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“THE nazis are coming,” Ukraine’s Communist Party (KPU) leader Petro Symonenko has warned after the demolition of the Soviet war memorial in Lviv and a petition for the destruction of its counterpart in Riga, the Latvian capital.
Authorities in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv claimed the monument needed to be demolished as it was in poor condition, but its destruction was only completed at the weekend after attempts on Wednesday and Thursday to bring it down were unsuccessful.
The Monument of Glory honoured WWII Soviet soldiers killed fighting the nazis. Thousands of Soviet-era monuments have been torn down since Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan coup and a subsequent law ordering the dismantling of all “communist symbols.” But war memorials were exempt from the rule, forcing the Lviv authorities to seek other excuses.
Mr Symonenko said that the decision to destroy the monument, which he called “an act of state vandalism and moral terrorism,” followed an incident in February 2018 when it was attacked with hammers.
It was of a piece with a pattern of fascist attacks on monuments to the war dead.
Last year a memorial in Poltava known as the Grieving Mother, which honoured murdered civilians, was defaced with a Hitler moustache and graffiti reading “death to the Jews.”
Hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed by nazi collaborators in the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, headed by Stepan Bandera.
Lviv has named 2019 Stepan Bandera Year in his honour.
These demolitions “spat in the face of all participants in the anti-Hitler coalition,” the communist leader warned.
Lviv’s authorities say the monument will be replaced by an undefined “public space.”
A similar “restoration” of Victory Park in Riga has been announced, prompting a petition to receive tens of thousands of signatures asking that this include the removal of the Victory monument there.
Latvia is notorious for its annual marches by veterans of the Latvian Legion, a wing of the Waffen SS that participated in the Holocaust.
“The most dangerous trend today is the growth of the fascist threat in the world,” Mr Symonenko declared, “especially in European states. Capital uses racism to prevent the escalation of the struggle for social rights.”
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