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Monument To Latvian Pre-WWII Leader To Be Erected In Turkmenistan

Karlis Ulmanis in 1934

Karlis Ulmanis in 1934

A monument to Latvia's pre-World War II Prime Minister Karlis Ulmanis is to be erected in Turkmenistan's port city of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk), RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Ulmanis (1877-1942) was persecuted by the Soviet regime after Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.

He died in a Soviet jail in Central Asia. It is believed, but not known for certain, that he died in Krasnovodsk.

Latvian Foreign Ministry spokesman Janis Silis said that the idea of erecting a monument to Ulmanis dated back to the 1990s, but agreement on doing so was reached only during Latvian President Valdis Zatlers' official visit to Turkmenistan in 2008.

The monument has already been made and will probably be transported to Turkmenistan and unveiled in Turkmenbashi next year.

Nikolai Meinert, a Russian expert on the history of Northern Europe, says the idea of erecting a monument to Ulmanis in Turkmenistan may appeal to Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and his regime because the leaders of the Baltic states in the 1930s supported the concept of so-called "mild dictatorship."

By erecting a monument to Latvia's "mild dictator," the Turkmen leadership might be seeking to demonstrate that the present-day dictatorships in the Soviet successor states are also "mild dictatorships."

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