RIGA - The Defense Ministry has organized around 100 consultations of various formats and levels on preparations for emergencies, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For) said in response to Latvian stage director Alvis Hermanis' letter calling for specific instructions on what the public should do in case of a military attack.
In his letter, which has been posted on social networks, Hermanis asks President Egils Levits, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) and Pabriks why the government has not provided people with very concrete instructions about what should be done in the event of a military attack. Hermanis also claims that the governments of Poland, Lithuania and Estonia have provided such detailed and technical advice.
"We understand that the military response measures might be a military secret, so be it. We understand that there might be various scenarios - a conventional military invasion, a sudden missile strike or a nuclear surprise," Hermanis writes, adding that any such attack would send people into panic.
Hermanis believes that the panic and chaos could be avoided if each citizen knew exactly what to do. On the morning of February 24, panic "paralyzed Ukraine's society for several days", Hermanis noted.
He also underlined that his aim was not to stoke panic but to ask questions in order to protect Latvia's residents, children and employees of various institutions.
In his reply to Hermanis' post, Pabriks indicates that Latvia has defined the creation of a comprehensive defense system as its priority, which envisages strengthening national defense capabilities in close connection with the readiness of the state and its people to self-organize and overcome emergencies.
"Everyone has the responsibility and duty to prepare for an emergency so that it could be overcome together," the minister said.
According to Pabriks, the Defense Ministry has organized a number of various measures for state institutions, representatives of various sectors and also residents to instruct them on preparation for emergencies. The minister added that the Defense Ministry is ready to organize consultations on preparation for emergencies also for Latvia's theaters if the Culture Ministry shows interest.
The defense minister said that people should be prepared to take care of themselves for at least the first 72 hours after the attack while rescue services and the armed forces will be taking measures to counter the threat. Pabriks advised to look up information in the booklet "What to Do in a Crisis" and to pack an emergency bag.
Information on readiness measures in Latvian, Russian and English is also publicly available on the defense website sargs.lv, public and university libraries, central and municipal client service centers, post offices, client centers of the State Social Insurance Agency and branches of the State Employment Agency across Latvia. The instruction has also been mailed to around 59,000 seniors in Latvia.
Pabriks also called on people to learn military skills by joining the National Armed Forces (NAF), National Guard or Youth Guard.
"The higher the number of militarily prepared and trained people, the smaller the possibility that Russia will want to turn its military aggression against Latvia," the minister said.