Communists in Latvia: “Not Liberation, but Occupation”

(p. A8) REZEKNE, Latvia — Deported to Siberia by the Soviet secret police as a child and stranded there for more than a decade, Dr. Juris Vidins has for years cursed the large statue of a Red Army soldier looming over the center of his hometown in eastern Latvia. An inscription at its base honors the Soviet “liberators” who drove out the Nazis in 1944 — and who sent his father to a prison camp and the rest of the family to a frozen wilderness.

“This was not liberation, but occupation,” Dr. Vidins, 84, said, glowering at the statue of a Soviet soldier cradling a machine gun.

“They liberated me from my family, they liberated us from our property and everything we had,” he said. “If that is liberation, I don’t want a monument to it.”

. . .

The war in Ukraine has largely vindicated longstanding warnings by Baltic States that Russia is an aggressive power that cannot be trusted. But it has also blunted its capacity to terrify its neighbors, reducing the willingness of ethnic Russians abroad to rally publicly to Moscow’s side and exposing the weaknesses of its military machine.

For the full story, see:

Andrew Higgins. “Soviet Statues Are Latest Targets of Europe’s Anger.” The New York Times (Monday, September 26, 2022): A8.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 25, 2022, and has the title “Soviet Monuments Become Latest Target of Backlash Against War in Ukraine.”)

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