The Soviet monument in Riga's Victory park has been a bone of contention between Latvia and Russia for years. (file photo)
Latvian lawmakers have approved a bill that allows a controversial Soviet monument in the capital, Riga, to be dismantled as the Baltic nation looks to further shed its Soviet-occupied past amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The bill amending a 1994 agreement between Latvia and Russia on the preservation of Soviet-era monuments in the Baltic state was approved on May 12.
"The changed geopolitical conditions...mean that Latvia can’t and won’t be bound to preserve...monuments to the Soviet occupation," Rihards Kols, the chairman of parliament’s commission on foreign affairs, said in explaining the move. Latvia will continue to fulfill its international obligations regarding burials and cemeteries, he added. The monument in Riga's Victory park has been a bone of contention between Latvia and Russia for years. Each year on May 9, the Russian Embassy in Riga organizes events and concerts devoted to the Soviet role in the defeat of Nazi Germany in the World War II. Latvia has a large ethnic-Russia majority. The events caused controversy among most of the citizens of the former Soviet republic, which since regaining independence in 1991 has become a member of NATO and European Union. Latvia has approved many post-independence laws aimed at weeding out Russian influence and boosting the status of Latvian language and culture.