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Saeima committee rejects petition calling for restoration of original Victory Square in Riga

BC, Riga, 30.06.2016.Print version
The Saeima Mandates, Ethics and Submissions Committee on June 29th rejected a public initiative calling for restoration of the original Victory Square in the Latvian capital Riga, the parliamentary press service informed LETA.

The online petition, posted on public initiatives website, had gathered more than 12,000 signatures.


Still, the Saeima committee rejected the petition based on the opinions provided by the Foreign Ministry and Riga City Council.


The petitioners demanded recreation of the Victory Square based on the original concept conceived in the 1930s because the square in its current form, dominated by a huge Soviet era memorial dedicated to the victory of the Soviet Union in World War II, causes ‘unnecessary confrontation’, the authors of the petition said. They proposed dismantling the existing monument and altering the square’s infrastructure in line with the original designs.


The authors of the petition underline that the Victory Square in Pardaugava, the part of Riga on the left bank of the River Daugava, where the Soviet Victory Monument was built in the 1980s was originally dedicated to the Latvian armed forces’ decisive victory over Gen. Bermondt-Avalov’s German-Russian monarchist troops in 1919. The square was named the Victory Square to celebrate the victory of the freshly-independent Latvian state and therefore it is not appropriate to have there a monument dedicated to the Soviet army’s victory in World War II.


The Foreign Ministry objected to the idea saying that the Victory Monument built in the square in Soviet times to commemorate Soviet soldiers killed in World War II is protected by an agreement signed with Russia in the 1990s. The Riga City Council also argued against the reconstruction plan saying that the territory where the square was supposed to be created was already developed.


Collective legislative initiatives signed by at least 10,000 citizens are sent to the Saeima committee for mandates, ethics and submissions for review and eventually put to a parliamentary vote.


Riga’s Russian-speaking residents flock to the Victory Monument on May 9 each year to remember the Soviet army’s victory in World War II, while ethnic Latvians tend to perceive the memorial as a symbol of the lasting occupation of Latvia by the Soviet Union.

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