At the height of three days of tensions, the Latvian parliament approved a bill allowing the dismantling of the controversial Soviet monument in the Victory Park located in the capital, Riga: with this move, the Baltic nation amends a 1994 agreement between Latvia and Russia on the conservation of Soviet-era monuments in the Baltic state. It does so, as stated by Rihards Kols, chairman of the parliament's foreign affairs committee, because "The changed geopolitical conditions ... mean that Latvia cannot and will not be obliged to preserve ... the monuments to the Soviet occupation". Latvia will simply continue to fulfill its international obligations regarding burials and cemeteries, he specified.
Latvia, which has a large Russian ethnic minority (roughly one quarter of the population), regained independence in 1991 and subsequently became a member of NATO and the European Union. Over the years, it has passed many laws aimed at eliminating Russian influence and strengthening the status of the Latvian language and culture.
A protest broke out in Victory Park on May 10 after city officials used a mechanical means to remove flowers left at the Monument to the Liberators (that's what it's called). Immediately there was a rumble among the Russian residents who said they were upset by the actions of the authorities and had begun to bring new flowers to the monument. A crowd with Russian symbols had also gathered and started singing Soviet anthems, arousing indignation, with such provocation, among the other citizens and leaders of the country.
Police have, in the course of events, warned people against using the letters Z and V, Soviet symbolism, the Russian flag or the flags of the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, as any of these things would be "considered a symbol to support of the war ".
the Russian Foreign Ministry was quick to add fuel to the fire by inciting Russian residents to protest and claiming that people "they brought, they are carrying and will continue to bring flowers" at the memorial, "no matter what the local authorities come up with".
The Latvian government reacted by calling it unacceptable "The expressions of disrespect towards the Latvian state, the historical experience of Latvia and the victims of the Russian war in Ukraine", but also specifying that i "The flowers had withered due to the frost of the night of May 9" and for this reason it had been decided to remove it.
We cannot say that the eyes of all the chancelleries are on this case: however, it seems to us symptomatic of the danger of the crisis spreading beyond the Ukrainian borders.