The Courage monument included in the list is located in Brest Fortress, the site of the first major fighting between Soviet forces and the German army in June 1941. Soviet soldiers fought desperately to defend the fortress for longer than expected, and it has since become a symbol of Soviet resistance during the war.
The remains of over 2,000 Soviet soldiers have been found in the fortress, though according to some estimates, more than 4,000 people died there.
“We understand that the inclusion of the Brest Hero-Fortress in this article from a contributor has caused offense in Belarus and Russia. This was unintended and we apologize,” an editor’s note added to the article reads.
“CNN recognizes that the monument is of solemn significance to many people honoring the sacrifice of soldiers,” the broadcaster said.
The much-loved Courage monument depicts an enormous Soviet soldier emerging from a vast mountain of stone.
CNN describes the statue as “giant, angry” and looking “as if he's about to thump the West into submission before hurling North America at the sun.” The author admitted, however, that: “It may not be beautiful but there's no denying its scale and significance.”
The description caused an outrage in Russia and Belarus.
“Such ‘ratings’ are unacceptable taking into consideration the historic significance of monuments. They offend memories of the perished one’s, and simply do not go along with normal human perception,” the Russian embassy in the United States said in an English-language statement.