Vilnius plans to remove symbols of the Soviet era from the Antakalnis cemetery, the cemetery visitors to be reminded of the acts of the aggressor

Vilnius is one of the first cities that shed most of the Soviet ideology symbols – 7 years ago, the Green Bridge sculptures were removed, last year – the Petras Cvirka monument.

The Antakalnis cemetery still has the granite monument of Soviet soldiers. It is a part of the “Graves of the Soviet Union soldiers in the World War II” complex, which is included in the Register of Immovable Cultural Properties and, therefore, protected. Most countries follow the usual practice of not touching gravestones, but the monument in this complex is not a gravestone, therefore, the municipality has already addressed the Department of Cultural Heritage under the Ministry of Culture for lifting the legal protection of the sculptures.

“I have initiated removal of this sculptural ensemble as nobody is buried here, it is simply a blatant manifestation of the Soviet tradition to turn cemeteries into memorials to the ideology idols. That is repulsive,” says the Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius. “After legal issues are handled, with the approval by the Vilnius City Council among them, six more Soviet sculptures could go to the Grūtas Park.”

Photo by Saulius Žiūra

The Antakalnis cemetery has more Soviet symbols, which are used on the gravestones. They are not going to be touched, but special guides will be installed that will suggest that visitors of the cemetery should take a critical view of the ideologized inscriptions and visual solutions.

Informative stands will be placed by the entrance to the Antakalnis cemetery from 8 May, who will be reminding visitors that Russia, which is annually speaking about the victory in World War II, today is pursuing the all-destructive war in Ukraine.

Photo by Saulius Žiūra

Marketing and Communication Division, vrt@vilnius.lt