kicking flowers with your feet and raking them with tractors is primitive and unworthy of a civilized people,” and called on everyone, including politicians, to calm down. The Minister assured that “Latvia is safe and no one threatens her.” He also said that the new wreaths and flowers laid on May 10 would “remain to wither”.
However, the head of the State Police of Latvia, Armands Ruks, issued an order on 11 May banning access to the memorial complex in Victory Park until 31 August. The document states that the territory of the park is a “public administration institution”, where the authorities are obliged to suppress threats to public safety and order.
Next week, on May 20, a peaceful procession of activists will take place in Riga demanding the immediate demolition of the Soviet monument in Victory Park, informed musician Ralph Eiland on the social network. The Riga City Council, however, said that no applications had yet been received for a procession from the Freedom Monument to Victory Park.
Solidarity action in Pskov
The monument to the Liberators of Riga was defended in Pskov. There, on the morning of May 12, a symbolic flower-laying ceremony was held at the banner depicting the Riga monument. In particular, activists of the Pskov regional branch of the Young Guard of United Russia took part in it.
“Humiliation of the memory of people who laid down their lives for the liberation of the Baltic states. My father was a reconnaissance pilot in the 10th separate reconnaissance regiment. The plague, which is now being planted, completely changes the worldview of people, humiliates human dignity. Such behavior causes complete misunderstanding and indignation,” commented events in Riga Chairman of the regional branch of the “Party of Growth” Igor Romanov.
“Memory must live forever, and historical justice must be preserved,” added and about. head of the Pskov regional branch of the “Young Guard of United Russia” Tatyana Shepeleva.
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