On 13 May this year, the Riga City Council adopted a decision to dismantle the Soviet monument in Pārdaugava. On 16 June, the Saeima adopted the Law "On the Prohibition of the Display and Dismantling of Objects Glorifying the Soviet and Nazi Regimes in the Republic of Latvia", which stipulates that demolition should be performed by 15 November. This decision is to be implemented accordingly.
In addition to the Victory Park monument, there are at least 70 similar objects in Latvia, which will also be dismantled within the planned timeframe. Both of these regulatory enactments require that the monument be dismantled, and regulate the process of demolition.
The monument in Victory Park in Riga is an ideologically charged symbol of the totalitarian regime of the Soviet Union and the Soviet army. At a time when Russia, as the heir of the Soviet Union, is committing crimes against humanity in Ukraine, the existence of the monument risks polarising society and sends a signal that is inconsistent with facts and reality that Latvia will put up with the presence of symbols that justify and glorify aggression.
It will be disposed of entirely. The Latvian Museum of the Occupation of Latvia has the task, delegated by the state, of deciding whether an original part or fragment of the object to be demolished should be included in the museum's collection. In this case, the museum has not asked for the object to be included in the collection.
No specific decision has been made yet. The municipality will consult the public on the further development of the site. The Mayor of Riga, Mārtiņš Staķis, has expressed his vision for the future of the monument, stating that, first of all, it should be a place where people want to come and stay every day. In the future, it should be a place that people want to visit 365 days a year. Secondly, the park should be designed to look to the future, which is best represented by children and young people. Thirdly, Victory Park, where the events held have long been divisive, should be a place that unites the people of Riga.
Thelaw on the dismantling of objects commemorating the Soviet and Nazi regimes, which has been approved by the Saeima, stipulates that the Victory Park monument must be dismantled by 15 November this year, while thedismantling and improvement of theundergroundpart must be completed by 30 June 2023. The municipality will meet these deadlines.
Given the tight deadlines and particular security issues, a closed tender procedure has been chosen, which was allowed as an exception by the law "On the Prohibition of the Display and Dismantling of Objects Glorifying the Soviet and Nazi Regimes in the Republic of Latvia". Interested bidders were approached, and confirmed that they had the resources and technology available, that they fit the profile (demolition works), and that there were no significant reputational risks. Information was provided in good time through a notice published in the e-procurement system, which contains information on all public sector procurement.
For security reasons, the name of the company is being withheld for the time being. The builder will be detected when it does not endanger the dismantling process or the safety of the contractors themselves - after the main dismantling activities have been completed.
The cost of dismantling the facility is €2 131 899 including VAT. The works will not only include the demolition of the obelisk and sculptures, but also the dismantling of the pedestal, foundations, pool and other landscaping over an area of almost three hectares, i.e. 30 000 square metres, the dismantling of several thousand cubic metres of reinforced concrete structures, the delivery of more than 50 000 cubic metres of various soils for site levelling, as well as earthworks and planting of greenery.
the 79-metre-long reinforced concrete stele weighs 2,000 tonnes - the same as 45 carriages on a passenger train. The foundations are also designed like those of a high-rise building - the structure does not just “float” on the ground, the piles extend all the way down to the dolomite rock.
The area of structures to be dismantled for the entire monument ensemble - the obelisk, the pedestal, the technical spaces and the pool - is 3600 m3. The site improvement, including filling and levelling, will require 50 000 m3 of soil, which would be comparable to 21 Ķīpsala swimming pools.
Approximate cost breakdown:
- ~3% site set-up and maintenance
- ~3% protection and realignment of utilities
- ~7% dismantling of the obelisk and sculptures
- ~24% dismantling of pedestals, technical rooms, foundations
- ~45% demolition, filling of the pool
- ~18% site landscaping and improvements
The Delna transparency society has been engaged to monitor the demolition process in order to ensure that the entire procedure is transparent and performed in the interest of the public. Delna's contract with the Riga Monuments Agency includes access to documents and the right to participate in the processes of organising the works. Once the dismantling process is complete, the public will have more access to information on how the process will be organised.
The law on the dismantling of objects commemorating the Soviet and Nazi regimes states that the costs must be borne by the municipality, with 50% compensation from the state. The dismantling process will also benefit from public donations, in accordance with the purpose of the donation - for the removal of construction waste.