RIGA, March 12 (Itar-Tass) – Latvian extremist organizations have been allowed to hold public events on March 16 timed to coincide with the Day of unofficial commemoration of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS. Simultaneously, Russian-speaking representatives of anti-fascist movements will hold protest acts on the same day. This decision was adopted by the Riga Duma after consultations with security bodies.
The local government does not issue permissions to pickets and marches, but it has the right to make decisions on restrictive measures if a planned event poses a threat to security, Yuris Radzevich, a top official at Riga's administration, told journalists on Tuesday. Since law enforcers have voiced no objections to the acts scheduled for March 16 all of them will take place, he said.
Latvian Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis had earlier declared that there were no grounds for prohibiting public manifestations due on March 16. To ensure law and order local police will be transferred to an emergency regime, the Interior minister said.
The Riga Duma received six applications from the organizers of mass acts planned in Riga for March 16 known as an unofficial day of commemoration of the soldiers of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS, the press service of the Riga City Council said earlier.
The Daugava Hawks- an organization of the veterans of the Latvian Legion, intend to hold a traditional march in the center of Riga on March 16, heading towards the Latvian Statue of Liberty in Riga, while representatives of the Latvian Union against Nazism are planning to hold an anti-fascist rally against the Waffen SS Legion on the same day.
Every year on March 16 the Latvian nationalists have been unofficially celebrating Day of Commemoration of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS. Until recently the Riga Duma headed by the first ever ethnic Russian Mayor Nil Ushakov had banned mass acts on March 16 in order to avert possible provocations which might have triggered public unrest in Riga, but the imposed bans were inevitably overruled by the Riga court.
Hundreds of veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion and their supporters have been marching to the Statue of Liberty in Riga every year to commemorate their fellow soldiers. Groups of their Russian-speaking opponents from the anti-fascist movement traditionally confront the Waffen SS veterans, demanding to outlaw the Waffen-SS march.
Earlier, the Latvian court had obliged the Riga Duma to make a public apology for banning a march of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion scheduled in the center of Riga in 2011 and 2012. Last week the local government published the apology in a number of local newspapers.