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Freedom of expression does not imply possibility of SS veteran marches — Russian official

March 16, 2015, 12:25 UTC+3

A march of Waffen SS veterans takes place in Latvia's Riga on Monday

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© ITAR-TASS/Timur Subkhankulov

MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Marches of SS veterans cannot be viewed in the contest of freedom of expression, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said on Monday, commenting on the situation in Lativa.

The popularity and influence of ultra-right extremist parties is growing in European Union member-countries. They are striving for power, and in some cases they have already seized it," Dolgov told a State Duma meeting.

The diplomat stressed that these processes had been going for a long time under the guide of statements regarding the inadmissibility of any restrictions of freedom of speech and expression.

"A march of Waffen SS veterans is taking place in Riga now," he said addressing a session of the State Duma. "Of course, this event cannot be viewed in the contest of freedom expression, this is a violation of the country’s international obligations by the Latvian authorities." Dolgov said.

March 16 is unofficially observed as the day of commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS legion.

Russian-speaking anti-fascists will hold an action of protest on Monday, the City Hall spokesman Ugis Vidauskis told reporters in early March.

Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said government ministers would not take part in the Waffen SS proponents’ march.

"All the ministers have consent on and understanding of the fact that the nationwide Day of Memory of Fallen Soldiers is November 11 and that’s why they’ll abstain from the potentially provocative public actions," she said.

The government passed an official decision to prohibit ministers’ participation in the public events organized by radicals.

This year, however, the Minister of Environment and Regional Development, Einars Cilinskis who represents the nationalistic bloc said he was going to join the march in spite of the ban. In the wake of his decision, Prime Minister Straujuma took a decision to dismiss him.

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