News Europe Lithuania dismantles six gigantic Soviet statues from Vilnius’ main military cemetery

Lithuania dismantles six gigantic Soviet statues from Vilnius’ main military cemetery

Archive – Statue of Lenin in Moldova – DIEGO HERRERA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACT PHOTO

The Lithuanian authorities have begun this Tuesday to dismantle six gigantic statues of the Soviet era located in the military cemetery of the capital, Vilnius, in line with the policies that other countries have undertaken against these tributes in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We will do it with respect. Of course, the graves will not be destroyed,” said the mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Simasius, in relation to the 3,000 Red Army soldiers who fell in World War II and whose remains rest in this military cemetery in Antakalnis.

“We will cleanse ourselves of this Soviet symbol,” said Simasius, who described the moment as “a happy day” for the history of the Lithuanian capital. The decision of the local authorities is taken against the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which temporarily paralyzed the project.

However, Simasius maintains that this United Nations commission was deceived, since at no time will the remains of the deceased be desecrated. “I have no doubt that it is the only correct decision,” he said.

The statues that have begun to be removed are granite colossi about six meters high that represent soldiers of the Army of the Soviet Union. It is planned that they will be transferred to the National Museum of Lithuania, where other carvings and plaques from the Soviet era have already been sent.

The Antakalnis Memorial, erected in 1951, houses the bodies of more than 3,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in action in 1944, during the battle for the liberation of Vilnius. With Lithuania’s independence in the early 1990s, an operation to eliminate the country’s Soviet past also began, sending the vast majority of these tributes to Grutas Park, more than a hundred kilometers from the capital.

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