March 16 and May 9 gatherings should be banned amid war in Ukraine - Kucinskis

  • 2022-03-16
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - While there is a war going on in Ukraine, it would be better for Latvia to ban the controversial public events that are held on March 16 and May 9, Maris Kucinskis (Greens/Farmers), chairman of the Saeima National Security Committee, said in an interview with Latvian Television. 

The MP said that security services have talked to representatives of all organizers of these events but that in his opinion, both events - the March 16 procession commemorating the Latvian legionnaires and the May 9 Victory Day celebrations - should be banned amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

Kucinskis believes that the gatherings should be prohibited to prevent provocations aimed at escalating the situation, because any escalation provides "Moscow broadcasters of lies" the opportunity to produce reports of "public disorder" in Latvia. 

"There will be such reports anyway, but we need to do everything possible to make sure they don't have anything to show," Kucinskis said. 

As reported, the Limbazi branch of the Daugavas Vanagi Latvija (Daugava Hawks in Latvia) association is organizing a procession from St. John's Church to the Freedom Monument in Riga from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to commemorate Latvian Legionnaires. According to the organization's application, about 100 people will take part in the event.

In turn, the self-proclaimed Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee will also hold a rally at St. Peter's Church from 9.45 a.m. to 11 a.m. to protest "attempts to justify the crimes committed by Waffen SS". The organization said it expected some 70 people to participate in the event.

March 16 Latvian Legion Day is an unofficial remembrance day of Latvian Legionnaires. Latvian Legion Day was established in exile by the Daugavas Vanagi association. March 16 was chosen as the most appropriate date because on March 16, 1944, both divisions of the Latvian Legion fought alongside for the first time against the Red Army. It was the only battle in World War II led solely by Latvian commanders.

It was also reported that the association is once again planning to organize the annual May 9 celebrations at the monument to the soviet army in Riga's Pardaugava on May 9 this year. The association also wants the participants of the event to take part in a march. The course of the event has not yet been coordinated with the municipality.

May 9 is the day Russia marks the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. Many Russian-speakers in Latvia also celebrate Victory Day on May 9. Elsewhere in the world, including in Latvia, Victory in Europe Day is celebrated on May 8.