bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Friday 20.07.2018 | Name days: Ramona, Ritma
LithuaniaLithuania

Vilnius’ Green Bridge Soviet-era guys and gals awaiting final trial

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+2 rating, 2 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Sculptures portraying a hammer and sickle float above a street scene during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The Soviet-era monuments in Lithuania are gone long time ago with the sweeping national movement in the early 1990s. The Grutas Park in the proximity of the resort of Druskininkai in southern Lithuania, where the statues of Lenin and other Soviet revolutionaries are displayed to «awws» and «ohhs» of the abundant visitors, is the place to stop by to take a glimpse at the gloomy page of the Lithuanian history. But astonishingly to many, Soviet sculptures on the Green Bridge in Vilnius, embroiled in a lengthy and heated debate on their significance, are still catching the attention of the passers-by eyes in the bustling connection of the capital.

What is the proper way to treat the Soviet relics?

Should the sickle-and-hammer wielding Soviet figures on the bridge be left for good as the part of the cultural heritage that no country with any ban on use or display of Nazi or Communist era symbols can rub off? Should the pals be caged, turned that way into a modern artwork, which is a creative suggestion by some funky artists out there? Or do they just have to be torn down?

With all those «pros» and «cons» out there, the issue has been divisive as few other in the country’s modern history.

The experts from the State Cultural Heritage Commission, set to bring verdict on the Green Bridge sculptures’ fate, have postponed the decision until spring when an international conference on Soviet heritage is due.

The deliberations at the commission have rekindled a public flare of emotions, fuelled by the the ongoing Russian invasion to Ukraine.

Whatever the ruling on the sculptures turns out, the Green Bridge, even Soviet youth-less, cannot quell the acidity of the Soviet history.

An international conference to be held

Commission chairwoman Gražina Drėmaitė said on October 2 that an international conference on Soviet heritage would be organized in as early as March or April.

«The conference council has decided that it would be better to organize an international conference as other countries have experience on the issue, and we postponed it to the spring. We want specialists from Germany, Italy and Poland to attend. Until then, local specialists will work. Heritage is not politics. We cannot just make a political decision and that’s it. Nobody does that, we need to do this in a civilized way,» she told this week.

During the commission deliberations, the bridge was besieged by a group of activists, demanding removal of the Soviet sculptures from the Cultural Heritage List which is a prerequisite for their removal.

«We hope that state institutions will no longer include the occupants’ propaganda sculptures into the list of protected objects. Today, in the wake of aggression against Ukraine, this tool is harming children by spreading lies and denying genocide against Lithuania,»  Kasparas Genzbigelis, chairman of the January 13 brotherhood, told BNS, a Lithuanian news agency.

The clamorous protesters are set to continue protesting near the bridge between 12 and 4 pm every day until October 12.

People are also invited to sign an online petition for the removal of the Soviet sculptures from the Green Bridge. It is said it has already been signed by more than 3,000 people.

The Green Bridge sculptures, featuring Soviet soldiers, workers, peasants and students, were erected on the bridge in 1952.

Cultural heritage vs. Soviet propaganda

Ahead of the international conference, Lithuanian heritage and art specialists, artists, MPs and representatives of the public will be invited to discuss the issues of preserving Soviet-era cultural heritage.

«Time has come to hold a serious discussion. We should put all the dots on the letter «i» to see whether we are a country of culture or not,» the chairman insisted.

She hopes that the conference will speak up for leaving the sculpture on the spot as the witnesses of the quite recent though gloomy history.

But the vociferous critics encompassing mostly January 13 Brotherhood activists, former exiles and political prisoners as well as ultra-patriotic youth maintain that leaving the sculptures, representing Soviet-era soldiers, workers, farmers, and students, in central Vilnius is tantamount to preaching Soviet propaganda and is insult to people who have fought to get rid of the Soviet regime.

Vilnius Municipality had announced a tender for renovation of the statues last year, but it has failed as no bidders wished to take on the works despite the multiple repetition of tender.

With the restorers said being wary about their reputation and an outbreak of protests accompanying the idea of renovation, obviously, the municipality has temporarily scrapped the repair plans until the culture heritage watchdogs will weigh in with the last decision on the sculptures’ future.

Vilnius authorities refused to reveal the potential costs of the repairs, but the leaks in media put them at nearly 60 thousand euro.

Cage up the Soviet stony guys and gals!

Meanwhile, Lithuanian artists come up with their own ways on how to treat the patina-covered sculptures.

Audrius Ambrasas, a Vilnius architect, suggests, for example, caging up the stony Soviet dudes and gals for some time. The architect has even drawn up an actual project for that kind of artistic installation that would frame the sculptures in open steel constructions.

