Moscow summons Polish Ambassador over dismantled Soviet-era monument

Russian authorities have summoned the Polish diplomatic mission’s highest-ranking officials to account for the dismantling of a monument in the Polish town of Pieniezno which honored a Soviet Army World War II general.

Both Russia's Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry have condemned the dismantling of the monument to General Ivan Chernyakhovsky, who was one of the leaders of the Soviet campaign against Nazi Germany in Poland.

The Polish Ambassador Katarzyna Pelczynska-Nalecz was called in by the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to provide an insight into what has happened in Pieniezno, the press service of the Polish embassy in Moscow said.

“Remembering history is what differentiates humans from animals,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a press-conference on Wednesday. She also criticized the Polish government for allowing for the demolition of some other Soviet-era monuments.

The defense attache from the Polish embassy in Moscow was summoned by the Defense Ministry to clarify Russia’s position on the appalling incident, the Defense Ministry press-service reported.

The Defense Ministry said the destruction of the monument was “barbaric”, adding that it was nothing more than a cheap attempt on the part of local authorities to downplay Polish history.

“The generations of Polish people who faced the Nazis will never forget what General Chernyakhovsky did for them,” the Defense Ministry said in a press release. “It’s a shame Polish authorities turn out to be so blind and forgetful since history always repeats itself and their actions may give way to Nazis again.”

READ MORE: Polish mayor moves to demolish Soviet-era monument

The monument has been the subject of a long-standing debate. The controversial decision ignored Russia’s repeated requests to leave the monument as it is.

The removal of the Chernyakhovsky monument was authorized by Polish officials on the grounds that its existence runs counter to “national interests,” local media reported in April.

The Polish Foreign Ministry has made no comments on the matter so far.