Silent Sentinels at Center of Lithuanian Debate on Bygone Era

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tags: Communism, historic preservation, Soviet Union, Lithuania

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Watching over one of this city’s busiest thoroughfares are the sentinels of a loathed regime.

The statues of Red Army soldiers, workers, farmers and young scientists on Green Bridge, spanning the Neris River in the center of the city, are the last major monuments on public display here that still trumpet Communism, an ideology rejected by Lithuania more than two decades ago when it became the first part of the Soviet Union to declare independence.

With their shirts pushed against their broad torsos, and coats and skirts billowing around muscular legs, the statues in the mode of Socialist Realism have stood firm against the political storms that have plagued the nation’s capital. They have been less successful resisting the ravages of time. After more than six decades in the open, the iron is pockmarked and rusted. One soldier is held together by bolts and braces. A young scientist’s back is marred by a large fissure...

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