Staunton, Aug. 24 – Moscow’s anger about the demolition of Soviet monuments in the Baltic countries to those who fought the Nazis highlights a fact that many are unwilling to admit, Kirill Rogov says. “From the start,” these monuments weren’t about remembering those who died in that conflict but about Moscow’s “imperial lie.”
In Soviet times, they were all about promoting the notion that what the Red Army was doing was “liberating” these peoples when in fact it was only substituting one occupation for another, the Moscow commentator says. And consequently, there is no reason for them to be retained if that remains their purpose.
If, however, Russia and Russians living in these countries had “reconceptualized these monuments as memorials to soldiers who died on the territory of these countries during the war against fascism … they would be legitimate and refer to the real history” of both these places and their people (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6305F008D23DB§ion_id=50A6C962A3D7C).
Rogov continues: “a tank” – and many of the Soviet monuments in the Baltic countries feature one – “cannot be a monument to the dead at all. It is a symbol of state violence,” as Moscow demonstrated when it sent tanks into Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Vilnius and Moscow in 1991.
But unfortunately, he continues, “Putin’s Russia like Stalin’s Soviet Union sees history as a means of confrontation.” And so it is prepared to use these monuments to “justify the state’s right to unlimited violence.” Thus, these monuments should and must come down unless and until both Moscow and Russians living in these countries change how they define the still-existing monuments themselves.