Latvia has dismantled a Soviet-era monument in its capital city Riga following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite protests from the Baltic state's ethnic Russian minority to keep it.

Demolition machinery was used to remove the 79-metre World War II memorial, which has become a rallying point for the Kremlin's supporters in Latvia.

Latvia, like fellow Baltic states Estonia and Lithuania, is a NATO and EU member that has shown strong support for Ukraine in the conflict with Russia.

Built in 1985, the Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders had featured statues of soldiers and a woman surrounding a central obelisk.

Local officials were forced to take down the monument after Latvia's parliament voted to remove all remaining Soviet statues, plaques and bas-reliefs by mid-November.

Latvia's ethnic Russian community, which makes up close to 30% of the population, had protested against the removal of the memorial.

Every year, thousands of ethnic Russians rallied at the monument on 9 May to commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Most Latvians see this date as the beginning of the Soviet occupation, which lasted until 1991.

The monument has been controversial from the outset, as the original idea, a woman with an infant waiting for men to come back from the war, was censored in favour of a more Soviet theme.

It had also drawn criticism due to the fact that one of its sculptors, Levs Bukovskis, had served in a Waffen SS unit during the war.

A group of activists attempted to demolish the monument with dynamite in 1997 but the explosives detonated unexpectedly, killing two people.

This time no explosives or wrecking ball were used for the monument's removal, which cost an estimated €2.1m.

It was dismantled a week after neighbouring Estonia took down a Soviet-era memorial of its own in Narva, a city with a large Russian-speaking minority.

Tallinn had accused Russia of using such monuments to stir up tensions.

There have been concerns that Russia could seek to exploit the differences between the Russian-speaking minorities and the national governments in Estonia and Latvia to destabilise the countries.

Estonia's removal of the Soviet memorial led Russian hacker group Killnet to retaliate with a major wave of cyberattacks against public and private institutions last week.

Estonia called the cyberattacks the "most extensive" it has faced since 2007 but said they were "ineffective".