Commenting his idea, he said the installation would be a sign that all see the sculptures but do not believe in the message they convey. The soviet pathos would be denied in this way, argues the artist.

But Gediminas Kirkilas, a prominent Lithuanian Social Democrat, former Prime Minister and a restorer by profession himself, told BNN he believes the Green Bridge sculptors, nevertheless, are pieces of the cultural heritage.

«In fact, these are the only ones from the Soviet period. We just cannot scratch off the part of history regardless of how much some of us are would be willing to do it,» Kirkilas told.

He regretted the continuing deterioration of the unattended sculptures and pointed out to the Vilnius punicipality as the one in the shoes to make a change.

«But, sure, no restoration work will be started before the municipal Council election in the beginning of March. The brouhaha discourages restorers from putting their hands on the sculptures. Besides, as if on purpose, the municipality had allotted too little funds for the task in the past. Perhaps because of that and the public outcry no one came forward,» the MP told.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.1740


Leave a reply

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s Election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.

Illegal border crossings to Estonia on rise after Russia World Cup

Football fans with temporary residency permits of the Russia World Cup, or fan Ids, are trying to illegally cross the Russian border with Estonia, a member of the European Union.

Estonian 13-year-old lethally overdoses fentanyl

Estonian prosecutors have accused a 15-year old of negligent homicide after a girl, 13, passed away from fentanyl overdose.

Wild party competition and political chaos – what goes on during pre-election period?

If we compare who fought under 5% barrier some 8-12 years ago, we will see Daugava’s diggers, head nurse parties and eurosceptics parties whose ability to create some form of a working party programme was very weak. Now political parties’ competitiveness is so high that up to eight parties may successfully overcome the 5% barrier and this points to healthy competition. At the same time, in all this competitive mess it is impossible to understand where parties get financing and access to media resources, politologist and Providus think tank head researcher Iveta Kažoka commented on the pre-election period in an interview to BNN.

Google fined with EUR 4 billion for competition abuse with Android

Google has been fined by the European Commission with a fine of 4.34 billion euros illegal abuse of its dominant market position and the executive of the European Union is set to move on with investigations into other possible practices of unfair competition by the U.S. company.

Turkey removes post-coup attempt state of emergency

The government of Turkey has decided to end the nationwide state of emergency that was imposed in 2016 after a failed coup attempt, state media have reported.

House arrest of Russian theatre director Serebrennikov extended

A court in Russia prolonged the house arrest of Kirill Serebrennikov, a leading Russian theatre and cinema director, until August 22 as he waits for a criminal trial charged with of embezzlement of state funds.

NCP picks Jurašs, Strīķe, Bordāns, Feldmanis and Šuplinska as its headliners

Latvia’s New Conservative Party has picked Juris Jurašs, Juta Strīķe, Jānis Bordāns, Krišjānis Feldmanis and Ilga Šuplinska as its headliner candidates for Saeima elections.

Bank: residents spend an average of 50 to 100 euros on health every quarter

84% of residents aged 18 to 74 have used medical services in the past three months. Only 5% of all costs were covered by health insurance, according to a survey by Norvik Banka.

Countries sign third Rail Baltica co-financing agreement

Connecting Europe Facility co-financing agreement for the construction of Rail Baltica railway infrastructure was signed by participating member states on 13 July. The value of the agreement is EUR 130 million. CEF’s contribution will reach EUR 110 million, which is equal to 85% of all applicable costs, as confirmed by RB Rail communication consultant Ligita Brodiņa.

Saeima plans to increase compensations for child victims

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported for the third reading amendments that provide for increasing state compensations to child victims.

Sweden asks for help to fight wildfires behind Arctic Circle

Sweden has called for help of European Union neighbours to put out wildfires, some raging in territories behind the arctic circle.

Latvijas Krajbanka administrator recovered EUR 1,038 million in June

The administrator of the liquidated Latvijas Krajbanka recovered EUR 1,038 million in June, which is 6.9 times more than a month prior, according to the official outlook published in Latvian Herald.

Estonians warned of heat wave, high UV radiation

Weather forecasters in Estonia have warned the population of hot weather conditions, because temperatures are forecast to reach 30-31 degrees Celsius this week.

Minister says police have leads in Bunkus murder case

Police have found new leads in the murder case of former insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus, said Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Average EU market prices for dairy products grew in May

Compared to April, dairy product prices in Latvia did not increase in May. In the EU, however, average market prices continued growing in May, according to information compiled by Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

ECHR: Russia violated human rights in Pussy Riot and Politkovskaya cases

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Russia guilty of human rights violations in its handling of two high-profile cases – its arrest and conviction of Pussy Riot protest group in 2012 and the investigation into journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder.