News2019.05.20 12:37

Writers Union defends monument for controversial Soviet Lithuanian author, BNS 2019.05.20 12:37

A monument to the prominent Soviet Lithuanian author Petras Cvirka has attracted considerable controversy and calls to have it removed from a square in central Vilnius. However, the Lithuanian Writers Union advocates against toppling monuments and for a more nuanced view of the past.

Birutė Jonuškaitė, the chairwoman of the Lithuanian Writers Union, has told BNS that the organisation is planning to petition the Ministry of Culture and Vilnius Municipality to keep the monument in its current place.

“Once we work out the wording of our arguments, we will send a letter to the minister and the municipality, next week I think,” Jonuškaitė said last week.

The monument to Petras Cvirka stands in a square on Pylimo and Pamėnkalnio streets in central Vilnius. The square itself is named after the author.

Conservative members of the previous city council called for the removal of the monument, but the issue never reached the council's agenda. This time, the conservatives insisted on including the removal of Cvirka's statue in their coalition agreement with liberals.

Petras Cvirka (1909-1947) was a prominent Lithuanian poet and author. He was a member of the Communist Party and supported Lithuania's incorporation into the Soviet Union. After World War Two, he briefly served as chairman of the Lithuanian SSR Writers Union.

This year, a thousand people signed a petition calling to remove Cvirka's monument, saying it was a “symbol of occupation and collaboration”.

Meanwhile, defenders of the monument advocate for a more nuanced view of the past and against censoring the Soviet legacy. They note that Cvirka was a significant figure in the Lithuanian literature who made mistakes.

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