2021.08.24 14:13

Heritage council delists statue of controversial Soviet-Lithuanian author

BNS2021.08.24 14:13

A statue for the writer Petras Cvirka, whose pro-Soviet political activities have put him at the centre of debates about Soviet monuments, has been delisted as cultural heritage. The decision opens the way for the city to remove the statue.

The Council of Experts for the Protection of Immovable Cultural Heritage made the decision on Tuesday.

Vidmantas Bezaras, director of the Cultural Heritage Department, told BNS that the experts were still discussing whether to add the square where the statues is located – and which is named after Cvirka – to the register of cultural heritage.

“The monument has been stripped of the status,” he told BNS. “An intensive discussion about the square continues.”

Some formalities need to be completed before the council's decision can takes effect, the director added.

The council of independent experts considered requests from Culture Minister Simonas Kairys and Vilnius City Municipality.

Read more: Soviet Lithuanian author in the crosshairs of memory politics

Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius, wants the Petras Cvirka Square to be listed as “a characteristic example of neoclassical style” of the post-war era.

Advocates of the monument's removal say Cvirka collaborated with the Soviet authorities. They quote a 2019 report by the Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Centre, saying that his collaboration had serious and damaging consequences for the Lithuanian state and its people.

Meanwhile, opponents argue that indiscriminate destruction of Soviet heritage is akin censorship and that Cvirka's literary talent still deserves commemoration.

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