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Moscow says Latvia turns a blind eye to nationalists stirring up ethnic hatred

June 01, 2015, 15:50 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian Foreign Ministry’s makes comments as human rights activist Alexander Gaponenko was detained in Riga for allegedly "stirring inter-ethnic hostility"
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Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Ministry

© ITAR-TASS/Gennadiy Khamelyanin

MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/. The Latvian authorities turn a blind eye to the activity of firebrand nationalists who stir up hostility towards ethnic minotiries, says a commentary of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s information and press department after local human rights activist Alexander Gaponenko was once again detained in Latvia.

The ministry said Gaponenko was planning to take part in a Moscow festival of documentary films with his film featuring adverse situation facing national minorities in Latvia in connection with the policy of official Riga in the sphere of education.

However, after on May 26 the well-known human rights activist commented on the web on the deployment of US tanks in Latvia, he was detained in Riga for allegedly "stirring inter-ethnic hostility".

The ministry said this accusation "looks absurd against the background of pointedly indifferent attitude of the ruling coalition to real manifestations of this kind," referring to "recent appeals of radical nationalists to drive ‘non-citizens’ and disloyal Russian-speaking people into ‘ghettos’ as well as connivance with immoral performances and installations with anti-Russian connotation under the pretext of democratic freedoms".

It said these activities "excite righteous indignation and sharp resentment among that part of the Latvian society, whose voice and rights the authorities prefer to turn a blind eye to."

"Plain to see is blatant biasedness and a policy of double standards of the local officials against dissentients who are brave enough to expose the discriminatory policy of the country’s political leadership," the ministry said.

"All this happens with a full connivance to aggressive behavior of rampant nationalists, who feel practical impunity in Latvia," the ministry added.

This is not the first time Alexander Gaponenko has been detained. The prominent human rights activists was detained last November at the Riga international airport after returning from Moscow and was released shortly after that. In February he was detained by the security police in neighboring Estonia and was subsequently deported to Latvia.

Gaponenko is a well-known defender of the rights of the local Russian-speaking population and non-citizens residing there. He was also one of the organizers of the national referendum in February 2012 on granting Russian a status of a second official language in Latvia. Most citizens of the republic did not support the initiative.

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