Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Soviet Legacy in Riga

The Soviet occupation of Latvia left an ugly legacy. Forty-five years saw the medieval centre of the city fall into disrepair and the rural outskirts transformed into an aesthetic wasteland with the construction of faceless apartment blocks set in sprawling parkland and one very controversial monument that is difficult to find in most tourist literature.

The Soviet Victory monument shown in the last two photos is a huge and unwelcome obelisk. It was built in 1985 to commemorate the supposed Soviet "liberation" of Riga from fascism, although it's easy to see that that's not the entire story. A pillar of concrete rising 79m into the air is surrounded by the vainglorious statues of Mother Russia, three Red Army soldiers and endless expanses of empty parkland. Needless to say it's an endless source of controversy and while it's one of the most interesting icons of recent history in the city, it's future is uncertain.

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