By John Smith •
Published: 26 Oct 2023 • 14:38
Mayor Mæland removed the Russian wreath
Credit: NRK State TV
Sometimes it’s difficult for those who live in Spain to realise just how close many of the Scandinavian countries are to Russia and how the current problems directly affects them.
Both Finland and Norway have land borders with Russia and therefore like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have to walk something of a diplomatic tightrope.
Norway celebrates Liberation Day on October 25 which marks the anniversary of the first Russian troops crossing the border in the autumn of 1944 at the start of the campaign to liberate Norway from Nazi rule.
The town of Kirkenes which is just 16 kilometres from the Russian border has its own memorial to the Soviet soldiers involved in the liberation of Northern Norway and the mayor Magnus Mæland laid a wreath at the Memorial which featured Ukraine’s yellow and blue colours and its ribbon dedicated it “to the memory of the sacrifice that the soldiers of the Soviet Red Army gave for our freedom.”
No Russian officials were invited to the event, but their local envoy not only turned up with a much bigger wreath but went one step further and reportedly put it on top of the Kirkenes wreath which the mayor considered to be an insult and removed the Russian wreath.
All of this was filmed by a Norwegian TV crew NRK and the envoy refused to answer any questions about his actions and then a local woman arrived carrying a single red rose and tried to move the Russian wreath back on top of the Norwegian one.
At this, Mayor Mæland became very upset, saying that these actions were unacceptable and whilst supporting freedom of expression was not prepared to allow the Russian wreath to remain in place.
Later in the day, Mæland gave another speech in front of the Monument to Mothers of the War in which he drew parallels to the Nazi occupation and the current war in Europe, where he claimed that Putin’s Russia is the aggressor and that the war is based on lies and propaganda.
The mayor ended his speech with a clear call to never forget history and to continuously fight for peace, freedom and democracy.
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Married to Ophelia in Gibraltar in 1978, John has spent much of his life travelling on security print and minting business and visited every continent except Antarctica.
Having retired several years ago, the couple moved to their house in Estepona and John became a regular news writer for the EWN Media Group taking particular interest in Finance, Gibraltar and Costa del Sol Social Scene.
Currently he is acting as Editorial Consultant for the paper helping to shape its future development.
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