Latvian President Andris Berzins who is in Kazakhstan with an official visit opened a memorial to Latvian victims of political repressions in Karaganda oblast in central Kazakhstan, KazTAG reports.
“This memorial to repressed Latvians that we are opening today is a milestone for our delegation that has arrived to Kazakhstan. Many Latvians died in this region. We will always remember their hardships,” Berzins said at the ceremony of opening of the monument in Spas memorial complex.
The President expressed gratitude to those who helped perpetuate the memory of the victims of political repressions and to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev personally.
“In 2004 we opened access to the archive with cases of repressed persons. We don’t know how many victims was here exactly. But the most important is that our visit will help the study of the history,” he noted.
According to Akim (Governor) of Karaganda oblast Baurzhan Abdushev, it is symbolic that the visit of the Latvian President to Kazakhstan started with a visit to the Spas memorial complex. “This (political repressions) is our common past that we should not forget about. History does not need prosecutors or lawyers, it need researchers. Careful attitude to history is the best guarantee that we will not repeat the tragic mistakes today or tomorrow,” he stressed.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Latvian delegation that included descendants of the repressed persons and representatives of Latvian repression victims’ unions.
“I am holding a bag made of fabric that is very popular in Latvia: linen. The bag contains soil from the Daugava river. This is a momentous river for our people. It washed away the tears of our people. After we finish the official part of this ceremony, we will scatter this soil around this symbolic stone,” the head of the Latvian Union of Politically Repressed Persons Gunars Resnais said.
The monument was built by sculptor Pauls Jaunzems and Karaganda craftsmen under the aegis of the Latvian embassy in Kazakhstan and Latvian union of repressed persons.
According to archives, there were over 1,000 Latvians during the years of repression in Karaganda camps, especially in Steplag.
Latvian President is on a state visit in Kazakhstan on June 2-4. His visit is focused on discussing expansion of cooperation between the countries. Berzins met with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on June 3 and took part in the Latvian-Kazakhstan business forum.