COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A battle of wreaths erupted Wednesday when a Russian diplomat within the Arctic city of Kirkenes in northern Norway reportedly put his garland on high of Norway’s at a monument for the 1944 liberation of the area by Soviet troops.
Magnus Mæland, the municipality mayor, then angrily eliminated the Russian wreath — solely to have a girl, described by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK as being Russian, put it again.
”You don’t behave like that right here,” Mæland informed NRK. “One ought to be capable of lay flowers at a monument, however not over the municipality’s official wreath.”
A number of native folks within the border city solely 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from the Russian border, had referred to as on Russian officers to steer clear of the ceremony.
In an op-ed printed final week, native historians Marit Bjerkeng and Harald Sunde wrote that “official representatives of Russia shouldn’t maintain any commemoration or seem at memorials on Norwegian soil,” saying it will likely be seen “as an insult to Norway, to Ukraine and to victims of battle in all international locations.”
The ceremony commemorates the Oct. 25, 1944 liberation in World Battle II of Kirkenes by the Soviet military, which had entered neighboring Norway, then occupied by Nazi Germany.
Since then, the date is marked yearly. In 2019, on the seventy fifth anniversary, Russia’s Overseas Minister Sergei Lavrov laid wreaths on the monument and stood side-by-side with Norway’s overseas minister.
There was no rapid remark from Nikolai Konygin, who heads Russia’s Consulate in Kirkenes, which has three diplomats.
Tensions run excessive between Norway and Russia, which share an almost 200-kilometer- (124 mile-) lengthy border. Kirkenes is the most important city within the area.
On Saturday, Konygin gave a speech on the battle memorial in the identical Norwegian border city.
Visiting locals from the Russian border city of Nikel confronted the diplomat whereas residents from Kirkenes silently turned their again to him, in line with the net outlet the Barents Observer.
Locals had already positioned a wreath on the monument earlier than Konygin arrived, with the textual content “to our Ukrainian heroes from 1944 and 2022,” in line with the Barents Observer.
Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union throughout World Battle II.