Explaining why those monuments are lying

At a cemetery in a district in northern Lithuania, local officials have not taken down the monuments Moscow erected near the graves of Red Army soldiers but rather put up new signs indicating that “the ideological inscriptions of the Soviet period do not correspond to historical truth.” (Image: lzinios.lt)

At a cemetery in a district in northern Lithuania, local officials have not taken down the monuments Moscow erected near the graves of Red Army soldiers but rather put up new signs indicating that “the ideological inscriptions of the Soviet period do not correspond to historical truth.” (Image: lzinios.lt) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Across the former Soviet empire, non-Russians have been taking down the Soviet-era statues that Moscow had imposed on them. The Baltic countries did so in 1991. Ukraine recently eliminated all Lenin statues, and now Poland is being sharply criticized by the Russian government for eliminating monuments to the Red Army.

But now a district in Lithuania has come up with a clever strategy, one that moves between the Scylla of leaving these monuments and their messages in place and the Charybdis of taking them down and being attacked by Moscow or by others who decry the destruction of something that they view as part of the historical record.

At a cemetery in a district in northern Lithuania, local officials have not taken down the monuments Moscow erected near the graves of Red Army soldiers but rather put up new signs indicating that “the ideological inscriptions of the Soviet period do not correspond to historical truth.”

Lieuvos zinios reports that this decision of the local authorities was not coordinated with Vilnius. Instead, Dalius Mikelenis, an official of the Birzai municipality, said that the town took the decision on its own because “we feel that we are making a contribution to the promotion f historical truth and consider that we have done so.”

He said that the reason that Vilnius had turned them down was because Lithuania and the Russian Federation have certain agreements about the maintenance of military cemeteries, and he suggested that it is even possible the Lithuanian government will take action against the municipality for this step.

But the municipality’s idea has much to recommend it in the case of other Soviet statues that don’t fall under bilateral agreements. And, in fact, it is not entirely new: just before Estonia moved the Soviet “Bronze Soldier” from downtown Tallinn to a military cemetery in 2007, some in that country proposed a similar strategy.

Instead of tearing down or moving the statue, they suggested erecting new statues around the Soviet one, memorials to all those Estonians and others who were victims of the Red Army and Soviet occupation, including those killed in Estonia or deported to Siberia. Such a step, these people felt, would do more to promote an understanding of the past than any other move.

Perhaps others will pick up on these Baltic initiatives now and in the future.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Screwdriver

    I was in Chania, Crete, some years ago, visited local museum. That port was attacked by German Nazis in 1941, landed paratroopers, defenders killed some of them. Then Germans erected a monument “Fallschirmjäger ” to honor they dead.
    That monument is still there.

    • Oknemfrod

      And so what? It’s each nation’s own business and no one else’s what monuments they want on their land and which ones to take down or keep. For whatever reason, the Cretans have decided to keep the one dedicated to the German soldiers. Doesn’t mean that others have to keep the monuments they consider insulting just because the Russians take umbrage when they are demolished. Last time I checked, nobody was telling the Russians what kind of monuments (or dedicated to whom) they should have in Russia. And it’s none of Russia’s business what monuments are erected, kept, or taken down in other countries, particularly those it formerly occupied.

      • Screwdriver

        I doubt people in Crete bring flowers to that German monument.
        And as you probably know many people bring flowers to the Soviet monuments in Ukraine. Many ethnic Ukrainians buried there.
        Of course, it is Ukrainian peoples ultimate choice what to do with the monuments and memorials.
        If further dividing people would help, go for it!

        • svend

          Really. Are you again dreaming. I havnt heard about Ukrainiens bringing flowers to Sovjet monuments. But mayby you can elaborate??

          • Screwdriver

            “I havnt heard about Ukrainiens bringing flowers to Sovjet monuments. But mayby you can elaborate??”
            I am talking about Soviet made, Soviet soldiers in WW2 memorials in Ukraine.

        • Oknemfrod

          You’re making no sense. People in Ukraine don’t bring flowers to monuments dedicated to German invaders, either, as well as they don’t honor the monuments to NKVD goons erased off the face of the earth by UPA. But Ukraine is chock full of monuments to Soviet soldiers who perished during WWII, and nobody touches them with a ten-foot pole – on the contrary, they’re honored regardless of whether ethnic Ukrainians are buried beneath them or not.

          None of this has anything to do with the monuments to Soviet malefactors and mass-murderers like Lenin and his followers and their executioners and abettors who have killed and deported Ukrainians by millions, not to mention that they were archenemies of an independent Ukrainian state. A monument to Lenin or Stalin is a grave insult to any normal human being by the same token as a monument to Hitler would be. On part of Russia, telling the Ukrainians or Lithuanians or Poles or anyone else to keep and honor monuments merely glorifying the USSR and its ideology is nothing but an act of rotten imperial insolence and deliberate affront.

          • Screwdriver

            You did not get it. I was talking of course about monuments and memorials for Soviet soldiers in Ukraine, not some communists statues. There is a trend to remove those war memorials, in Poland and Baltic countries, and looks like campaign is starting in Ukraine.

          • Oknemfrod

            “Чем кумушек считать трудиться, Не лучше ль на себя, кума, оборотиться?” – Krylov. “Rather than counting godmothers, isn’t it better, godmother, to take a look at yourself?”

            Let’s look at the methods the Russians, so worried about monuments to their soldiers outside Russia, use to treat those on their own land:
            – Transform them in desecrated public loos.
            – Plow through them and the remains beneath them with excavators to build a road atop their bones.

          • Screwdriver

            Vietnam war memorial, right next to Penn’s Landing, is in pretty good shape, so I am good with мои крестники, (even that I could not have any and do not have any)

    • svend

      Good. You are now considering Sovjet as attacker not liberater, so your vision is clearing, when comparing to German attack on Crete.

      • Screwdriver

        Soviets were invaders in many cases , like in Finland for example, I never denied that.

        • zorbatheturk

          Finland was part of RuSSia between 1809 and 1917. It was called the Grand Duchy of Finland. I bet the Finns are glad that douchey mcdouche situation is history.

  • Tony

    That’s how you turn a pro+soviet monument into an anti-soviet one. They should also add to the inscription that russia helped start ww2 by siding with Hitler at the start and invading Poland with him.

  • zorbatheturk

    Putin statues could be repurposed as garden gnomes or scarecrows in orchards.