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Poland demolishes Soviet war memorial

Warsaw monument (Jorge Láscar/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Poland has begun demolishing a Soviet-era memorial to Red Army soldiers, the latest in a series of monuments that have been pulled down in Central and Eastern Europe amid growing hostility toward Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.

Workers began demolishing the memorial in the southwestern Polish town of Brzeg on August 24, the same day that Ukraine marked six months since Russia launched its invasion.

Rafal Leskiewicz, the head of the Polish state historical institute, told the Associated Press that in March, when the decision to remove all remaining monuments was made, that there were 60 still standing nationwide.

The Brzeg monument was the 24th to be demolished since March.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies in its defense against the Russian invasion.

Warsaw has sent weaponry, aid, and humanitarian assistance, and Poland has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than any other country, according to United Nations figures.

The demolition came one day after Latvia began dismantling a similar Soviet-era monument in the capital Riga. News reports said several people were arrested during a small protest against the demolition.

Moscow has long considered the Soviet defeat of Nazi forces in the Baltic countries a liberation, but Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians have long bridled at the description, saying it was merely the beginning of a brutal occupation that only ended with the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Ethnic Russians make up about 25 percent of Latvia’s population.

Estonia’s government last week also started removing a Soviet World War II monument from a city near the Russian border.