Monument to Latvian victims of Stalinist terror desecrated in Komi, northern Russia

On April 13, 2020, the Latvian embassy in Moscow sent an official note to the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the desecration of the monument to Latvians killed during Stalin’s terror in the town of Inta (Komi Republic) by unidentified persons.

The fact of desecration was first made public by Ernest Mezak, company lawyer at Public Verdict Foundation, Russia, in his blog. “… Some jerks painted two swastikas on the first Soviet GuLAG victims memorial in Inta. That monument commemorates Latvians who were murdered… The barbaric act, as far as I know, was committed about a month ago, but the local authorities are not going after the perpetrators (with no criminal case opened so far), nor even try to eliminate the results of that act,” Mr. Mezak commented on the photos of the desecrated monument.

According to the Latvian DELFI news portal, the monument named Dzimtenei (”To Motherland”) was the first Soviet monument dedicated to victims of Stalin’s terror. I was erected in July 1956, at the place which was once a cemetery for the prisoners of Minlag Separate Station No.2. The author of the monument, Eduards Sidrabs, was in prison at the time of its inauguration. Adolf Puntulis who coordinated construction work had been freed from the camp and become a ‘permanent resident’ of Inta, with no right to leave the place.  The monument was reconstructed in 1989 and partially restored in August 2012.

In 1994, Russia and Latvia signed an agreement – and a protocol thereto – regarding social guarantees for Russian wartime pensioners and their families living in Latvia. Clause 13 of the Agreement provides for mutual obligations as far as the protection of monuments, memorials and mass graves is concerned. Despite this fact, there is heated discussion in Latvia over the demolition of the Victory Memorial to Soviet Army in Riga. The monument was desecrated on October 26, 2019 by unidentified persons who used white paint to write the word “occupiers” in Latvian on the lower part of its pedestal.

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