Latvia’s leaders yesterday went out of their way to demonstrate that they take seriously Moscow’s complaints over the June 6 explosion which damaged the Red Army’s victory monument in Riga. President Guntis Ulmanis issued a statement describing the act as a "condemnable attempt to harm Latvia’s international relations, incite interethnic hatred… and harm Latvian-Russian relations." Recalling Latvia’s history of interethnic tolerance, Ulmanis expressed confidence that internal peace and Latvian-Russian relations would withstand this incident. Prime minister Andris Skele in his statement also condemned the "senseless provocation" and praised the Riga municipality’s intention to restore the monument. Ulmanis and Skele in their statements urged judicial authorities to identify the organizers of the attack as soon as possible. (BNS, June 11)
Also yesterday, Russian ambassador Aleksandr Udaltsev told Riga’s main Russian-language daily that the attack on the Soviet monument was predictable, considering that previous acts of "vandalism" had been committed against it and that political demands had been voiced for its removal. Russia considers such monuments "sacred," Udaltsev said. (Russian agencies, June 11) Russia’s Foreign Ministry has twice warned that bilateral relations would depend on the Latvian government’s reaction to the incident. (See Monitor, June 9 and 11)
Primakov, Lukashenka Agree on Union’s Goals.