News2019.08.05 11:00

Activists leave messages to Vilnius mayor on monuments in protest of city's memory policies

BNS, 2019.08.05 11:00

Plates with messages addressed to the mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, were left on several monuments in the Lithuanian capital on Monday morning, a reaction to the city's decision to remove tributes to several controversial historical figures.

“Šimašius, am I next?” read a sign left on the statue of Vincas Kudirka. The plate was taken down on Monday morning, according to the police.

The monument to Kudirka, a figure in Lithuania's nineteenth-century national movement and the author of the country's national anthem, stands in a square facing the prime minister's office in central Vilnius.

Another plate was left on the statue of Petras Cvirka, a prominent communist author who was held in high esteem during the Soviet era. The message read “Comrade Šimašius, I am proud!”

The Vilnius mayor has indicated he was planning to remove the monument due to Cvirka's connections to the Soviet regime, but the move has been resisted by the Writers' Union and several other artist organisations who have spoken out against erasing historical signs.

Last month, the city council decided to rename a street named after Kazys Škirpa, the founder of the Lithuanian Activist Front which strove to re-establish the country's independence during World War Two. The street name was changed due to Škirpa's Nazi sympathies.

Mayor Šimašius also ordered to remove a memorial plaque to Jonas Noreika, an anti-Soviet resistance fighter accused of collaborating with the Nazis and playing a role in the Holocaust.

Both moves were welcomed by parts of the public, including the Lithuanian Jewish Community, but attracted negative reactions from others. A nationalist rally is planned in Vilnius this Wednesday to protest the removal of tributes to Škirpa and Noreika.

Posters with the two men's images were hung in several places across the city over the weekend.

The memory of Vincas Kudirka, who died in 1899, has also been blemished by his anti-Semitic writings.

The mayor's public relations adviser Aleksandras Zubriakovas has said the plates and the posters are “petty hooliganism” and will be removed.

“Democracy and free speech are all right, but there's no need to litter the city,” Zubriakovas has told

The police have launched an investigation over the plate on the Kudirka monument, according to its spokesman Tomas Bražėnas.

Read more: Vilnius removes plaque for anti-Soviet partisan and accused Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika

Read more: Despite protests, Vilnius renames street dedicated to Škirpa 'who promoted Holocaust'

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