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RIGA, March 20 (Itar-Tass) —— The World without Nazism international human rights organization has urged the Latvian authorities to review their attitude to the unofficial day of remembrance of Waffen SS Latvian Legion veterans, March 16.
The Latvian legionnaires hold annual marches in downtown Riga, and the Latvian authorities permit heroization of the Nazi and present former SS members as national heroes.
“We understand the tragedy of average Latvian boys drafted to the Waffen SS in 1943 in violation of their will and international legal norms, but many of the draftees were volunteers. What we cannot understand is how one may be proud of that fact and even set it as an example for the younger generation. We have even more questions to politicians, who estrange themselves from the Nazi march organizers by words but try to make SS members national heroes by deeds,” the local media quoted World without Nazism leader Boris Spiegel.
The human rights organization recalled that parliament deputies of All For Latvia – For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK, a member of the ruling coalition, and Lutheran priest Guntis Kalme took part in the March 16 action of the Latvian SS veterans and their young supporters. “The priest described the SS legionnaires as heroes and called for making the date the National Resistance Day. Instead of making appeals for peace, the cleric calls for armed confrontation with the Russian-speaking community and [Latvia’s] close neighbor – Russia,” the organization said.
It urged the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to discuss heroization of the Nazi in Latvia at their soonest meetings and supported the proposal of the State Duma International Affairs Committee to impose economic sanctions on Latvia.
The Riga Duma declined all the requests for holding events on March 16 in order to prevent provocations, which might have led to disturbances. Yet the Administrative District Court overruled the decision. More than 2,000 Waffen SS Latvian Legion veterans and their radical supporters marched to the Freedom Monument under state flags to commemorate the SS members. Russian-speaking antifascists met them by the monument. The square around the monument was fenced and the police made a live chain in order to prevent clashes.