MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – CNN withdrew an article from its website Friday featuring a list of the world’s ugliest monuments, following outrage over the inclusion of a World War II monument to the defenders of a Soviet military fortress.
“CNN apologizes for the unintended offense caused by an article from a contributor that was intended to be a humorous look at monumental architecture worldwide,” the agency said in a statement.
“We recognize that the Courage Monument carries deep and significant symbolism in honoring the soldiers who gave their lives defending their nation.”
The monument, depicting an enormous Soviet soldier emerging from a mountain of stone, was built in Belarus to honor the defenders of the Brest Fortress who held out for weeks after being encircled by Nazi German troops during the first days of the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
The article caused outrage in Russia and Belarus. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said that calling the monument “ugly” was a “sacrilegious and cynical” move.
“This outrageous step demonstrates slackness that is inadmissible for a professional journalist and shows [the author’s] reckless disregard for historical facts,” Dolgov said in a statement.
“It is advisable that CNN journalists remember that soldiers from our countries fought side by side in that war, which is sacrosanct for our nation,” the statement reads. “The CNN management should learn most serious lessons from this incident and prevent it from happening in the future.”
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said that it had summoned the senior US diplomat in the country to discuss the matter Friday.
The head of the memorial complex in Brest, Grigory Bysyuk, said CNN “admitted its defeat” by deleting the article.
He said he had received many messages from lawyers and translators offering to take the matter to international and US courts free of any charge.
CNN apologized Thursday for the inclusion of the monument on the list, but did not take down the story from its website at the time.
Over 2,000 soldiers died in the defense of the fortress, which became a symbol of resistance during and after the war. In 1965 the site was awarded the title of Hero Fortress.