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RIGA, March 15 (Itar-Tass) —— The administrative district court on Thursday overruled the ban of the Riga Duma on the holding of a march by the organization of the Latvian SS Legion veterans – the Daugava Hawks in Latvia. Thus, former Latvian legionnaires and their supporters will hold a march in central Riga on Friday, while local antifascists will hold a traditional protest action.
The organization of the Latvian SS Legion veterans also asked the court to demand that the Riga Duma, that has been prohibiting the holding of the march over four years, should pay compensations in the amount of 7,000 Lat (about 14,000 dollars) and publish apologies to the organization in the local media. The court, however, refused these demands.
The local administration received this year seven applications for actions on March 16. The organization of the Latvian SS Legion veterans – the Daugava Hawks in Latvia - asked, traditionally, for the permission to hold a march in downtown Riga. Such applications also came from the Autonomous Activity anti-Nazi society and from the Association against Nazism. The Riga Duma, seeking to forestall possible provocations and disturbances, prohibited any actions on March 16. The organizations turned to court to complain against the ban.
The district administrative court has earlier lifted the ban of the municipal authorities on March 16 actions organized by local antifascists from the Association against Nazism and on the holding on the same day of a picket in memory of victims of Stalin’s repressions of “The Terrible Year”.
Some 1,200 police will be ensuring public order on Friday. Metal fences will be placed near the main monument of the country, the Freedom Monument, to keep the opposing sides apart.
Two Latvian Waffen-SS divisions were formed by Nazis in 1943. After Latvia’s secession from the USSR, March 16 was a commemorative date for several years. Since the actions of former SS men in downtown Riga caused a sharp reaction in Russia and in the West, it was decided to strike March 16 off the commemorative dates’ list.