Poland will protect Soviet war memorials

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WARSAW -- Poland is preparing a law that will give local authorities a free hand to remove monuments of ''praise for the communist dictatorship'' but also will require the preservation of memorials that honor Soviet soldiers, a Cabinet minister said Monday...

Culture Minister Kazimierz Michal Ujazdowski said the Polish legislation was conceived months before the [Estonian] dispute and was intended to deal with the issue in an orderly manner.

''The point of the law is to give the right to local governors to remove those objects that in a drastic manner commemorate the communist dictatorship,'' Ujazdowski said on TVN24 television.

''Wherever our national pride is hurt with praise for the communist dictatorship, the local governor should act,'' he said, adding that he knew of places where memorials with Russian-language inscriptions remained as the chief city monuments.

Ujazdowski said, however, that the law would not target monuments honoring the bravery of Red Army soldiers. ''Under no circumstance can we be accused of a lack of respect for the ordinary soldiers,'' he said.
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