ANTI-FASCISTS PETITION PRESIDENT OF LATVIA FOR PROTECTION 29.01.2015
Recently in Latvia, with the help of the republic's Security Police, a regular campaign has been underway to discredit various Russian-language public organizations and human rights movements. These groups, which are officially registered in accordance with the country's laws, are misrepresented as forces which threaten the country's national security. The situation reached such a point that the leaders of these organizations were compelled to write an open letter to President of Latvia Andris Berzins, Prime Minister of Latvia Laimdota Straujuma, Chief of the Latvian Security Police Normunds Mezviets and Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks.
Coordinator of Latvia Without Nazism movement Joseph Koren, Chairman of the Latvian Antifascist Committee Eduard Goncharov and Chairman of the Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee Aleksei Sharipov express their concern by the campaign launched by the Security Police in order to discredit the antifascist movement in Latvia, misrepresenting its true aims. Addressing the Latvian leaders as the guarantors of the country's constitution, the authors of the letter write:
"Indeed, we do object and protest the glorification of Latvian Waffen SS veterans at the Freedom Monument, in the alley of Latvian national flags. However, do you believe that true Latvian heroes are the soldiers who fought in the Nazi army and thus, directly or indirectly, voluntarily or involuntary, supported the Nazi regime and executed many thousands of Latvians? We object the so-called 'patriotism lessons' conducted by Visu Latvijai party activists in schools and nurseries, where young men in Waffen SS uniforms and weapons of Nazi Germany teach children about 'true patriotism'. We do not consider worthy of a democratic state the construction of memorials perpetuating the 'military glory' of the auxiliary police and Waffen SS legionnaires under clearly nationalist slogans immortalised in stone – 'Latvia must be a state of Latvians.'... We protest against the Latvian musical 'Cukurs, Herberts Cukurs', which justifies the actions of the Arajs team officer, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Latvian Jews."
The organizers of the antifascist groups expressed their outrage at the behavior of some members of parliament, who demonstratively destroyed the photographs of Latvian ghetto and concentration camp prisoners during the March 16th procession last year. Even more surprising was the fact that the Parliamentary Ethics Commission found nothing objectionable in this behaviour of Latvian MPs.
Last year, when tensions rose due to the political developments in Ukraine, antifascist groups where once again falsely accused toing the Kremlin's line, this time campaigning in support of Russia's annexation of Crimea. However, Latvian antifascists pointed out that they participated in the peacekeeping roundtable in Kiev in February 2014, where the main subject of which was to warn of the dangers of revival and rehabilitation of nationalist movements under Stepan Bandera's symbols. (Over the past year these very nationalist movements caused a bloody civil war which has taken the lives of approximately 5000 citizens of Ukraine.)
The letter's author notes that World Without Nazism Movement holds regular monitoring of neo-Nazi manifestations and their social causes in 18 European countries. Results of the monitoring are then used to create an annual analytical review published in three languages. The review clearly indicates that almost no country in Europe is free of neo-Nazi groups and neo-Nazi manifestations.
The aim of the monitoring is to draw attention to an acute problem in their countries. Only in Latvia the authors also accused of conducting the Kremlin's policy, despite the fact that this review dedicates around 100 pages to manifestations of neo-Nazism in Russia.
The authors conclude their letter with this question and request: "Do you view the activities of Latvian antifascist organisations as extremist and hostile to Latvia? If you believe that this is the case, we ask you to start criminal prosecution on each individual account, in accordance to the Criminal Code of the Latvian Republic. If you do not consider our activities as hostile, we kindly ask you to encourage the leadership of the Security Police to apologise for spreading false information about our movement."