Kaczynski: Soviet monuments "internal affair"

8th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 May 2007, Warsaw (dpa) - Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski defended Tuesday the planned removal of Soviet-era monuments in Poland as an "internal affair" and criticized the Russian Foreign Ministry for seeking to interfere. No-one had the right to interfere in the question of Polish street names and the monuments on Polish squares, he said on Polish radio. The Polish Culture Ministry is preparing a draft law on national monuments which would see the removal of any symbols from the Nazi or Soviet e

8 May 2007

Warsaw (dpa) - Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski defended Tuesday the planned removal of Soviet-era monuments in Poland as an "internal affair" and criticized the Russian Foreign Ministry for seeking to interfere.

No-one had the right to interfere in the question of Polish street names and the monuments on Polish squares, he said on Polish radio.

The Polish Culture Ministry is preparing a draft law on national monuments which would see the removal of any symbols from the Nazi or Soviet eras. The graveyards of Soviet soldiers on Polish soil would not be affected.

The bill is expected to come before the Polish parliament before the end of May. Russia has protested against the proposed law, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday speaking of an attempt "to rewrite history."

Polish Culture Minister Kazimierz Ujazdowski, speaking to the TVN 24 news channel on Monday, called for "less emotion" from the Russian side.

"I call on our partner in Russia to recognise the facts: Poland is a sovereign state," he said. In another interview Ujazdowski said the affair was not a "monument war" directed at Russia.

Poland removed monuments to Lenin and Marx already shortly after the peaceful transfer of power from the communists in 1989.

The governing national conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) under Kaczynski's leadership has made the reckoning with Poland's communist past part of its political programme.

The PiS not only plans to make laws to remove references to communist heroes from street names even in remote areas, it also intends to reduce the pensions of former secret service officials and party functionaries to a minimum.

In Estonia in April there was mass rioting by Russian inhabitants following the relocation of a Soviet World War II memorial and the remains of 12 soldiers buried underneath it from central Tallinn to a war cemetery.

Estonians see the monument as a symbol of a 45-year occupation by the Soviet Union, but Moscow calls it a tribute to Russians' sacrifice in the victory over Nazi Germany.

One Russian citizen died of knife wounds in the disturbances and dozens of people were injured in the rioting in the Estonian capital.

DPA

Subject: German news

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